Michael Biehn


  1. Lorenzo Lamas, Grease, 1977.    He read for Tom Chisum and lost it.  But director Randal Kleiser and producer Allan Carr felt sorry for him. “So they threw me a bone, which was a day’s work. I’m in two scenes.” Including when John Travolta is trying to impress Olivia Newton-John by playing basketball “and he punches a kid in the stomach… that’s me! It was basically extra work, but I got paid as an actor.”
  2. Arnold Schwarzennegger, The Terminator, 1984.    Money Men objected to the future James Cameron regular. Biehn became future warrior Kyle Reese – after nearly losing it due to a Southern accent he used earlier in a Cat on A Hot Tin Roof audition.
  3. Kevin Costner, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller – labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert – the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson caught Costner on the cusp of susperstardom (betweern The Untouchables and Field of Dreams) after seeing if the hero’s US Navy uniform would suit… Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Michael Nouri, Bill Paxton,  Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis. Or even the French Christophe(r) Lambert or… Robin Williams?!
  4. Will Patton, No Way Out, 1986.  OK, if not the hero, how about the villainous Gene Hackman’s gay aide? Roger Donaldson also looked at his fellow Aussies Bryan Brown and Colin Friels..  Plus Alec Baldwin,  Richard Dreyfuss, Scott Glenn, John Heard, Stephen Lang, Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Sam Shepard, James Spader, JT Walsh. Patton got the gig and was cast as gay again in The Punisher, 2003. 
  5. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.      In all, 39 possibilities for the off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!) Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired:  Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role in The Fly), William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another cop duo in The Hidden), Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops: Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  6. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, apparently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Biehn,Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang). And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post, “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”
  7. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
  8. Mark Harmon, The Presido, 1988.The usual old cop-young cop routine but set to a dull military beat in San Francisco’s Presidio Army Base.  Due for Lee Marvin-Jeff Bridges, but Lee fell ill and died.  Gene Hackman-Bridges were not as hot as Sean Connery-Don Johnson – except Don was hog-tied to Miami Vice.  OK, Sean-Kevin Costner – he quit so no Untouchables reunion as the pair finally became Sean-Mark Harmon.  Also up for the young upstart were 15 others:  Alec Baldwin Michael Biehn, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michael Keaton, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis, even Europeans Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. None could have saved what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called “a clone, of a film assembled out of spare parts from… the cinematic junkyard.”
  9. Kurt Russell, Tango and Cash, 1989.   Decidedly, cop duos were in… Sylvester Stallone was Raymond Tango – without question. But who would he accept as his equally frame cop pardner, Gabriel Cash? After Patrick Swayze ran (to solo billing in Road House), the list was long… Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton,Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Gary Sinise…   Plus two  later Sly co-stars: Bruce Willis and James Woods. They lost out on the debatable pleasure of four directors! From the Russian Andrei Konchalovsky to, secretly, Stallone.
  10. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!

  11. Patrick Swayze, Point Break, 1990.  The FBI infiltrates a young agent  Keanu Reeves  into a gonzo surfer gang of bank robbers in ex-President masks.  Their guru-ish leader went from Biehn to Swayze. Hel’ called Bodhi, after the tree that Buddhists call the seat of enlightenment.

  12. Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1990.  James Cameron dropped his pal to avoid muddling his audience as both Bieh’s and Arnold Schwarzengger were reversing their previous hero/villain roles. The director then considered rockers Billy Idol and Blackie Lawless for the T-1000… before falling for Patrick’s work in Die Hard 2. The best of the franchise, this is where the series should have terminated. But Hollywood is so greedy.

  13. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.     There were 30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans Bruce Campbell and Chuck Norris. All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  14. Stephen Baldwin, The Usual Suspects, 1994.  Biehn had to pass on director Bryan Singer’s invite to be McManus due to the shooting of Jade –  with another of Singer’s line-up,  Chazz Palminteri
  15. Billy Zane, Titanic, 1997.
  16. James Marsden, X-Men,1999.  “Mutation: it is the key to our evolution.”  Producer James Cameron and his then wife, director Kathryn Bigelow, chose Biehn for Cyclops/Scott Summersin the early 90s – and never made the film! James Caviezel won this version  before prefering to beDennis Quaid’s son in Frequency. (Nobody’s perfect).  Then, director Bryan Singer looked at pals Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Ethan Hawke, Thomas Jane (who became Marvel’s The Punisher,in 2003, and opposite Rebecca Romijn, the X-Men’sMystique), Edward Norton (already turned down as Wolverine/Logan), DB Sweeney, Luke Wilson… and Edward Burns, except the last thing a young and opinionated director like Singer wanted on his set was another young and opinionated director.
  17. Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2001.
  18. Mark Wahlberg, Wonderland, 2002.   When due before cameras in 1998, Biehn was actor-director Nick Vallelonga’s choice to play porno icon John Holmes,  when he was involved in the Wonderland Murder Case in LA,  July, 1981.
  19. Darnell Williams, Shadowboxer, 2005.   Biehn had to pass on the invitation to join the directing debut of actor-writer Lee Daniels.
  20. Stephen Lang, Avatar, 2008.   After developing the alien-killing Colonel Miles Quaritch with his pal, director James Cameron, Biehn discovered he’d lost the role….  from  his son. “He goes to school with (producer) Jon Landau’s son and his son told my son he didn’t think I was gonna get it because once Jim cast  Sigourney Weaver he kinda felt that by casting me it would remind people too much of Aliens… I have no bad feelings towards Jim. He gave me the script. I gave him my ideas.. I think that he was impressed. I like Stephen a lot. He’s been around for a long time and I was really happy that he got he role if I didn’t get it. Obviously,  Jim  made the right choice because he always makes the right choice…  “I understood. I’d been disappointed too many times to be depressed for more than 24 hours.”
  21. Anton Yelchin, Terminator Salvation, 2008.  Yelchin took over from Biehn as Kyle Reese (the first character to say the signature line: “Come with me if you want to live”) in the first film where Reese and his son, John Connor, appear together.

  22. Barry Pepper, True Grit, 2010.     Lost ‘Lucky’ Ned Pepper to…  an even luckier Pepper.
  23. Dermot Mulroney, The Grey, 2011.  How to survive an air crash in the Alaskan wastes… with the help of Liam Neeson.
  24. Karl Urban, Dredd, 2011.   So keen on succeeding Sylvester Stallone in  the comicbook  reboot, it is  said that Biehn even agreed to audition… and lost out to Urban – using an Clint Eastwoodian voice.  Well,  Judge Dredd was somewhat based on Dirty Harry and lives  (in the comics) in Rowdy Yates Block – named after after Clint s 1959-1965 Rawhide cowpuncher.
  25. Owain Yeoman, ChromeSkull: Laid To Rest 2, 2011.    Biehn, one of director James Cameron’s favourite actors, had to pass Detective King to the newest Welshman in LA…  already doing yeoman work as another ’tec in The Mentalist series.
  26. Kevin Costner, Man of Steel, 2011.
  27. Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road, 20112.     Every tough guy from Mel Gibson himself in 2003 (before discovering The Passion of Christ, anti-Semitism and LA ostracism) to the James Cameron regular Michael Biehn, actor-producer Liam Fountain (aka Mad Max Renegade in his 2011 short), Heath Ledger, Jeremy Renner and Channing Tatum were up and down many a flagpole before creator George Miller won his budget, Hardy wore Mel’s old jacket and Charlize Theron stole the wheelie Western as a Mad Maxine. No way to treat Max Rockatansky (or his fans) after a 30-year hiatus, George! 
  28. Kurt Russell, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, 2016.   Aged between Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow’s 87 and Matthew McConaughey’s 47, fifteen actors were Marveled about for Ego, father of Chris Pratt’s hero, Peter Quill aka Star Lord. The others in the loop were Biehn, Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Mel Gibson, Stephen Lang, Viggo Mortensen, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christoph Waltz and Bruce Willis.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  28