Nils Asther

  1. John Gilbert, Queen Christina, 1933.   Among those testing  to be Garbo’s lover  were Asther, Franchot Tone,  even King Kong tough guy Bruce Cabot. The winner  was Laurence Olivier.  Until Garbo had  problems  doing love scenes with him as Don Antonio de la Prada – and insisted on MGM hiring her most famous lover (on and  off-screen), even  though his Metro contract and his career were in the toilet.  After one more film, Gilbert (jilted by Garbo) died in 1936. The Danish Asther had also proposed to the glorious Swede – and was rejected in 1929, during their silent  movie days.
  2. Paul Muni,  The Good Earth, 1936.      An early 1935 plan, was Asther and  Barbara Stanwyck and Asther for the Chinese couple,  Wang Lung and O-Lan (!).  This was the only film with a credit for MGM’s in-house genius, Irving Thalberg – after his shock death  at 36.  His boss, LB Mayer,  had told him: “The public won’t buy pictures about American farmers, and you want to give them Chinese farmers?”  Thalberg, as usual, was right – three Oscars from six nominations! 


 Birth year: 1897Death year: 1981Other name: Casting Calls:  2