Norman Mailer

  1. Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1986.    The contract  for bilious auteur Jean-Luc Godard to tackle Shakespeare was signed (an hour after it had  been mooted) on  large napkin at the Majestic Hotel bar during the 1985 Cannes festival.  A year later, Menahem Golan was saying: “Who better than Mailer – he has five  daughters?”  No, five children;/ His  daughter, Kate, was  chosen for Cordelia. Mailer quit after a few  day’s work – after Godard implied that their characters were  incestuous. Marlon Brando  passed (he’d made enough rotten movies) and the modern-day Lear –  a  New York Mafia chief Don Learo – was then offered to, Dustin Hoffman, director Joseph Losey, Lee Marvin and, naturally, Orson Welles. The Mailers remained in the  film (that Godard detested) as themselves. (“I had to laugh at his nerve,” aid the final Cordelia, Molly Ringwald). And Meredith replaced Rod Steiger  (who would only make it in Malibu – not Switzerland. Godard had forgotten the perfect American choice: Robert Mitchum).  Molly Ringwald , ran into Mailer at a party ten years later, he was still incensed by the affair and called Godard a monster.  “Godard,” said Molly, “had been furious when he lost his Lear, and he was no less forgiving when he cut the finished film, choosing to leave in much of what he shot of the Mailers during the opening credits and adding a withering voice-over in which he refers to Norman sarcastically as The Great Writer.”
  2. David Huddleston,The Big Lebowski, 1997.  In his making of book, ex-Coen Brothers assistant Alex Belth said the titular casting of the fat, wheelchair-bound Pasadena tycoon(Jeff Bridges was the son, remember) was among the final decisions made before shooting. The Coens aimed high – Marlon Brando! – then chewed through Ernest Borgnine, Robert Duvall (not seduced by the script), Andy Griffith (great idea!), Gene Hackman (on a break), Anthony Hopkins (not keen on playing Americans), author Norman Mailer, George C Scott,  longtime right vleft political adversaries William F Buckley and Gore Vidal…. And even the arch conservative Bible thumping televangelist Jerry Falwell!

 Birth year: 1923Death year: 2007Other name: Casting Calls:  2