Roddy McDowall

  1. Claude Jarman Jr, The Yearling, 1945.     Shooting started in April 1941… everything went wrong. Spencer Tracy’s son changed fromGene Reynolds (too old at 15!) to Gene Eckman, who grew up too fast and had a thick Georgia accent. An overweight Tracy knew he was wrong for the father – “looks like I ate the boy!” The project was postponed, Tracy later tested with a third son, McDowall (originally booked as Fodderwing), but after four years, it was totally re-cast. Eckman was never chosen for another movie, Jarman became a producer and film festival organiser and Reynolds a highly successful TV producer-director of M*A*S*H, Lou Grant, etc.
  2. Alvy Moore, 5 Against The House, 1954.    Jack Finney’s 5 Against the House – everything about his name and that title sounded… cool! The quintet were Korea War vets in college on the GI bill planning to rob Reno’s mightiest casinos… scientifically. Future Oscar-winner Stirling Silliphant’s first script – obvious seed for Ocean’s 11, just five years later!
  3. Nick Adams, No Time For Sergeants, 1957.    Despite entreaties from director Mervyn LeRoy, McDowall refused to reprise Ben Whitledge opposite Andy Griffith and the rest of the Broadway cast – and, this once, Adams got rave reviews.
  4. Dick York, Inherit The Wind, 1960.     McDowall and Anthony Perkins were in the finals for Bertram T Cates, based on  schoolteacher  Thomas Scope at the centre of the  famous 1925 “Scopes Monkey Trial.” This was York’s final film. The next  24 years were in TV, including – of course – 170 episodes as Elizabeth Montgomery’s Bewitched husband during 1964-1969.
  5. William Campbell, Star Trek #17: The Squire of Gothos, 1966.   (Stardate 2124.56).  Casting director Joseph D’Agosta voted for McDowall as Trelane. Producer Gene L Coon did not agree.  And called up Campbell
  6. David Watson, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, 1970.      The only film in the original series of five that does not star Roddy: as Cornelius or his son, Caesar.He was held up making another film. He is, however, in the opening prologue… and all over the DVD packaging! Watson cleverly, er, aped Roddy’s body language.
  7. Christopher Lloyd, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.      The legend goes that Tim Curry’s test terrified producer Steven Spielberg and his director protege, Robert Zemeckis. So, Curry was too scarey… and John Cleese too funny! What did they want? Not Roddy McDowell, Sting or Robin Williams, either. And Christpher Lee passed. Lloyd was a strictly MOR toon (he never blinks) who, in an earlier draft, had been the hunter who killed Bambi’s mother.
  8. Ron Gans, Star Trek: The Next Generation #23: Skin of Evil, TV, 1988.  Or Stardate 41601.3… McDowall lost out to Gans as the voice of Marty McChesney hidden within the prosthetics of the alien life form called Armus.
  9. Tim Curry, It, TV, 1989.    Two big Macs  and  Alice Cooper topped the suits’ poll for the evil clown, Pennywise, in the 30th of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits.    Tim Curry  almost left the two-parter, worrying about too many hours in make-up as he’d suffered as Darkness in Legend, 1984.  But he finally agreed, so Roddy McDowall and Malcolm McDowell McDowell chose other gigs. Alice Copper sounded an inspired idea, except, of course, It would have become The Alice Cooper Show…
  10. Milo O’Shea, Only The Lonely, 1990.      Doyle had been ear-marked for McDowall in John Candy’s Marty re-tread. 

 Birth year: 1928Death year: 1998Other name: Casting Calls:  10