Sir Cedric Hardwicke

  1. Frank Lawton, David Copperfield, 1935.   Knighted the year before (“Arise Sir Cedric Pickwick,” said the deaf King George V), George Bernard Shaw’s favourite actor (he wrote roles for him) lost his first  MGMovie due to a stage tour.
  2. Charles Laughton, The Barrets of Wimpole Street, 1934.     Director Sidney Franklin wanted Hardwicke, who created the role of the tyrrannical Edward Barret on Broadway, but Irving Thalberg wanted Laughton and you didn’t mess with Thalberg.  He  was MGM’s production boss. And house genius.
  3. Otto Kreuger, Vanessa, Her Love Story, 1935.   Still touring, he was luckier than title star Helen Hayes.  She fled back to Broadway afterwards. As he put it:  “Actors and burglars work better at night.”
  4. Robert Morley, Marie-Antoinette, 1938.   Neither Charles Laughton or Hardwicke were available  to mount the throne as Louis XVI.  
  5. Alexander Knox, This Above All, 1941.      Ya can’t always get wot ya wanna…  Darryl F Zanuck had such tight control at Fox that Nigel Bruce was the only one of eight casting suggestions made by director Anatole Litvak that DFZ approved.  Title stemmed from the Polonious soliloquy in Hamlet: This above all: to thine own self be true… As John Wayne could have told you; he could recite the entire play.
  6. Henry Daniell, Jane Eyre, 1943.     In  February 1942,  Hollywood Reporter revealed  that  producer David O  Selznick was testing Sir Ced  for the role of Brocklehurst. By November, DOS had sold it all – plus Claudia and Keys of the Kingdom – to 20th Century-Fox.
  7. Charles Bickford, The Song of Bernadette, 1943.    About ten actors tested for  Father  Peyramale, parish priest of the  the  French girl who had a vision of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes in 1858. They included: Hardwicke Lee J Cobb, Donald Crisp, Walter Hampden and  Thomas Mitchell.  (Cobb was later given Dr  T Duzous).  Bickford became very close with  Jennifer Jones (wife of producer Davd O Selznick) who  played  Bernadette. They also co-starred in  DOS’s Duel in the Sun.  In fact, one  hour after hearing about Bickford’s death in 1967, Jones attempted suicide.
  8. Cecil Kellaway, Frenchman’s Creek, 1943. Hardwicke was Joan Fontaine’s butler William for a few weeks before being substituted by Kellaway. Not that his French accent was any better.
  9. Reginald Owen, Kim, 1950.   Fourth time lucky for MGM’s desire to film the Rudyard Kipling classic 1900 adventure  about Kimball O”Hara, the orphaned  son of a British soldier  in the 1886 India under British rule. Kim posed as a Hindi beggar boy to help the UK Secret Service spy on Russian agitators.  Irving Thalberg won the rights for MGM in 1934 and a year later, the ex-Little Lord Fauntelroy, Freddie Bartholomew was selected opposite Lionel Barrymore as his Indian mentor, Mahbub Ali the Red Beard, in 1935.  The project was shelved for another Kipling tale, Captains Courageous, with Spencer Tracy and young Freddie – announced as Kim again in 1937, opposite Robert Taylor as Red Beard.  After various delays Mickey Rooney (like who else) was the 1942 hero in a typically Metro all-stars  line-up of John Carradine, Laird Cregar, Cedric Hardwicke (as Father Victor – replaced, finally, by Reginald Owen) ), Basil Rathbone, George Sanders, Akim Tamiroff and Conrad Veidt  WWII killed that as the script was too pro-British Empire and anti-Russia. Finally, MGM’s Boy With Green Hair, Dean Stockwell, was Kim opposite  (a way too old and hardly Indian)  Errol Flynn. He quit King Solomon’s Mines to be Red Beard, because he didn’t fancy living  in a tent in Africa, while he had a hotel suite in Lucknow…  where Stockwell was doubled by a local kid.
  10. Maurice Evans, Androcles and Lion, 1951.    During three years of bizarre casting of the George Bernard Shaw playlet – everyone from the sublime Chaplin (and Harpo Marx) to the ridiculous Eddie Bracken was imagined for the lead. And Emperor Antoninus Caesar went from Rex Harrison to George Sanders to Hardwicke to José Ferrer to Evans…


 Birth year: 1893Death year: 1964Other name: Casting Calls:  10