Steve Martin


  1. Barry Bostwick, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1974.     Martin had only made one movie – Another Nice Mess, 1972 – when in the frame for the hero Brad Majors, “A Hero,” one of only three Americans in the screen version of the hit UK musical. (The others were Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf).
  2. Harrison Ford, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
  3. Chevy Chase, Foul Play, 1978.      “I didn’t say no. They said no. Chevy was totally under-directed.” They both progressed.
  4. Harrison Ford, Raider s of the Lost Ark,1980.
  5. Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980.    The suits wanted a US star. Brand new auteur Steve Gordon wanted Dud. Gordon won, made a big hit, but never a second film – he died at 44 in 1982.   John Belushi had passed, scared of being typed as a drunk (surely the least of his troubles!). Orion Pictures’ other choices for the titular rich man-child were: Martin, Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad – and one reserve.
  6. Tim Curry, Annie, 1981.    The comic passed on the flash role of con-artist Rooster Hannigan.“Too painful” for him because Bernadette Peters was set for Lilly St Regis, his partner in crime.And their real life relationshp was in its death throes…
  7. Michael Keaton, Mr Mom, 1983.    Fairly rapidly into the A List,  Chevy Chase found himself up for Teri Garr’s sudden home husband Jack Butler – alongside Martin, Michael Douglas and John Travolta. Ron Howard was due to direct but moved to Splash! – which Keaton left to be Jack.
  8. Chevy Chase, ¡Three Amigos! 1986.     Originally, the trio wasMartin, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi.   After John’s death, Martin switched roles.
  9. Billy Joel, Oliver & Company, 1986.  “Oliver Twist with dogs” is how Disney labelled the toon.   More like Oliver Twist AS dogs…  Steve Martin and Burt Reynolds were seen about voicing   Dodger (no longer Artful).  But singer Billy Joel; won the gig – auditioning by telephone – while Burt crossed the street to Don Bluth’s toon shop and voiced Charlie in All Dogs Go to Heaven.
  10. John Candy, Planes, Trains& Automobiles, 1987.     And again – swopping parts with Candy.

  11. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  12. Billy Joel, Oliver & Company, 1987.      Martin and Burt Reynolds were up for voicing the (no longer Artful) Dodger. Singer Billy Joel was not! “Inspired” by Charles Dickens, Disney’s animalia take on Oliver Twist was written by, among others, Walt’s great-nephew, Tim Disney.
  13. Charles Grodin, Midnight Run, 1987.  In the frame for Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas were  Albert Brooks, Chavy Chase, Cher (oh yes!), Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams. Plus Bruce Willis – also up for Robert De Niro’s skip-tracer, or modern-day bounty-hunter, dragging Grodin’s hysterical embezzler ($15m!) back to Vegas… with the FBI and the Mob chasing them. 
  14. Michael Caine, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 1988.     When Bill Murray fell out, Martin moved into his slot and his suave con man passed from John Cleese to Mike Caine.
  15. Robert Wuhl, Batman, 1988.
  16. Bill Cosby, Ghost Dad, 1989.        First due as Elliot Hopper when John Badham was directing. Cosby’s director was actor Sidney Poitier – for the fourth time after Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again and Piece of the Action during 1973-1976.   Martin never even re-made it!!!
  17. Tom  Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1989.      Author Tom Wolfe wanting  Chevy Chase as Sherman McCoy made no more sense than than the first director  Mike Nichols voting Martin and, finally, Brian De Palma, choosing Hanks.  As a Master of the Universe, I mean c’mon  guys! 
  18. Rick Moranis, My Blue Heaven, 1990.      Swopping Roles III…   Steve moved up from his FBI agent once Danny De Vito refused to be in a witness protection programme as a Mafia type – actually based on Henry Hill, who also inspired Goodfellas, 1990.
  19. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise,1990.
  20. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke (“the affordable William Shatner”) and Dave Thomas.

  21. Daniel Stern, City Slickers, 1990.   Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Danny DeVito, Robert Hays, Steve Martin were up for  for Phil Berquist.  And, not yet the big TV star, Garry Shandling – a stand-up; “I was going to see Last Tango in Paris – but I don’t like musicals.” Boom-boom.  Robin Williams was offered his choice of  the trio but was Hook-ed by Steven Spielberg.
  22. Harrison Ford, Regarding Henry, 1991.  Martin v Ford, Chapter 3… “I prefer something made for somebody else!”insisted Ford.”If someone writes something for you, they make it to size. They write to what they or the audience feels your strengths are – and avoid the weaknesses.”
  23. Robin Williams, Aladdin, 1991.    Disney’s voice choices for the blue Genie included Martin, Albert Brooks, John Candy, Matt Frewer, John Goodman, Eddie Murphy, Martin Short… As if anyone could match Williams’ dazzling 16 hours of improv. (So much ad-lib finished on screen, the toon was denied any adapted script Oscar nomination!). In typical whirlwind manic brilliance (at union scale!), Williams used everyone from Ethel Merman to Groucho Marx, William F Buckley to Carol Channing, Schwarzenegger to De Niro!   “Good but not great,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “with the exception of the Robin Williams sequences, which have a life and energy all their own.” Indeed.
  24. Dan Aykroyd, My Girl, 1991.    Martin, Tim Allen, Chevy Chaseand  Bill Murray were in the mix for young Anna Chlumsky’s undertaker father in this little gem.  Allen and Chase were siphoned off for not being known for drama.  Martin was busy being Father of the Bride, Murray was into What About Bob?   Aykroyd has just won an Oscar nod for Driving Miss Daisy.
  25. Bill Murray, Groundhog Day, 1992.     The trouble with Steve, said director and co-writer Harold Ramis, was: “He’s far too nice.”Likewise Chevy Chase, Tom Hanks and John Travolta.
  26. Brian Benben, Radioland Murders, 1994.     All set to complete George Lucas’ radio trilogy after The Emperor short, 1967, and American Graffit, 1972- and then again after Star Wars, 1976. His first actual casting, circa ’78, for the Ten Little Indians in a radio studio was “the perfect team” of Martin and Cindy Williams as Roger and Penny Henderson… the parents, according to Lucas, of Richard Dreyfuss’ Graffiiti character.
  27. Jim Carrey, Dumb & Dumber, 1994.      Like Martin Short, Steve rejected sadsack Lloyd Christmas.   Of course he did, it wasn’t a re-make. Carrey was first hired for $700,000, then Ace Ventura: Pet Detective opened to enormous business and his agent renegotiated for… $7m.
  28. Nathan Lane, The Birdcage, 1995.  Plan A for the Mike Nichbols re-tread  of the enormous 1978 French hit, La Cage aux folles, was  Martin as  the gay cabaret club owner and Robin Williams as his drag queen wife!  (They starred in the Nichols’ Broadway version of Waiting for Godot, in 1988).  Well, Martin dropped out (he preferred ruining Sgt Bilko).  Williams suddenly had, er, doubtfires, about being jn drag again so soon.  He wanted to be the husband.  Nichols saw Lane in Neil Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor, went backstage and offered him the film. Which role? “Well, the drag queen.” “Oh well, that’s a very good part.”  ”Yes it is.”  Williams and Lane were expert improvisers but Nichols wanted all that out of the way in rehearsals, keeping the best bits for the script – written by Mike’s former comedy duo partner, Elaine May.  ”She’s worked very hard to condense it, so every word counts.” “Like a piece of music,:” agreed Robin.  (Nichols ruined many takes by roaring with laughter). Hank Azaria said he stayed on-set after finishing for the day,  just to sit on the floor between their chairs and hear their  stories about their old improv days. “They’d make each other cry laughing.” 
  29. Peter MacNichol, Bean, 1996.      A major fan of Rowan Atkinson’s comic creation, Mr Bean, another wild and crazy guy wanted to get into the movie. (Odd, that. It wasn’t re-make). But no, two comics face to face was one too many.
  30. John Goodman, The Borrowers, 1996.    The delicious villain, Ocious P Potter,  was not in the 1952 Marty Norton  book that Peter Sellers tried to film in 1964.  So he would have been Pod, the four-inch-high patriarch  of the tiny Clock family living  beneath the floorboards of a house owned by ”human beans”.  Three versions had already been hits  when this Anglo–American version was launched. The battle for Ocious was, therefore, UK v US…   Martin Clunes, Bob Hoskins, Griff Rhys Jones, Alan Rickman v Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin, Bill Murray,  Ed O’Neill, Robin Williams.  The fact that Pesci was also suggested signaled a ton of Home Alone physical attacks on poor Goodman, which out off both Steven Spielberg and his apprentice, Robert Zemeckis, from directing.  They weren’t required!  Nor were Rowan Atkinson and comic-turned-director Mel Smith – off busily making their own Bean movie for the same UK/US companies  

  31. Tom Cruise, Eyes Wide Shut, 1998.   From the outset, Stanley Kubrick told his British scenarist Frederic Raphael that his stars (and he distrusted stars) should be a real couple. First thought: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger (divorced, 2002). Second: Martin and Victoria Tennant (divorced, 1994).  Third: Cruise and Nicole Kidman (divorced, 2001).  His 13th and last  feature was his biggest success- even though it wa sway out of touch with the time it was made in. (Exactly like The Shining).And it killed him on March 7, 1999.
  32. Drew Carrey, Geppetto, 1999.     When not only Martin but his pal, Robin Williams, fled from being Pinocchio’s Pop, the Disney suits realised this was no cinema feature and dumped it into The Wonderful World of Disney… as the third season’s 12th episode.  Carrey made a running joke of the film, and his participation, when hosting Whose Line Is It Anyway? 1998-2007.
  33. Tim Allen, Galaxy Quest, 1999.  “Very funny,” said William Shatner.  Patrick Stewart was more on the ball : “Brilliant. Brilliant.”   Probably the finest Hollywood send-up of a TV show had the cast of a copy-Star Trek  being mistaken for  real spacemen  by Thermian aliens wanting their help!  Harold Ramis wanted Baldwin as Jason. Harold Ramis wanted Baldwin as Jason – or Kevin Kline, Steve Martin – and quit when Tim Allen was chosen.  Ramis  later agreed Allen was great. ”He had  that Shatner-esque swagger down pat,” said George Takei. “And I roared when the shirt came off and Sigourney Weaver rolls her eyes and says: There goes that shirt again…. How often did we hear that on the set? [Laugh].”  (Allen thought he was channelling Yul Brynner’s king from The Ten Commandments, 1954).
  34. Eddie Murphy, Shrek, 2000.     A decade earlier at his Amblin Entertainment, long before giving birth to DreamWorks, Steven Speilberg was planning his animation debut – with Martin voicing the Donkey opposite Bill Murray as the titular green ogre. (Shrek is Yiddish for monster). Martin didn’t stand a chance (well, it wasn’t a re-hash!) when DreamWorks was born because the chief, Jeffrey Katzenberg, had always promised Murphy they would make an animation feature together… sometime. They knew each other since they started in movies – as Murphy made 48 Hrs, Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop, 1981-1983, when Paramount was co-run by Katzenberg.
  35. Richard Gere, Chicago, 2001.
  36. Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2002.   The first one…  Well, the second…   Back in the 90s, Steven Spielberg got his hands on the first script (by Ted Elliott and Terry Rosso) and was dickering between Steve Martin, Bill Murray and Robin Williams for Captain Jack Sparrow. (Why not Tom Hanks?) Spielberg couldn’t have been more wrong, or totally old-fashioned.   Obviously  his Jack would npt have had mascara, gold teeth and a Keith Richards’ rock ‘n’ roll shuffle. Because, believe it or not, Disney refused the very idea of a film based one of their Disneyland rides.  Until, that is, the studio hired Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolport to beef up the original screenplay. Over the years, seven other actors in were approached about Sparrow: Jim Carrey, Robert De Niro, Cary Elwes, Michael Keaton, Matthew McConnaughey, Rik Mayall and Christopher Walken.

  37. Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2004.    
    Well, of course, Martin was keen. It was a re-make! Would have been his tenth. Except he looked more like Grandpa Joe than chocolatier Willy Wonka. Director Tim Burton’s 29 other fancies for Willy were his ole Betelgeuse, Michael Keaton. Plus Martin, Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams. And the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy – Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  38. Kevin Spacey, Superman Returns, 2005.
  39. George Clooney, Up In The Air, 2009.     He may not even know this…  Director Jason Reitman wrote it for Clooney and no oneelse. However if George turned him down, then he’d go to Martin – with a total rewrite. Reitman would have been wasting his time.  Martin would have refused to play Ryan Bingham – the movie was not a re-make.
  40. Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006.    During 25 years in Development Hell, the titular casting also included Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most lunatic notions were… Warren Beatty. Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!

  41. Paul Rudd, Dinner For Schmucks, 2009.    Martin and Sacha Baron Cohen (“the new Peter Sellers”) (hah!) were among the 2006 choices for the (as always, highly flawed) re-make of the French Diner de cons, 1998, writer-directed by Francis Veber. If they’d only stopped tampering with his (near) perfection…   when Jacques Villeret was the original con.
  42. Sacha Baron Cohen, Les Miserables, 2011.    Martin, Rowan Atkinson, Billy Crystal, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams…  For some reason, it was only comics (oh, and Geoffrey Rush) seen for the despicable Thénardier. 
  43. Jesse Eisenberg, The Double,  2012.    Seventeen years earlier, Roman Polanski had great trouble trying to film the Dostoievski tale  of a  man faced with his doppleganger and total opposite: confident, charismatic, good with women.  (Last made by Bertolucci as Partner, 1968).  John Travolta turned his back on  $8m (and Paris) in June 1995.  Anthony Hopkins had no time (booked for Nixon, Picasso, etc). Jack Nicholson, Al  Pacino weren’t keen.   Martin was but the project collapsed when Isabelle Adjani quit followed by Polanski.  Jesse (just 12 at that time) finally made it in London for actor-director Richard Ayoade.   A flop – and re-make addict – for years,  Martin  was inexplicably given a lifetime (or still living?)  Oscar in 2014
  44. Johnny Depp, Into The Woods, 2013.  







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  44