Sylvester Stallone

  1. Gianni Russo,  The Godfather, 1971..
  2. John Martino, The Godfather, 1971.
  3. Al Pacino, Serpico, 1973.    Sly did his own Frank Serpico-style cop (including beard) in Nighthawks, 1981. “It’s not easy sounding intelligent when you’re being muffled… like a family of swallows decided to build a home in my mouth.”
  4. James Caan, Rollerball, 1975.    A (rare) wise move. “Truthfully, I mumble, I wish I didn’t. It’s mainly because of an accident at birth which makes it very hard to articulate with any sense of clarity. Don’t take it personally, just ask my psychotherapist.”
  5. RA Dow, Squirm, 1975.      Writer-director Jeff Liebermnn’s original players were to be Sly, Kim Basinger, Martin Sheen in the el cheapo horror trying to do for earthworms what Jaws did for sharks.   Then, his agent called… Rocky was on! It proved to be Dow’s one and only movie. Maybe the killer earthworms got him.
  6. Harrison Ford, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
  7. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1977.
  8. Ryan O’Neal, The Driver, 1977. When Steve McQueen proved tired of car movies, auteur Walter Hill sent his script to Sly. Wrong month. He was up to his ass in FIST.
  9. Keith Carradine, Pretty Baby, 1977.  The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light district of New Orleans, circa 1917. French director Louis Malle saw 28 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 17 guys for for the real lif, misshapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film. Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second. Before falling for Carradine, Malle saw Albert Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, the new in town Mel Gibson  Dustin Hoffman, Malcolm McDowell (the only Brit short-listed), Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve (planning to make us believe a man could fly), future director Rob Reiner, John Travolta (more into Grease)… plus such flat out surprises as Stallone (prepping FIST),  Burt Reynolds and even the far too creepy Joe Pesci and Christopher Walken.
  10. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stay Hungry, 1978.    A fine, breakthrough role  –  if  he had never  made Rocky.

  11. Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978.    Sly  was even allowed  to refashion some of Luke’s dialogue… after Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino passed. “Yeah, yeah, I know – everyone  has a  horror story! It was between this and FIST. I was very foolish. I didn’t have the guts to do it, and at that time I really wasn’t a fleshed-out actor. I don’t know even if I am now. It just seemed so – what is the word? – naked, and it was a much more liberal point of view. Now I think I should’ve done it. Usually whenever you’re scared of something, do it. If you’re not afraid of it, don’t do it.”
  12. Christopher Atkins, The Blue Lagoon, 1979.     Rocky as a shipwrecked teen (!)  – opposite an equally nude Brooke Shields. On a desert island.   What was director Randal Kleiser thinking!
  13. Richard Gere, American Gigolo, 1979.    Some producers (or their wives?) obviously believed in the Italian Stallion image…  Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger  (and even… Chevy Chase!!) were unlikely choices for the titular Julian Kaye, He was given to Gere, taken over by John Travolta, who then walked and Gere jumped back in. For a character he didn’t know very well.  He’d  never owned a suit, spoke languages or sold his body to rich women. “There’s kind of a gay thing that’s flirting through it and I didn’t know the gay community at all. I wanted to immerse myself in all of that. . So I just dove in.”
  14. Dudley More, Arthur, 1980.    Again… what  were they thinking?      Sly as a drunk?!!   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: Jeff Bridges, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Robin Williams… and quite ridiculously, Stallone (!), James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino (that would have been tough going!), Robert Redford, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad – and one reserve.
  15. Richard Gere, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1981.     What were they thinking?
  16. John Belushi, Neighbours, 1981.    “The idea of working with Arnold  came up twice… One was with John Hughes and it was about a pair of neighbours that were determined to destroy one another with their back-and-forth everyday vendettas. It  was based on an incident that actually happened with me…   The second was about  a pair of undercover cops… dressing in wigs and dresses to expose a serial killer. Can you imagine  us two mugs trying to pass ourselves off as even semi-attractive women?”
  17. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Conan The Barbarian, 1982.     Sly was on standby – in case Arnie couldn’t pump his acting irons.
  18. Nick Nolte,  48 Hrs, 1982.   ”You’re gonna be sorry you ever met me”/’I’m already sorry.”  Mickey Rourke was to be the cop stuck with paroled criminal Gregory Hines, Richard Pryor, Howard E. Rollins Jr or Denzel Washington?  Also in the San Francisco PD mix were Sly, Jeff Bridges, Clint Eastwood (he wanted to be the hood), Kris Kistofferson, Michael Lerner, Burt Reynolds
  19. Nick Apollo Forte, Broadway Danny Rose, 1983.    “Woody Allen  cast me as the insipid club singer, but unfortunately I didn’t do it.” So no reunion… Sly’s third film was Bananas, 1970. “A a turning point in my life. He rejected me saying I was not intimidating enough. I was about to fold my tent and go home, but then I thought ‘OK,  Sly, this is one of those serious, life-altering crossroads.’ So, I psyched myself up, dirtied my face, messed up my hair, built up a head of steam, went back to the set, tapped him on the shoulder, locked eyes with him, and through a crooked, semi-snarling expression said ‘Do I intimidate you now, pal?’ And lo and behold, the job was forthcoming.”
  20. Richard Gere, The Cotton Club, 1984.     He was completely on board during an 1981 meeting with producer Robert Evans… “Until he said ‘I might have something that’ll interest you.’ Whereupon, he returned with a duffle bag full of X-rated Polaroids. He  dumped this mess on the coffee table and burrowing through all these poor actresses that thought they were going to eventually amount to something, he came across a very X-rated Polaroid of the girl I was dating and said: ‘Hey, look, we  have something in common!’  I thought  blood  was going to come out of my eyes and felt such loathing…   What was the man thinking? Is this his idea of bonding, by showing me a salacious image of the girl I thought was beyond anything so perverse?  Guess not. Without a word, I exited his house and his life… It’s amazing that he is still taken seriously as a functioning entity.”

  21.  Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, 1984.  
    “Here’s what happened.” Producer Jerry Bruckheimer tells all… “We went to Paramount and said: ‘We want Eddie for this’ They had the script, they loved it, they wanted to make the movie. They also had a pay-or-play commitment with Stallone, and they didn’t just want to pay him. So,  they wanted him for this movie. We said: ‘We love Sly, but we created this script for Eddie.’ Even though Eddie didn’t know that we’d developed it for him. But we said: ‘Fine, you sign the checks, we’ll do what you want.’
    Over to Sly: “ I thought they’d sent it to the wrong house. I knew me doing gay jokes and moving like an intimidating mud slide through Beverly Hills would not deliver the comic torque Paramount was looking for,.  So I re-wrote it to suit what I do best, and by the time I was done, it looked like the opening scene from Saving Private Ryan on the beaches of Normandy. Needless to say, they dropkicked me… the rest is history. So when I suggested Eddie, it was one of my better moments. Of course, now everyone lays claim to discovering talent.”    
    Bruckheimer: “We met with Sly and he said: ‘I write my own stuff. We said; ‘OK, go ahead with your own thing.’ And when the project came in,  it had gotten way too expensive. He had written in car chases and everything. Barry Diller said: ‘Wait a minute, we’re not spending that kind of money on this movie.’ So he turned to us and asked who we would put in this movie if Sly couldn’t do it? We said:  ‘Eddie Murphy!’ But we didn’t say we’d originally given it to the studio for Eddie. Barry said: ‘Great, go make the movie!’ And he gave Sly his script back with all the things he wrote and Sly went off and used that to make Cobra… We went off and made it with Eddie. They still thought we were crazy because this was the first time an African-American had carried a studio movie. I think, ever. We were told we were nuts to spend that kind of money on Eddie, alone.”   Mrs Sly was in  the sequel; Brigitte Nielsen also made Sly’s re-write  – Cobra, 1986.  As in: “If crime’s a disease, Cobra’s the cure.”

  22. Michael Douglas, Romancing The Stone, 1984.     Sly had a hard time  accepting roles from outside  his head.  Passed Stone for Rhinestone with Dolly Parton, 1984 Another of his acknowledged major errors.
  23. Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984.      ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Stallone, Al Pacino, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Hoffman, Tom Hanks,  Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Reeve (!), Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan, but terrific… because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!” (Huston had directed Sly in the most absurd POW movie ever made, Escape To Victory, 1980).
  24. Harrison Ford, Witness, 1985.Early runners for the John Book course were Stallone, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson.  Sly placed it was among his worst decisions.  Nicholson wasn’t keen on any of the suggested directors (John Badham, David Cronenberg included).  And  it was way  “too rural,” said the suits. Until Ford signed on for Amish country. Australian Peter Weir directed when his Mosquito Coast had budget problems. Ironcially, his star had been Nicholson – but Ford also made this one with Weir in 1986.  Witness had first been  an idea for a chapter of US TV’s longest-running series, Gunsmoke,  1955-1975. Then  it had been for James Arness as Marshall Dillon to go searching for a murder witness on an Amish farm.
  25. Al Pacino, Revolution, UK/Norway, 1986.    With Al Pacino undecided, UK director (of sorts) Hugh Hudson, thought about  of Rocky the Revolutionary. “On the other hand, Stallone would probably have killed it  stone dead on every level.”  No, Hudson did that.
  26. Dolph Lundgren, Masters of the Universe, 1986.    Cannon, a small company always thinking big, obviously tried to convince Sly to become He-Man.  Lundgren loathed it. “Pretty much my lowest point as an actor – it was a kids’ movie. How much could I do as an actor running around in swim trunks and chest armour?”Ironically, a real actor like Frank Langella adored  being Skeletor. Professional surfer Laird John Hamilton was to replace  Lundgren in a sequel but Cannon finally ran out of juice and chutzpah. 
  27. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.     In all, 39 possibilities for the  off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!)  Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired: Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role inThe Fly),  William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another  cop duo in The Hidden),  Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don  Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops:  Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton. Three years later, Stallone and Kurt Russell formed their own cop duo, Tango and Cash.
  28. Peter Weller, RoboCop, 1986.  The cop as a machine – “the future of law enforcement.”   Blade Runner bred the idea. Actors galore came and went: Armand Assante, Tom Berenger, Dale Dye (Hollywood’s favourite military adviser on Vietnam war films), Peter Fonda (“Here I am!” “No, you’re not!”), Rutger Hauer, Lance Henriksen (when Weller complained about the suit),  Michael Ironside (first choice), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone. Most were too big for the suit, (seven of them), too bulky to fit into a police car! Every studio in town laughed at the concept. Even the short-tempered Dutch director Paul Verhoeven first thought it a dumb actioner. (Read it again, said his missus).  Orion took a chance on it (and his Hollywood debut), ending up with two sequels, four more as movie-length TV series episodes,  two cartoon shows, various comic books…  and a $1bn-plus from toys and figurines alone. Ken Russell said it was the greatest science-fiction film  since Metropolis in 1927. Ken was always over then top.
  29. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.

  30. Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1987.  
    There were 17 possible John McClanes… From Michael Madsen, Tom Berenger, and top TV heroes Don Johnson and Richard Dean Anderson to A-listers Charles Bronson, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone… and Frank Sinatra?  Yes, well, Roderick Thorpe’s book, Nothing Lasts Forever, sequelised  The Detective  – and  that 1967 film  starred Frank (as Joe Leland,  changed here to  McClane) and so  Sinatra had first dibs on any sequels. At age 73, old Rheumy BlueEyes wisely passed. Otherwise it could have  been “Dooby-dooby-do”  in place of  “Yippee-ki-yay.”  In his 1980 move debut, The First Deadly Sin, Willis is seen leaving a bar as Sinatra walks in.  So it flows… He was soon  taking roles from most of those on the McClane list.

  31. Robert De Niro, Midnight Run, 1987.   There were 23 possibilites for the lean, mean  skip-tracer (tracing felons who skipped bail) – on the run from the FBI and the Mob after capturing Vegas embezzler Charles Grodin.  Who knew De Niro could be more subtle at comedy than… Jeff Bridges, Charles Bronson, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Ryan O’Neal (!), Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Mickey Rourke, Kurt Russell, John Travolta, Jon Voight and even the musclebound Arnie and Sly – Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Director Martin Brest, that’s who.
  32. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987The pitch was fine:Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, apparently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Sly, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang).  And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post,  “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”
  33. Kevin Costner, Bull Durham, 1987. Ron Shelton had one helluva  job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball? Get outa here. Ball movies don’t sell.”  But his producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad and recognised what Roger Ebert would call a sports movie that knows what it is talking about. – because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” Orion stumped up $9m, eight weeks, creative freedom – the cast cut their costs because of the script. For the minor-league veteran, Crash Davis, Shelton  looked at: Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones (he was baseball icon Ty Cobb in Shelton’s Cobb, 1994), Michael Keaton, Stephen Lang, Nick Nolte (more into football), Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell (who worked on the script with Shelton), Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis – and even three foreigners to the game: Aussie Mel Gibson, French Christophe(r) Lambert and Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Result: more sports from Shelton (basketball, golf, boxing) and more baseball movies from Hollywood: A League of Their Own, Eight Men Out (with Sheen), Field of Dreams (Costner), Major League I and II (Berenger and Sheen).  
  34. Bob Hoskins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987.
    Surprisingly, the murder mystery where the chief suspect is a cartoon character was based on the never made Cloverleaf, Robert Towne’s third Jake Gittes script. For Chinatown, read Toontown. So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant? Well, why not Gittes, himself – aka Jack Nicholson? So who should be Gittes, er, shamus Eddie Valiant. Well, why not Gittes, himself – Jack Nicholson? No, producer Steven Spielberg could see no further than Harrison Ford. Too expensive! OK, Ed Harris, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone? Director Robert Zemeckis also considered Charles Grodin, Aussie comic Don Lane, Eddie Murphy (soon a toon in the Shrek movies), Joe Pantoliano – and auditioned voice artist Peter Renaday. And they could never contact the hideaway Bill Murray… When he read that in a paper, Murray screamed out loud- he would have loved being Valiant. Not that much fun, reported Hoskins. “I had to hallucinate to do it,” he told Danish TV. After working with green screens for six months, 16 hours a day, he lost control.  “I had weasels and rabbits popping out of the wall at me.”

  35. Mark Harmon, The Presidio, 1988.T  he usual old cop-young cop routine but set to a dull military beat in San Francisco’s Presidio Army Base.  Due for Lee Marvin-Jeff Bridges, but Lee fell ill and died.  Gene Hackman-Bridges were not as hot as Sean Connery-Don Johnson – except Don was hog-tied to Miami Vice.  OK, Sean-Kevin Costner – he quit so no Untouchables reunion as the pair finally became Sean-Mark Harmon.  Also up  for the young upstart were 15 others:  Alec Baldwin Michael Biehn, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michael Keaton, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis, even Europeans Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme None could have saved what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called “a clone, of a film assembled out of spare parts from… the cinematic junkyard.”

  36. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.

  37. Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.   
  38. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.      ’Tis the season for cops – he had two to choose from…   UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars – Stallone, Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, , Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Travolta… and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver – all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville. Where Sly would tarry awhile in the 90s.
  39. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Next…?  Country bumpkins v the Mafia. Again. For the hero of his respun Raw Deal, 1985, UK director John Irvin went from The Obvious Aces: Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… to the Tango and Cash possibles: Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kurt Rusell… plus The Also-Rans: Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Dennis Quaid. And even French Christopher Lambert, Swedish Dolph Lundgren and Belgian Jean Claude Van Damme… for a Chicago cop!
  40. Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, 1998. A surprise winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of… Sly, Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Good Will Hunting script Oscars), Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach), the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell and the star of the 2016 flop, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course,  but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.

  41. 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. 

  42. Jim Belushi, Curly Sue, 1990.    “What I thought would be this cute, sweet little movie experience ended up going on for something like five months,” reported Kelly Lynch. “So much money was spent. It was insane! It was going to be me, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey –  a whole different situation. [They left for stage dates].  Those were two guys I knew really well, but I’d never met Jimmy [Belushi] before, and then he and [director John Hughes making his final film] didn’t get along. I kinda felt like a mom dealing with two 12-year-old boys.“  Also in the Bill Dancer mix were Jeff Bridges, Richard Dreyfuss, Mel Gibson, Jeff Goldblum, Steve Guttenberg, Ray Liotta, Bill Murray (off shooting What About Bob?), Kurt Russell, Tom Selleck, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. [Quotes va IMDb; no other source credited].
  43. Franc D’Ambrosio, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.
  44. Michael Douglas, Basic  Instinct, 1991.
  45. Val Kilmer, Thunderheart, 1991.  UK director Michael Apted’s first  thriller was inspired by 57 unsolved murders on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s as The Traditionals fought Tribal government goons…  making Pine Ridge (pop: 1100) the Murder Capitol of the Nation. The only cliche in sight is the usual pairing of old cop-young cop (or FBI agents here), the rest was the usual Apted brilliance.  He shuffled 13 choices for the younger agent, Ray Levoi: Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel, Gibson, Tommy Lee Jons, Michael Keaton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvster Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis Levoi was 1/4th Sioux. Kilmer (“the most unsung leading man of his generation,” for Chicago critic  Roger Ebert) is 1/8th Cherokee.
  46. Wesley Snipes, Passenger 57,  1992.  Die Hard in a jet liner…   Stallone flew away from the preposterous hi-jacking er, drama. More like a Silly Symphony.  The two scenarists got back at  Stallone by changing the name of  Tom Sizemore’s airline chief  to… Sly.
  47. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.  There were  30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon,three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans  Bruce  Campbell and Chuck Norris.  All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  48. Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction, 1993.    
  49. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Sudden Death, 1994.  Sly and Arnold Schwarzenegger saw little sense in this blatant Die Hard At The Stanley Cup Final .Even easier for Bruce Willis to refuse – why bother  being McCord when he was McClane again in Die Hard With A Vengeance.
  50. Brad Pitt, Se7en, 1995.  Even (again) having full liberty to change his character’s lines didn’t do it for him. He agreed with Denzel Washington. “Too dark and evil.”

  51. William Baldwin, Fair Game,  1995.     Sly had lately relocated to Miami, so the locale was switched  from San Francisco to net him… for  what?  A second movie  from the same cliché-ridden book behind his Cobra flop.  Oh, sure, he was mega interested!
  52. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin, 1996.
  53. Nicolas Cage, Face/Off, 1997.     The draft notion (again): Sly v Arnie!  Hong Kong directing ace John Woo changed all that. “They  had a hard time,” laughed Woo, “trying to find someone close enough to [Arnold’s]  kind of measurements to be the baddy.”  He then Woo-ed Travolta and Nicolas Cage.
  54. Robert De Niro, Jackie Brown, 1997.     Just as De Niro craved Max Cherry,  Stallone’s people pressured Quentin Tarantino to give Louis, the ex-con, to Sly. As Max, the bail bondsman, was already promised to Forster, De Niro was compensated with Louis.  Sly then understood  he’d have to engineer his own comeback.  Hey,  how’s about Rocky 6?
  55. Dennis Keiffer, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, 1997.     The $20m debut of the franchise based on the video game had one solitary name – ChristopheI Lambert (!). The second also needed one.  Except  Sly wisely passed on Baraka.
  56. Samuel L Jackson, The Negotiator, 1998.    Kevin Spacey refused the role opposite Stallone (“too elementary”), then decided it would be more fun with  his old pal from so many Big Apple casting calls.
  57. Kurt Russell, Soldier, 1998.     A super military man trained from birth to be a dispassionate, calculating killer Todd 3465 is “a block of muscles and popping veins, said San Francisco Chronicle critic Peter Stack. So who else would they  call?  However, Sly was otherwise engaged and Russell continued to be, said Stack, the only actor in Hollywood who refuses to allow either humour or irony to interfere with his sweaty game.
  58. Tommy Lee Jones, Rules Of Engagement, 1999.     Another soldier rejected by Sly – Marine Colonel Hays “Hodge” Hodges.  Sly often joked another film he refused was…  And When Harry Ate Sally.
  59. Dennis Quaid, Frequency, 2000.     In 1993, Renny Harlin and Sylvester  Stallone made Cliffhanger relatively happily.  Four years on, when the Finnish director  called Sly to head up his firefighters’ time travel number,  His Slyness, apparently,  wanted  too much lucre… No one  would pay Sly $20m anymore.  Gregory Hoblit helmed the far cheaper Quaid. 
  60. Lucy Liu, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever, 2002.     For  the Game Boy Advance game (based on an early script, not vice versa), the reluctant  FBI-DIA  duo was once due for Wesley Snipes-Jet Li, then Vin Diesel and Sly. Finally, a Stallone role  went, for the first  time  to a woman. Hadda happen! 

  61. Brendan Fraser, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2002.  “A pretty grim experience all around – longest year and a half of my life.”  Director Joe Dante refusing to say anymore about how his planned tribute to his late friend, toon ikon Chuck Jones, ended up a mess. Then again, when the suits approve Fraser over Sly, George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Ferrell, and Michael J Fox for DJ Drake, you know you’re in trouble.
  62. Aaron Eckhart, Suspect Zero, 2004.     In the 90s, Sly, Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise were all keen on playing the disgraced Dallas FBI Agent. Cruise even acted as producer – sans credit.

  63. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire, 2004. 
    Tony Scott backed out of directing the first version in 1986, but helped  Denzel Washington retrieve his lost taste for acting in this re-make.  Sergio Leone chose  Robert De Niro  and Marlon Brando nearly played A J Quinnell’s ex-CIA hero turned mercenary (certainly helped re-write  him) but Scott Glenn won the  role. Tony Scott  had wanted Robert Duvall. The new scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland,  recalled going  into the LA Video Archives store  in the 80s and asking the clerk: “What’s good?” The clerk said:  Man on Fire. The clerk was Quentin Tarantino.  In both films Creasy  is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, almost a daughter to him, that  he’s bodyguarding.  Yeah, rather like a matrix for Liam Neeson’s Takens. So no surprise to find Liam among some 25 actors up for Creasy. Alec Baldwin, Sean Bean (a nearly 007)  Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Viggo Mortensen,  Gary Oldman, Dennis Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Kurt Russell,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis…  even our dear old  Bob Hoskins.  Creasy was later  Bollywooded by the inimitable  Amitabh Bachchan (at age  63!). There were three songs, of course!

  64. Channing Tatum, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, 2008.     GI Sly was the 1993 plan.  Long before Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura  took over… the Brussels-based GIJOE. Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity.
  65. Eli Roth,  Inglorious Basterds, 2008.    On an early Quentin Tarantino wish list for Lieutenant Aldo “The Apache” Raine in the Wild Bunch take on The Dirty Dozen..   Alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sergeant Hugo Stiglitz (named after the Mexican star of more than 250 mainy B-movies) and Bruce Willis as Sergeant Donny “The Bear Jew” Donowitz – the father, in the Tarantinoverse, of the film producer  character, Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek), in QT’s 1992 True Romancescript.  “Aldo Raine” is Tarantino’s homage to actor Aldo Ray (his ex-wife, Johanna, was among QT’s casting dirctors) and William Derane’s memorable Charles Rane role in Rolling Thunder, 1977.  So,   Cute (er, QT) failed to achieve his dream of having Arnie, Bruce and Sly in the same movie.  Sly puiled that off in his  Expendables franchise.
  66. Christian Slater, Dolan’s Cadillac, 2008.  As IMDb pointed out Jimmy Dolan’s description of “having a thousand names, being able to look at you… so that your prostate goes bad, and killing the grass where he spits,”  is all but 100% that  of Randall Flagg, The Walkin’ Dude, in another filmed  Stephen King book, The Stand, Sly didn’t t exactly spring to mind for either role. This, by the way, is the 115th of King’s staggering 313 screen credits since Carrie in 1976.
  67. Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, 2011.   
    Some of the names – and heights – up for Lee Child’s craggy ex-military cop-cum-Sherlock-homeless  were absurd.  Jim Carrey, for example. Jim Carrey!  Some 25 others  were Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Cary Elwes,  Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Hugh Wolverine Jackman, Dwayne Johnson (“I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher”),  Avatar’s Stephen Lang, Dolph Lundgren, Edward Norton, Ron (Hellboy) Perlman, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves (he became John Wick x 5),  Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington and the battle-fatigued  Bruce Willis.  Any of them would have been more acceptable than Tom Cruise  – with the exception of Carrey, Depp, Elwes, Reeves and, obviously the Euros. Pitt was best of the pack (remember Fight Club?)… although no one even thought of the obvious choice –   Liam Neeson!  Reacher fans were livid about  the 5ft 5ins Cruise daring to be  the  6ft 5ins  action hero. Reminiscent of Anne Rice’s capitulation over  tiny Tom as her “very tall” Lestat in  Interview With The Vampire, in 1994, author Lee Child declared: “Reacher’s size is a metaphor for an unstoppable force – which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Ah! But then in 2018, after the sequel, Child changed his tune about his child. (They share the same birthday, October 29).  ”Ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom Cruise… We’re re-booting,  we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.” And they did with 6ft. 2ins Alan Richtson – Aquaman in Smallville and Hawk in Supergirl and Titans – for the Amazon series.

  68. Jason Statham, Homefront, 2012.   Deliverance Meets Taken.  Sly  adapted  it years before from  Chuck Logan’s novel.  Indeed, it almost became a Rambo chapter.  When too old for the hero, he told Statham  about it during their Expendablesshoots… which is where  Dolph Lundgren also got keen on  it. But Sly was producing.  In 2014, Sly said he’d know the time had come to retire “when you wake up in the morning and you turn around and your ass falls off.” As for his Expendables gang(s)… “We are children with arthritis… We are young forever.”

  69. Ed Harris, Westworld, TV, 2015.   Back in 2004. California’s new Governor – a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger – had no time for movies. Not even the Michael Crichton futuristic thriller he first saw in 1973 “and wanted to remake it for several years.” Stallone took over the re-tread. Still nothing happened… The (second) TV series took off in 2016 (the first was canceled) with Ed Harris as the iconic, robotic gunslinger in a theme park. (Yeah, you’re right… Crichton also wrote Jurassic Park!)
  70. John Travolta, The Life and Death of John Gotti, 2016.      While Gotti Juniors, writers, directors and the years sped by, Travolta remained literally The Teflon Don – as Gotti Sr, was known when the untouchable ruler of New York’s Gambino Mafia family. John Gotti Jr had tried to persuade Pacino or Stallone to play his Pop.  When the film finally opened in June, 2018,Gotti was rapidly  sleeping with the fishes,  roasted by critics and was hit – as in mob  hit – by the public, scoring a mere $1.6m. 

  71. Josh Brolin, Deadpool 2, 2017.   With Ryan Reynolds reigning supreme as the wise-cracking, cancer-ridden, super smart-ass hero, who could oppose him as Cable, the heftily armed cyborg?  (“You’re dark – sure you’re not from the DC Universe?” our Marvel hero asks him). Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld wanted Russell Crowe – and even after Brolin signed, pushed for Jon Hamm. Other Mr Impregnable ideas included Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan, David Harbour, Stephen Lang, Pitt (he shot his Vanisher cameo in two hours), Michael Shannon and the wrinkly brigade (yawn) Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Ron Perlman, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schawarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis.Already Marvel’s villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Brolin had a four-film deal, to reveal more about Cable and, doubtless, extra gags about his stepmother Barbra Streisand’s 1982 Yentl.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  71