Woody Harrelson

  1. Adian Quinn, Benny and Joon, 1992.       As soon as the Cheers TV star quit (for the better paid Indecent Proposal), he was hit by a $5m MGM suit alleging “taking advantage of his  new popularity by disregarding his existing obligations.”  MGM also filed conspiracy charges against Paramount, producer Sherry Lansing and  UK director Adrian Lyne for allegedly inducing Harrelson to breach his contract. Woody says he quit in anger when his then girlfriend Laura Dern was not Joon as promised. (She was, in fact, offered more money than usual but balked at third billing).  Paramount paid MGM $400,000 and then some to smooth everything over.
  2. Dennis Hopper, Speed, 1993. Speed, 1993.  When Paramoutn fell out of love with the Die Hard on a Bus thriller, Fox (the home of Die Hard) grabbed the rights and because of their successful White Men Can’t Jump, the hero was handed to Wesley Snipes and the nutjob villain to Woody.  They preferred the similar but less triumphant Money Train.  
  3. Mathew McConaughey, A Time To Kill, 1995.     “There wasn’t an actor from Macauley Culkin to George Burns that was not discussed,” director Joel Schumacher told me in Deauville, France, about his  casting sessions with  novelist and co-producer John Grisham. “The ones he didn’t veto, I vetoed.”  Truth is, Grisham did not want anyone playing… well, himself, really, in the film of his first and most personal novel.
  4. Antonio Banderas, Assassins, 1995.    The new, young hit-man on the block aims to knock over the old maestro. Whether he is Connery or Stallone.
  5. Kevin Spacey, American Beauty, 1998.     Woody for the miserable spouse/father, Lester Burnham… ?! Aw c’mon ! Chevy Chase, Kevin Costner, Jeff Daniels, Tom Hanks, John Travolta and Bruce Willis were also in the loop. UK stage director Sam Mendes fought hard for Spacey. “There’s one thing better than having a really good actor, and that’s having a really good actor who has never done this kind of role before.” Spacey won his second Oscar despite masturbating in the shower – the high point of Lester’s day: “it’s all downhill from here.”
  6. Jeremy Piven, Black Hawk Down, 2001.    As  the  titular chopper’s pilot.
  7. Sharlto Copley, The A Team, 2009.    Woody and Ryan Reynolds were considered for Captain “Howling Mad” Murdock. Then, director Joe Caranahan saw Neil Blomkamp’s surprise South African winner, District 9, 2009 and fell for Copley playing a hero, described by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as not “the brightest bulb on the tree.”
  8. William H Macy, Shameless, TV, 2010.        NBC, HBO, finally Showtime – only took producer John Wells five years to win a US TV deal for the re-make of the BBC hit series by Paul Abbott.Woody had been named for the NBC version. Macy and Wells worked together on ER, TV, during 1994-1998. Macy was delighted to win. “I was born to play this role”
  9. Ashton Kutcher, Two And A Half Men, TV, 2011- 2015.     Highest paid comedy TV star Charlie Sheen was sacked after eight years due to his meltdown feud with the show’s co-creator Chuck Lorre – massive news on TV, Twitter, Facebook, every media known to man, including Sheen’s own US tour. Unless he could find someone exciting he could work with, Lorre wasn’t sure if he wanted to continue Men – he already had two other hit shows, Mike & Molly and The Big Bang Theory.  Suggestions included Woody, Hugh Grant, Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, John Stamos. Enter: Kutcher,star of That ’70s Show.  He already had a Warner deal via his Katalyst company – and so, the studio’s billion dollar syndication income was secured. Because that’s all this casting call was all about. Money. 
  10. Sean Hayes, The Three Stooges, 2011.    The Farrelly brothers looked over Harrelson, veteran comic-writer Besser (90 screen roles since 1996), James Marsden and even Justin Timberlake for Larry Fine in what was an obvious flop from the get-go. Bobby and Peter adored them (hence their own un-subtle comedies) but there were not many other fans left of the Stooges – and their literal slap-happy boinks, pokes, slaps, nyuk-nyuks and nyaaahhhs. Mel Brooks had backed off from such a project in 1974 for exactly the reason that this one failed. “It’s so hard to sustain a plot that could withstand their antics for that long.”
  11. Oscar Isaac, Surburbicon, UK-US, 2016.    Change of Bud Cooper  from Harrelson to Isaac in a weird mess of a movie. Written by the Coen brothers after Blood Simple, it was respun (first mistake)  by  George Clooney,  who also (second) directed. ReelViews web critic James  Berardinelli got it right. “Despite having the best talent available to anyone working in Hollywood, his movies misfire at a roughly 50% rate. Suburbicon joins Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and The  Monuments Men in this category.”



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  11