Al Pacino


  1. Jon Voight, Catch 22, 1969.“I had my eyes on Milo Mindbinder.”  But director Mike Nicholssaw Pacino  as  Lieutenant Nately.  “I remember the offer because I was not in a great place,” said Al,  when they finally worked tpgether on HBO’s Angels in America – a mere 33 years later.  “Where did you shoot that – Mexico or something? I knew that if I went to Mexico, I was going to come back in a pine box.”   Not long before critics like Manohla Darhgis were calling Pacino, “a riot of one… like some dememted cross between The Mad Hatter and Hercule Poirot, all splutter, rage and churning grey cells… But never out of control.”

  2. Robert Forster, Cover Ne Babe, 1969.  Or Run Shadow Run  when director Noel Black tried to convince the Fox wallets to agree to the unknown Pacino as young film-maker Tony Hall… not that dissimilar to  the great Forster’s role in Medium Cool, 1968.  Very ’68 and a far superior  enterprise.  Robert Altman’s  Cold Day  in the Park find,  Susanne Benton, co-starred. When I asked him for news of her in the 70s, he said: “Who?”

  3. Ben Piazza. Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon, 1970.    “I didn’t feel the part was right.”  Nor Martin Bregman who spent much of his time persuading clients (Woody Allen, Michael Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Liza Minnelli, Barbra Streisand, Raquel Welch) to “avoid material that will bury them.” Pacino made his worst choices during his rift with Bregman.
  4. Robert De Niro, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, 1971.    They were always auditioning for the same few films made in New York.This time, De Niro replaced Pacino, when Al quit to become Michael Corleone. Co-star Leigh Taylor-Young reported their screen romance led to “a tempestuous love affair. “
  5. Warren Beatty, $ (Dollars), 1971.     Director Richard Brooks would have been happier with either Pacino or Gene Hackman as the Hamburg bank robber – of criminals’ cash.  Beatty, he felt, was too handsome, too much A Star. Exactly  why Columbia wanted him!
  6. Elliott Gould, The Touch, 1971.   “To my great surprise,” the Swedish genius director Ingmar Bergman contacted Pacino about a film.   Hoffman as well – according to Gould, the guy who finally became the first  (and last) Hollywood star to work with the Swedish genius. 

  7. Graham Faulkner, Fratello sole, sorella luna (Brother Sun, Sister Moon),   UK-Italy.  1971. 
    Italian stage-screen director Franco Zeffirelli was searching for his favourite saint, Francis of Assisi.  “My first choice was inspired, even though it didn’t work out.”  Playwright Tennessee Williams took him to see his Camino Real  play in New York and “a brilliant boy who was intelligent yet extrovert in a very attractive way…  his Italian looks and sort of winning charm struck me as someone who might play the saint.” Pacino flew to London for a test.  “He had pronounced features, which then seemed more exaggerated and he hadn’t yet learned to moderate his more theatrical gestures for the camera.  Film acting has to be very internalised, otherwise you’re left with melodrama or farce. I told him this but tried to reassure him that his day would come.”  It did when Zeffirelli turned down The Godfather, and  suggested Coppola take a look at Al’s test. Meanwhile Franco chose  Irish actor Frank Grimes for St  Francis (one Francis for another), then changed his mind at the last minute, and went with Londoner Graham Faulkner, who had auditioned for a spare monk, and was judged “virgin wax that can be moulded.”  Result: Zeffirelli’s first screen flop;  neither actor has been really heard of since.

  8. Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid,  1972. 
  9. Jason Miller, The Exorcist1972.
  10. Bruce Dern, The King of Marvin Gardens, 1972.     Knowing Nicholson’s new foundglory would cost too much, director Bob Rafelson offered the older Staebler brother to Al, and the younger to Bruce Dern. “You’ve got to let me do this,”Jack pleaded. And Dernsie became the older brother.

  11. Robert De Niro, Mean Streets, 1973.
    Almost… “I’d showed the script to everyone,” recalled director Martin Scorsese. “I’d even sent it to Francis Coppola, who passed it on to Al… but I never got an answer.”Pacino firedd those agents! (They also warned him off The Godfather). He called the WilliamMorris agency “I’m looking for an agent.” “What’s your name?” asked the telephonist.” “Al Pacino.” “Are you sure?”

  12. Robert De Niro, Bang The Drum Slowly, 1973.   Swopsies! Pacino was booked  for Paul Newman’s 1956 TV role  of baseball pitcher Henry Wiggen when Francis Ford Coppola decided Pacino was Michael Coleone in The Godfather, 1971. De Nro (thefuture star of The Godfather Part Two)  was similarly selected for the driver Paulie in Godpop. Instead, he took over Pacino’s Wiggen.

  13. Dustin Hoffman, Lenny, 1974.     Director Bob Fosse used to kneel, Jolson style, begging Hoffman to make the film. He finally won him by suggesting Pacino was about to sign. He wasn’t – because “I was removed from that at the time they offered it to me.I’ve since got some idea of comics and what they go through and who Lenny Bruce was. Dustin did a great job, so I was happy about that… but that’s one I feel I would have enjoyed doing that I didn’t do.”

  14. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  15. Robert De Niro, The Last Tycoon, 1975.   After Pacino passed, Mike Nichols recommended Dustin Hoffman – and quit when producer Sam Spiegel insisted upon De Niro, then making Taxi Driver. This was Elia Kazan’s final film. He should have stayed retired. As proved by six consecutive flops since The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia – without David Lean, Spiegel was a zero.
  16. Dustin Hoffman, All The President’s Men., 1975.   “There’s a movie in thls,” RR told Woodstein, the Washington Post journo duo of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein within months of their first Watergate  discoveries.  Pacino was his first Bernstein  choice once he switched gears from  from a black-white cinema-verité idea, inspired by Costa Gavras’ political thrillers and into what Warner Bros wanted for it’s money: big names above the title. “But then I chewed it over and for some reason Dustin Hoffman seemed more like Carl in my mind’s eye.” (No kidding!).  “I called… and asked if he was interested. That was a very short phone call.” Hoffman simply said: “What took you so long?”
  17. Bruce Dern, Family Plot, 1975.      While sharing what became, alas, Alfred Hitchcok’s final film. Dern asked The Master: Why me? “Because Mr Packinow wanted a million dollars, and Hitch doesn’t pay a million dollars.” It was some time before Dern understood that Mr Packinow was Mr Pacino. Now… listen to Hitchcock: “If I ever said that actors are cattle, “then Bruce is the golden calf.” Dern grinned at the memory. “You think he was small. But he was big. Six-foot-one. Weighed 285. No one to fuck with.” Hitch was prepping The Short Night when he died, at age 80, on April 29, 1980.
  18. Dustin Hoffman, Marathon Man, 1976.      British director John Schlesinger’s first choice was rejected by the producer Robert Evans. He still called him The Midget and, curiously, booked his shorter shadow. Schlesinger then had “a hard time convincing Hoffman that he was the right age for it.” Hoffman and Pacino were accepted by the Actors Studio the same year.
  19. Paul Newman, Slap Shot, 1976.   This was a macho movie  about ice-hockey and yet Pacino was considerably irked by director George Roy Hill’s “facetious” question: Can you skate? “That’s all he was interested in… Nothing else. Like he was saying: What the hell, it could work with anybody. The way he responded said to me that he was not interested… I should’ve made that movie. That was my kind of character, the hockey player.”
  20. Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now, 1976.

  21. Donald Sutherland, Il Casanova di Federico Fellini (Fellini’s Casanova), Italy-USA, 1976.   As per usual, maestro Federico Fellini played with the idea of superstars – Pacino, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, Jack Nicholson, even Robert Redford!! – before settling for a more parochial venturewith, maybe, Alberto Sordi, Gian Maria Volonte or the unknown cabaret performer Tom Deal. Ultimately, it was “Donaldino.” He had sharedPaul Mazursky’s , Alex in Wonderland, 1970, with Fellini in Hollywood and they metagain on the set of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1900 in 1975.
  22. Harrison Ford, Star Wars, 1976.
  23. Richard Dreyfuss, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977.    Science fiction? Fuggeddaboutit! Pacino’s shouting would have scared the Mothership away! Steven Spielberg was never enamoured of Al since not recognising him at a Malibu party. Pacino threw a magazine at him – “I mean threw it at me!” – and said: “Read this, maybe you’ll learn something. “
  24. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1977.
  25. Robert Powell, Jesus of Narazeth, TV, 1977.     Superman and superdeity offered in the same year…  Franco Zeffirelli tried again, considering Pacino’s “Byzantine face” for the role in what started as a major TV series.”My first test, not directed by Zeffirelli, was a disaster!” said Powell.”I had only two days to learn difficult pages from The Bible.I was bad and looked awful in a false beard and wig.All you can hope to do is get away with it.”
  26. David Carradine, Bound For Glory, 1977.   Right height.And attitude. “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”
  27. James Caan, Un autre homme, une autre chance (US: Another Man, Another Chance; UK: Another Man, Another Woman), France-US, 1977.     Pretentious director Claude Lelouch and producer Alexandre Mnouchkine were at the Beverly Wilshire hotel waiting for their dream star when another Coreleone stuck his head in the door. “Hi, I’m James Caan, I love Lelouch movies and want to do one – if you give me eight days’ notice.” And he left without another word. Lelouch said only a big star could do that. “We’ve found our star.”For, as things turned out, Les Uns et Les Autres, as well, in 1981 (with his girlfriend among the extras: Sharon Stone).

  28. 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 29hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for pretty  little Violet… 15 actresses for her mother… and 19 guys for for the real life, misshapen, hydrocephallic photographer Ernest J. Bellocq, whose Storyville work of the epoch influenced the style of the surprisingly elegant film. Oskar Werner talked himself out of it. “Has to be an American actor,” he told Malle. That’s how Robert Redford was first choice, Jack Nicholson second..  Then before falling for  Keith Carradine, Malle saw Jeff Bridges, Albert Brooks, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Clint Eastwood (he didn’t take up photography until The Bridges of Madison County, 1994),  the new in town Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve (about to make us believe a man could fly), future director Rob Reiner, John Travolta (more into Grease)… Plus one sole  Brit, Malcolm McDowell .and such  flat out surprises as Joe Pesci (!!), Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone  (prepping FIST), and even Christopher Walken.

  29. Richard Gere, Days of Heaven, 1978.    “I love [director] Terrence Malick and I love the picture,” said Pacino, passing like Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta.Al always knew Gere was a movie star, “it’s written all over him.”
  30. Tommy Lee Jones, The Betsy, 1978.    Author Harold Robbins’ 1972 plan (opposite John Wayne) when seeing his book as an auto-industry-Godfather. “I can’t give myself to something unless it presents some kind of challenge or stimulation.”
  31. Jon Voight, Coming Home, 1978.      Jane Fonda’s paraplegic husband was loosely based on Ron Kovic,author of Born on the Fourth of July -which Pacino wasalso considering. He did neither. In fact, he never made any Vietnam piece.
  32. Roy Scheider, All That Jazz, 1979.      When director Bob Fosse was convinced (by his health) not to try and play his screen self, Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon was chased and/or avoided by… Alan Alda, Alan Bates (“too British,” said Fosse), Warren Beatty (keen, but Gideon must not die at the end!), Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss (“afraid of the dancing”), Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (“too old”), Paul Newman (“Dumb of me… a terrible oversight”), Jacking anything), Jack Nicholson, George Segal, Jon Voight. Said Pacino, who passed: “When I saw Roy Scheider do it, I thought: Did they get the right guy or what? He was great!”
  33. Dustin Hoffman, Kramer v Kramer, 1979.     “It was a great book; it wasn’t a screenplay yet. I didn’t get into the book. I had a feeling it was not for me.”He chose another movie with kids, his fourth successive flop: Author, Author.He preferred the kids to the reviews.One British critic said when Hoffman smiled, he projected the requisite warmth, humanity – “when Pacino smiles, you get the distinct impression he’s just taken out a contract on the entire cast.”
  34. Dudley Moore, Arthur, 1980.      The suits wanted a US star. 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, Pacino (that would have been tough going!), James Caan, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta. Enough for an Arthur XI soccer squad – and one reserve.
  35. Ray Sharkey, Willie and Phil, 1980.    Writer-director Paul Mazursky’s take on Jules et Jim, 1962, was always intended for Woody Allen – and Pacino!   
  36. Treat Williams, Prince of the City, 1980.  For almost two years, director Brian De Palma was aiming his take on the NYPD anti-corruption cop Bob Leuci at Al Pacino – who, naturally, found it far too close to his NYPD anti-corruption cop, Serpico.  OK, what about De Niro or Pacino?  (Were there only two honest cops in town?). When Sidney Lumet gave up Scarface and took over the Leuci story, he wanted just the one “unknown” actor…. “because,” he told Williams, “you don’t really give a shit what anyone thinks of you.”  De Palma, then made Scarface. Not that the swop was that amical. And he starred Travolta in Blow Out first. Lumet’s Princewas adored by Akira Kurosawa, described by delighted a Sidney as “the Beethoven of movie directors.”
  37. Paul Newman, Absence of Malice, 1980.  When it was to be an Italian gangster’s son rather than Newman’s Michael Gallagher.  Paul took great delight in taking over the role and whacking the media (in the comely person of  reporter Sally Field libelling him). He saw it as payback for all the times it has attacked him. He once wrote to a certain mag: “I’ve canceled my subscription to Newsweek and replaced it with Screw magaizine.”
  38. James Caan, Thief, 1980.    Jeff Bridges was auteur Michael Mann’s first choice  for the titular Frank. Until some dopes said that for a such a career criminal, Jeff was too young (at 31) and inexperienced  (after 25 screen roles for Bogdanovich, Cimino, Frankenheimer, Huston, Rafaelson, etc).  Pacino and The French Connection cops, Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, were also in the frame. Pacino co-starred with Robert De Niro in Mann’s Heat, 1995 –  not what it was cracked up to be. Alas.
  39. Robin Williams, Popeye, 1980.     Beaten to Annie, producer Robert Evans bet on another comic-strip.  Dustin Hoffman loved the first 50 pages of Jules Feiffer’s Sweethaven saga. “He kept comparing my script to The Graduate, to Samuel Beckett, to Kafka… Of course, by the time I submitted the finished first draft, Dustin wanted me fired!” Evans refused. “He couldn’t believe that I stayed with Jules rather than him. But I believed Jules was right. He’d worked on it for a year and I didn’t want to star-fuck… You don’t need a star [although Evans ws being pushed in the direction of Pacino and Jack Nicholson!]. Anyone can play it. For crissakes, we could use… Robin Williams!”  And, alone in Hollywood, Evans had never seen Mork and Mindy on TV.On hearing Jerry Lewis might direct, Feiffer said:”I’d rather kill myself.” Robin started the Malta shoot preparing on Oscar speech and ended going: ”Oh God, when is it going to be over? If you watch it backward, it really does have an ending.”
  40. John Travolta, Blow Out, 1981.    Not interested in copycat director Brian De Palma… until needing him for Scarface.  “I’ve been as discerning as I can be…  it seems to be one of  the few things I’ve been consistent at.”

  41. Harrison Ford, Blade Runner, 1981.  UK wiz Ridley Scott spent a long time sniffing out the perfect Deckard.  From top notchers Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman (the first choice was keen… on making it a totally different character, of course), Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino…  to such excellent journeymen as William Devane, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Frederic Forrest, Scott Glenn, Tommy Lee Jones, Raul Julia, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken.  Martin Sheen was too exhausted after Apocalypse Now. In sheer desperation, choices lowered to Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch. Even the Virginian Morgan Paull stood a chance, having played Deckard in Scott’s tests of potential Rachaels. (He was given Holden for his pains). Plus Arnold Schwarzenegger, not yet seen as Conan, much less Terminator.  And for probably the last time in such an illustrious list,  the fading star of Burt Reynolds.
  42. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (Rambo)1981.
  43. Michael Nouri, Flashdance, 1982.       Potential Nick Hurleys were: Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner (runner-up to Nouri), Live Aid creator Bob Geldof, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Burt Reynolds, rocker Gene Simmons, John Travolta… plus such surprises as Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson and Joe Pesci! At 36, Nouri was double the age of the flashdancing Jennifer Beals.

  44. Robert De Niro, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.  
    After his epic about the West, Sergio Leone planned another on the East – based on The Hoods, “an autobiographical account” of New York Jewish gangster Harry Goldberg. He wrote it in Sing Sing prison as Harry Grey.  Leone thought he resembled Edward G Robinson.  Harry probably agreed. He certainly used “a repertoire of cinematic citations, of gestures and words seen and heard thousands of times on the big screen…” But then, so did Leone with a 400 page script packed with echoes of Angels with Dirty Faces, Bullets or Ballots, Dead End, High Sierra, Little Cesar andWhite Heat. In October 1975, he even fancied the elderly James Cagney and Jean Gabin as the older Noodles and Max – the younger being Gérard Depardieu and Richard Dreyfuss. The maestro interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles. Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino passed on Noodles. In 1980, Tom Berenger and Paul Newman were up for Noodles (young andold) with either John Belushi, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, John Malkovich or Jon Voight as Max, then Joe Pesci (he became Frankie, instead) and James Woods was Max. And Scott Tiler and Rusty Jacobs were the young Noodles and Max in the three hours-49 minutes unfurled at the ’84 Cannes festival… instead of Leone’s aim: two three-hour movies.  

  45. Jack Nicholson, Terms of Endearment, 1983.    Jennifer Jones optioned the book for a1979comeback – with Al in mind as her leading man.
  46. Richard Gere, Breathless, 1983.     Perplexed at still being up for the same role as Travolta!
  47. William Hurt, Gorky Park, 1983.  Not surprisingly, Al Pacino  and his usual shadow, Dustin Hoffman (but also Robert Redford!) were offered the Russian whodunnit from the first of Martin Cruz Smith’s nine books about the Soviet  Sherlock,  Arkady Renko.  The militsiya officer is hunting the truth about three frozen corpses found in the titular park minus their  faces and finger-tips.  Insisting the novel had negative stereotypes of Russians and Communism (but an American villain!), the USSR banned Hollywood. Consequently, Moscow was played by Helsinki, and Park by Finland’s Kaisaniemi Park.
  48. Mickey Rourke, The Pope of Greenwich Village, 1983.    A dozen years before auteur Michael Mann managed to get De Niro and Pacino together for the first time in Heat, 1995, director Stuart Rosenberg had tried to achieve the same miracle for his study of two gormless cousins who rob the Mob. Accidentally.  Surprisingly, Pacino would have had first billing as in Heat. This is the  film that turned director Michael Cimino on to Mickey Rourke – and into Heaven’s Gate, Year of the Dragon,Dangerous Hours and oblivion. 
  49. Richard Gere, The Cotton Club, 1984.      Too close toThe Godfather– and that was even before Francis Coppola came aboard (at first, simply to re-write Mario Puzo’s script). Producer Robert Evans joined the Bite Mah Tongue lists:”For what this will do for his career, Gere should pay us the $3m.”
  50. Eddie Murphy, Beverly Hills Cop, 1984.      Danilo Bach’s draft was dated 1977 and it also went through James Caan, Pacino, Mickey Rourke… and Sylvester Stallone – who said it’d be a great comedy for Murphy. Hey, ya know sumpthin’, he’s right…!

  51. 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 Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman,   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!”
  52. Rubén Blades, The Milagro Beanfield War, 1986.    Robert Redford’s second directing job (eight years after Ordinary People) came from John Njchols’ “magic realist” New Mexican trilogy. Redford was wary of Hollywood’s the generalised ethnicity that ldelivered the project to Tony Bill, Dustin Hoffman an Al Pacino back in the day. He wanted Hispanics as Hispanics.  Blades, the Panamanian salsa songwriter, didn’t wait for an invite. “I went up to him unannounced… Hey, compadre… You want to do this movie right? Then you want me.”   Done deal!  
  53. Tom Berenger, Platoon, 1986. 
  54. 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: Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shooting Aliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, 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 in The 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.
  55. Mickey Rourke, Angel Heart, 1987.  Or Fallen Angel when UK director Alan Parker  asked  De Niro  to play Harry Angel, described by Chicago  critic Roger Ebert as “an unwashed private eye who works out of an office that looks like Sam Spade gave it to the Goodwill.” (Parker also considered Jack Nicholson – and Al Pacino, off directing his own never seen 50-minute film of Heathcote Williams’ play, The Local Stigmatic).  De Njro, it seemed, wanted to dress up for once – as he accepted instead the elegant villain Louis Cyphre  (say it), basing his look on his director pal,  Martin Scorsese.
  56. Gene Hackman, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller (labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert) the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson tried all ages for the villain politico. From James Caan and Al Pacino at 46 to Gregory Peck at 70. Plus James Coburn, Sean Connery, James Cromwell, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Mitchum, Donald Moffat, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jason Robards Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight.   Hackman was 56.
  57. 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… Pacino, 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 (!), 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.
  58. Bill Pullman, The Serpent and the Rainbow, 1987.      The studio wanted a name.All the usual leading men spurned thelow-priced offers. “They tried to get Pacino, which was insane,” recalled horror-director Wes Craven. “Pacino as an anthropologist, come on!”
  59. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.   
  60. Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1987.     “I think I could’ve done it… Except for those great jumps. They would have had to use my stand in.” There were 17 possible John McClanes.  From Tom Berenger, Michael Madsen and Willis to  top TV heroes  Richard Dean Anderson and Don Johnson to A-listers:  Burt, Charles Bronson, James Caan, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone… and Frank Sinatra?  Yes, well, Roderick Thorpe’s book, Nothing Lasts Forever, was sequel to The Detective  – that 1967 film  starred Sinatra (as Joe Leland,  changed here to  McClane) and so Frank had first dibs on any sequels. He passed. He was 73! In his 1980 movie his debut, The First Deadly Sin, Willis was seen leaving a bar as Sinatra walks in.   So it flows… He was soon taking roles from most of those on the McClane list.
  61. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.

  62. Mickey Rourke, Johnny Handsome, 1989. 
    “That was my favourite role in movies,” Pacino revealed to his favourite interviewer, Lawrence Grobell in 2005.  But director Harold Becker and Al could not lick thethird act. “The first half of the movie is great.I loved the whole idea of someone who’s been grotesque-looking and has made a life having to cope with that kind of deformity, to then have it lifted from him andto have to cope with the world now.   Like a  500-pound elephant losing 350-pounds  But he’s really intelligent. The whole idea of someone having to deal with life, having been a criminal, the brains behind these robberies in Pittsburg. He couldn’t even speak right. I loved the role. Loved it! Mickey Rourke did a great job on it. But that didn’t matter. The movie didn’t have the finish.” Or not like the other movies he did make with Becker: Sea of Love, 1989; City Hall, 1996.

  63. Sean Penn, Casualties of War, 1989.    Once directorsJack Clayton, Jerry Schatzberg, John Schlesinger, pulled out, Brian De Palma’s first notion was Pacino and Jon Voight  .Far better than Penn and Michael J Fox.(De Palma basically re-made it, moving Vietnam toIraq for Redacted, 2007… and still didn’t get it right).
  64. Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July1989.
  65. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.      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 – Pacino, 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, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, 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.
  66. Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  67. Christopher Walken, The Comfort of Strangers, 1990.    “He was dreaming,” said director Paul Schrader.”No way he could squeeze this in before Godfather III.” Neither actor matched the role: a disturbed, hairy-chested Venetian killer of simian proportions. Walken said he’d neverplayed anyone so horrible – “in the way that it can be deeply unsettling to be in a room with somebody who’s mentally disturbed. As much as you have compassion for them, it scares me.”

  68. James Caan, Misery, 1990.     
    “Leading men hate to be passive; hate to be eunuchised by their female co-stars. Top scenarist William Goldman on why 22 actors avoided the prospect of being beaten up and beaten to an Oscar by  Kathy Bates as the mad fan of writer Paul Sheldon. Warren Beatty prevaricated but never actually said no (nor yes).  Richard Dreyfuss regretted disappointing director Rob Reiner again after refusing When Harry Met Sally, 1988 (they had earlier made a classic of   King’s novella, The Body, as Stand By Me, 1985).   William Hurt refused – twice. Jack Nicholson didn’t want another King guy so soon after The Shining.  While Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino being up  for the same role was nothing new  – but Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman was  Also fleeing the  32nd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits were Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, close pals Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman, Ed Harris, John Heard, Robert Klein, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Denzel Washington, Robin Williams and Bruce Willis… who went on to be Sheldon in Goldman’s  2015 Broadway version.

  69. Williams, Cadillac Man, 1990.     Robin will pick up anything from anyone… er, anyone on the AList. “I can almost state this is a fact. The worse the script is, the more money you’re offered.  Show me a bad script, and I will show you a big payday. Conversely, show me a really great script and forget it. You’re lucky if you don’t have to pay for it.”
  70. Marlon Brando, The Freshman, 1990.   Writer-director Andrew Bergman said he wrote the comic Mafia chief Carmine Sabatini for Pacino (“or Joe Mantegna”), never knowing that Brando was a fan of The In-Laws. He leapt at the chance to send up his Don Corleone…. and then, badmouthed the finished movie.

  71. Harvey Keitel, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  72. Michael Biehn, K2, 1990.      UK  director Franc Roddam’s first choice to climbthe world’s second-highest peak. With the excellent Matt Craven. 
  73. Tim Robbins, Jacob’s Ladder, 1990.    As keen (and able) as he was on being Jacob Singer, something of post-Vietnam War psychological time bomb. the UK director Adrianb Lyne preferred the more ordinary, sympathetic,almost James Stewartesque Robbins, thus makingwhat Roger Ebert called  “the hallucinations of a desperate mind,” all the more real and painful.
  74. Stuart Wilson, Lethal Weapon 3, 1991.   The new (and rather ho-hum) ex-cop villain given to British Wilson was first offered by the franchise’s director Richard Donner  to five of  the 39 guys he’d seen for Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs in 1986:  Alec Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Al Pacino and John Travolta. Pus James Caan, Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.  NB This is the first time we see Gibson and Danny Glover actually making an arrest. Only took ‘em five years!
  75. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  76. Michael Douglas, Falling Down, 1992.  I lost my job. Well, actually I didn’t lose it, it lost me. I am over-educated, under-skilled. Maybe it’s the other way around, I forget. But I’m obsolete. I’m not economically viable.” The guy known only by his car number-plate, D-FENS, is suffering from society and melting down. Dangerously. Perfect, therefore, for Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Robin Williams – and, indeed, director Joel Schumacher’s choice of his pal, Douglas, in a Spartacus  buzz-cut, glasses and, finally, his very own Cuckoo’s Nest. 
  77. Richard Moll, Batman, TV, 1992-1995.    Over-reaching themselves, the Warner Bros producers actually tried to persuade Pacino to voice Two-Face – by having the scripts establish his alter-ego so that the sudden switch to Two-Face would be more shocking.

  78. Edward James Olmos, American Me, 1992.  
    “Stories are legion about good movies that died on the vine because a star had committed to them,” said scenarist Floyd Mutrux.   He knows – the hard way. He sold his LA Hispanic gang script to Paramount in 1975 for $400,000. Producer Lou Adler nabbed Pacino. Then, Pacino quit, came back with director Hal Ashby, then quit again.  American Film magazine listed it among the ten best scripts never made.   Olmos, the Miami Vice TV star who won his first speaking role in Mutrux’s aloha, bobby and rose, 1975, asked him for the rights in 1982. “Go ahead, I trust you.”Olmos rewrote the script, “more about tradition.”   Refused a Writers Guild credit, he directed himself and played Santana while director Taylor Hackford was preparing another version of the Mutrux script, Blood In…  Blood Out.   “I’ve been waiting 18years to make this and suddenly it’s topical,” said Olmos, who was first out with a broom in South Central streets after the LA riots of 1992.

  79. Jack Nicholson, Hoffa, 1992.     Over its seven year gestation,producer Edward Pressman had also seen De Niro and Pacino as the King Lear of trade union leaders.
  80. Jack Nicholson, Man Trouble, 1992.    A definite Nicholson piece (by the writer of the more definitive Five Easy Pieces, Carole Eastman) was passed to an “unsure” Pacino when Nicholson was into The Two Jakes.WhenNicholson became free, Diane Keaton (Pacino’s girl!) was out and Ellen Barkin (who’d once lived on Pacino’s Bronx block) was in.Flop of the year!

  81. Harvey Keitel, Pulp Fiction, 1993.  
  82. Christopher Walken, Pulp Fiction, 1993.

  83. Harrison Ford, The Fugitive, 1993.   Paging Dr Kimble…   There was a queue answering the call for the film of David Janssen’s 1963-1967 series. Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner (directing as well), Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia,  Richard Gere, Mel Gibson (also up for the relentless cop, Gerard), Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte (director Walter Hill’s choice, but Andrew Davis made the movie – the fourth in his home town, Chicago), Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve,Arnold Schwarzengger. “The minute Harrison Ford shows up, they drop everything and sign up Harrison Ford,” Baldwiin complained. (It’s called being a star, Alec). Mel Gibson was up for either Kimble or his Javert-like hunter, Lieutenant Gerard – an Oscared gig for Tommy Lee Jones.
  84. Joe Pesci, With Honours, 1994.    Havard students tend an emotionally-impaired man. Passed on from Hoffman (again, after all these years) and on again to Pesci.
  85. Gene Hackman, Crimson Tide, 1994.     For the trigger-happy nuclear submarine  commander and his mutinous deputy,  producer Jerry Bruckheimer wanted Pacino and  Warren Beatty. “But each wanted each other’s role –  so that didn’t work out… Quentin Tarantino did a rewrite that just knocked it out of the park.”  Al preferred Oliver Stone’s Noriega.  No one else did; it  remains un-made.
  86. Morgan Freman, Se7en, 1994.      Preferring the top role in City Hall,  all, 1995, Pacino passed on Ridley Scott’s invite to be  Somerset, a meticulous veteran cop overseeing Brad Pitt investigating murders connected with the seven deadly sins. 
  87. Chazz  Palminteri, The Usual Suspects, 1994.     The film Pacino regrets refusing the most…  (because he’d just been a cop in Heat). US Customs man Dave Kujan had always been written for Chazz but when he wasn’t free, director Bryan Singer also offered it to Robert De Niro, Clark Gregg, Christopher Walken. Then, surprise, surprise, Chazz was available after all. 
  88. Peter Greene, The Usual Suspects, 1994.      When he refused Kujan, Bryan Singer asked him to be Redfoot, the LA fence. When he passed again, the role was offered to Jeff Bridges, Johnny Cash, Tommy Lee Jones, Charlie Sheen,  James Spader, Christopher Walken.  The New Jersey actor  got the part – but no credit.
  89. Gary Sinise, Snake Eyes, 1998.      Director Brian De Palma was back, trying everything to seduce Al-fuckin’-Pacino into taking over Will Smith’s leavings – even a second banana role.   As to his nickname, Al said: “Well, you know, I never had a middle name. It’s about time…”
  90. Alfred Molina, The Perez Family, 1995.    “Al Pacino and I played the courtship dance for over three months,” recalled Indian director Mira Nair.

  91. John Travolta, Get Shorty, 1995.     Ironic casting notion as the Elmore Leonard book is alleged based on his dealings with… guess who?  Hoffman!
  92. Dustin Hoffman, American Buffalo, 1995.      Twenty-five years later andHoffman and Pacino are still up for the same projects. Playwright David Mamet’s script was among Pacino’s unmade movies with the Go Go Boys (Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus) at Cannon in 1986.
  93. Harvey Keitel, To Vlemma Tou Odyssea (US: Ulysses’ Gaze), Greece, 1995.     Athens director Theo Angelopoulos’ first choice proved unavailable – as did many others (Daniel Day-Lewis, Alain Delon) on hearing the main location was bomb-ridden, war-torn Belgrade, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia. Enter: The always daring Keitel. “I didn’t even know his name,” admitted Angelopoulos.
  94. Jon Voight, Mission: Impossible, 1995.     Paramount asked the old IMF chief to to play Jim Phelps once more. Peter Graves fled after reading the script and finding Phelps was treated negatively and knocked off at the end. (Immediately, two other old IMF agent Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  114