Barry Miller


  1. Jon Gries, More American Graffiti, 1978.     “It turned out to behorrible,” said Miller. He was not alone in that view. “I have no clue why I made it,” said producer George Lucas.“It was so bad it made all of 120 cents.”
  2. John Friedrich, The Wanderers, 1978.      Director Phillip Kaufman sent his casting director (now major mogul)  Scott Rudin “to wine and dine me,” recalled Miller,“so I would take the role of the ‘artistic’ street gang member whose father violently abuses him.” No thank you, been there, got the tee-shurt – it’s marked Saturday Night Fever. Kaufman was not put off, so easily… Screenings of On The Waterfront followed, with intimations that if Miller took the part, it would turn him into ‘a  new young Brando.’“Are you kidding me?” said Miller. “In a role like this?  I don’t think so… besides, I’m interested in this play about Rimbaud that I wish someone would make into a movie…”Total Eclipse was finally made as a Euro-pudding (Belgium-France-UK) in 1995. with Leonardo Di Caprio, David Thewlis as Rimbaud and Verlaine.
  3. Tommy Aguilar, Fame, TV, 1979.      “MGM offered me a huge amount of money to recreate the Ralph Garcy role from Alan Parker’s film, the role that I had received the most critical acclaim for up to that point in my career.”Even so, herefused. MGM asked: Why? “Because I know you’re going to take a tough, unsentimental,Oscar-winning film and turn it into tacky pro-showbiz crap…. They immediately wrote the character out of the series after the pilot episode.”
  4. Matthew Broderick, WarGames, 1982.     When due to be directed by Martin Brest…“The project was pulled at the last minute for studio fears of being too dark,” said Miller. John Badham took over the helm. “Brest’s version,” said Miller, “was going to be much more conspiratorial and sinister, more critical of the military, filled with oppressive surburban malaise and intellectual rebelliousness… way too intense for the MGM suits and way too disturbing for the family-friendly, mainstream sensibilities of the Reagan Era.”
  5. Cris Campion, Pirates, France-Tunisia, 1985.    “I never saw the script.” Roman Polanski pursued Miller but Broadway had already won him – he was in rehearsals for Biloxi Blues “which turned out to be for the best, to say the least”- the best reviews of his lifeas Arnold B Epstein.Plus the Tony Award!
  6. Corey Parker, Biloxi Blues, 1987.    The play’s star, Matthew Broderick, was livid when bypassed by Miller for theBest Actor Tony award.Now you know why Miller didn’t get to repeat his role in the Mike Nichols film. “I met with Nichols at his home. He was very gracious… but I could tell by the look in his eye and the tone in his voice that The Broderick Problem was the 300,000 pound, elephantine ego in the room.Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel gave me the single greatest review of my career for not appearing in the film – an unprecedented theatrical accomplishment, if I may say so -which got them in hot water with the studio. And if I also may say so, Nichols also turned a tough, unsentimental, Tony-winning play into tacky, pro-nostalgic, patriotic crap.”
  7. DB Sweeney, No Man’s Land, 1987.    “An innocent rookie undercover cop infiltrates and is seduced by the decadent Hollywood lifestyle  of a coke-fueled, Porsche-stealing, 1980’s party-boy on a downward spiral. Afilm meant to be more Less Than Zero than Fast and the Furious….as is usually the case, it quickly devolved into a mere actioner, all car chases and smoking exhausts, rather than existential brooding. I was to play Benjy Taylor, the cop, and John Cusack, the playboy.”They evolved into Sweeney and Charlie Sheen. “No one saw it,” added Barry. Well, maybeBrad Pitt – makinghis film debut. Asa waiter.
  8. Michael Chiklis,Wired, 1988    .“Director Larry Peerce [Goodbye, Columbus, ASeparate Peace] says: ‘I’m very interested in you for John Belushi.’ Long, long, long, long pause….‘Have you lost your mind?’”The thinner, wittier Miller resembledBelushi as much asJohn Wayne resembled Genghis KhanThis time it was Chiklis’ debut.
  9. Dwight Schultz, Fat Man and Little Boy (UK: Shadow Makers),1989.    This is Barry Miller’s best casting story… “Oscar-winning director Roland Joffe flies to New York to take a personal meeting with me. ‘I’m going to star you with Paul Newman in a epic drama about making the Hiroshima bomb, The Manhattan Project. I want you to play Robert Oppenheimer. The film will be Faustian… a cosmic struggle between God and Science.’ Wow, I say, let’s go!First, a screen test in Hollywood. First class tickets are arranged, I go to Warner Brothers. Walk into Joffe’s office. ‘All right, Barry…before we continue.. we need to do some improvisation.”‘OK.’ ‘I want you to pretend that you’re a little girl in a meadow and you’re lifting up your skirt to me’… ‘Excuse me?’ A very long silence. ‘Well?’ ‘Yeah. OK. Sure. Umm… I’m going back to my hotel room. Thanks. It’s been nice meeting you’.”. 
  10. Michael Jeter, Drop Zone, 1994.    Seventeen years after making Saturday Night Fever together, director John Badam called up Miller to partner Wesley Snipes. “Paramount was jumping up and down like crazed monkeys,” said Miller, “thinking if I signed on they’d have another mega-blockbuster on their hands. I knew better.”

  11. Jason Isaacs, Armeggedon, 1997.
    This is how the expression “armageddon outa here” was born.  And Barry Miller tells it best… “Casting director Bonnie Timmerman says: ‘Jerry Bruckheimer is your biggest fan and wants you to play the smartest man in the whole world who saves the earth from an incoming asteroid.’Michael Bay concurs. It’s a cameo scene, a long, involved monologue about the stupidity of the proposed US government scenario to stop the rock from it’s deadly doomsday impact. OK., I’ll do it. Bay calls me: ‘Just wanna to do some last minute re-writes.’  A new script comes… 80% of the monologue is gone,cut down to about six lines of dialogue. My agent hits the roof: ‘Total BS! He’s out.’ Disney’s accounting department calls: ‘We really would like Barry to be in the film.’I say: ‘Really? Then put back the damn speech!’Bay puts back 60%. I say: ‘No!’ Disney raises the purse, significantly. Michael Bay gets mad..‘OK, I’ll put the whole thing back…’Except this time, all the new dialogue is changed to California surfer dude lingo – and it’s awful. I say: ‘No.’ Again. Bay gets madder. Bruckheimer calls: ‘We really would like you to be in the film.’Disney accounting calls again – offering major bucks like a perverse auctioneer. My agent is getting crazy… sweaty. ‘Just take the damn thing.’Bay calls: ‘This is my final rewrite, Barry. Take it or leave it.’California surfer dude lingo now changes to comparing an asteroid to a ketchup bottle. Once it hits, it’s “ketchup time!’Bay calls for my verdict. ‘C-minus, Mr Bay. C-minus.’ He hangs up. Disney,Bruckheimer, Timmerman, Bay, et al, disappear into thin air.Finished film: The character has basically been reduced to a glorified extra, and the dialogue includes: ‘You really don’t wanna take the advice from a man who got a C-minus in astrophysics’!”


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