Bob Balaban

  1. Bud Cort, Brewster McCloud, 1970.  The two Bobs, Altman and Balaban, first  met during the McCasting sessions.   “I was just one of a number  of young men who might have been right for the part of the boy who flies in the Houston Astrodome.”  They became got to be friendly over the next decades as the actor’s cousin, Judy, was the daughter of the 1936-1964 Paramount boss, Barney Balaban and  “Judy knew  everybody in Hollywood.” His Altman hour would come… as the gay film producer in  Gosford Park.Thirty-one years later!
  2. Bud Cort, Harold and Maude, 1971.   Other actors competing for Harold Chansen included unknowns Daniel Fortus,  John Neilson, John Rubinstein, Todd Susman… and Elton John!
  3. Richard Dreyfuss, American Graffiti, 1973.    “In the beginning of my career, I was 25 but I’d played a teenager in Making It. I found it oppressive, worrying about my hairline and wrinkles… Then, George Lucas was interested in me playing a teenager in some movie.  I said: I don’t think it’s good for one’s career to be a teenager when you’re 25…  I’ll try and get adults parts from now on.” Four years later, he made Close Encounters of the Third Kind with Dreyfuss and is often mistaken for him or Charles Martin Smith “and Rick Moranis  occasionally – but not often!”
  4. Linda Hunt, The Year of Living Dangerously, 1982.     Balaban, David Arkins, Joel Grey and Wallace Shawn auditioned for Billy Kwan. And Chicago critic Roger Ebert said director Peter Weir’s casting of the mercurial, likable, complicated and exotic dwarf character  was the key to how the film worked. He chose Hunt,  “who  enters the role so fully that it never occurs to us that she is not a man. This is what great acting is, a magical transformation of one person into another.” Oscar agreed.
  5. Donald Pleasence, Shadows and Fog,1991.   After about the usual firstweek, Woody Allen dropped Bob as the doctor.He brought him back five yearsdown the road to play his/Harry’spal, Richard, inDeconstructing Harry, 1996.
  6. Tom Wilkinson, Dedication, 2007.    Due to be Billy Crudup’s book illustrator (and eventual ghost) until promoted (?) to  his book  publisher. But Balaban and Mia Farrow churned into  Wilkinson and Dianne Wiest.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  6