Clint Eastwood


  1. James Stewart, The Spirit of St  Louis, 1956.   As per Hollywood tradition. Warner was scouring the earth, Malibu at least, for a new, young hotshot, this time  to enact Charles Lindbergh’s historic 1927 flight across the Atlantic. Eastwood was among the hordes. “I met [the director] Billy Wilder just the one time…just to shake  hands, not even for an audition.”  And the role went to a real pilot and one of Clint’s Western idols, despite Jimmy being far too old at 49.  Clint was 27. Lindbergh was 25.

  2. Don Murray, Bus Stop, 1956.  
    He was to be seen on a Monday, but got a Sunday call saying: Don’t bother coming in. Murray has the role. ”I was disappointed but it’s inevitable in any career.  You’re close, but no, you’re way off!  I just wanted a role, a job and to sleep with Marilyn  Monroe.  Undoubtedly, too much to ask for!  But, you have  to understand, I was young.” Elvis Presley had been first choice for the dumbcluck cowpoke, Beauregard Decker – aka Bo – taking Monroe’s Cherie away from all this bar singing stuff. Elvis & Marilyn – what a wet-dream combo! Except  “Colonel” Tom Parker didn’t want nobody takin’ the shine off his boy!   Despite (or because of) Marilyn being all Stanislavsky at the time, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift weren’t interested. Marilyn only ever wanted Rock Hudson, more into Jane Wyman sob schlock.  Apart from Clint, two tele-cowpokes were also considered: Fess Parker aka Davy Crockettand John Smith fromLaramie. Murray (the first star I interviewed at  the first of my 26 Cannes festivals – where I met Clint so often) won an Oscar nomination for his debut  and wed his other co-star, Hope Lange.

  3. Tab Hunter, Lafayette Escadrille (UK: Hell Bent For Glory),1958. “How tall are you?” asked William Wellman – director of Clint’s all-time favourite, The Ox-Bow Incident, 1943. “How tall is the guy?” retorted Eastwood, having lost too many roles due to his height.  No matter what “Wild Bill” wanted for his final film, Warner Bros would not sanction its fixture King as the hero.  The suits preferred,  er, Tab!
  4. David Janssen, Lafayette Escadrille (UK: Hell Bent For Glory),1958.   Warner Bros blocked him and the secondary character of Duke Sinclair, as well. Poor Clint was lucky to be approved for George Moseley.
  5. Anthony Perkins, Tall Story, 1959.       Waiting for Rawhide to be picked up as a series, Clint was offered the comedy about Jane Fonda and the Custer College  basketball star. No films, said CBS, freeing him for a Maverick episode only… before greenlighting his Rowdy Yates.  Clint has been “rollin’, rollin’, rollin'” ever since.
  6. Charles Bronson, C’era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-USA, 1968.    Sergio Leone asked his good-bad-uglies to be the pistolieri awaiting Charles Bronson in the opening rail station scene. Il brut to and il cattiro agreed.  I buono wasn’t in favour, even though it would have allowed him to bury The Men With No Name – for good.    Leone dropped his “ironic reference…” 
  7. Jack Elam, C’era una volta il West (UK/US: Once Upon A Time in the West), Italy-USA, 1968.     Next, Leone asked his good-bad-uglies to be the pistolieri awaiting Charles Bronson in the opening rail station scene. Il brutto and il cattiro agreed. I buono wasn’t in favour, even though it would have allowed him to bury The Men With No Name – for good. (The guy was called Snakey). Leone dropped his “ironic reference” – and Jack spent a day shooting the scene with the fly attracted to the honey spread on his stubble.   Despite Clint offering Leone Hang ’Em High and Two Mules for Sister Sara (“after five pages, I knew she was a nun!”, the spaghetti superstars never worked together again.  “It was,” said Sergio, “necessary for us to separate… and go our different ways.”
  8. George Lazenby, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1968.
  9. Gregory Peck, McKenna’s Gold, 1968.
    “It was time to do some American films – the movie business was still thinking of me as a TV actor hiding out on the plains of Spain – or an Italian movie actor!  My agency thought Carl Foreman’s film was a real plum. a vast amount of well known people in it. My agents wanted  me to do iot in the worst way. But I never liked the script of it. I  thought it just an extension of Rawhide and  went off and did Hang ‘Em High, which  analysed the pros and cons of capital punishment.  They  thought I was  absolutely  nuts!  Why  do this little $1.5m movie as opposed to the $7m epic?  I wasn’t snubbing them,  the subject matter didn’t interest me.  Hang ‘Em High  did.”  Plus being his own boss.  Steve McQueen had earlier also rejected  producer Carl Foreman’s  scenario. The film flopped.  

  10. Richard Widmark, Death of a Gunfighter, 1969.      An over-the-hill sheriff stands up for his beliefs. John Wayne refused so Universal production chief Jennings Lang suggested making the sheriff younger for  Clint.  “Stupid,” said director Don Siegel, “the whole premise would be lost.”   Director Robert Totten was taken off the film,  Siegel completed it  – ending in  the first use of the official Directors Guild  pseudonym: Allen Smithee.

  11. Charlton Heston, The Hawaiians, 1969.       UA had refused the idea of  turning James A Michener’s novel, Hawaii, into two films back in 1966.  Now producer Walter Mirisch got his way with, basically, Part Two  – and had to choose between Chuck and Clint for the hero,  a certain Whip Hoxworth.
  12. Charles Bronson, Red Sun, 1970.   UK director Terence Young wanted Clint as his main hero, Link Stuart, but…  Well, you know Terence, I don’t really make movies for people other than Don, Sergio and, well, myself.  Bronson took over, while he was still making Michael Winner’s Western, Chato’s Land. But Young’s film (also starring Ursula Andress, Alain Delon, Toshiro Mifune) was the one included in John Huston’s list of the top three Westerns ever made. The other two were, naturally, John Ford’s Stagecoach, 1938, and Howard Hawks’ Red River, 1946., both starring  John Wayne. 
  13. James Coburn, Giù la testa (UK: A Fistful of Dynamite; US: Duck You Sucker), Italy, 1971.   Coburn lost A Fistful of Dollars by asking too for too many fistfuls…  Now, Clint was too expensive – “for repeats of what I’d been doing. Hang ‘Em High had a little more character.” Coburn (like Henry Fonda before him) was initially reluctant, until Fonda told him (like Eli Wallach had talked Fonda into Once Upon A Time in the West)  that Leone was the greatest director he had ever worked with.
  14. Robert Redford, Jeremiah Johnson, 1972.    Director John Milius wrote it for  Clint as The Crow Killer.  Redford’s version was “considerably different to the script.  A very important  element was cut out. But I like it a great deal.. There’s a big difference between the two of them. It meant a lot to [Redford]  because he’s an outdoorsman and does enjoy a lot of the things that are espoused in that movie.” Milius also had a hand, or a .45  Magnum,  in the first two Dirty Harry scripts.
  15. Walter Matthau, Charley Varrick, 1972.   You are Don Siegel. You make films with Clint Eastwood. You can’t get him this time.  So how do you replace Clint? With Walter Matthau of course!!!    And he worked well as the robber of small banks who suddenly has  the biggest score of his life  and realises l his target was a drop for Mafia money-laundering.  What to do, what to do?  Clint didn’t care. He’d got a script from someone called Michael Cimino. Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. “I wanna buy it!” “I don’t wanna sell -I wanna direct.” “Here’s the deal:  I’ll give you three days. If I like what I’m seeing, you do the film – if not, I do.” Cimino said it was the best film experience of his life. “I just didn’t know it at the time.”
  16. Charles Bronson, Mr Majestyk, 1973.    Clint got thriller writer Elmore Leonard to script it (after their 1971 Joe Kidd) because after the massive success of Dirty Harry, he wanted to do something he owned, himself. Then, High Plains Drifter came up and Mr Majestyk was sold to United Artists. (Leonard’s Unknown Man #89 was the final book bought by Alfred Hitchcock – for Eastwood). Weakly made by veteran director Richard Fleischer, this was buried at the 1974 box-office by Bronson’s next gig…
  17. Charles Bronson, Death Wish, 1973.   Inevitable. As the New York architect turned revenge killer was a kind of Dirty Civilian… Just as obviously, Clint passed. The perfect choice, he said, was Gregory Peck.  
  18. Paul Newman, Towering Inferno, 1974.   “Financially, it would have been a smart move. It made an awful lot of money. I could’ve played it. Just couldn’t see the reason why. The effects, the tower, was the star!” (Newman and Clint were once both up for Lafayette Escadrille, 1958.
  19. John Wayne, Rooster Cogburn, 1974.    The idea was fair – a sequel  to True Grit.  But if Wayne proved too ill, what would be the point of someone else in his titular Oscar-winning rôle? Marlon Brando topped producer Hal Wallis’ eye-patch  list of Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, George C Scott and some of Duke’s old co-stars: Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck. Plus four of co-star Katharine Hepburn’s previous partners  – Charles Bronson, Burt Lancaster, Peter O’Toole, Anthony Quinn – and as she continued trying to pick guys she’d never  worked with before… Warren Beatty, Henry Fonda, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Paul Scofield, Henry Winkler (!)… (McQueen turned down her Grace Quigleyin 1983).   Kate wrote that embracing Duke “was like leaning against a great tree
  20. Robert  Mitchum, The Yakuza, 1975.      Like John Milius  before him,  Paul Schrader saw Clint as the answer to his problems – of  getting his (and, actually, his brother Leonard’s) script made. Like some Hollywood satire, he set out to reach  him via an actress they had both bedded. “What kind of a relationship can you have with someone,” asked Beverly Walker,  “when  you fuck them and then you turn over and they’re asking you to give a script  to Clint Eastwood?”

  21. Gary Conway, The Farmer, 1976.      Written for Clint, who passed, apparently agreeing with the future New York Times comment: “a viciously violent R-rated melodrama that apparently thinks it’s preaching against violence while exploiting it. ” The producer replaced him with… himself. Film is best known for causing Martin Scorsese’s psychotic cameo in Taxi Driver, when his pal George Memmoli had to pass after being injured in a Farmer stunt. 
  22. John Wayne, The Shootist, 1976.   Duke’s finale… Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Gene Hackman and Paul Newman passed. George C Scott was signed but not sealed when Wayne showed interest in the dying gunfighter JB Brooks… and it was bye-bye George, baby! Despite Wayne – dead in three years – suffering heart, lung and prostate problems.
  23. Martin Sheen, Apocalypse Now,1976.
  24. Roy Scheider, Sorcerer, 1977.     Losing Steve McQueen because there was no role for his then wife, Ali MacGraw, director William Friedkin found Clint and Jack Nicholson were disinterested in foreign travel.  (Tim Burton  tried to co-star them with The Hakline Monster in 1994). Friedkin said Scheider was his worst ever casting decision: “a good actor but a second or third banana, not a star.”  That sounds  more like Friedkin.

  25. 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 29 hopefuls 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.

  26. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1978.
  27. Michael Caine, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, 1978.    More like beyond the pale… The Warner suits voted Clint – of course. Producer Irwin Allen wanted Burt Reynolds. And Allen was staggered by Duke’s interest. That would push the film – about a sunken, upside down cruise liner stuck on an underwater volcano – to a whole other level. Beyond what co-star Angela Cartwright: “a film about water, fire and stunts.”    All the suggesed leads fled because… they read the script.   So did Caine and Sally Field, but they admitted they made it for the money.
  28. James Coburn, Firepower, 1979.    One of four scripts  rejected by Eastwood as possible Dirty Harry sequels, it became a dumb Michael Winner thriller with the unlikely teaming of Sophia Loren, Coburn and… a certain OJ Simpson.
  29. Kris Kristofferson, Heaven’s Gate, 1980.       Brash, not to say braggart director Michael Cimino obviously first sent his script to Clint –  Eastwood had started the Cimino ball rolling by producer-starring  his Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, 1974 . Not this time. Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Robert Redford also   passed on what became one of Hollywood’s Top Ten Financial Disasters.  In the space of six years (and five Oscars for his Deer Hunter, 1978, including best Film and Director), Cimino’s career was flushed.
  30. Sylvester Stallone, Escape To Victory (US: Victory), 1980.   It is to be hoped – he’s never spoken about it (unless you know different?) – that Clint rejected this for being such  absolutely preposterous tosh! John Huston must have been extremely low on funds to agree to such garbage.  Brazilian soccr superstar Pele in a German POW  camp in the ’40s, I mean… But what a goalie  Clintus  would’ve made: Feel lucky, penalty punk?

  31. Kurt Russell, Escape from New York, 1980.    Director John Cartpenter said he considered  Eastwood for his eye-patched hero Snake Plissken.  How good of him. But did Eastwood consider Carpenter? After seeing he also looked, quite rightly,  at Jeff Bridges, Tommy Lee Jones, Nick Nolte But also… oh no! Chuck Norris.  Russell suggested trhe eye-patc and based Snake upon Darth Vader, Robert Ginty’s The Exterminatorand Bruce Lee but mainly on…  Clint.    
  32. Kurt Russell, The Thing, 1981.   John Carpenter obviously  saw Russell as the new Squint Eastwood.    But for…   “the ultimate in alien terror”?  Bah! Not even close. Which explains why Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Kevin Kline, Nick Nolte passed on John Carpenter’s unwanted re-hash of the (already so-so) 1950 original produced (some say, directed) by Howard Hawks.  Fred Ward fought for the lead.  Russell won it –  third of his five Carpenter movies.  Could have been worse,  Universal had wanted Tobe Hooper to direct.  Atwood. Not even  near.
  33. 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.
  34. Armand Assante, I, The Jury, 1981.      “Why be Mike Hammer when he didn’t want any more Dirty Harry,” said writer-helmer Larry Cohen.  In 1972, Malpaso optioned Cohen’s The Hostiles for the boss and John Wayne.   Duke said: Nope!  Cohen respun it, asked Michael Wayne to show it his father on his boat.  “Not that damned script again,”  said The Duke – and threw it overboard.

  35. Eddie Murphy, 48 Hrs, 1981.
    There had been many drafts when Walter Hill was asked re-spin it for Clint. “He liked the project, but felt he’d already done that kind of cop character. Clint wanted to play the criminal. I began tailoring it when Eastwood decided to do Don Siegel’s Escape From Alcatraz, 1979, and since he played a prisoner in that one, that was really the end of his interest in our project.” Hill had always said, “The best idea would be to make Richard Pryor the criminal and have someone like Eastwood play the cop. But in l978/9, no one seemed to think that was such a good idea.

  36. Ryan O’Neal, Partners, 1981.   More pardners.  Only  this is a hard to believe…  A rotten gay script aimed at Woody and Clint Eastwood.  No, really! Clint even said he was interested if Woody was.  Woody wasn’t!  Hurt became the gay cop investigating gay murders by going undercover  as a gay couple with his  hetero partner,  Ryan O’Neal.  The  critc Rex Reed went apoplectic. “Hollywood’s latest crime against humanity in general and homosexuals in particular is a dumb creepshow …stupid, tasteless and homophobic,sleazy, superficial film implies that gay cops can’t be trusted to work with straight cops because they might fall in love with them..” The script came from the French comedy king, Francis Veber, who admitted he had no knowledge of the US homosexual scene.

  37. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo),1982.

  38. Robert De Niro, Once Upon A Time In America, 1982.    Italian maestro Sergio Leone never gave up. “He started thinking about that back when we did The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,long before The Godfatherand all these  things  came out. ‘What about Irish  gangsters? You could play an Irish gangster.’ But he never developed it. It was always just hanging there.  A lot of times, Sergio would just want to go with an idea.  But through years of TV, I’d been reading story –  though I did sorta go along with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly on a treatment. But  I don’t want someone to tell me a joke and not give me the  punch line. I like to know where I’m going.”Which is how Williams became  the tough union boss Jimmy O’Donnell.
  39. Peter Weller, The Adventures of Buckeroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, 1983. Variety jumped the gun and said Clint was the “likely” US-Japanese space hero. Time magazine compared Buck t Han Solo, A J Foyt, J Robert Oppenheimer, Christiaan Barnard, Bruce Lee, and Bruce Springsteen –  and said the film was  “the first sci-fi western action adventure rock-’n’-roll melodrama farce.”   No wonder the sequel, Buckaroo Banzai against the World Crime League, never happened.
  40. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.     Or,  Dirty Harry IV: Code of Silence when Warner Bros wanted Eastwood to make it. He was unhappy with the script but like the writing enough to hire Michael Butler, and Dennis Shryack to polish Pale Rider- which competed at the 1985 Cannes festival, the start of Clint’s artistic respectability. The next rewrite of George LaFountaine’s 1976 French book, Le Pétard recalcitrant, was offered to Jeff Bridges Charles Bronson, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Tommy Lee Jones, Kris Kristofferson, Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell and Jon Voight. Coming so soon after Burt Reynolds’ Dirty Harryish Sharkey’s Machine, 1981, this one was put down as Dirty Chuckie

  41. Michael Douglas, Romancing The Stone, 1984.      Learning nothing from rejecting ET, Columbia looked over Douglas’ project – written by Diane Thomas, an Alice’s Restaurant waitress in Malibu – and wanted an A List package. Like Eastwood.   Like Burt Reynolds.  Like…
  42. Sam Waterston, The Killing Fields, 1984.      Terrible casting idea, he told Warners. “There have been things that people talked to me about that have done well.  But  I’m not one for looking back.”  According to writer-producer-director Tom Mankiewicz, Clint  spun himself the pefect deal at Warner Bros. He went  to the suits sat Warners. “Here’s the deal. I’m going to take Screen Actors Guild minimum. Take Screen Directors Guild minimum. When the picture opens and the theatres keep their 30%, it’s ‘Hello, partner.’ No deductions of any kind; not publicity, not cost for opening, not interest, not loans – just Hello partner.:  ie sharing the remaining 70% of box-office gross from dollar one.” And the suits fell over themselves to agree…
  43. Mickey Rourke, Year of the Dragon, 1984.   Except when released in ’95, it was the less punchy Year of the Ox… Rourke  said (and he should jnow) the fewrocious script was written for Clint Eastwood or Paul Newman. The writers, Oliver Stone and Michel Cimino, also thought of Bridges and Nick Nolte for the NYPD detective trying to clean up Chinatown.   Cimino owed his career to Clint, who liked his Thunderbolt and Lightfoot script and let him direct it –  co-starring Bridges!   Cimino also helmed  Rourke in the ill-fated Heaven’s Gate and Dangerous Hours. 
  44. Kurt Russell, Big Trouble In Little China, 1985.     The suits wanted Clint – well, it was a re-spun Western. Or Jack Nicholson. Auteur John Carpenter kept the faith with his choice, despite Russell’s recent string of flops. Result: Carpenter’s biggest turkey.
  45. Steven Seagal, Above The Law, 1987.    First Chuck Norris, now Seagal started noising around looking for scraps from the Eastwood table.  Didn’t bother either guy that their pick-ups were Eastwood rejections. Seagal even insisted on Norris’ director, Andrew Davis, from their ex-Clint vehicle, Code of Silence, 1985.  They are roughly the same crap flick: Chicago cops, corruption, drug lordsa, martial arts,  Chuck Seagal or Steven Norris.  Who knew the difference. Well, Seagal was sexually abusing actresses and gaining so much weight, his image on the Under Seige 2: Dark Territory in 1994 poster came from the Under Seige 1 poster, circa 1992.
  46. Sean Connery, HIghlander, 1985.   Sean brushed aside ooffers to be either the titular clansman,Connor MacLeod or the  villainous Kurgan, “strongest of all the immortals,”  in their tussle for… The Prize! He did exacytly the same with them on-screen in his preferrred role of  the 2,000-year-old nobleman, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez… knowing full well, he could knock him off in a single week for his $1m. fee.  Connery had more panache than the movie or his rivals… and they weren’t exactly nobodies… but Michael Caine, Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole and Clint’s spaghetti Western co-star Lee Van Cleef.
  47. 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… Eastwood, Jeff Bridges, Charles Bronson, Michael Douglas, 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.
  48. Bruce Willis, Die Hard, 1988.     Hey, c’mon, he had refused the original… Towering Inferno! There were 16 possible John McClanes. From top TV heroes Richard Dean Anderson and Don Johnson to A-listers: Eastwood, Tom Berenger, Charles Bronson, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michael Madsen, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone… Frank Sinatra had to be contractually offered the hero. In his 1980 move debut, The First Deadly Sin, Willis is seen leaving a bar as Sinatra walks in. So it flows…. 
  49. Kevin Costner, Revenge, 1989.       Swopped it with producer Ray Stark to attain his rights to Bird… When heading Columbia, UK producer David Puttnam preferred the novella to early scripts by directors Walter Hill and John Huston. “A dead project until I wanted to make it,” said Costner.  “I’d written, with Michael Blake, a script I’d be comfortable with – 108 pages. The script we ended up making was 135  pages.  Movies as delicate as Revenge cannot suffer those mistakes.  It  was the most… complicated movie that I’ve been a part of… really, kinda the first time  I made a mistake.” His next script with Blake lasted  three (originally,  four) hours. Dances With Wolves.  Winning seven Oscars – including Best Director and Best Film – on March 25, 1991.
  50. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   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!

  51. Warren Beatty, Dick Tracy, 1989.     As a producer, Beatty took his Tracy rights to Disney, while discussing another project.  His directors for his Disney deal included Richard Benjamin (who directed Eastwood in City Heat, 1984), Bob Fosse, John Landis (who wanted Clint in 1982), Martin Scorsese and, naturally, Steven Spielberg. Then, Beatty finally passed on Misery and decided on the full monty – producing, directing and playing his childhood comic strip hero. Bliss! Until Disney ordered him to axe 30 minutes from his cut.  Resuit: Real misery! His biggest money-maker. And his biggest bore.
  52. Jack Palance, City Slickers, 1990. Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Billy Crystal stars and helped write it –  and immediately thought of Palance as Curly, the iron cowpuncher still in Shane mode. Even so it was also offered to Bronson who refused, said Billy, “in an unseemly way” – because Curly died. Next? Robert De Niro, Anthony Hopkins, Harvey Keitel. And Clint Eastwood (too pricey… but that would have been something!) and two of his future co-stars, Gene Hackman and John Malkovich. Palance stole the movie and Oscarnight – winning a support award 38 years after his only nomination (for the Shane gunman). He celebrated with one-arm push-ups on the Academy stage – and the 1993 sequel. Bronson must have been livid!
  53. Richard Attenborough, Jurassic Park, 1992.
  54. Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  Sidney Poitier missed the point.  He refused because playing a convict was not setting a good example. Did he not notice redemption in the title? (And what about Les Miserables?).  Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman and Robert Redford had already been jailed  in Escape From Alcatraz, Cool Hand Luke and The Last Castle.… So the A-Listers (Harrison Ford included) passed and thus it became Freeman‘s favourite movie –  the 43rd of Stephen King’s staggering 313 screen credits.  As if in a memo to Poitier, Chicago critic Roger Ebert noted: “Some have said life is a prison, we are Red, Andy is our redeemer. All good art is about something deeper than it admits.”  Eastwood and Freeman co-starred in both of Eastwood’s Best Picture Oscar-winners,Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.
  55. Paul Newman, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993.  Clint and Nicholson both passed on being corporation czar Sidney J Mussburger in the Coen Brothers’ capitalism satire. Made in ‘93 and set in 58, the film is rooted in 40s cinema and proved what we alrady knew.  There was only ever one Frank Capra.  Wary of comedy, Newman told Ethan and Joel to make it without him. Instead, they waited him out – for ten years.
  56. Hank Azaria, The Simpsons #76: Last Exit to Springfield, TV, 1993. Since its 1989 birth, the yellowtoon family Simpson smashed records for episodes, audiences, and the most guest stars (as themselves or others). From Buzz Aldrin, Glenn Close (Homer’s Mom), Dennis Franz (Evil Homer!), George Harrison, Stephen Hawking, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hope, Eric Idle to Paul and Linda McCartney, Conan O’Brien (a Simpsonswriter made good), Michelle Pfeiffer, Mickey Rooney, Ringo Starr, Meryl Streep plus Barry (and Betty) White!  Not all celebs played ball.  Clint Eastwood and Anthony Hopkins refused to voice a… dentist!Anthony Perkins volunteered for Dr Wolf, but died before the scheduled recording.  Enter: yet another voice from Hank Azaria’s gallery of Professor Frink, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyzlak, Chief Wiggum, etc.
  57. Tommy Lee Jones, Men in Black, 1996.   No OK for K. He’d done his sfx film, Firefox, 1982. Even John Landis (“It’s The Blue Brothers with aliens!”),   Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino said no – to directing it. Spielberg produced after persuading Will Smith and Jones to be J and K.