Dan Aykroyd


  1. Bruce McGill, Animal House, 1977.  Yes, D Day was written for Danny, John Landis told told Deadline co-editor-in-chief Mike Fleming Jr,. August 16, 2018.  “You have to remember, it was only the second year of Saturday Night Live, and [Lorne Micghaerls] was losing to the movies Chevy Chase, and John Belushi. So he wasn’t letting anyone else out. He didn’t let Paul Shaffer be involved in the movie, either.” Aykroyed denied all this later… “He is flat wrong regarding Lorne not releasing me and John knows it. In fact, Lorne put no pressure on me, said I was free to go but I decided not to leave him short-handed. Also Shaffer voluntarily stayed with Gilda [Radner] and her Broadway show because he had pre-committed to it. John makes Lorne out to be some ‘warden’ of talent. He is not. He is however the greatest impresario and promoter of comedians, actors and musicians in history and a true empire builder with the interests of talented people at heart. He served Landis very well as a producer on one of John’s really great films – The Three Amigos. Just want to set the record straight…”
  2. Bill Murray, WhereThe Buffalo Roam, 1980.  The role – the gonzo-journalist author of The Banshee Screams Fo rBuffalo Meat, Dr Hunter S Thompson – went to another member of the Not Ready For Prime Time Players.  And he wasn’t.
  3. David Naughton, An American Werewolf in London, 1981.  The studio wanted the new Martin & Lewis: Aykroyd & Belushi. John Landis did not.
  4. John Belushi, Neighbours, 1981.    The brothers Blue were cast as expected. Belushi as  the macho loudmouth Vic and Aykroyd as the mild mannered Earl. They promptly switched roles to play, this once against type. Killing the movie… rescued from Sylvester Stallone and John Candy.  
  5. Chevy Chase, !Three Amigos, 1986.  Writer-producer-star Steve Martin’s original choice of  pardners – the brothers blue, Aykroyd and John Belushi – ended  up as Chase and Martin Short.   A funny movie, said director John Landis. And not only because his trio couldn’t ride horses..
  6. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  7. Jeff Goldblum, Vibes, 1988. The short-lived 80s’ Columbia chief David Puttnam denies “forcing” Aykroyd to make the Cyndi Lauper film. “He actually tried to exert pressure on me to do a movie I knew was bad,” Aykroyd declared. Putnam wrote Aykroyd a long, frank letter about his situation. “I’ve been brought into alter the company’s thinking… everyone would like you to be in Vibes… we’ve decided to cast Cyndi and are left hoping you’ll climb in the bath with us and take your best shot based on our tortuously considered judgement.” Aykroyd never replied.
  8. Burt Reynolds, Switching Channels, 1988.  First idea for a fourth version (a TV  News age version) of The Front Page was ghostbusters Aykroyd and Bill Murray, opposite Debra Winger. None of them agreed.

  9. Dennis Hopper, Flashback, 1989.  
    Of course, he was perfect for the old hippy, wanted by the Feds since the 60s – when he uncoupled Spiro T Agnew’s train for a laugh. Now he’s been grassed up. Kiefer Sutherland’s arrow straight FBI man is sent to collect him.  Hopper slips him some acid, cuts own hair and beard, changes duds  and when their train pulls in, he’s the agent and  the zonked Sutherland is the old (well, not quite old enough) radical. And that’s just the start. Get this if you can find it. Well worth it.  As Hopper’s daughter, Marin, always knew.  She discovered it and said it was made for Dennis. He contacted his agent and thought he’d lucked out on hearing that Aykroyd and Chevy Chase were in the hunt. However, like so many others, Italian director Franco Amurri, genuflected before St Dennis.  As did Chicago critic  Roger Ebert: “It’s hard to play a character with charisma, since the charisma has to seem to come from the character and not from the actor, but Hopper does it here. He’s convincing, and his dialogue actually sounds like the sorts of things an unrepentant hippie might say – not like the cliches someone might write for him.”

  10. Daniel Stern, City Slickers, 1990.   Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Dan Aykroyd, Albert Brooks, Danny DeVito, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis (his wife was ill)  were  up for  for Phil Berquist.  And, not yet the big TV star, Garry Shandling  – a standup: “I was going to see Last Tango in Paris – but I don’t like musicals.” Boom-boom.  Robin Williams was offered his choice of the trio but was Hook-ed by Steven Spielberg.

  11. John Heard, Home Alone, 1990.  For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other potential Pops were Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jeff Daniels, Tony Danza, John Goodman, Charles Grodin, Tom Hanks, Robert Hays, Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Skerritt, Robin Williams… and the inevitable unknowns: Broadway’s Mark Linn-Baker, Canadian musicians-comics  Alan Thicke (“the affordable William Shatner”) and Dave Thomas.

  12. John Goodman, The Flintstones, 1994.   Yabba-dabba-don’t! After ludicrous thoughts of  thin guys in fat-suits (Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase Bill Murray) burned up on re-entry to planet Earth,  chubby John Candy was set to succeed James Belushi as the Stone Age hero.    Not for long. The live action take on the cartoon series (The Simpsons of its days, 1960-1966), would never have happened if Goodman had been  unable to squeeze it in during his Roseanne series hiatus. Because, according to co-creator Joseph Barbera: “When John Goodman was born, he was stamped Fred Flintstone right there on his bottom.” The producer agreed.  End of debate. ’Cos the producer was Steven Spielberg.  
  13. Robin Williams, Jumanji, 1995.   Two kids find a jungle board game with magic powers unleashing grotesque animalia and some poor sap trapped inside the game since playing it as a tot. Williams lapped it up after Aykroyd, Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger fled the incoherent script. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.
  14. Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.    
  15. Johnny Depp, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, 1997.       As Brando and Nicholson aged, The Blues Brothers were an obvious bet for Hunter S Thompson and Dr Gonzo. Then, Belushi ODed on andrenichrome. Rather like the ugly film.
  16. Leonardo Di Caprio, Gangs of New York, 2002.   What was he smoking ?   Believe it or not, Ripley, directing ikon Martin Scorsese first envisaged the movie in 1978 with the Blues Bros as young Amsterdam Vallon and the fearsome Bill “The Butcher” Cutting. By 1984,  Marty had moved on to Malcolm McDowell-Robert De Niro. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio-Daniel Day Lewis. Not that it was any better without them.
  17. Chris Parnell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,  2003. The first draft of the screenplay suggested actors for various roles including Dan for the extra-sensitive stage producer Garth Holiday.  Parnell had first been up for Steve Carell’s dumb weatherman Brick Tamland.
  18. Eddie Murphy, The Haunted Mansion, 2003.    Phantoms were in and Disney was ready to jlin in with this spectre special… as long as one of the 1983 Ghostbusters agreed to be Jim Evers… None did. Not Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Rock Moranis or Harold Ramis. Twenty years later, Murphy headed the tale named for rather than based on the Disneyland attraction.

  19. Johnny Depp, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004.
    Director Tim Burton’s 30 fancies for the chocolatier Willy Wonka were his ole Betelgeuse, Michael Keaton, plus Aykroyd, Rowan Atkinson, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams – and the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, .wanted her husband’s favourite Willy – Dustin Hoffman   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  20. Mos Def, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 2005.
  21. Michael C Hall, Dexter, TV, 2006-2014. The Showtime cable network shortlisted 14 stars, from the impossible (Dan Aykroyd, Macauley Culkin, Tom Cruise, Sean Penn, Ben Stiller) to the plausible (John Cusack, Jake Gyllenhaal James Spader) for the Miami Metro PD bloodstain analyst moonlighting  as a serial killer… of serial killers.
  22. Tom Wilkinson, Burke and Hare, 2009.   The titular 1828 grave-robbers (Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis)  were more diabolically funny than their main customers for corpses (the fresher the better) – the bitchy doctors Knox and Monro, aka  Wilkinson and Tim  Curry instead of Aykroyd and John Cleese.  
  23. Ty Burrell, Mr Peabody & Sherman, 2013.   Aykroyd, Robert Downey Jr, Kelsey Grammer, Tony Hale, Matthew McConnaughey, Kevin Pollak, Freddie Prinz Jr, and Geoffrey Rush, were run up the DreamWorks flagpole for voicing Mr. Peabody. Who. Is. A. Dog. But, yes, the most amazing dog in history:  inventor, scientist, Noble laureate, gourmet chef, business tycoon, double Olympic gold medalist. With its own time machine. Plus an adopted human son!






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  23