Danny DeVito

  1. John Rhys-Davies, Raiders of the Lost Ark1980.
  2. Jason Alexander, Seinfeld, TV, 1989-1998.
  3. Joe Pesci, Lethal Weapon 2, 1989.     As if Mel Gibson and Danny Glover weren’t already side-kicking each other, director Richard Donnert ordered an extra sidekick. Enter: a hyperkinetic and peroxided ex-Mob accountant called Leo Getz. Fully equipped his own catchphrase: “Okay-okay-okay!” He was chosen from Danny De Vito, M*A*S*H’s Radar Gary Burghoff, Joe Pantoliano (shooting The Last of the Finest)… and, unforttunately, the more annoying than engaging Pesci, who polluted the next three chapters, getting $1m for #4 in 1998.
  4. Robert Costanzo, Hercules, TV, 1998-1999.  Danny had had enough of Philoctetes,  it seemed. He passed on reprising his 1997 toon character. De Vito  and Rip Torn were only members of that cast  to avoid Disney’s spin-off series.
  5. Joe Pesci, Home Alone, 1990.    It was so patently obvious that the kid of the hour – Macauley Culkin – was going to steal everything but the cinema seats that most of The Names avoided the burglar clown called Harry Lime, more of a fourth Stooge than Orson Welles. Those refusing to be second banana to a moppet included Rowan Atkinson, Robert De Niro, Danny De Vito, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Jon Lovitz and two musical Brits: Phil Collins and Dudley Moore.  ”Hardest thing fior Pesci,”  said cinematographer Julio Macat, “was not swearing! “ 
  6. Steve Martin, My Blue Heaven, 1990.    Martin was set as the FBI man rehabilitating a gangster on a witness protection programme, until De Vito fled.   Then, Martin   became the mobster, tended by Rick Moranis.
  7. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kindergarten Cop, 1990.    Well, it had to happen sometime, Danny was…    too small!   He passed it to his 1988 twin.
  8. 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.
  9. Sylvester Stallone, Oscar, 1991.    Veteran UK comedy director Charles Chrichton had scripted a standard Hollywood re-make of one of Louis De Funes’   French   farces.   Totally spoiled when   Sylvester Stallone wanted to do anything Schwarzengger could   do.   Comedy.   And Sly could not.
  10. Christopher Lloyd, Suburban Commando, 1991.   The deal was simple. Danny   and Schwarzenegger   had a choice: Twins or Commando. They twinned. Hogan and Christopher Llloyd commandoed. Who do you remember?!

  11. John Candy, JFK, 1991.
  12. Jon Lovitz, A League of Their Own, 1991.   Long-time ball fan, director Penny Marshall had never heard of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) until seeing a 1987 PBS documentary. She swiftly contacted the makers to join her Hollywood writers to use their title for a fictional comedy-drama version. Penny staged baseball tests for about 2,000 actresses – if you can’t play ball, you can’t play the Rockford Peaches.  (Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty were best). Jim Belushi and Laura Dern were set to star in 1990 when Fox suddenly pulled the plug; Tom Hanks, Geena Davis took over at Columbia Well.  Also on the plate for the AAGPBL talent scout Ernie Capadino  were  De Vito and John Candy.
  13. Dave Thomas, Boris and Natasha,1991.   De Vito and Angelica Huston were originally cast as the classic cartoon spies Boris Badunov and Natasha Fatale. They became Dave Thomas and Kellerman in what, alas, proved Tony Newley’s final film.
  14. Gilbert Gottfried, Aladdin, 1991.   Joe Pesci was also on the Disney drawing-board for Iago – finally voiced by the Brooklyn actor with 140-plus screen roles during 1980-2016. Despite having scenes together, Gottfried and Robin Williams, veterans of the stand-up circuit, were recorded separetely. Five years later, DeVito joined the Disney Voice Brigade as Phil in Hercules, 1997.
  15. Joe Pesci, My Cousin Vinny, 1992.     No thanks, but ya know who ya should get…
  16. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers, 1992.     Director Penny Marshall’s lofty plan of Dustin Hoffman-De Vito was scaled way down to John Leguizamo-Hoskins.
  17. Christopher Walken, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  18. Rick Moranis, The Flintstones, 1994.   Yabba-dabba-don’t! Producer Steven Spielbergs wanted Phil Collins as Fred Flintstone’s buddy Barney Rubble. Then he voted De Vito. “No” said Danny “I’m too gruff to be the gentle  Barney – send for Moranis!”  (Alleged, his agent insisted on   $15m and 15%). Moranis interfaced splendidly with John Goodman as  the Stone Age hero. And it had to be John  beacuse, according to co-creator Joseph Barbera: “When John Goodman was born, he was stamped Fred Flintstone right there on his bottom.”
  19. John Travolta, Get Shorty, 1995.    Director Barry Sonenfeld called all the usual mobsters (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Bruce Willis), yet Danny was always his   main target for Chilli Palmer. Sadly, he only had time for a cameo of the actor Martin Weir: novelist Elmore Leonard’s take on his dealings with   Dustin Hoffman.
  20. Willem Dafoe, The English Patient, 1996.   When Fox was interested in Anthony Minghella’s movie, less so on Dafoe – suggesting DeVito, John Goodman or Richard Dreyfuss as David Caravaggio. Minghella refused. Fox quit.Miramax took over – and scored nine Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director.

  21. John Goodman, The Borrowers, 1996.    The delicious villain, Ocious P Potter,  was not in the 1952 Marty Norton  book that Peter Sellers tried to film in 1964.  So he would have been Pod, the four-inch-high patriarch  of the tiny Clock family living  beneath the floorboards of a house owned by ”human beans”.  Three versions had already been hits  when this Anglo–American version was launched. The battle for Ocious was, therefore, UK v US…   Martin Clunes, Bob Hoskins, Griff Rhys Jones, Alan Rickman v Tim Allen, Chevy Chase, Danny DeVito, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin, Bill Murray,  Ed O’Neill, Robin Williams.  The fact that Pesci was also suggested signaled a ton of Home Alone physical attacks on poor Goodman, which out off both Steven Spielberg and his apprentice, Robert Zemeckis, from directing.  They weren’t required!  Nor were Rowan Atkinson and comic-turned-director Mel Smith – off busily making their own Bean movie for the same UK/US companies.
  22. Robert Costanzo, Hercules, TV, 1998-1999.  When the Disney toon hit became a series, all the main cast signed on for the duration – with the exception of De Vito, passing  his Philoctetes to Costanzo  and  Rip Torn’s Zeus going to Corey Burton… promoted from his movie role as a Burnt Villager!  James Woods stayed put as Hades. He loved the guy so much, any time Disney called him back for more, he was there.
  23. William H Macy, Mystery Men, 1999.   Danny was set to direct these far-from-superheroes and play, The Shoveler. We all love De Vito but hey, Macey is king!
  24. Jason Alexander, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, 2000.     One of the least required films in the history of the universe. About six years earlier, copyright hassles alone saved us fromDe Vito and Meryl Streep as Boris and Natasha!!!
  25. Frances de la Tour, Into The Woods, 2013.
  26. Bradley Cooper, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2013.   The most Lucasian of the Marvel films… Jim Carrey, Sharlto Copley, Michael Rooker, Adam Sandler and David Tennant were also short-listed to voice the “gnarled, miserable, angry” Rocket Raccoon. (Well, he is half-machine/half-raccoon.
  27. James Cromwell, Big Hero 6, 2014.    Six super heroes. So they naturally require one super-nemesis. Who better than (the masked) Robert Callaghan, head of a robotics at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. The voicing gig for Disney’s first Marvel subject –  after The Big Buy-Out but before Kevin Feige created the  Marvelverse, and  winning the best animation Oscar – was aimed at Jason Alexander, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, Danny De Vito, John Goodman, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins, Michael Keaton, John Malkovich, Eddie Murphy, Jack  Nicholson, Gary Oldman, Joe Pesci, JK Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor….plus the great Gilbert Gottfried, putting the rest to shame by scoring 179 screen roles in 41 years!   They all made way for Cromwell. Ten years earlier, he had created the I, Robot called Sonny, played by Alan Tudyk… here playing Cromwell’s arch rival, Alistair Krei. 
  28. Kevin Kline,  Beauty and the Beast2016.  Maurice was a toss-up between DeVito and Kline.  KK had the better French accdent. As proved on various seen and/or heard occasions.
  29. Adam Driver, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, 2017.
  30. James McAvoy, It Chapter Two, 2018.  At one time The Penguin, The Rock, Peter Quill, Harry Potter, Deadpool, The Green Hornet and Doctor Who were suggested for the adult Bill Denbrough – ie, Danny De Vito, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt, Daniel Radcliffe, Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan, David Tennant. Also in the mix: Zac Efron, Will Ferrell, Sean Hayes, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Rogan and such off-the-wall outsiders as UK comics Russell Brand, James Corden, Eddie Izzard and Matt Lucas!  McAvoy was the real McCoy – and one of the biggest Stephen King fans around. Bill Skarsgård had more fun as Pennywise this time.  No literal nightmares about fighting the clown, no kid actors scared by him in scenes, his five-hour make-up cut by half  and less dialogue…  in the 262nd of King’s staggering 313 screen credits. (King Kameo: Pawnbroker).





 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  30