Dennis Quaid


  1. Marlon  Brando, Superman, 1977.
  2. Brad Davis, Midnight  Express, 1978.      “It was down to me and Brad,   pretty nip ‘n’   tuck. Hell, well, they went the other way. You tell yourself: ‘Well,   there’s a   reason   for   that.   I know there’s a reason…  what’s the reason?   Too tall. Too blond. Too dark.’   I don’t know of another career that has so much rejection in it.”   Brother   Randy won a strong support role and British director Alan Parker eventually starred a dismal Dennis in Come See The Paradise, 1990.
  3. John Michael Graham, Halloween,  1978.  Director and co-scripter John Carpenter had a great crush on PJ Soles while having to find a role for her lover to keep her happy. Except Quaid had to leave for another movie. They wed, 1978-1983, using her real surname: Hardon.
  4. Tom Wopat, The Dukes of Hazard, TV, 1979-8195.   “They asked me to play Luke Duke,” recalled Quaid. “I was broke at the time and my first big film had not yet opened – Breaking Away, 1979.   I asked the director, Peter Yates about it. ‘Don’t do it,’ he said.  ‘A lot is gonna happen for you.” And indeed while Wopat was making 128 episodes, Quaid shot 14 screen roles, including The Right Stuff, 1983.
  5. Harold Ramis, Stripes, 1980.  Or what would have been Cheech and Chong Join the Army…  if the duo’s manager hadn’t insisted (without them knowing) on 25% of Ivan Reitman’s next five films.   The script was rebooted for Murray and his pal, Harold Ramis. However, the scenarist was so initiallyt reluctant that Quaid auditioned for Russell.  His wife, PJ Soles, was already cast – in her same uniform from the previous year’s Goldie Hawn hit, Private Benjamin.  
  6. John Travolta, Urban Cowboy, 1980.     One that got away. Co-writer and director James Bridges had co-written it for Dennis,   who had everything except Travolta’s clout.
  7. Richard Gere, An Officer and A Gentleman, 1981.    The way too busy Jeff Bridges (in three films that year) was director Taylor Hackford’s first Zack Mayo.  Next, John Travolta  and Christopher Reeve were seen. Kevin Costner, John Denver, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Ken Wahl simply refused and Hackford said that Bill Treusch, manager of Eric Roberts, got in the way of any possible director-actor teamanship.  Quaid was in New Delhi, halfway through an around-the-world trip with this then wife, PJ Soles, when his agent called: The part is yours.  You just have to come back. “We cut short the  vacation,” he told The Sunday Times in 2018. “We flew back to LA and they decided while I was en route they wanted Richard Gere”  – who had  turned the script down eight or nine times, recalled Hackford.  Until producer Don Simpson “just made him do it.” So it was Gere who literally swept Debra Winger off her feet. Denver never looked strong enough to sweep her carpet.
  8. Patrick Swayze, The Outsiders, 1983.   Gave up a Coppola experience to be NASA’s Mr Cool, astronaut Gordon Cooper in The Right Stuff. “I’d wanted to play Gordo a year before they even thought about the movie,” he told me in Bavaria, “because I read the book – and I mean, he fell asleep on the launchpad!
  9. Eric Roberts, The Coca Cola Kid, Australia, 1984.  After a fine start, this was not the most successful of Yugoslav director Dusan Makavejev’s usual melding of politics, sex and vilolence. Having to settle for Roberts when Quaid was committed elsewhere, didn’t help matters. Co-star Greta Scacchi couldn’t stand him  and made sure they managed their love scene in a single take. 
  10. Nicolas Cage, Peggy Sue Got Married, 1985. Director Penny Marshall talked to Tom Hanks and Sean Penn about being the bridegroom. Then, she was fired.  It’s too big for a first-timer, rasped the silly suits and called up Francis Ford Coppola (see what I mean about silly suits).  Way too big for such a fairy-tale.  He saw Steve Guttenberg and Quaid  – who wisely preferred The Big Easy. Thrn, Don Fancey chose his nephew. Wow, never saw that coming…

  11. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.     In all, 39 possibilities for the  off-kilter, ’Nam vet cop Martin Riggs – not as mentally-deranged as in early drafts (he used a rocket launcher on one guy!)  Some ideas were inevitable: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn (shootingAliens), Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, William Petersen, Dennis Quaid, Christopher Reeve, Kurt Russell, Charlie Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. Some were inspired: Bryan Brown, Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum (he inherited Gibson’s role inThe Fly), William Hurt (too dark for Warner Bros), Michael Keaton, Michael Madsen, Liam Neeson, Eric Roberts. Some were insipid: Jim Belushi, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Kevin Kline, Stephen Lang, Michael Nouri (he joined another cop duo in The Hidden),  Patrick Swayze. Plus TV cops  Don  Johnson, Tom Selleck… three foreign LA cops:  Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dutch Rutger Hauer and French Christophe(r) Lambert. And the inevitable (Aussie) outsider Richard Norton.
  12. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  13. Tom Hanks, Big, 1987.    He told Larry King on CNN that he passed on Big in order to make  Everybody’s All American.“I turned down Big. I hit myself over that ! At the time, there were three other movies with a similar storyline and Big was going to be second, but it wasn’t.  I should have taken Big.”
  14. Kevin Costner, Bull Durham, 1987. Ron Shelton had one helluva job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball? Get outa here. Ball movies don’t sell.”  But his producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad and recognised what Roger Ebert would call a sports movie that knows what it is talking about – because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” Orion stumped up $9m, eight weeks, creative freedom – the cast cut their costs because of the script. For the minor-league veteran, Crash Davis, Shelton  looked at: Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones (he was baseball icon Ty Cobb in Shelton’s Cobb, 1994), Michael Keaton, Stephen Lang, Nick Nolte (more into football), Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell (who worked on the script with Shelton), Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis – and even three foreigners to the game: Aussie Mel Gibson, French Christophe(r) Lambert and Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Result: more sports from Shelton (basketball, golf, boxing) and more baseball movies from Hollywood: A League of Their Own, Eight Men Out (with Sheen), Field of Dreams (Costner), Major League  I and II (Berenger and Sheen).  
  15. Mark Harmon, The Presidio, 1987.  The usual old cop-young cop routine but set to a dull military beat in San Francisco’s Presidio Army Base.  Due for Lee Marvin-Jeff Bridges, but Lee fell ill and died.  Gene Hackman-Bridges were not as hot as Sean Connery-Don Johnson – except Don was hog-tied to Miami Vice.  OK, Sean-Kevin Costner – he quit so no Untouchables reunion as the pair finally became Sean-Mark Harmon.  Also up for the young upstart were 15 others:  Alec Baldwin Michael Biehn, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Michael Keaton, Bill Pullman, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis, even Europeans Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme None could have saved what Chicago critic Roger Ebert called “a clone, of a film assembled out of spare parts from… the cinematic junkyard.”
  16. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.  
  17. Tom Cruise, Rain Man, 1988.The Babbit brothers were scripted for the Quaid brothers, Dennis reluctantly aiding an autistic Randy.
  18. Jeff Bridges, The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989.   First idea was to turn Chevy Chase and Bill Murray into the musical brothers vying for a superb singer Michelle Pfeiffer Making Whoopee on their piano.  Texas auteur Steve Kloves then thought of real brothers. Dennis and Randy Quaid passed and the Bridges boys jumped at the rare chance of working together.  (Dennis later made Flesh and Bonefor Klovas).
  19. Campbell Scott, The Sheltering Sky, 1990.     Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci’s budget cuts meant William Hurt, Melanie Griffith, and Quaid, became John Malkovich, Debra Winger and Scott. So says Juliet Taylor. No one knows better. She was the casting director. Author Paul Bowles also knew better: “It should never have been filmed. The ending is idiotic and the rest is pretty bad.”

  20. Don Johnson, The Hot Spot, 1990.   
    Robert Mitchum was the matrix for drifter Harry Madox – and first choice in 1962. Nearly 30 years later, it was to be Mickey Rourke and Debra Winger. Or Quaid, Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Tom Selleck, Sam Shepard, Patrick Swayze opposite Anne Archer, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Theresa Russell, Uma Thurman and ultimately, Virginia Madsen. Not necessarily for this movie…   Replacing UK director Mike Figgis, Dennis Hopper totally changed the entire gig!   In a AV Club interview, Johnson explained how three days before shooting began Dennis “called a meeting. ‘OK, we’re not making that script. We’re making this one.’And he passed a script around the table that had been written for Robert Mitchum in the ’60s… based on a book called Hell Hath No Fury… Wow! The Figgis script was really slick and cool, and it was a heist movie. But this was real noir. The guy was an amoral drifter, and it was all about how women were going to take him down… And that was the movie that we ended up making. Hopper’s Last Tango In Texas was hailed by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as a superior work in an old tradition.” He wuz right!

  21. Richard Gere, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  22. Kurt Russell, Tango & Cash, 1989.  ’Tis the season for cops – with two on offer…   Sylvester Stallone was Raymond Tango – without question. But who would he accept as his equally frame cop pardner, Gabriel Cash? After Patrick Swayze ran (to solo billing in Road House), the list was long… Quaid, Michael Biehn, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner,  Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Don Johnson, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, Liam Neeson, Michael Nouri, Gary Oldman, Robert Patrick, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Gary Sinise. Plus three future Sly co-stars: Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis and James Woods. They all  lost out on the debatable pleasure of four directors! From the Russian Andrei Konchalovsky to, secretly, Stallone..!
  23. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.   Next…? 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!
  24. 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.
  25. Bill Campbell, The Rocketeer, 1990.   The obvious flop needed something, even Quaid’s cockiness, but Campbell better suited Disney’s pocket and the comic-book’s “regular schmo” hero. Also seen for Cliff Secord were Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp,  Vincent D’Onofrio, Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine and ex-Disney moppet Kurt Russell. When interviewing Campbell – in Paris for the opening – he told me how he’d  spent the previous night climbing the North face of…  Notre Dame cathedral!  For fun. Not a camera in sight. 
  26. Billy Crystal, City Slickers, 1990. Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Michael J. Fox Tom Hanks, Mike Myers, Dennis Quaid were the outsiders for  Mitch – won by Crystal, who worked on the script without credit. Robin Williams was offered his choice of  the trio but was Hook-ed by Steven Spielberg. Chicago critic Roger Ebert noted: “So many ways this movie could have gone wrong…  that it’s sort of astonishing, how many ways it finds to go right.”
  27. Tom Hanks, 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 and Geena took over at Columbia.  Also on the plate for team manager Jimmy Dugan were Bryan Cranston, Michael J Fox and Quaid. 

  28. Kevin Costner, JFK, 1991.
  29. Kevin Bacon, JFK, 1991.

  30. Val Kilmer, Thunderheart, 1991.  UK director Michael Apted’s first  thriller was inspired by 57 unsolved murders on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s as The Traditionals fought Tribal government goons…  making Pine Ridge (pop: 1100) the Murder Capitol of the Nation. The only cliche in sight is the usual pairing of old cop-young cop (or FBI agents here), the rest was the usual Apted brilliance.  He shuffled 13 choices for the younger agent, Ray Levoi: Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel, Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvster Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis Levoi was 1/4th Sioux. Kilmer (“the most unsung leading man of his generation,” for Chicago critic  Roger Ebert) is 1/8th Cherokee.

  31. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.

  32. Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, 1992.
  33. Tom Berenger,  At Play in the Fields of the Lord, 1992.    MGM snapped up Peter Matthiessen’s novel for Brando. John Huston and Milos Forman wanted to direct; David Lean and Arthur Penn did not. Paul Newman was keen on subbing  Brando as the sky jockey  hero, Lewis Moon, helped by his writer pal Stewart Stern and  director Richard Brooks.  Next, old schoolers Kirk Douglas, Gregory Peck and newer guys Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, Patrick Swayze tried to Moon it. Hector Babenco preferred  Berenger  for what Washington Post critic Desson Howe called artistic zilch: “three  hours of lush jungle cinematography, picturesque natives and crackpot missionaries losing their minds.”
  34. Jeff Daniels,The Butcher’s Wife, 1991.   Planned opposite his wife, Meg Ryan. Instead, they returned to the screen in Flesh and Bone, 1993.
  35. Patrick Bergin, The Map of the Human Heart, 1992.   He had been expected to substitute Willem Dafoe. “I could never hold a job for more than three months, which works out well because that’s how long a movie shoots.”

  36. Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle, 1993.   
    A surprise early idea  choice (the guy wasn’t cocky!) for When Harry Met Sally Meets When Sam Met Suzy….Same writer, Nora Ephron. Same  Sally – Meg Ryan (er, Mrs Quaid). Regrets? “Oh yeah, of course.  I turned down Tom Hanks’ career!  I turned down  Big and A League of Their Own…  Sleepless in Seattle was mine. And yet, all of a sudden, it wasn’t. I turned it down because of the director on it at the time. I said: You should get Nora Ephron.’But because I turned it down, they were free to do anything they wanted, so I wound up out of it [even though Ephron did direct] and my wife at the time was in it!”    The Quaids divorced in 2001. He said he never again experienced a lull (or what he calls “Hollywood jail”) quite like the one after coming out of rehab in 1990. “I was always supposedly just one movie away from having a huge career,” he says with an eye roll. “In Hollywood, if you take a year off, they’ll find somebody else.” 

  37. Keanu Reeves, Speed, 1993.  There were  30 stars queuing for Die Hard On A Bus. From A Listers Jeff Bridges, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, even Mr Die Hard, himself, Bruce Willis… to the B group: Kevin Bacon, three Baldwin brothers (Alec, Stephen and William), Michael Biehn, Bruce Campbell, George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Quaid, Mickey Rourke, Tom Selleck… and two also-rans  Bruce  Campbell and Chuck Norris.  All crushed by a whippersnapper!
  38. Patrick Swayze, To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, 1995.     Hollywood’s first drag race for 36 years… Some guys looked too pretty: Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, James Spader. The others?  You don’t want to know!
  39. Don Johnson, Tin Cup, 1996.      Too expensive as Kevin Costner’s rival in putting balls and putting out.
  40. Lothaire Bluteau, Nostromo, 1996.     Dennis was in heaven – selected in 1991 by his all-time favourite film-maker, David Lean. Then, sheer hell – Lean’s health and financing tumbled and Joseph Conrad’s novel wound up as a dismal TV mini.

  41. Harrison Ford, Air Force One, 1996.   The action-man POTUS was written for Kevin Costner, too busy mailing The Postman. He suggested Ford and if he passed, a new list included Tom Hanks, Tommy Lee Jones (Bill Clinton’s Havard room-mate), John Malkovich (a wannabe presidential assassin during In The Line of Fire, 1992), Dennis Quaid (brother Randy had played LBJ), Keanu Reeves (at 28?), and ex-California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneger. The current Prez, Bill Clinton, loved the movie; future POTUS Donald Trump was inspired by it – “Harrison Ford on the plane… He stood for America!” Quized on TV about this, Ford turned to the camera and wearily said: “Donald, it was just a movie. Things like this don’t happen in real life.”
  42. Michael Keaton Jack Frost, 1998. A jazz musician dies and comes back  – as Frosty The Snowman – to help out his sad son.  Quaid, Tim Allen, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell   and Billy Bob Thornton (the 2002  Bad Santa) all passed.  They’d seen the Jim Henson/ILM designs for the snow-er-creature. “The most repulsive single creature in the history of special effects,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “and I am not forgetting the Chucky doll or the desert intestine from Star Wars.”

  43. Gary Oldman, Batman Begins,  2004.
  44. Linus Roache, Batman Begins, 2004.

  45. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire, 2004. 
    Tony Scott backed out of directing the first version in 1986, but helped  Denzel Washington retrieve his lost taste for acting in this re-make.  Sergio Leone chose  Robert De Niro  and Marlon Brando nearly played A J Quinnell’s ex-CIA hero turned mercenary (certainly helped re-write  him) but Scott Glenn won the  role. Tony Scott  had wanted Robert Duvall. The new scriptwriter, Brian Helgeland,  recalled going  into the LA Video Archives store  in the 80s and asking the clerk: “What’s good?” The clerk said:  Man on Fire. The clerk was Quentin Tarantino.  In both films Creasy  is trying to rescue a kidnapped girl, almost a daughter to him, that  he’s bodyguarding.  Yeah, rather like a matrix for Liam Neeson’s Takens. So no surprise to find Liam among some 25 actors up for Creasy. Alec Baldwin, Sean Bean (a nearly 007),  Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Andy Garcia, Mel Gibson, Ed Harris, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, Viggo Mortensen,  Gary Oldman, Dennis Quaid, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Kurt Russell,  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis… even our dear old  Bob Hoskins.  Creasy was later  Bollywooded by the inimitable  Amitabh Bachchan (at age  63!). There were three songs, of course.

  46. Ioan Gruffudd, Fantastic Four, 2004.   After being stymied by Roger Corman’s cheap quickie designed to retain the rights, Chris Columbus (not that one!) planned to film the Marvel comic. With the then-wed Quaid and Meg Ryan for Reed Richards and Sue Storm. Before the Welshman won the the timid, brilliant and broke scientist, other possibilities had been George Clooney, Brendan Fraser, Jeff Goldblum, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Wilson.
  47. Bill Paxton, Haywire, 2010.   Due to his his Soul Surfer schedule,  Quaid had to  part company with the thriller designed by Steven Soderbergh around the redoubtable abilities of all-time Mixed Martial Arts champ, Gina Carano. Poor Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum did not stand a chance against her Muay Thai kickboxing. Preposterous magic!  
  48. Kevin Costner, Man of Steel, 2011.
  49. Tim Robbins, Life of Crime, 2013.   Change of the rich property dude unwilling to pay any ransom for his kidnapped wife  as he has a younger lover on the side. No ransom could lead to her murder but hey…  no alimony! No way for Robbins or Quaid to treat Jennifer Aniston. The kidnappers, Ordell and Louis, were played by Samuel L Jackson, Robert Niro in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.  But this time by Yaslin Bey, John Hawkes and Isla Fisher.  Very Second XI.








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  49