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Roman Polanski

  1. Zygmunt Malanowicz, Nóz w wodzie/Knife in the Water, Poland, 1962.    Polanski also intended to star as the young hitchhiker in his   directing debut, until   Jerzy Bossak, head of the Polish film unit Kamera, said he was not attractive enough. Polanski did, though, dub the bass-voiced Malanowicz. The first Polish film nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar was banned in Poland! And Polanski never filmed in   Popland   again until The Pianist -   40 years later.   And this   he won the Oscar.
  2. Donald Pleasence, Cul-De-Sac, 1966.   Polish director Roman Polanski based his script on his marriage to actress Barbara Lass. He even wanted them to play themselves. Lass’ new lad did not agree with this idea and UK producer Michael Klinger did not want Polanksi doing double duties on his second English lingo film. The first, Repulsion, 1975, had starred Dorleac’s sister, Catherine Deneuve.
  3. Ronald Lacey, Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981. 
  4. Ian McDiarmid, Gorky Park, 1983.  The USSR banned locations for Hollywood’s version of  the first of Martin Cruz Smith’s nine books about the Soviet  Sherlock, militsiya officer Arkady Renko…  because of   negative stereotypes of Russians and Communism. (Ah yes but an American villain!) Surprisingly, Polanski was offered the “menacing dwarf”  Professor Andreev. He passed but introduced UK director Michael Apted to his lover, Polish actress Joanna Pacula.  Perfect, he said, for Irina Asanova. And so she was.  McDiarmid went on to become Senator, later Emperor and finally Supreme Chancellor  Palpatine  in successive Stars Wars films, series and toons, during 1980t-2023
  5. Cris Campion, Pirates, France, 1985.    When he couldn’t land Dustin Hoffman  as The Frog,  Roman Polanski thought of taking over the role, himself. He thought again and told French casting icon Dominque Besnehard:  “I want  someone with a frog’s head. But a beautiful frog.”  He was found in a  pop magazine  spread devoted to the group, Les Koeur’s (the French do not understand apostrophes). US backers loved his test and so Thierry Campion became Cris Campion. The film opened the 1986 Cannes festival and sank so badly it left its pirate boat in the harbour because no one could afford a crew to sail it away. Campion  was stuck mainly in TV for everafter. He wed French star Anny Duperey in 1993. 
  6. Michel Blanc, Monsieur Hire, France, 1988.   The idea had been on auteur Patrice Leconte’s mind for some years.. A re-make of the 1957 Panique - Juulien Duvivier directing Michel Simon - based on the Georges Simenon novel, Les Fiancailles de M Hire.  Patrick Dewolf worked with Leconte on the scenario with Coluche in mind. “Physically, he was very close to the personnage created by Simenon.” But then the #1 French stand-up and Cesar-winning actor was killed in a motor-cycle crash. Another bulky star, Jacques Villeret, was considered, even the thinner Polanski – although the film was perhaps too close to his Tenant. Leconte decided he needed a pal for the ride, and called up Blanc from their   highly succesful Bronzés comedies – and asked him to do much the same as he’d asked another bronzé, Gerard Jugnot,  to do in Tandem - go off-circuit,  try something totally new… for both of them! And it worked,. Splendidly.


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