Jon Voight



  1. John Phillip Law, The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, 1966.     Almost his screen debut as a handsome Russian submariner.
  2. Terence Stamp, Far From The Madding Crowd,   1966.   Stamp always said that director  John Schlesinger first wanted Jon Voight for Sergeant Troy -(two years before they made Midnight Cowboy).  The experience was somewhat ruined, Stamp told The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver in  March 2015, because he didn’t respect or like  Schlesinger. “He didn’t strike me as a guy who was particularly interested in film. Plus I wasn’t his first choice: he really wanted Jon Voight. He wasn’t exactly hostile, but he really didn’t help me. I was working on my own, really.”  Fortunately,  Stamp had a b better rapport  with the director of photography (and future director) Nicolas Roeg. After shooting was finished each day, they’d  go off and work on their own sequences –  such as the phallic sword-waving before a squealing Julie  Christie. “I’ll say this for Schlesinger, when he got in the cutting room and realised he had all this extra footage, he used it. He understood it then. But I didn’t have a lot of time for him.
  3. Michael Forest, Star Trek  #31: Who Mourns for Adanais?. TV, 1967.    (Stardate 3468.1).  A crowded diary meant Voight had to pass on Apollo to Forest,  a   Roger Corman regular, in  such fare as – take a deep breath! –  The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent. (Honest!).
  4. Terence Stamp, Far From The Madding Crowd, 1967. Talking to The Guardian’s Andrew Pulver 48 years later, Stamp said he didn’t respect, or like, director John Schlesinger. “Plus I wasn’t his first choice: he really wanted Jon Voight  [they made Midnight Cowboyin ‘68]. . He wasn’t exactly hostile, but he really didn’t help me. I was working on my own, really.”   Apart from after-hours sequences with camerace Nicolas Roeg, such as Stamp’s Sergeant Troy playing with his phallic sword in front of an excited Julie Christie. “I’ll say this for Schlesinger, when he got in the cutting room and realised he had all this extra footage, he used it.”
  5. Charles Bronson, Città violenta (UK: Violent City; US: The Family), Italy-France, 1969. As a switch from his spaghetti West, Rome director Sergio Sollima tried an urban thriller – Quentin Tarantino called it a re-hash of Jacques Tourneur’s Out of the Past. Replacing 1947’s Jane Greer-Robert Mitchum with Florinda Bolkan-Tony Musante or Sharon Tate- Voight. Until Bronson became the betrayed hit-man, inevitably insisting on his wife…as his double-crosser. Sollima loved them. “A weird couple, the coal-miner and the chic English woman.”
  6. Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970.
  7. Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, 1972.
  8. Harvey Keitel, Mean Streets, 1973.     New York director Martin Scoresese talked with Voight about Charlie and he quit on the eve of shooting, preferring to be the teacher in Conrack – so saintly that had the role been black, it would have been Sidney Poitier. Scorsese kept the faith with the actor he found for Who’s That Knocking At My Door?
  9. Paul Williams, Phantom of the Paradise, 1973. Gerrit Graham talked of musical chairs casting: Paul Williams for Winslow, Graham as Swan, Boyle for Beef – nothing for William Finley, even though his pal, director Brian De Palma, had written Winslow for him. Stop the music!   Now,  Williams is Swan (Graham is Beef, Finley is Winslow. Boyle?  Otherwise engaged. Finley later revealed that De Palma also considered Voight for Swan, the manipulative, Dorian Grayish rock icon, first called Spectre, after Phil Spector.  Prophetic!  
  10. Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws, 1974. 

  11. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974.
  12. Gene Hackman, Lucky Lady, 1975.      Unlike  many  of Jon’s decisions,  refusing  this offer from Deliverance pal,  Burt Reynolds, was  absolutely correct.
  13. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  14. Malcolm McDowell, Voyage of the Damned, 1975.  In a Nazi propaganda exercise – “Nobody loves Jews – so leave them to us”- Germany ships Jews to Havana, in the full knowledge that Cuba won’t accept them. Nor will any other nation. They return home, by which time WWII has begun, and of the 937 passengers, more than 600 die in concentration camps!  ThIs is no retread of Katharine Anne Porter’s Ship of Fools, although similar and both featuring José Ferrer and Oskar Werner (in his final film here). No, this is a terrible true story, stuffed with stars, too many to deal with. Denholm Elliott has one scene, Orson Welles, four; luckier than the jettisoned Janet Suzman and Jack Warden.  A good guy this once, Malcolm McDowell was among the crew instead of (take a breath)… fellow Brits Jon Finch, Anthony Hopkins, Simon MacCorkindale, Ian McShane, John Moulder-Brown. Martin Potter and Hollywood’s  Keith Carradine, Jeff Conaway, Raul Julia, Martin Kove, Joe Mantegna,  Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, John Ritter, John Travolta, Jon Voight.

  15. Michael York, Logan’s Run, 1976.   
    Or Brits’ Run  as three of the top four  roles were filled by York, Jenny Agutter, Peter Ustinov – under  a UK helmer, Michael Anderson.  Seven years before, Hollywood’s most sf-minded  producer, George Pal. Asked the first James Bond  scenarist Richard Maibaum, to adapt  William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson’s  dystopian drama, circa 2274…  when life must end at 30 (21 in the book).  Redford was set as Logan  5 (3 in the book).   Or Jon Voight (with Lindsay Wagner as Jessica 6).    York admits he nearly binned the script (alongside Love Story).  But a fellow actor in his current stage play asked to read it. Next day, he told York: You’ve got to do this, you may not be aware of it, but it’s pressing a lot of buttons. And he was absolutely rightAdults still accost me and tell me this was their favourite film when growing up.  I was flattered to read afterwards that had I refused it, the film would probably not have been made.”  Nolan was connected to five other Logan sequels and Warners ordered a a 90s’ re-make for Leonardo DiCaprio – or Ryan Gosling in 2011.  But, hey, Logan 5 (3 in the book) was not stamped Lucas or Marvel. If it is ever re-made, Leo could be right for the  character known as…  Old Man. 

  16. Richard Burton, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, 1976.
  17. Malcolm  McDowell, Voyage of the Damned, 1976.  Voight passed on   Max Gunter, aboard thetragic 1939 voyage of SS St. Louis – packed with German Jewish refugees that no country cared to save.
  18. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1977.
  19. Bruce Dern, Coming Home, 1978.     They swopped roles, Dern becoming Jane Fonda’s militarist husband, Jon her paraplegic lover. He told director Hal Ashby: “This role should be played by a lover, Hal. And I am a lover!” He next badgered producer Jerome Hellman. “In the end, he was right. Brilliant performance.” And Oscar agreed.
  20. Roy Scheider, All That Jazz, 1979.   When director Bob Fossewas convinced (by his health) not to try and play his screen self, Broadway choreographer Joe Gideon was chased and/or avoided by… Voight, Alan Alda, Alan Bates (“too British,” said Fosse), Warren Beatty (keen, but Gideon must not die at the end!), Robert Blake, Richard Dreyfuss (“afraid of the dancing”), Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Jack Lemmon (“too old”), Paul Newman (“Dumb of me… a terrible oversight”), Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, George Segal. Scheider just grabbed it. “Outrageous, assaulting, melodramatic, very funny, stupid, silly, simplistic, vulgar – a wonderful movie!” Exactly.
  21. Dustin Hoffman, Kramer vs Kramer, 1979.    Another battle for the Midnight Cowboys.
  22. Bruce Dern, Middle Age Crazy, Canada, 1979.     Dern learned from swopping the Coming Home roles with Voight. “I was second on the list and I wouldn’t let ’em pass to the third. I couldn’t afford to let this film go.” Audiences did.

  23. Jack Nicholson, The Shining, 1979.    
    Author Stephen King desperately tried to talk iconic  director Stanley Kubrick  out of Jack. The author (rightly) felt Michael Moriarty or Voight   “were normal-looking while Nicholson would appear crazy from the start.”  Judging them on Taxi Driver and Mork & Mindy., Stanley Kubrick said Robert De Niro was not psychotic enough while Robin Williams was too much so!   Although Kubrick’s only choice was Nicholson, Warner Bros also suggested Harrison Ford, Christopher Reeve.  Plus Martin Sheen (who’d already made it… as Apocalypse Now!). (He later made Stephen King’s Dead Zone in 1983).  
    Or even the funny Chevy Chase and Leslie Nielsen (what were they smoking?)   Didn’t matter who was Jack Torrance as Kubrick, usually so blissfully right about everything, had clearly lost it.   He insisted on up to 70 takes for some scenes (three days and 60 doors for “Here’s Johnny!”), reducing Shelley Duvall and grown men, like Scatman Crothers at 69, to tears. “Just what is it that you want, Mr Kubrick?” He didn’t know. He was, quite suddenly, a director without direction. Result: a major disappointment. Not only for Stephen King but the rest of us. Harry Dean Stanton escaped being Lloyd, the bartender. By making a real horror film. Alien.

  24. Michael Caine, The Hand, 1981.   Cartoonist loses hand in an accident. The dismembered limb goes on a murderous rampage. “I liked the idea,” said Oliver Stone of his writer-directing debut. “But I didn’t feel passionate about it.” Nor did Voight, Dustin Hoffman or Christopher Walken.
  25. James Woods, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   After his epic about the West, Sergio Leone planned another on the East – based on The Hoods, “an autobiographical account” of New York Jewish gangster Harry Goldberg. He wrote it in Sing Sing prison as Harry Grey. Leone thought he resembled Edward G Robinson.  Harry probably agreed. He certainly used “a repertoire of cinematic citations, of gestures and words seen and heard thousands of times on the big screen…” But then, so did Leone with a 400 page script packed with echoes of Angels with Dirty Faces, Bullets or Ballots, Dead End, High Sierra, Little Cesar andWhite Heat. In October 1975, he even fancied the elderly James Cagney and Jean Gabin as the older Noodles and Max – the younger being Gérard Depardieu and Richard Dreyfuss. The maestro interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles. Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino passed on Noodles. In 1980, Tom Berenger and Paul Newman were up for Noodles (young andold) with either John Belushi, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Harvey Keitel, John Malkovich or Jon Voight as Max, then Joe Pesci (he became Frankie, instead) and James Woods was Max. And Scott Tiler and Rusty Jacobs were the young Noodles and Max in the three hours-49 minutes unfurled at the ’84 Cannes festival… instead of Leone’s aim: two three-hour movies.
  26. Jacques Perrin, Les quarantièmes rugissants/The Roaring 40s, France, 1982. Actor-producer Jacques Perrin (Z, etc), pondered on Nicholson and Voight And then shaved the tight budget by playing the cheating yachtsman, himself – opposite Julie Christie.
  27. John Cassavetes, Love Streams, 1984.     “John Cassavetes wanted to develop the picture with me acting in it. I wanted to direct him in it.”” Hmm, good idea but if anyone was going to direct Cassavetes, it would be Cassavetes… in what became his last film, his tenth with wife Gena Rowlands.
  28. Paul Newman, The Verdict, 1982.  
    First choice for the Boston personal-injury laywer was Frank Sinatra.  Next : Redford, who got two directors fired (Arthur Hiller, James Bridges) to get pal Sydney Pollack aboard. When a fourth, Sidney Lumet, took over, he called the ambulance-chaser a kicking-the-dog character (difficult for the public to like), but Redford, said Lumet, wanted to be  petting-the-dog“a crusader on a white horse. ,Lumet stuck to David Mamet’s script, so Redford walked – he did not wish to be an alcohollc. That affliction didn’t bother Cary Grant, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Roy Scheider or Jon Voight.. Enter: Newman “face down in a urinal,” he said (Not exactly true). “The guy’s an open wound.  And that was refreshing, to let the blemishes, the indecision – the wreckage – show through.”  Watching it in 2019  for the 100th time, George Clooney said:  “That is a proper big-time, world-class movie star saying to the world: ‘I’m a character actor now. He busted his ass. And you couldn’t make that film now. Not like that.” The public didn’t want to see Newman kicking any dogs. Anyway, he far too handsome to be a loser –  except on Oscar-night when Ben Kingsley won for Gandhi. Redford retired at 79. after completing The Old Man & the Gun.   “Well, that’s enough. And why not go out with something that’s very upbeat and positive? And then just focus on directing.”  The Verdict  was shot in New York like 25 of  Lumnet’s 31 films – more than Woody or Marty.

  29. Albert Finney, Pope John Paul II, TV, 1984.    Voight was first choice to be the Pope but passed to Albie.  After John Paul’s death two decades later, Voight played the Pontiff  (Ian Holm passed) in John Kent Harrison’s TV re-make, 2005.
  30. Jack Nicholson Prizzi’s Honour, 1984.      ”Do I ice her? Do I marry her?” Conundrum for Charley Partanna, hit-man for the Prizzi Family, when he falls for a fellow contractor: Kathleen Turner. John Huston had ten other Charley notions, each as mad as the other. Italians Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, even John Travolta made more sense than, say, Voight, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman,   Bill Murray, Ryan O’Neal, Christopher Reeve (!), Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight. Of course, Nicholson was the unlikeliest Brooklyn Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan, but terrific. Because Huston kept reminding him: ”Remember, he’s stupid!”
  31. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.  After passing roles to Cassavetes, Finney and Nicholson, Voight dropped low enough to pass to… Chuck Norris!   When Clint Eastwood passed on  what was first calledDirty Harry IV: Code of Silence, 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

  32. Gene Hackman, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller (labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert) the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson tried all ages for the villain politico. From James Caan and Al Pacino at 46 to Gregory Peck at 70. Plus James Coburn, Sean Connery, James Cromwell, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Dustin Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Mitchum, Donald Moffat, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jason Robards Donald Sutherland and Jon Voight.   Hackman was 56.
  33. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987. 
  34. 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… Voight, Jeff Bridges, Charles Bronson, Michael Douglas, Clint Eastwood, 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 and even the musclebound Arnie and Sly – Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Director Martin Brest, that’s who.
  35. Michael J Fox, Casualties of War, 1989.    Al Pacino and Voight were among copy-cat director Brian De Palma’s first choices. If only they had made it…!
  36. Tommy Lee Jones, Lonesome Dove,  TV, 1989. Refused the role of ex-Texas Ranger Captain Woodrow F Call, written by Larry McMurtry for John  Wayne in  1971. That was Peter Bogdanovich’s idea as a final Western for Duke, Henry Fonda and James Stewart.  (Wayne and, thereby the others,  were warned off by a jealous John Ford). Voight learned his lesson and played Call in the unofficial (non-McMurtry) sequel, Return to Lonesome Dove, 1993.  Three years later, Voight’s ex-son-in-law, UK actor Jonny Lee Miller,  played the young  Call in the official McMurtry  prequel, Dead Man’s Walk.
  37. Michael Lerner, Barton Fink, 1990.    Voight and Gene Hackman were in the running but  Lerner was perfect as the crass, venal Hollywood studio chief. A match, thought Chicago critic Roger Ebert, as the Coen brothers’ other “evil, compromised and corrupt” powerhouses: M Emmet Walsh in Blood Simple,1984, Trey E Wilson in  Raising Arizona, 1986,  and Albert Finney in Miller’s Crossing,1990
  38. Stephen Tobolowsky, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  39. Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive, 1993.  A dozen A listers were up for Dr Kimble chasing the one-armed man in the movie of David Janssen’s iconic TV series. Just four for his  hunter, Lieutenant Gerard: TLJ, Mel Gibson, (also up for nimble Kimble), Gene Hackman, Jon Voight… who quickly vacated the role on hearing Jones had decided against reprising Captain Woodrow F Call in Return to Lonesome Dove in order to play Gerard.  (Voight had always wanted to be Woodrow. And got it).  TLJ won a support Oscar  (and a sequel, US Marshals) as the Les Miserables-inspired cop chasing Harrison Ford’s Dr Richard Kimble – ie Javert hunting Valjean.  Last time Kimble went on the lam, it took 120 hours  during 1963-1967 to prove he didn’t kill his wife.  Despite being chased all over by TLJ, Ford managed it in 130 minutes
  40. Tom Cruise, Interview With the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, 1994.
  41. Willem Dafoe, Victory, 1996.     Among Louis Malle’s 1978 choices for Axel inhis 20-year-old dream project – the Joseph Conrad classic. (Plus Sean Connery, Paul Newman or Robert Redford). But Paramount was not as keen as it had been for its 1940 version. Gradually, shooting was planned, a France-Australia-Germany-Canada co-production (with Voight), in Indonesia and the Philippines, forJuly-September 1979. Malle and his new lover (and co-scripter) Susan Sarandon went to Atlantic City, instead.

  42. Eric Roberts, Doctor Who (The Movie), TV, 1996.   
  43. Peter Fonda, Ghost Rider, US-Australia, 2005.     The role?  Mephisto, aka Mephistopheles,  who gives Johnny Blaze back his soul as he becomes the titular supernatural agent of vengeance and justice. In short, Nic Cage is, finally, a superhero.  Yawn!!   “I waited too long for things to come along,” said Voight.  “I have a perfectionist mentality, I want things to be right. But I’ve had a little duel over the years with that mentality.  Because it can inhibit you.”
  44. Will Smith, Gemini Man, 2017.  On and off studio shelves since 1997 and Disney’s plans for Sean Connery in 2002, Gemini Manhas a top NSA hit man  becoming the termination target ofa mysterious youngster who predicts the veteran’s every move. “I know why he’s as good as you,” says Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  “He is you.” Yeah, a younger clone. Yeah, yawn, like Bruce Willis in The Kid, 1999, and Looper, 2011 – only this time one guy plays both roles, young and old.  Will Smith. Back in the day, test footage was shot of an old Mel Gibson (in Payback,1998) versusyoung Gibson (in The Year of Living Danerously, 1982). As directors changed from Tony Scott to Curtis Hanson, similar tests were made of Nic Cage, Jon Voight, plus Joe Carnahan’s above mashup of Clint Eastwood footage. No need for all that palaver these days, due to the stunning de-ageing or youthificationpossibilities as seen in the Lola VFX work for many Marvel movies, such the young Sam Jackson helping Captain Marvel.








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  43