Joseph Gordon-Levitt

  1. Tobey Maguire, The Cider House Rules, 1999. Author John Irving went through four directors before settling on the Swedish Lasse Hallstrom to handle what Roger Ebert called a David Copperfieldish story (or, indeed, stories). For Homer, finally leaving his orphanage and surrogate father Michael Caine (winning his first Oscar), Hallström looked at The Class of ‘97 – Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton, Ryan Phillippe, Mark Wahlberg, Paul Walker. And chose Leonardo DiCaprio, who passed it to his (monotoned) pal, Maguire. 
  2. Steve Sandvoss, Latter Days, 2002.     Blacklisted US director Michael Gordon’s  grandson – Tommy in 3rd Rock From The Sun, 1996-2001 – auditioned to be Elder Aaron Davis. And became Elder Paul Ryder – in  an account of Mormons,  crises, clichés, catastrophes…
  3. Josh Hartnett, Hollywood Homicide, 2002.     The LAPD tecs,  Gavilan and Calden, became Harrison Ford and Hartnett, in place of  John Travolta and JGL.   A vast improvement.
  4. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain, 2004.   
    Hollywood was not keen on Annie Prouix’s 1977 short story – two gay shepherds in Wyoming, get outa here!   Until directors (more than actors) queued to make it.  Ang Lee, Joel Schumacher – but first in line was Gus Van Sant (obviously). He called up Damon and Joaquin Phoenix (obviously, they’d made his Good Will Hunting and To Die For, respectively). Said Damon: “Gus, I did a gay movie [The Talented Mr Ripley, then a cowboy movie [All the Pretty Horses]. I can’t follow it up with a gay-cowboy movie!”  Ang Lee was considering retirement when the script “nurtured” him back to work, only to find  many actors were scared to play gay. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Philippe and Brad Pitt all refused. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal did not. ”These two are among the best in their age group.. Jake plays the opposite of Heath and it creates a very good couple in terms of a romantic love story.” Gyllenhaal added: “I don’t think that these two characters even know what gay is.… What ties [them] together is not just a love, but … primarily it was deep loneliness.” Ang Lee  told journo  Robert Ordona  that in the 60s

  5. Emile Hirsch, Speed Racer, 2007. Also close to occupying Speed’s driving seat: JGL and Shia Labeouf. The problem was the director. He kept changing. From British Julien Temple to Mexican Alfonso Cuarón to Gus Van Sant. Finally, the Wachowski siblings voted fort Zac Efron before signing Hirsch, a long time fan of the 1967-1968 Japanese anime series series.
  6. Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man, 2010.
  7. Sam Riley, On The RoadArgentina-Brazil-Canada-France-Germany-Holland-Mexico-UK-US. 2010. Francis Coppola tried to write a script but “never knew how to do it.”  Numerous attempts were made at filming Jack Kerouac’s 1957 “beat” classic. He even mused on playing himself (or his aka Sal Paradise) in 1957 opposite Marlon Brando as Neal Cassady (aka Dean Moriarty). Marlon never replied to his invite, probably thinking it was a fake. 1979: Francey bought the rights. 1995:  He planned a 16mm black-white version with “beat” poet Allen Ginsberg. (Johnny Depp declined in the 90s).2005: Joel Schumacher helming Billy Crudup-Colin Farrell…or Brad Pitt-Ethan Hawke. Finally, Coppola & Son (Roman) and 26 other producers (!) had Brazilian Walter Salles directing English Sam Riley, Australian Garrett Hedlund – and Kristen Stewart  as Mary Lou, once offered to Lindsay Lohan and Winona Ryder. Salles also checked Joseph Gordon-Levitt-James Franco.
  8. Ryan Gosling, Gangster Squad, 2011.     The City v Public Enemy #1, circa ’49. Apart from Sean Penn’s uproarious make-up as Mickey Cohen (befitting his worst rôle), Gosling won LAPD sergeant Jerry Wooters from JGL, Adam Brody, Joel Edgerton, Luke Evans.
  9. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street, 2012.     Auditioned for Danny Porush, pal of Leonardo DiCaprio’s titular eco-criminal – his fifth collaboration with Martin Scorsese. And nothing to do with the 1929 film with the same title – first US  film, as Scorsese would tell you, to have one actor (Paul Lukas) dubbed by another (Lawford Davidson).  Hill collected an Oscar nomination.
  10. Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy, 2013.   He preferred Sin City: A Dame To Kill For to joining the Guardians and Godzilla. In the (crowded) battle of new Hollywood guys for Peter Quill/Star Lord were the usual prerequisites… Six TV finds (Cam Gigandet, Jack Huston, John Krasinski, James Marsden, Lee Pace, Aaron Paul), three science fiction favourites (Jensen Ackles, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Rosenbaum), a couple of triples (JGL and Logan Marshall-Green), two hot Brits (Eddie Redmayne, Jim Sturgess), a brace of Aussies (Joel Edgerton, Sullivan Stapleton), two total outsiders (Glenn Howerton, Chris Lowell). And an ex-hottie on the comeback trail (Wes Bentley).

  11. Aaron Taylor-Jones, Godzilla, 2013.    Used to be the girls having three names. Not anymore. JGL was already busy inheriting the Sin City sequel – A Dame To Kill For – from Johnny Depp. The Texan Caleb Landry-Jones was booked for Tom á la ferme.  Scoot McNairy wase also up for Lieutenant Ford Brody  (a nod to Roy Scheider’s Jaws sheriff?). But  the most stupid idea was Henry Cavill – Superman v Godzilla! – was, decidedly, nolo contendere.
  12. Henry Cavill, The Man From UNCLE,  2013.   After securing  the 60s’ TV series rights in 1993, producer John Davis went through 20 years, 14 scripts,  four directors (letting slip Soderbergh and Tarantino!), plus 19 Napoleon Solos. From George Clooney in 2010 to Tom Cruise three years later. By way of the early-21st century  era suspects: JGL, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm, Joel Kinnaman, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds,  Alexander Skarsgård (he switched to Tarzan), Channing Tatum. Even Russell Crowe, surely a better bet at 50 for old Waverly, the UNCLE boss.  Poor Davis never got it right!   Cavill had also auditioned for Solo’s partner, Ilya Kuryakin. So did…  
  13. Armie Hammer, The Man From UNCLE,  2013.  JGL was also in  the mix for Napoleon Solo’s Russian partner, Ilya Kuryakin. So  were Ryan Gosling and Alexander Skarsgard.  Director Steven Soderbergh quit in November 2011 when understanding Warner wanted a new franchise (like his Ocean’s 11 trilogy)… but didn’t want to pay for it.  So, they didn’t get it…!   
  14. Channing Tatum, Jupiter Ascending, 2013. JGL was tied to the Sin City sequel – and editing his directing debut, Don Jon. Try as they might, the Wachowski siblings (Andy and Lana at the time, now Lana and Lilly) couldn’t spring him loose… For any one of of three possible roles.   Tatum took over as Caine Waise. One-dimensional work in a 3D film – released (or escaped) in 2015.
  15. Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending, 2013.  And so, after My Week with Marilyn and Les Miserables, the young Brit became Balem Abrasax in the siblings’ universe… where humans were zeros.   
  16. Douglas Booth, Jupiter Ascending, 2013.   The latest Pip in Great Expectations, 2011, took over as Balem’s brother, Titus, in a spaceship channeling a cathedral and the Playboy Mansion.
  17. Paul Rudd, Ant-Man, 2014. The micro-superhero had been rolling around Hollywood ever since New World’s 1988 plan was tossed because Disney was into Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Well, now Disney was Marvel and, started prepping in 2006 with the great (Ant Man fan) Edgar Wright writer-directing. By 2013, the script was done, effects tests made and Paul Rudd beat JGL, Adrien Brody and Ewan McGregor to the on-off little hero. Then, Marvel maven Kevin Feige shook Film City by replacing Wright (for being Edgar Wright!) with the obedient Peyton Reed. Rudd was the second transfer from TV’s Parks and Recreation to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – after Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy.   
  18. Benedict Cumberbatch, Doctor Strange, 2015.    Discussed, planned, written, re-spun since 1986, always dropped despite scripts from Alex Cox, Wes Craven, Bob Gale, etc, until chosen as the  portal into the supernatural side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Mads Mikkelsen  was first choice. But that was in in 2013…  Among those later flown up the flagpole were  TV doctor Patrick Dempsey, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jon Hamm, Tom Hardy, Ethan Hawke, Jack Huston, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Vincent Price (in 1986!), Keanu Reeves (listed but never approached – how wise!), Justin Theroux. Oh and two Jokers: 2015’s Jared Leto and 2018’s Joachin Phoenix.  Finally, production wisely waited until after Cumberbatch’s Hamlet stagetriumph in London. If Iron Man is Mick Jagger, Strange is Jim Morrison…  and could be head of the MCU when Robert Downey pawned his ironmongery.
  19. Will Smith, Suicide Squad, 2015.    After seeing 14 possible Harley Quinns, director Davjud Ayer  shuffled through 19 Deadshots. None hit the target. Not  JGL, Daniel Craig, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio,  Idris Elba,  Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender and Jon Hamm. Nor Oscar Isaac, Joel Kinnaman, Mathew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Robert Pattinson, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Alexander Skarsgård and Jason Statham. Another Warner/DC flop  because Warner wasn’t Marvel and Smith was way too top-heavy for a team effort.
  20. Russell Crowe, The Mummy, 2016.     “Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters…” In this reboot of 2007’s planned Mummy 4 – Rise of the Aztecs (replacing hero Brendan Fraser (no, really) with Tom Cruise (no, really), five actors were in the horror mix for “Henry” – Dr Jeykll, that is. Crowe, JGL, Javier Bardem, Tom Hardy and Eddie Redmayne. However, Cruise’s Mum flopped (a mere$4000m globally) and Universal scrapped its Dark Universe movies about Dr Crowe and Bardem as Frankenstein’s Monster. 


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  20