Kris Kristofferson

  1. Barry Newman, Vanishing Point, 1970.   Director Richard C Sarafian was not allowed to hire Gene Hackman, so he tried to swing Kowalski, the ultra-rapid hot rod delivery driver, to Kristofferson. No, the Fox suits insisted on Newman. (Mrs KK, Rita Coolidge, had a small role),  And no, Kowalski’s name is not Jim – that was African-American slang for white guys in the 70s.  His next offer was about another car…
  2. James Taylor,  Two Lane Blacktop, 1971.      Clever casting man Fred Roos met Kris at a Jack Nicholson party, asked him to stop by Columbia to audition.  “I was stoned that night.  Next day, all I could  remember was I had this  appointment at  Columbia. Only I thought  it  was Columbia  Records…  Got to  the office,  I was wasted…  The guy said did I know anything about cars. “Can’t even change  a tyre.”  Kris backed out of the “contrived, crappy movie” and accepted Cisco Pike,  instead.  “I’d never been in no school play.  I wasn’t hot to be in movies.  But after Janis [Joplin’s death], I was very confused about the music trip.”
  3. Roy Harper, Made, 1971.    Americans Kristofferson and Tony Joe White, plus the UK’s T Rex singer Marc Bolan auditioned for the cool, laid back folk-rock singer who became the cool, laid-back Harper, in the UK folk-rocker’s only feature. He was well served by director John Mackenzie, ex-assistant to Ken Loach – hence single mum Valerie going to their Cathy Come Home and Poor Cow star, Carol White.
  4. Peter Fonda, Outlaw Blues, 1976.  Kristofferson had the offer of two films penned by penned by BWL Norton – and dropped Blues, amount the theft of a song, for Sam Peckinpah’s Convoy,  based on a hit song. KK left a large hole to fjll here… Fonda wasn’t enough.  Not his fault. Nor Norton’s. It was just that a movie  about an ex-con hunting the singer who’d stolen his best song required (a) a sjnger and (b) a song worth singing.
  5. Clint Eastwood,The Gauntlet, 1977.    Hard to imagine even Marlon Brando coming close to Clint’s alcoholic cop – dispatched to Vegas to bring a hooker witness back to Phoenix. No way says the Mafia army… That was Plan A: Mumbles and Barbra Streisand. Plan B: Steve McQueen and Streisand. They didn’t gell, not  at all. Plan C: Kristofferson and Ali McGraw (Mrs McQueen!) for Sam Peckinpah). Plan D: Clint and La Barb – she’d brought him the script.  But she wanted songs. He bought her out for Plan E: Clint and his lady, Sondra Locke… in the first cop art helmed by Clint. Classic Eastwood, said Roger Ebert. “Fast, furious, funny.” And totally shoot-out preposterous!
  6. Christopher Reeve, Superman, 1978,
  7. Harrison Ford, Hanover Street, 1978.      Kris was burnt out. “One film after another, concert tours inbetween, I fooled myself that I could do everything  by working a little harder.” Ford snapped up the (bad) WWII  romance “because  I’d never kissed a woman in my films.”  Ironically,  Ford also  owes his career to Fred Roos, continually batting for him in Lucas and Coppola films.

  8. Donald Pleasence, Halloween, 1978.  
    Hitchcock fan auteur John Carpenter searched high and low for his shrink, Dr Sam Loomis. Peter O’Toole and the Hammer horrors, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee versus Charles Napier, Lawrence Tierney, Abe Vigoda. The $300,00 shoestring budget couldn’t afford any of them! Same for Lloyd Bridges, David Carradine, Kirk Douglas, Steven Hill, Walter Matthau… even such off-the-wall surprises as John Belushi, Mel Brooks, Yul Brynner, Edward Bunker, Sterling Hayden, Dennis Hopper, Kris Kristofferson… and Dick’s brother, Jerry Van Dyke. Pleasence said he only made the film because his daughter told him to! She loved Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13… Her also told Carpenter he’d never read the script. “Only later,” said Carpenter, “after [we] became close friends, did I realise he was finding out how much I loved the movie I was making.” Incidentally, Loomis was named after John Gavin’s Psycho character; his screen lover was Janet Leigh, mother of Carpenter’s heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. So it flows.

  9. Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (Rambo), 1981. 
  10. Nick Nolte, 48 Hrs, 1982.   ”You’re gonna be sorry you ever met me”/”I’m already sorry.”  Rourke was to be the cop stuck with paroled criminal Gregory Hines, Richard Pryor, Howard E. Rollins Jr  or Denzel Washington?  Also in the San Francisco PD mix were Jeff Bridges, Clint Eastwood (he wanted to be the hood), Kris Kistofferson, Michael Lerner, Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone.  
  11. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.  When Clint Eastwood passed on what was first called Dirty Harry IV: Code of Silence, the rewrite was planned as a Kristofferson comeback after the Heaven’s Gate debacle.  He found it too violent (body count of 47, compared to 100 in the same director Andrew Davis’ Under Seige) and made Flashpoint instead – by the same writers, Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack (used by Clint for  his 1984 Western, Pale Rider).  Silence was next 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
  12. Willem Dafoe, Platoon,1985.    
  13. Patrick Swayze, Next of Kin, 1989.     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!
  14. Michael Madsen, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  15. Nicolas Cage, Red Rock West, 1992.   For his feature film debut, Dennis Hopper suggested Montana auteurJohn Dahl should use his pal (who made his debut in Hopper’s Last Movie,1969). But another Dahl fan – Francis Copppola no less – was telling  his nephew to try out for the film. 
  16. Jon Voight, Heat, 1995.  KK passed on Nate – something of a nod to Willie Nelson’s Okla  in auteur Michael Mann’s previous crime thriller, Thief, 19890.
  17. David Morse, Bait, 1999.     Minds were changed about Kris playing playing  Edgar Clenteen in what Chicago critic Roger Ebert saw as  a deadpan action comedy with a little Hitchcock, a little Bond and a lot of attitude.
  18. Peter Fonda, 3.10 To Yuma, 2006.  For his first Western, James Mangold had hoped to get KK as  Byron McElroy – a new character not in the Delmer Davis’ better 1956 version of Elmore Leonard short story. Fonda was a perfect substitute.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  18