Kurt Russell


  1. Nicholas Hammond, The Sound of Music, 1965.      What better place   for an ex-Disney moppet  than being in director Robert Wise’s loop for Friedrich Von Trapp along with Richard Dreyfuss and all the Osmond brothers except the way too young Donny.
  2. Leonard Whiting,  Romeo and Juliet, UK-Italy, 1967. The first version where the stars were close to the ages of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers.  Leonard Whiting and Olivia were 15 and 17. At MGM, circa 1935, Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer were, ridiculously, 43 and 35!  Italian director Franco Zeffirelli saw 14 Juliets but only eight possible  Romeos  from Hollywood’s Jeff Bridges, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Matheson, Kurt Russell and  the two eldest Osmond brothers, Alan and Wayne … to  UK singers  Phil Collins and  Paul  McCartney – Lulu had been in the Juliet mix.
  3. Harrison Ford, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,  1976.
  4. Sam J Jones, Flash Gordon, 1979.        Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis wanted a Flash Russell.  But he was very Kurt about he lack of personality (isn’t that the actor’s job?) and  the overly carefree script – which hardly explains why he chose to Escape from New York, instead!!   Jones got the rôle (and caused a lot of angst), when Mrs Dino’s mother loved him on The Datng Game.  He had to be dubbed by Peter Marinker. So, blame this one  on the Mother-In-Law…  
  5. Klinton Spilsbury, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, 1980.  After bringing Lassie back alive, producer Jack Wrather aimed to do the same for The Lone Ranger. The first film was about a dog. The second was a dog. (Even worse than Johnny Depp’s 2012 mess).  Instead of the perfect Russell, or Bruce Boxleitner, Stephen Collins or Nicholas Guest,, Jack Wrather ruined it with his unknown lead – surely the only person on the planet to spell Clinton with a K. He spent so much time boozing and brawling that the crew called him “the asshole in the mask.” He never made another move and yet…  taught acting at the Herpolscheimer Academy in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. How many students quit after seeing his movie is not on record.
  6. Michael Keaton, Night Shift, 1981.     John Belushi passed (too Animal House?) and then ODed during the shoot ofactor-turned-director Ron Howard’s first major Hollywood (ie non-Roger Corman) movie.  Ron tested 40 of almost 200 actors for Bill Blazejowski, running a hooker call-out service from the city morgue!   Eight of them (Russell, Mickey Rourke included) read scenes with Howard’s Happy Daysco-star, Henry Winkler, already given the choice of “Blaze” or his boss, Chuck Lumley. He chose wimpish Lumley, way less cool than his Fonzie on TV.  Or as he precised: “I thought I’d play Richie Cunningham for once.”
  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.  Dennis Quaid and Christopher Reeve were seen. John Denver, Kurt Russell, John Travolta and Ken Wahl simply refused.Hackford said that Bill Treusch, manager of Eric Roberts, got in the way of any possible director-actor teamanship. “Gere turned this down eight or nine times,” recalled director Taylor Hackford. Until producer Don Simpson “just madehim do it.”So it was Gere who literally swept Debra Winger off her feet. Denver never looked strong enough to sweep her carpet.
  8. Jeff Bridges, The Last Unicorn, 1981.    Russell, Michael Crawford and Richard Harris were the mixed bag (and ages) to voice Prince Lir in the toon based on the book (and script) by Peter S Beagle.
  9. Ruter Hauer,  Ladyhawke, 1983.   Director Richard Donner had  twice  aborted  the film twice before and now with three qweeks to go, Russell decided he didn’t look good in a helmet.  “Kirk Douglas wouldn’t have a helmet.” “Kirk Douglas had a helmet in Paths of Glory,” retorted Donner, ”and it looked great.” Truth was Russell didn’t want to be eigfht  months  way from his new (and still) ladylove, Goldie Hawn.  On the phone from Holland, Hauer said sure, he  coulld fight with a broadsword and ride –   he’d been on the Dutch Equestrian Team Donner: “Get your ass down here…”  (I don’t recall him wearing a helmet!).
  10. Chuck Norris, Code of Silence, 1984.  When Clint Eastwood passed on what was first called Dirty 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

  11. Christophe(r) Lambert, Highlander, 1985.      
    Australian director Russell Mulcahy first fancied Mickey for Connor Macleod.  This offer tended to explain Rourke’s complaints about Hollywood. “I loved acting most because it was all about the work then. Not the business or the politics. You were either a good actor or you sucked.” (Rourke, alas, was both). Once Sean Connery refused the lead (for the splashier role of the 2,000-year-old Ramirez), finding the immortal Connor was not easy.  Kurt Russell actually won the role but his lover, Goldie Hawn, insisted he stay home; he dealt with Big Trouble in Little China, instead.  So you can imagine the anguish of the six producers when, after also being turned down by Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Hulk Hogan, William Hurt, David Keith, Mickey Rourke, Sam Shepard, Marc Singer (the too busy top choice), Sting (also asked for a song), Patrick Swayze and Peter Weller… that they discovered Mulcahy’s  choice was the new – and French  – Tarzan.

  12. Clancy Brown, HIghlander, 1985.   Sean Connery and Christophe(r) Lambert (!) were set as the Scottish heroes while director Russell Mulcahy set about choosing his villainous Kurgan, the “strongest of all the immortals.” The wish list included Scott Glenn, Rutger Hauer, Nick Nolte, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Roy Sheider. Clancy Brown said he based his Kurgan on… Schwarzie’s Terminator. After thoughts about 007’s Oddjob  with the baddy in a good suit and a bowler hat!  (Glenn and Kurt Russell were also seen for Connor MacLeod – and made Backdraft, 1990, also written by Gregory Widen).

  13. Rutger Hauer, Ladyhawke, 1985.       He quit before a shot was fired and helmer Richard Donner gave Navarre to Hauer. The Dutch star, quite a Paul Newman clone, had been begging for the lead instead of   the Captain of the Guard he had first been signed for. 

  14. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.   Russell turned down Martin Riggs … and then  played him, anyway…   His Gabriel Cash in Tango and Cash, 1989, was based on Riggs as writer Jeffrey Boam worked on both  movies.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 (shooting Aliens), 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 in The 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. Finally, Riggs went to Russell’s 1988 co-star in Tequila Sunrise.    
  15. Kevin Costner, No Way Out, 1986.  For his excellent thriller – labyrinthine and ingenious, said Roger Ebert – the under-praised Aussie director Roger Donaldson caught Costner on the cusp of susperstardom (betweern The Untouchables and Field of Dreams) after seeing if the hero’s US Navy uniform would suit… Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, William Hurt, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Michael Nouri, Bill Paxton,  Sean Penn, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze, Bruce Willis. Or even the French Christophe(r) Lambert  or Robin Williams?!
  16. 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… Russell, 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, John Travolta, Jon Voight and even the musclebound Arnie and Sly – Schwarzenegger and Stallone. Director Martin Brest, that’s who.
  17. Roddy Piper, They Live, 1987.   The pitch was fine: Drifter finds some sunglasses that let him to see that aliens have taken over the Earth. And, apparently, the film.  Lousy! Which is probably why 18 other big guns, said nadato being Nada: Alec Baldwin, Michael Biehn, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Christophe(r) Lambert, Dolph Lundgren, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis (plus three mere pistols: Brian Bosworth, Bruce Campbell, Stephen Lang). And the less said about Russell’s wrestler replacement, the better.“Just John Carpenter as usual,” said the Washington Post, “trying to dig deep with a toy shovel.”After four films together, director Carpenter benched d Russell for his next one, Shadow Company, which after this flop  just never happened…

  18. 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. Russell had worked with Shelton on the lead, minor-league veteran, Crash Davis, but…  (He loved the result so much, he wrote fan letters to  Costner and  Shelton).  The auteur  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).  

  19. Mark Harmon, The Presidio, 1988.   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.”
  20. Richard Gere, Internal Affairs, 1989.     UK director Mike Figgis said Paramount wanted Mel Gibson or Kurt Russell (big hits in ’88’s Tequila Sunrise) as the badass cop-cum-hit man. “If we’d hired a movie star to play Peck,” noted producer Frank Mancuso Jr, “we might not have been able to so successfully explore the darkness of the character.” Some 19 other stars – Alec Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Don Johnson, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Keaton, Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Christopher Reeve, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta … and four outsiders Richard Dean Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Ron Silver – all passed Peck to Gere for a double whammy comeback with Pretty Woman. “I’ve never been away,” snapped Gere. Oh, but he had. Almost to Palookaville.

  21. Michael Rooker, Days of Thunder, 1989.    Tom Cruise wanted Russell for Rowdy Burns, one of his foes in the NASCAR racetrack thriller. Russell was no fool. He knew on which side the toast was buttered. This twas another formulaic, all-about-Tom tale – another cocky young talent, with an older mentor, older (even taller) woman, and surpassing his enemies… literally, in this chapter, at Daytona. Tarantino (ironically, a Russell fan) loved it, suggesting it was what Grand Prix, 1966, and Le Mans, 19790, should have been.
  22. Bill Campbell, The Rocketeer, 1990.   A little too old, but the ex-Disney moppet was considered before Billy – Steven Carrington’s lover in Dynasty –  signed for the $45m flop and never-made sequels. Kevin Costner, Johnny Depp, Vincent D’Onofrio, Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Bill Paxton, Dennis Quaid were also in  the Disney frame for Cliff Secord flying around 30s’ LA in Alan Arkin’s rocket backpack.When interviewing Campbell –  in Paris for the opening –  he told he’d  spent the night before climbing the North face of…  Notre Dame cathedral!  For fun. Not a camera in sight. 
  23. Jim Belushi, Curly Sue, 1990.    “What I thought would be this cute, sweet little movie experience ended up going on for something like five months,” reported Kelly Lynch. “So much money was spent. It was insane! It was going to be me, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey –  a whole different situation.  [They left for stage dates].  Those were two guys I knew really well, but I’d never met Jimmy [Belushi] before, and then he and [director John Hughes making his final film] didn’t get along. I kinda felt like a mom dealing with two 12-year-old boys.“  Also in the Bill Dancer mix were Jeff Bridges, Richard Dreyfuss, Mel Gibson, Jeff Goldblum, Steve Guttenberg, Ray Liotta, Bill Murray (off shooting What About Bob?), Kurt Russell, Tom Selleck, Sylvester Stallone, John Travolta, Bruce Willis. [Quotes va IMDb; no other source credited].
  24. 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 Jons, 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
  25. Burt Reynolds, Cop And A Half, 1992.      Begged off, like Jim Belushi, from the trip for the Home Alone kid star Macauley Culkin,   due for $1.5m.   Big Mac felt the script wrong.   Don’t mock – he wuz right!
  26. Sam Neil, Jurassic Park, 1992    
  27. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Hard Target, 1993.     For his Hollywood debut,  Hong Kong legend John Woo wanted Kurt Russell as his hero.  “Fine,” said his agent. “But you gotta get in line and wait… oh, I’d say,  two years.  OK?”  No!  Enter: The Muscles  From, Brussels. With an ego to match.   With his own editor,. JCVD  re-cut the movie taking the attention away from the Fouchon character and on to him. ”People are paying for Jean-Claude Van Damme, not a Lance Henriksen movie.” Actually, they were  paying for a John Wood film!
  28. 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!
  29. Michael Keaton, The Paper, 1993.    For another of his tepid movies, director Ron Howard mused over Russell, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, John Travolta andRobin Williams for Henry Hackett, the New York Sun‘s metro editor…  who tells his editor-in-chief (a superb Robert Duvall – is there any other kind?): “Every day I’m behind from the minute I get up.”
  30. Tim Allen, The Santa Clause, 1994.   The guy who accidentally kills Santa (it was shootinghim, but Disney wasn’t having that) and take over his duties was penned for for Bill Murray. “Not my kind of humour,” he retorted.  Next in line:Allen, Rowan Atkinson, Jim Carrey, Richard Gere, Steve Guttenberg, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams.  Plus eight  Batman candidates:  Russell, Alec Baldwin, Jeff Bridges, Pierce Brosnan, Michael J Fox, Mel Gibson, Patrick Swayze and the winning Michael Keaton.

  31. Robin Williams, Jumanji, 1995.      Two kids find a jungle board game with magic powers unleashing grotesque animalia and some poor sap trapped inside the game since playing it as a tot. Russell, Dan Aykroyd, Sean Connery, Richard Dreyfuss, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Kevin Kline, Bill Paxton, Arnold Schwarzenegger fled the incoherent script. Williams lapped it up. Jumanji, incidentally, is Zulu for “many effects.” And how.
  32. Mark Williams, The Borrowers, 1996.  Jeff Daniels, Ron Perlman, Kurt Russell were a somewhat bizarre trio seen for Exterminator Jeff in the fourth of six  screen versions (including a Japanese toon)  of the 1952 Mary Norton  book about the four-inch high Clock family  living  beneath the floorboards of a house owned by ”human beans.” 
  33. Liam Neeson,  Star Wars – Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, 1997.
  34. Alec Baldwin,The Simpsons #208:  When You Dish Upon A Star,TV, 1998.  Since its 1989 birth, the yellowtoon family Simpson smashed records for episodes, audiences, and the most guest stars (as themselves or others). Not all celebs played ball.  Bruce Willis refused a second invite – and his then-wife, Demi Moore, with him. Other candidates for the celeb couple were Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman, Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn… and Alec Baldwin-Kim Basinger, who said: Sure! Eventually leading Baldwin’s unknown funny-bone into 30 Rock, 2006-2013.
  35. Bob Peck, Jurassic Park, 1992.
  36. Michael Keaton Jack Frost, 1998. A jazz musician dies and comes back  – as Frosty The Snowman – to help out his sad son.  Russell, Tim Allen, George Clooney, Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Dennis Quaid   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.” 
  37. Brendan Fraser, The Mummy, 1998. A surprise winner, particularly as it starred Fraser instead of…  Ben Affleck or Matt Damon (they’d just won their Good Will Hunting script Oscars), Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell (his first studio offer), Leonardo DiCaprio (keen but tied to The Beach), the unknown Stephen Dunham (instead, he debuted as Henderson), Matthew McConaughey, Chris O’Donnell, Brad Pitt, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone and the star of the 2016 flop, Tom Cruise. Not as the titular Imhotep, of course,  but the heroic Indiana…er… Rick O’Connell.
  38. Ice Cube, Ghosts of Mars, 2000.   Or how  auteur John Carpenter lost his public.   It started, on paper, as a sequel to his Escape from, New York and LA films, with Russell reprising his eye-patched Snake Plissken hero.  But LA had flopped and Paramount didn’t want Snake. What’s in a name – Carpenter reworked him into Desolation Williams for what he termed a “mindless, silly” piece, a la Commando and Rambo. Russell was dropped. Idem for the fast-rising Brit, Jason Statham.  And for the Star Power he needed for a deal, Carpenter chose the rapper-turned-actor-producer Ice Cube.  The result was awful. Worst film he’d ever made, said Cube,”unwatchable in many ways.” Result: Carpenter didn’t make another feature for nine years!   
  39. James Garner, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, 2001.      Disney science fiction has never gelled until this animated feature from the Lion King/Hunchback of Notre Dame/Beauty and the Beast trio: producer Dan Hahn, directors Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise. Before settling on Garner, they listened to Russell, Jack Davenport, Tommy Lee Jones  and Nathaniel Parker voicing Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke.
  40. Johnny Depp, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, 2003.     The role of Sands shifted between   Kurt, Nic Cage, George Clooney, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, before writer-director Robert Rodriguez landed Johnny Depp… who had such a ball that he asked for a second character to play.   And one was found for him.
  41. Cole Hauser, Paparazzi, 2004.     One of many thoughts for movie star Bo Laramie. Script stemmed from a paparazzi discussion between producer Mel Gibson had with fellow stars when, in a lightbulb moment, Gibson declared:   “What a great revenge film this would make.”

  42. 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!

  43. Gary Oldman, Batman Begins,   2004
  44. Chris Cooper, Jarhead, 2004.     Instead of Russell, Gary Oldman or Michael Keaton for the US marine Lieutenant-Colonel  Kranksi –  “You know, I should really retire because I can’t hear a fuckin’ thing!” – UK director Sam Mendes  almost inevitably called upon his American Beauty Marine Colonel Fitts.
  45. David Morrissey, Basic Instinct 2, 2005.     “I let myself down,” said the British Morrissey. “When it came out… I didn’t want to leave the house.It was a very bruising experience.” Among some 14 others running to Sharon Stone – or from her and the idea of playing her London shrink: Russell, Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne, Bernicio Del Torro, Robert Downey Jr, Aaron Eckhart, Rupert Everett (!), Bruce Greenwood, Ewan McGrgeor, Viggo Mortensen, Vincent Perezl. An obvious flop before one scene was shot in anger… As in: What can she do for an encore?
  46. Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2006.   “The last man on Earth is not alone”… Awaiting a re-hash ever since since Charlton Hestoned it as The Ωmega Man in 1970, Warner Bros wanted Ridley Scott directing Arnold Schwarzenegger  as Robert Neville, Other incantations were devised over the years for Nicolas Cage (with X-Files director Rob Bowman), Tom Cruise, Daniel Day-Lews, Michael Douglas. The inevitable outsider was Ted Levine and poor Kurt Russell lost out  with the 1998 flop of Soldier.  Will Smith didn’t seem that keen on Richard Matheson’s story.  He was due to make it in 2002, but chose Bad Boys II, instead.  
  47. Laurence Fishburne, CSI: Criminal Scene Investigation, TV, 2008-2011.     Who could  succeed William Petersen at the Las Vegas PD CSI unit? Russell, Fishburne, or John Malkovich?
  48. Bruce Willis, The Expendables, 2009.     “I came, I saw, I failed.” Auteur and top star Sylvester Stallone was “taken aback” on being snubbed by his old Tango & Cash co-star when asking him to join his testosterone movie as Mr Church, the McGuffin man, the guy with the laundry list, setting out the mission for Sly’s mercenaries. “Put the request in a letter to his agent” was the reply. Sly refused, called Russell’s agent anew and was told: “Kurt Russell is not interested in ensemble acting at this time.” (Is there any other kind?). He said much the same to Quentin Tarantino’s offer to join his Django Unchained Western in  2012.But agreed to  grow a mammoth moustache for QT’s next Western, The Hateful Eight, 2015. 

  49. Matthew McConaughey, Killer Joe, 2011.
    First mounted in Chicago in 1993, the play was called “a hideous carnival of brutality and degradation that leaves you feeling dirty.” After Bug, it became director William Friedkin’s second successive piece by actor-playwright Tracy Letts. Russell was interested in the titular Dallas cop moonlighting as a contract killer. Russell’s lover, Goldie Hawn, even said she’d leave him (after 27 years!) if he played Joe…   He baled. Impressed by a McConnaughey TV interview (!), Billy gave him the script. He threw it in the trashcan and said he wanted “to take a shower with a wire brush.” Then, he read it again.

  50. Kevin Costner, Man of Steel, 2011.
  51. Daniel Craig, Cowboys and Aliens, 2011.       The great title (better than the movie) had been stuck in Development Hell since 1997 which explains why such “superstars” as Brendan Fraser, Chuck Norris and Mr T (!) were invited to saddle up as the outlaw hero Jake Lonergan. So were Russell, Jackie Chan, Robert Downey Jr, Bill Paxton and Bruce Willis.
  52. James Remar, Django Unchained, 2012.
  53. Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, 2011.   
    Some of the names – and heights – up for Lee Child’s craggy ex-military cop-cum-Sherlock-homeless  were absurd.  Jim Carrey, for example. Jim Carrey!  Some 25 others  were Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Cary Elwes,  Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Hugh Wolverine Jackman, Dwayne Johnson (“I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher”),  Avatar’s Stephen Lang, Dolph Lundgren, Edward Norton, Ron (Hellboy) Perlman, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves (he became John Wick x 5),  Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington and the battle-fatigued  Bruce Willis.  Any of them would have been more acceptable than Tom Cruise  – with 50the exception of Carrey, Depp, Elwes, Reeves and, obviously the Euros. Pitt was best of the pack (remember Fight Club?)… although no one even thought of the obvious choice –   Liam Neeson!  Reacher fans were livid about  the 5ft 5ins Cruise daring to be  the  6ft 5ins  action hero. Reminiscent of Anne Rice’s capitulation over  tiny Tom as her “very tall” Lestat in  Interview With The Vampire, in 1994, author Lee Child declared: “Reacher’s size is a metaphor for an unstoppable force – which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Ah! But then in 2018, after the sequel, Child changed his tune about his child. (They share the same birthday, October 29).  ”Ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom Cruise We’re rebooting,  we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.” And they did with 6ft. 2ins Alan Richtson – Aquaman in Smallville and Hawk in Supergirl and Titans – for the Amazon series.

  54. Josh Brolin, Deadpool 2, 2017.   With Ryan Reynolds reigning supreme as the wise-cracking, cancer-ridden, super smart-ass hero, who could oppose him as Cable, the heftily armed cyborg? (“You’re dark – sure you’re not from the DC Universe?” our Marvel hero asks him). Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld wanted Russell Crowe – and even after Brolin signed, pushed for Jon Hamm. Other Mr Impregnable ideas included Alec Baldwin, Pierce Brosnan, David Harbour, Stephen Lang, Brad Pitt (he shot his Vanisher cameo in two hours), Michael Shannon and the wrinkly brigade (yawn) Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Ron Perlman, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schawarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Already Marvel’s villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Brolin had a four-film deal, to reveal more about Cable and, doubtless, extra gags about his stepmother Barbra Streisand’s 1982 Yentl.










 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  54