Nicolas Cage


  1. Judge Reinhold, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981.  
     “I did about 10 or 12  auditions for it,” recalled Cage, “and didn’t get it, but got a supporting part as Brad’s Bud #1…  or #2. [Just Brad’s Bud] I remember my father driving me to work on that. I was 16. I guess that makes me a child actor.  Of sorts….    I was Nicolas Coppola, and there was a lot of: Oh, he thinks he can be an actor because he’s Francis Coppola’s nephew.   So it occurred to me that 1, I’d have to work twice as hard as the other actors in order to be taken seriously, and 2, that I’d have to change my name. From the musician John Cage and the comic book character Luke Cage.       I liked reading comics as boy – I was a nerd – and it was how I learned to read, really.”  He once added: “There’d be a congregation outside my trailer quoting lines fom Apocalypse Now… ‘I love the smell of Nicolas in the morning’!”  A bit difficult  that, as Robert Duvall was not heard loving Napalm until 1989…

  2. Matt Dillon, The Outsiders, 1982.     Part of his uncle Francis Coppola’s intensive ensemble casting sessions at Stage Five of his Zoetrope Studios – “go right on Marlon Brando Way. Follow it to Budd Schulberg Avenue and it’s just next to the commissary.” During the auditions, Coppola would switch 30 young actors around from this role to that, back to this role and then into a whole other one…Or in Nic’s cse, from  Dallas Winston…

  3. Patrick Swayze, The Outsiders, 1982.    … to Darrell Curtis. To prepare for both heavies, Cage locked himself in a room for two weeks, with just beer and a Charles Bronson photo for company and, he thought, to help him switch his physical and mental, attitudes to being a thug. No, really.
  4. Emilio Estevez, The Outsiders, 1982.    He lost both and Coppola suggested he try again, this time for Two-Bit Matthews.  No thanks, Uncle Francey.  

  5. Tom Cruise, Risky Business, 1983.      Still Nicolas Coppola at the time, The Nephew, Brian Backer, Michael J Fox and Tom Hanks were in the Joel Goodsen loop before it came down to Taps finds Cruise or Timothy Hutton. “I kept getting rejected. And it got to me, so I wound up in the hospital with hepatitis and mononucleosis. Horrible. And I said: I’m not doing this again. I’ll do one more audition and if I don’t get it, I’m done. A lot of my friends were going up to Alaska, working on the crab boats, coming back with $25,000 and buying sports cars. I’m going to go and do that! Sort of a Melville-like existence at sea if I didn’t get the job as an actor. And then I did, and everything was changed.”  
  6. William Ostrander, Christine, 1983.  Shot before the novel came out, this is  #8 of Stephen King’s staggering 313  screen credits…  Nic was up for Buddy but Ostrander won him. Maybe because he and Stephen King shared the same birthday: September 21. Christine, by the way, was a red ’85 Plymouth Fury killer car.  (I did say Stephen King). (Twice).  And Cage would be  back – twice, as well.
  7. Ralph Macchio, The Karate Kid, 1983.    The surprise hit had been aimed at Nicolas   Cage, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Jon Cryer, Robert Downey Jr, Kyle Eastwood, Anthony Edwards, Crispin Glover, Sean Penn, Eric Stoltz, brothers Emilio Esteves and Charlie Sheen and the Initialers Michael J Fox, C Thomas Howell, D B Sweeney. At 22, looking 16, Macchio made Daniel LaRusso (ex-Weber) his own in four  films and two video-games… and named his son Daniel.  The Character is claimed by many but was based on the early life of scenarist Robert Mark Kamen. It’s a great coming-of-age story,” said Macchio.  And 40 years later, and people still stop him in the street to quote dialogue at him.
  8. Johnny Depp, A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984.    Depp’s debut. Before noticing him (accompanying pal, Jackie Earl Haley to the auditions), Ohio auteur Wes Craven had also seen John Cusack, C Thomas Howell, Brad Pitt, Charlie Sheen and Kiefer Sutherland for the heroine’s boyfriend. This was Depp’s movie debut. 
  9. Judd Nelson, The Breakfast Club, 1985.   When Emilio Estevez was moved from Bender to the impossible-to-cast lead, teenage angst auteur John Hughes then found Bender difficult to fill, as well. Cage was top choice, but (already) too pricey. His pal, Jim Carrey, also auditioned. When talk began about sequels, Hughes made it clear that he would never work with Nelson again. 
  10. Tom Savini,  Creepshow 2, 1986.     The story went that Cage was so miffed at losing Christine three years before that he refused to be The Creep in the prologue to three more creepy Stephen King tales – in the 22nd of his staggering record of  313 screeen credits. (King Kameo: Truck driver).

  11. Mel Gibson, Lethal Weapon, 1986.      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.
  12. Michael Douglas, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  13. Michael Keaton, Batman, 1988.
  14. Jean-Marc Barr, Le grand bleu, France, 1988.   Realisateur for the second time,  Luc Besson saw everyone. Barr thought he had an  audition  with  Robert Bresson!
  15. Tim Robbins, Erik The Viking, 1988.     There was a flurry of names run up various flagpole for Erik,  from Cage and Tom Hulce to… wait for it… Michel Palin and Harrison Ford!!!  Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert blasted ther comedy as “ an utterly worthless exercise in waste and wretched excess, uninformed by the slightest spark of humor, wit or coherence.”
  16. Tom Cruise, Born on the Fourth of July, 1989.
  17. Rob Lowe, Bad Influence, 1990.      With Robert Downey Jr planned as his victim.
  18. Billy Crystal, City Slickers, 1990. Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Michael J. Fox Tom Hanks, Mike Myers, Dennis Quaid were the outsiders for  Mitch – won by Crystal, who worked on the script without credit. Robin Williams was offered his choice of the trio but was Hook-ed by Steven Spielberg. Chicago critic Roger Ebert noted: “So many ways this movie could have gone wrong… that it’s sort of astonishing, how many ways it finds to go right.”
  19. Andy Garcia, The Godfather: Part III, 1991.
  20. Michael Douglas, Basic Instinct, 1991.

  21. Robert Downey Jr, Chaplin,1992.  No, really!  An idea that smacks of sheer desperation…Cage has nothing of Chaplin in his makde-up. Not the voice, timbre, wit or talent.  But then, UK director Richard Attenborough sure had some bizzare notions for his biopic: Jeff Bridges, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline. Plus Nick Nolte as the older Charlie. And one Brit only, the West End stage star Anthony Sher. The studio wanted Billy Crystal or Robin Williams.

  22. Vincent Gallo, Arizona Dream, 1992.      When Johnny Depp first hit LA, from Kentucky, via Florida, he planned to be a rock musician – until Nic sent him to his agent. Two days late he got his first film, A Nightmare On Elm Street. They are still waiting to film together, having come close with this US debut of Bosnian director Emir Kusturica.
  23. Gary Oldman, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992.     Director Francis Coppola decided to make the old legend “younger, very erotic, very romantic and very horrific.” Losing his favourites – Jeremy Irons, Daniel Day-Lewis – Francey looked at everyone else. From nephew Nic to Armand Assante, Antonio Banderas, Nick Cassavetes, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia, Hugh Grant, Ray Liotta, Kyle MacLachlan, Costas Mandylor, Viggo Mortensen, Dermot Mulroney, Michael Nouri (a long way from Flashdance), Adrian Pasdar, Jason Patric, Aiden Quinn, Keanu Reeves, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater and Sting.  
  24. Tim Robbins, The Shawshank Redemption, 1993.  “There’s no way of knowing,” said Jeff Bridges,  “if the film you turn down would have been as big if you’d been it.” Charlie Sheen basically offered to make it for free! But Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner (drowning in Waterworld), Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks (busy Forrest Gumping) were in the loop for clever Andy Dufresne – the jailed banker once handled the finances of Kurt Dussander, according to Apt Pupil, another of the filmed short stories from Stephen King’s 1982 collectiopn, Different Seasons.  The title baffled the public (until smashed DVD records). It had been Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, and director Frank Darabont was swamped by agents touting their glamour pusses to play Rita… in the 43rd of King’s staggering 313 screen credits.  And Hanks beat ‘em all (Michaels Douglas and Keaton, plus John Travolta) to his next (also by King), The Green Mile, 1999.

  25. Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  26. Tim Roth, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
  27. Eric Stoltz, Pulp Fiction, 1993.

  28. Brad Pitt, Se7en, 1994.   Cage and Kevin Costner  were in the mix for young cop David Mills  investigating murders connected with the seven deadly sins in  Ridley Scott’s  “dark, grisly, horrifying and intelligent thriller” (as per Roger Ebert). Pitt made an appropriate $7m.
  29. Jeff Daniels, Dumb and Dumber, 1995.      The sadsacks Harold and Lloyd (!) were first due to be Cage and Gary Oldman.   Then Nic and his pal Jim Carrey – except when Jim was   suddenly geting $7m for his third big film, Cage asked for $2m.  Hello  Jeff!
  30. Antonio Banderas, Assassins, 1995.      Sylvester Stallone wanted him to be  the new  hitman in  town, “but something in the upper echelon of the producing world went awry.”  Same for Sly’s back-up plan:  Kevin Bacon.

  31. Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible, 1995.   Before  Tom Cruise and JJ Abrams took it on – for 20-plus years! –  Paramount offered the (expected) franchise to Cage, George Clooney,  Mel Gibson, John Travota, Bruce Wills. And, inexplicably, Ralph Fiennnes… who made a right dog’s breakfast out of another TV cult hero, John Steed, in The Avengers three years later. 
  32. Chris Penn, The Funeral, 1996.       Crime family time in the New York 30s. Trouble was Abel  Ferrara was directing, not Uncle Francey.
  33. Wesley Snipes, One Night Stand, 1996.    Innovative UK director Mike Figgis naturally asked Nic after his Oscar for their Leaving Las Vegas.   “He had just got married and really wasn’t interested in a study of adultery.”  Snipes, in his best work, won Best Actor at the 1997 Venice festival.  Yet Cage’s agent felt Snipes was too cocky. “But this was exactly the same character I had written for Cage. What he meant was he was too cocky for a black man!
  34. Sean Penn, The Game, 1996.   For his first film since Seven, 1994, director David Fincher wanted to work with Foster.  And vice versa. But he would not agree with her signature fetish about altering things…   Fincher cast her as Michael Douglas’ sister. No, she said, she wanted to be his daughter.  Both men disagreed (Douglas, just 17 years older, had  already played Jodie’s father in the 70s) and  they turned the sister into a brother – Bridges or Penn!   Although her Egg Pictures was among the producers, Jodie sued PolyGram for a $54.5 million  settled, as they say, out of court. 
  35. Sylvester Stallone, Daylight, 1996.    “He’s a character actor,” the suits told director Rob Cohen when he wanted Cage. “Sly is far more viable!” Stallone promised this would be his last action film. Oh yeah, sure! Next came Drive, Rocky Balboa, Rambo, The Expendables 1, 2 and 3, Escape Plan, Grudge Match…  
  36. Keanu Reeves, The Matrix, 1998.   Sorry guys, too many family commitments… The score’s composer Don Davis said Depp was first choice of the Wachowski siblings (then brothers Larry and Andy, now sisters Lana and Lilly). Warners voted: Brad Pitt or Val Kilmer. They passed. OK, said Warners: Johnny Depp or Keanu Reeves.
 (As if that was a choice). Also seen for the neo-noir Neo: Leonardo DiCaprio (“too many special effects”), David Duchovny (preferred TV’s X-Files), Ewan McGregor (shooting Star Wars: Episode 1), Lou Diamond Phillips (his agent said: instant flop) and the surprisingly honest Will Smith – “I would have messed it up!”
  37. Bruce  Willis, Mercury Rising, 1998.    Nic chose three other actioners. “Genres tend to come in threes for me.” “Only if you let  ’em,” said Mike Figgis.
  38. John Cusack, The Thin Red Line, 1998.   Director Terrence Malick – setting up his first film script for  21years – crossed Nic off his wish-list when the actor changed his phone number sometime after their 1996 LA dinner.   (Sidney Lumet had come close to filming “the best novel of war”). 
  39. Bill Paxton, A Simple Plan, 1998.    “You work for the American Dream – you don’t steal it.”  Due as the Joe Average finding $4m when Ben Stiller was to direct in 1994. They split when Nic’s worth increased to more than the cash he’s supposed to find!
  40. Peter Mullen, Miss Julie, 1998.   Mike Figgis’ initial plan to let loose  Cage and Juliette Binoche on Strindberg was ruined by directing Cage to a 1996  Oscar in Leaving Las Vegas.  LAgents got busy and Cage’s salary leapt from $200,000 to $20m.

  41. Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon, 1998.  Hollywood’s possibles for the biopic of surrealist comic Andy Kaufman included  Hank Azaria, John Cusack, Matt Damon, Tom Hanks, Edward  Norton, Kevin Spacey. Oh and Nicolas Cage. Not for long as  he refused to audition. Czech director Milos Forman could not decide between Carrey and Norton. He let Universal decide. Carrey was the bigger draw. And brilliant!  “During the shooting,” recalled Forman, “I met Jim Carrey only twice. “He was always in the role.  He was Andy Kaufman, Tony Clifton or Elvis Presley 24 hours a day!”
  42. George Clooney, Three Kings, 1998.  Or two, anyway. Director David O Russell and his star, Clooney.  Well, not hisstar. He’d wanted Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, Nick Nolte (the only one to admit he was too old for Major Gates). Or even Nic Cage, but he was BringingOut The Dead. So as far as Russell was concered, he was stuck with Clooney – working three days a week on ERin LA, and four for Russell. No wonder their relationshjp was fractious: rows, punch-ups. They made up but Clooney still told Vanity Fair in 2003: “I would not stand for him humiliating and yelling and screaming at crew members, who weren’t allowed to defend themselves… So my job was then to humiliate the people who were doing the humiliating.”
  43. Sean Penn, Sweet and Lowdown, 1999.    Cage was morose enough to match Penn.
  44. Mark Wahlberg, The Perfect Storm, 1999. Cage was first choice for Bobby Shatford.  When his diary disagreed, Ben Affleck was seen and then George Clooney suggested Wahlberg.  They’d made Three Kingstogether in 1998. Wahlberg still dropped out of Clooney’s Ocean’s Eleven, 2001.
  45. Mike Myers, Shrek, 2000.    Cage fled. He had no wish to look like an ugly ogre. Er, it’s a voice gig, Nic! “When you’re drawn… it says more about how children are going to see you than anything else and I so care about that.” Chris Farley took over and ODed in mid-gig. Mike Myers completed the role which – surprise! – did not resemble him at all.
  46. Brendan Fraser, Moneybone, 2000.  At first, the film was to be as dark as the graphic novel.  That meant the cartoonist trapped in  his own underground creation would inevitably be Cage.
  47.  Viggo Mortensen, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-2003.

  48. Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man, 2001.
  49. Willem Dafoe,Spider-Man, 2001.
  50. Russell Crowe, A Brilliant Mind, 2001.   The choice of the right actor to  portray the schizophrenic Noble Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr was vital.  Which hae me wondering  why  Keanu Reeves, Charlie Sheen, John Travolta and  Bruce Willis  were on the short-list!    Then again they might have proved as surprising as Crowe. Director Ron Howard’s other candidates included  Alec Baldwin, Matthew Broderick, Nicolas Cage, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Cusack, Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr, Ralph Fiennes, Mel Gibson,  Jared Leto, Gary Oldman, Guy Pearce, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt. Nash  liked the  six-Oscar-winner. “But it wasn’t me.”

  51. Ralph Fiennes, Red Dragon, 2002.    Maybe he found out that Francis Dolarhyde’s back tattoo would take eight hours to apply.  Paul Bettany, Sean Penn  and Jeremy Piven were also considered.

  52. Kevin Spacey, The Life of David Gale, 2002.      He  had the rights but not the time.
  53. James Franco, Sonny, 2002.     Cage bought the rights 15 years earlier. Now, he directed. He also supplied a cameo as Acid Yellow – in Liberace’s  bright yellow jacket.
  54. Tarsem Singh, the Indian director of The Cell, quit. “With Cage, I can’t make the film I want.” So, Nic also left (and Mel Gibson, Kevin Spacey fled) Alan Moore’s occult Dirty Harry, no longer Liverpudlian but a LA cop, who has been to hell and back, literally. The hell part being Reeves playing him.
  55. Johnny Depp, Once Upon A Time In Mexico, 2003.     Enjoying the film so much when he finished playing Sands (set for Clooney, offered to Nic, Sean Penn, Kurt Russell, Bruce Willis), Depp asked for another part and had even more fun channelling Brando as a priest in  a scene with Banderas.
  56. Jim Carrey, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004.    Not often thepals were up for the same role.
  57. Will Smith, I, Robot, 2004.    Like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the guy David Lynch calls “the jazz musician of actors,”also passed.

  58. Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2004. 
    Cage would be a frightening chocolatier, surely. (Yes, but don’t call me Shirley!). He was still in director Tim Burton’s 30-strong wish list of one ole Betelgeuse Michael Keaton and the surviving four Monty Pythons: John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. (They’d also up for the 1970 version). Plus Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chase, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken and Robin Williams. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy – Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice while riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  59. Cillian Murphy, Red Eye, 2004.    Horrorsmith Wes Craven also saw Kevin Bacon, Willem Dafoe, Ray Liotta, John Malkovich, Edward Norton, Sean Penn, Michael Pitt and John Travolta.  Craven said Murphy’s eyes won the creepy….  Jackson Rippner. (Geddit?)
  60. Brandon Routh, Superman Returns, 2005.  
  61.  Kevin James, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, 2006.The Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty producer Tom Shadyac had this idea brewing since 1999 when the New York firemen pretending to be gay (for tax purposes) were Joe and Benny.  Tom went through various couples. Will Smith and Nicolas Cage.  No? OK, how about Will Smith and James Gandolfini (wow!). Or even, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  Before settling on Adam Sandler and Kevin James inwhat Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers trounced as  “mealy-mouthed hypocrisy.”
  62. Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2007.  “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.Smith had nearly made the movie in 2002 with flash-bang-wallop helmer Michael Bay – instead they played safe and flash-banged… well, damp-squibed Bad Boys II.
  63. Matthew Fox, Speed Racer, 2007.    Directors kept changing… Mexico’s Alfonso Cuarón, the UK’s Julien Temple, Gus Van Sant. Finally, the Wachowski siblings. So did the choices for Racer X from the Japanese anime series. Cage (in the early 90s), Keanu Reeves, Henry Rollins in 1994 and – ten years on – Vince Vaughn was going to produce and star. They were all lucky. Film flopped.
  64. Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler, 2008.    The studio wanted Cage for broken-down wrassler Randy “The Ram” Robinson – and he was soon researching at a New York Ring of Honor wrestling event. However, director Darren Aronofsky insisted on Rourke – and he won an Oscar nomination for, as critic Roger Ebert phrased it, “his comeback role, playing Randy the Ram’s comeback.”

  65. Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man, 2008.  
    Hollywood’s #1 comicbook  fan was keen on playing any – every! – comicbook hero, from Superman to (making a mess of) Marvel’s Ghost Rider, in 2006, and the 2010 sequel. (The Village Voice called it: Queasy Rider). Cage  tried to set up his Iron Man in 1997. Then, Tom Cruise in 1998… In all, during some 17 years on the back burner, with various directors and studios, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, Timothy Olyphant, Clive Owen and Sam Rockwell were also run up Marvel’s flagpole. Soon after losing the titular, Howard Hughesesque Tony Stark, Cage declared: “I got a little tired of movies where I had to shoot people. I got to thinking about the power of film and what that power is. The power is, in fact, that it really can change people’s minds.”

  66. Russell Crowe, State of Play, 2008.    Or, State of Delay as Brad Pitt called it after being stalled so long on it. When he finally walked, the role of journalist Cal McAffrey was offered to Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks.  Crowe took over – after discussing the film with Ridley Scot… one of the few directors never attached to it.
  67. Ewan McGregor, The Ghost Writer, 2009.   Author and scenarist Robert Harris wasn’t happy when it seemed the writer of a UK Prime Minister’s memoirs was to be an American. Then again, Cage was sole A-Lister to say yes.  George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman and two Brits – Daniel Craig, Hugh Grant – refused the (incredibly void) Roman Polanski thriller.
  68. Christophe Waltz, The Green Hornet, 2010.    Allegedly angling for more money (he sure needed it with his tax hassles), Cage quit when French director Michael Gondry didn’t fancy Cage’s idea of playing a character called Chudnofsky… with a  Jamaican accent.  Cage had forgotten (sdo soopn!)  that a whole new dastardly  villain  had been discovered by Quentin Tarantino for his  Inglourious Basterds, 2009.
  69. Cam Gigandet, Trespass, 2010.       Originally, Cage was Nicole Kidman’s wife – then switched to being her kidnapper, and then quit the whole shebang… andthen returned as the hubby.

  70. 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 the 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 CruiseWe’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.

  71. Robert De Niro, Killing Season, Belgium-Bulgaria-US, 2012.   Or, Shrapnel when Die Hard director John McTiernan saw it as a reunion for the Face/Off duo of  Cage and John Travolta. Or, worse as a (dumb) tribute to the victims of the 1992 Serbia attack on Bosnia.  Cage quit in order to prepare  for Joe,  though  he also claimed that Joe was so  close to him that he didn’t need to act. Meanwhile, McTiernan was jailed for  lying to the FBI in the Anthony Pellicano wire-tapping case. 
  72. Kesley Grammer, Expendables 3, 2013.  Despite his financial problems, Cage rejected a couple of high-earners – Killing Season and the third Stallone  testosterone epic –  so he could tackle Joe, ““the closest character to me  in real life.”
  73. Jack O’Connell, Unbroken, 2014.   Laura Hillenbrand’s book was sub-titled: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The hero, Louis Zamperini, required such attributes again during a 54-year wait for his incredible story to be filmed. Universal bought rights in the 50s for Tony Curtis after Spartacus. Who better for the Depression Era trouble-maker becoming the youngest American competing at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, crash-landing in the Pacific during WWII, drifting for 47 days in a crowded boat, then enduring unimaginable torture from brutal Japanese guards as a POW (they never broke him). More recently Nic Cage was keen. Then, Angelina Jolie took over the project as director and turned rising UK Skins find, Jack O’Connell, into Zamperini… who saw a rough-cut on Jolie’s laptop weeks before he died in hospital from pneumonia at age 97 on July 2, 2014 The film opened four months later.
  74. Chris Marquette, Broken Horses, 2014. Change of siblings – again. The violinist and a mentally challenged hitman had also once been Nicolas Cage and Mickey Rourke…  in the first Hollywood feature from a Bollywoodian.  Vidhu Vinod Chopra had LA fans. For James Cameron, this was an artistic triumph while Alfonso Cuaron was overwhelmed. So were critics. Just not in the same direction. “A cheap, unpleasant movie,” said Jeff Rollins @, “with a hair-brained plot, abysmal dialog, hollow characters and truly bizarre performances. It’s best to put this horse down.”
  75. John Travolta, I Am Wrath, 2015.    Plan A – William Friedkin directing Cage – became the cheaper Plan B – Chuck Russell helming Travolta… borrowing Ezekiel 25:17 from the Bible of his Pulp Fiction co-hitman Samuel l Jackson: “I lay my vengeance upon them.”
  76. Linus Roache, Mandy, 2018.  Director Pasnos Cosmatos saw Cage as the Mansonesque cult leader, Jeremiah Sand. No, no, said Nic, he preferred to be Red, the lumberjack hero., No, no said Cosmatos, he was not right for Red.  OK, bye bye. Twelve mongths later, Elijah Wood brought them together for a pow-wow. As they explored love and loss of love in the script and in their lives, an accord deal was struck   and they made what Village Voice critic Bilge Ebiri called a revenge movie for people who don’t like revenge movies.
  77. Will Smith, Gemini Man, 2018.   On and off studio shelves since 1997 and Disney’s plans for Sean Connery in 2002, Gemini Man has 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) versus young 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 youthification possibilities as seen in the Lola VFX work for many Marvel movies, such the young Sam Jackson helping Captain Marvel, 2018. 
  78. Ben Affleck, The Last Thing He Wanted, 2019. Lucky Nic. Poor Ben.  As this proved to be  the lowest rated (most disliked) movie on Netflix.  Despite a cast of Willem Dafoe, Anne Hathaway,Toby Jones, Rose Perez  and Edie Gathegi. “A real dud,” said Jay Taylor @ Asshole Watching Movies. “Too late for me, but save yourself.”      
  79. Charlie Hunnam, Last Looks, 2020.  Change of Charlie Waldo, a disgraced ex-cop hiding out in the woods, scripted by the novelist, himself, Howard Michael Gould
  80. Brendan Fraser, No Sudden Move, 2020.    Another bunch of thieves from director Steven Soderberg.  Not any Ocean’s 14, although George Clooney was originally on board… until the Covid-19 pandemic messed up schedules. “A bummer because it’s a great part. It really looked like fun.” Soderberg also lost Cage, Josh Brolin, Cedric The Entertainer, John Cena, Sebastian  Stan  for the same reason.  He still had two of Danny Ocean’s gang: Don Cheadle and Matt Damon.

















 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  80