Roy Scheider


  1. Gregory Peck, The Omen, 1975.     Charlton Heston and William Holden and even Dick Van Dyke (!) also refused, giving Peck his first movie in five years – and his biggest pay-day. Consequently, Holden rushed into the sequel.
  2. Robert De Niro, Taxi Driver, 1975
  3. Robert De Niro, The Deer Hunter, 1978.   “Since I was anxious to do that Jaws part and work for Spielberg, I said OK, fine, when Universal said they’d  want me for two more,” Scheider told me in Cannes. “I ran away and did Marathon Man and Sorcerer.   Finally my time was up. I owed them two movies.   It was either work for them or not work. At the time, Cimino and I were preparing The Deer Hunter. I was growing the beard you saw on Robert De Niro. Universal said:   ‘You’re either going to do Jaws II or you’re not going to work.’   Legally, they had me. I’m just sorry that I didn’t get a chance to participate. De Niro was just fabulous.   I’d have liked to have been as good.” (Pause). “But I made the second Jaws count for the two I   owed   them.” Final irony:   Universal released Deer Hunter.
  4. Robert Stack, 1941, 1979.    Steven Spielberg’s first choice   for the 60-year-old General “Vinegar Joe” Stilwell. “That’s not a leading man’s shot,” said Scheider gleefully, “that’s an actor’s shot.”
  5. Dustin   Hoffman, Kramer vs Kramer, 1979.    Once Al Pacino passed, Robert Benton wanted Scheider, producer Stanley wanted Hoffman.   Dustin  got the Oscar
  6. Al Pacino, Cruising, 1980.    Both Robert De Niro and Scheider backed off.
  7. James Caan, Thief, 1980.    Jeff Bridges was was auteur Michael Mann’s first choice  for the titular Frank. Until some dopes said that for a such a career criminal, Jeff was too young (at 31) and inexperienced  (after 25 screen roles for Bogdanovich, Cimino, Frankenheimer, Huston, Rafaelson, etc).  Al Pacino and The French Connection cops, Gene Hackman and  Roy Sheider, were also in the frame.
  8. Robert Duvall, Pursuit of DB Cooper, 1981.    As the ex-Marine insurance man chasing his tail looking for the mythical DB Cooper, who, as Variety reviewed, “did indeed excite the nation by taking over a jet with a fake bomb, demanding $200,000 and then parachuting out the back door, never to be seen again.” That much said, Variety then lowered the boom: “That tale could still make an exciting picture.”

  9. 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 (when  Arthur Hiller was to direct)  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.

  10. Clancy Brown, HIghlander, 1985.   Sean Connery and Christophe(r) Lambert (!) were set as the Scottish heroes while Australian 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).
  11. Sean Connery, Der Name der Rose/The Name of the Rose, France-Italy-West Germany, 1986.   Réalisateur Jean-Jacques Annaud was not keen on 007 as Umberto Eco’s medieval monk turned detective.  Columia Pictures even refused financing if Connery was involved as his post-Bond star was imploding. Naturally, Brando topped Annaud’s further 14 ideas. Five Americans: Scheider, Robert De Niro, Frederic Forrest, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson; four Brits: Michael Caine, Albert Finney, Ian McKellen, Terence Stamp; two Canadians: Christopher Plummer and  Donald Sutherland; plus the  French Yves Montand, Irish Richard Harris and Italian Vittorio Gassman. a Connery’s reading was the best (Scheider, said JJA, was trop American) and his career exploded anew. Two years later, he won his support Oscar for The Untouchables.
  12. Jack Nicholson, The Two Jakes, 1990.
  13. Tommy Lee Jones,  JFK, 1991.
  14. Liev Schreiber, Across the River and Into the Trees, 2020.   It took almost 50 years to cross the river  and film the Ernest Hemjngway novelHis great pal, John Huston, scripted it in 1976  for another mate, Robert Mitchum, and Maria Schneider. Then, directors as diverse as Robert Altman, Martin Campbell, Joseph Losey and Valerio Zurlini promised us… Pierce Brosnan, Burt Lancaster or Roy Sheider as the veteran soldier suffering from two world wars… Audrey Hepburn, Greta Scacchi, Maria Valverde as his teenage inamorata, Renata (it means reborn)… and Julie Christie or Isabella Rossellini as her mother, the Contessa Contanini.   It took a woman, Spanish director Paula Ortiz, to finally get the job done – with Josh Hutcherson and The Undoing’s Matilda De Angelis. (And, to complete the circle, Danny Huston, John’s son, is Captain O’Neil). Based on his unconsummated infatuation for an 18-year-old, this was the first Hemingway novel to be derided by critics for repeating his usual themes: love, war, youth, age and facing death. Some called  it Death in Venice II.  Tennessee Williams championed it as “the saddest novel in the world about the saddest city… the best and most honest work that Hemingway has done.”

  15. Clint Eastwood, Cry Macho, 2020.  
    Clint (“a national icon,” said Spielberg) delivered his usual producer-director-star magic.  And wrote one of the musical themes –  Time Lapse. Perfect title for the on-off history of N Richard Nash’s 70s’ script and novel (in that order) about Mike Milo, a damaged rodeo champ rescuing his former boss’estranged young son from Mexico. Yes, similar to A Night in Old Mexico, 2012, with Robert Duvall; and indeed to a more  gentle Japanese film I always felt Clint should have re-tooled, Takeshi Kitano’s   Kikujirô no natsu – with the worst  theme music in movie history.  (Nothing new.  A Fistful   of Dollars derived  from the1960  Japanese Yojimbo).  Milo was a role made for Clint…. even if it was once aimed at Burt Lancaster, even Pierce Brosnan  It took Clint and  co-producer Albert S Ruddy (The Godfather, no less!)  several decades  to finally make  it  – when they were both aged 91. Their struggle went thisaway…  1998: Ruddy first offered Milo to Eastwood. “I’m too young,” Not quite, Clint was 58, the novel’s Milo, 38.   He Dirty Harried in  Dead Pool instead but agreed to  direct Macho with, why not, Robert Mitchum. “But it went by the wayside.” 1991: Production actually began wih Roy Scheider and… stopped. 2003:  Arnold Schwarzenegger chose  Milo for his comeback after governating California, except the was re-elected until 2011. 2022: “I always thought I’d go back and look at that.,”: said Clint. “It was something I had to grow into.” To tune up the old script, he contacted Nick Schenk, scenarist of his Gran Torino and The Mule (and it shows!).  A happy Ruddy spoke for us all. “Clint  is the essence of the American hero, of all the things we think we all are, or would like to be.”


 Birth year: 1932Death year: 2008Other name: Casting Calls:  15