Stacy Keach

  1. Martin Balsam, Catch 22, 1969.    Mike Nichols hired him, then thought him “too young and light.” The role: the psychotically ambitious Colonel Cathcart.  Keach’s comment: “Nichols should have played it.” Balsam, therefore, had  the dubious honour of being the first actor to be  seen sitting on a toilet in a US  movie. (He was also in the first  US movie to actually show a toilet: Psycho, 1960).  Someone,  maybe (New York stage director)  Joe Papp, said Mike Nichols is not a success. Because hehasn’tt had a faiuure yet.”   This was it.  He disowned it –  “like giving birth to a dead child.”  Of course, Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H  took the sting out of Nichols’ tale by opening three months earlier.
  2. Dustin Hoffman, Straw Dogs, 1971.   A (bad) Sam Peckinpah Western set in  a Cornwall, almost entirely inhabited by (violent) village  idiots. In  the mix for the (milque-toast) hero were Nicholson, Beau Bridges, Elliott Gould (booked by Ingmar Bergman for The Touch), Stacy Keach, Sidney Poitier and Donald Sutherland. They probably all agreed with Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert’s later review: “The most offensive thing about the movie is its hypocrisy; it is totally committed to the pornography of violence, but lays on the moral outrage with a shovel.”
  3. Jim Bouton, The Long Goodbye, 1972.    When Keach fell out, Elliott Gould suggested his pal Bouton, a pro baseball player, author and actor. “You’d be perfect – it’s a guy who kills his wife and runs to Mexico!” Director Robert Altman told him to forget the script. “The situation is that you and Philip Marlowe are old friends. You haven’t seen him for a while. I don’t care what you guys do, what you say, but at some point you just have to ask him for a ride to Mexico.”   For one scene, Bouton, was nude in a box of ice, pretending to be murdered. Very discreet, said Altman, just a few of us…. At the wrap party two days later, the main stills on show were of Bouton naked on ice!
  4. Jason Miller, The Exorcist, 1973.
  5. Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1974.     
  6. Dennis Hopper, Mad Dog Morgan, 1975.      Keach was (an argumentative) first choice and Alan Bates, Malcolm McDowell, playwright Jason Miller and Martin Sheen also joined the mix for the titular Daniel Morgan, chief inspiration of Australia’s most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly. First-time UK producer Jeremy Thomas “somehow”  got Hopper for a mere $50,000.   “He brought an insanity to the role,” said director Philippe Mora, “and an intensity that most actors would have found impossible to create.”  A comeback was born and one of my most memorable Cannes festival interviews on  a rainy May 26, 1976. At one point, he and Michael Douglas split for the men’s room, when they returned I’d swear their feet weren’t touching the floor……
  7. Anthony Hopkins, Great Expectations, 1989.    Keach flew into London  to be  the convict Magwitch in the fifth version of the Charles Dickens’ classic – and was immediately  arrested on drug charges.  Hopkins (a far better choice) took over in the longest and, therefore, most faithfiul adaptation – a five-hour tele-serial, reviving such usually ditched folk as Biddy, Bentley Drummie, Orlick, Mr Wopsle, etc. Michael York, the 1974 Pip, said Dickens was ideal for TV – “he wrote in serial form.” Jean Simmons, the young Estella in 1945, returned  here as, who else but  Miss Havisham.
  8. Beau Bridges, Stargate SG-1, TV, 2005-2007.    Keach and Lou Gosset were the two actors considered for the new SGC commanding officer, General Hank Landry, in the last two seasons.





 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  8