Sidney Lumet

James Dean, Rebel Without A Cause, 1955.  Back from WW1, the ex-child actor (one of Broadway’s original Dead End kjds), Lumet replaced a 19-year-old Marlon Brando in Ben Hecht’s play, A Flag Is Born and, although he hated screen acting, he instructed his agent to get him a Warner Bros test  (like Brando had ) …
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Edgar Wright

Dominic Monaghan, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2008.  As he told fellow auteur Kevin Smith, Britain’s Wright was given the rôle of Chris Bradley/Bolt, then mutant manipulator of electricity and electronic objects.  “No, no,” said Wright, “I’m not  a good eough actor.”  He should kbnow… but better, surely, than Monaghan.  Birth year:  Death year:  Other name:  Usual …
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Wes Craven

Lance Henriksen, Scream 3, 1999.   More Ghostface murders begin during the shooting of Stab 3…  the horror flick insaide the horror movie. The director of bother (and the first four Screamers) toyed with the idea of  moving in front of  the camera to play Stab producer John Milton. Then, and although (or because) he …
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Oliver Stone

Stephen Tobolowsky, Murder in the First, 1993.  According to Tobolowsky – and he should know – first-timer Mark Rocco had chosen fellow director Oliver Stone to play  Mr Henkin.   Except he was a sudden no-show fon the day of  his scenes.  Rocco called Tobolowsky in one helluva hurry hours before…  Action!  Birth year:  Death year: …
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Lewis Gilbert

1. – Freddie Bartholomew, David Copperfield, 1934. The future director of Alfie, Educatingh Rita and three007 films, started as a kid playing often more than a single role in UK quickies. One of them, Dick Turpin, led to an invite to meet the illustrious Hollywood director George Cukor – in London to find Copperfield as …
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Ernst Lubitsch

 Akim Tamiroff, The Bucanneer, 1938.     Although he adored appearing in front of the camera,himself, for once CB DeMille was not contemptuous of another’s weakness, when Lubitsch proved too camera-shy to play Dominique You, based on a real-life cannoneer of Napoleon. Lubitsch had not acted on-screen since his 41th and final role in 1920.And …
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Mike Nichols

  Sully Boyar, TheSopranos, TV, 2001.    “I’m the wrong Jew. You need a whole other kind of Jew for this doctor.  I’m miscast, forgive me.”  This was Nichols, the great stage-screen director, talking to the show’s creator David Chase, about Dr Krakower, Carmela Soprano’s Ukrainian-Russian shrink, who told her in the seventh episode of …
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Joseph Losey

Burgess Meredith, King Lear, 1986.    Marlon Brando passed (he’d made enough rotten movies) and the modern-day Lear – a New York Mafia chief Don Learo – was then offered by Jean-Luc Godard and the Cannon Group’s Go Go twins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, to director Losey, Dustin Hoffman,  Lee Marvin and, naturally, Orson …
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Melvyn Van Peebles

Laurence Fishburne, What’s Love Got To Do With It, 1992.  As directors came and went, Melvyn agreed top helm the Tina Turner biopic – and play her terrible husband, Ike Turner.   “No, you’re too handsome,” said the suits. Or was it his publicist.  Or, Ike, himself.  Birth year: 1932 Death year: 2021 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film …
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Martin Ritt

1. – Rod Steiger, Marty, TV, 1953. “Well, whadyer feel like doin’ tonight, Marty?” “I dunno, Angie. What you feel like doing?” And a TV icon was born. It should have been Elia Kazan’s former assistant, Marty Ritt, as Marty Pilletti, the Bronx butcher lookin’ for someone to love. After all, his pal Paddy Chayefsky …
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Werner Herzog

1. – Klaus Kinski, Fitzcarraldo, Germany, 1982. “Jason Robards became so ill that we had to fly him out to the US and the doctors wouldn’t permit him to return.”  Director Herzog was devastated –  he’d have to play the role, himself! “I thank God on my knees that I didn’t have to and that …
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Farhan Akhtar

1. – Abhay Deol, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, India, 2007. For her directing debut, Reema Kagti asked her mentor, the Mjumbai auteur Akhtar, to play Aspit.  He was, however, too busy directing Shahrukh Khan as  Don.  Birth year:  Death year:  Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Jules Dassin

1. – George Rigaud, Du rififi chez les femmes (US: Riff Raff Girls), France-Italy, 1959. B-movie relisateur Alex Joffé wanted his Marquis played  by the blacklisted Hollywood auteur (ex-Hitchcock assistant and sometime actor).  Of course, he did. Dassin  had put  the very word, rififi, into cinema language four years before with his classic heist movie, …
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Francis Ford

Andy Clyde, Abe Lincoln In Illinois, 1939.  John Ford’s elder brother was booked as the stagecoach driver. However, Hopalong Cassidy’s future sidekick, California Carson,  took over the coach and horses.   During 1909-1952, Ford directed 179 films and played, estimates IMDb, 494 screen roles Laurence Naismith, Mogambo, 1953.    Bro John Ford didn’t get his way …
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Jacques Becker

1. – OE Hasse, Les adventures d’Arsène Lupin, France, 1957. The genial French  cinéaste made a test of himself as Kaiser Wilhelm II. “He soon found out,” reported his son, Jean, another applauded realisateur, “that he preferred being  behind the camera.” Jean-Luc Godard, agreat fan, said the titular Robert Lamoureaux looked the spitting image  of …
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François Truffaut

André Dussollier, Une belle fille comme moi, France, 1972.      Delighted with playing a lead in L’Enfant sauvage four years earlier, the French super-réalisateur Truffaut flirted with the notion of being the sociologist working on a thesis about female criminals. Instead, he gave the Comedie-Francaise newcomer a screen debut. Apart from several voice-overs and …
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Lars Von Trier

1. – Michael Flessas, Dancer in the Dark, 2000. The start of the decline of Von Trier. He decided to be the guy chastising Selma and Cathy in a cinema. However, due to the contentious on-set relationship between himself and Björk (she stalked out for three days) he feared that he might end up losing …
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Raoul Walsh

Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona, 1928. Actor and assistant director on silent movie icon DW Griffith’s The Birth Of A Nation, 1915, Walsh’s acting career ended when losing an eye in (pick your legend) a shooting or car accident. One thing is sure, this happened after a few weeks directing and starring in the first …
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Billy Wilder

Jared Jussim, Jerry Maguire, 1996.  A great fan of Wilder, The Apartmentand Shirley MacLaine in it,  Crowe wanted the iconic  director as the  conscience of the movie –  Jerry’s mentor, Dicky Fox.  A meet was arranged. Wilder instantly  said: “I am sorry, but I have to piss ice water on you right now and say I …
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Irwin Winkler

1. – Philippe Noiret, ‘Round Midnight, France, 1986.  A cameo scene in the Warner office in Paris was all set  for the film’s producer – until business called him back to New York. Another pal of Bertrand Tavernier filled in.    Birth year:  Death year:  Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Roberto Rossellini

Jean-Pierre Melville, A bout de soufflé, France, 1960.      The Italian director was French criticFrançois Truffaut’s mentor and guest at his marriage to Madeleine Morgenstern and, therefore, first choice in Truffaut’s script as the film-maker being interviewed by wannabe journalist Jean Seberg at the airport. Also in the sequence: with critic André Bazin, Truffaut’s other …
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Ken Russell

David Hemmings, The Rainbow, 1989.      Finding it impossible to replace runaway Elton John as the cynical Uncle Henry, director Ken Russell said: “Looks as if I’ll have to play it myself.”   Which prompted his producer to   splutter: “Why don’t we try David Hemmings again?”   Russell has acted in more than 20 films, mainly …
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Martin Scorsese

Steve Railsback, Helter Skelter, 1976.   Inverted compliment. You’re an asthmatic New Yorker, you have just hit the heights with Mean Streets, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver – and the next offer to arrive comes from director Tom Gries. He asked Marty to play Charles Manson – there was a likeness, if …
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Kevin Smith

  Jordan Gelber,   Fanboys, 2008.      Jorge Garcia was to play the Ain’t It Cool News webmeister Harry Knowles, but literally Lost out. Kevin Smith took over, until delayed by Clerks 2 editing.   Finally, the Broadway star took   over   for the comedy of some Star Wars fans going to Skywalker Ranch to see The …
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Quentin Tarantino

Steve Buscemi, Reservoir Dogs, 1991. Robert Downey Jr, Natural Born Killers, 1993.     Quentin always intended to play the vile TV news anchorWayneGayle if and when the script ever got picked up. By the time it was – NBK going to JFK director Oliver Stone – Tarantino was too important to mess around with a role in another’s …
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J Lee Thompson

Jack  MacGowran,  The Exorcist, 1973. Director William Friedkin thought of fellow director Thompson  (ex-actor, playwright and Alfred Hitchcock assistant)  as Ellen Burstyn’s rather hackneyed stage director.  Birth year: 1914 Death year: 2002 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  1 

Richard Quine

Gil Stratton, Girl Crazy, 1943.     As the August 1939 plan of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell churned into the final MGM teaming of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland., other choices were recast. Such as future director Quine by Broadway’s Stratton.  Birth year: 1920 Death year: 1989 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  1 

Yves Robert

1. – Bernard La Jarrige, Pantalaska, France, 1960. “I can’t do that – it’s for Michel, non?” The response of Robert (and Pierre Mondy) when offered the role of Clergeon. Photographer-turned-realisateur Paul Paviot thought the same. But after making Paviot’s first four shorts, including the Parodie Parade trilogy – and Paciot figured on many more” …
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Leni Riefenstahl

Camilla Horn, Faust – Eine deutsche Volkssage, Germany, 1926.      Before Hollywood called after her triumph in the German film, Die freudlose Gasse (UK/US: Joyless Street), 1924,  Garbo was supposed to play Gretchen for director FW Murnau. Riefenstahl then tried to  win the role. Finally, it became  the screen debut  of  Horn, previously only …
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Michael Polish

1. – Scott Caan, Ocean’s Eleven, 2001. After the Coens and the Wilsons,   a third set of film-making siblings, the identical twin writers, directors, stars of   Twin Falls Idaho – the   20 minutes younger Michael   usually   directs – were not free to become the getaway drivers of   George Clooney’s Danny Ocean.    Birth year:  Death …
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Sydney Pollack

Burt Reynolds, Boogie Nights, 1997.   Pollack, Albert Brooks, Harvey Keitel and Bill Murray were offered the porno film-maker Jack Horner in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit  (Burt Reynolds’ film-maker and Julianne Moore’s porno star being “the parents”),Also seen: Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, who had been …
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Serge Moati

Jean-Pierre Léaud, Les quatre cent coups (US: The 400 Blows), France, 1958.     Billed as Henri Moati…   All the kids tested by critic-turned-auteur François  Truffaut  for the lead role of his first feature wound  playing the classmates of  Léaud’s schoolboy hero, the cherished “Antoine Doinel, Antoine Doinel, Antoine  Doinel…”  The Tunis-born Moati carried  on …
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Maurice Pialat

1. – Richard Anconina, Police, France, 1985. Pialat, the French realisateur, withdrew from playing the lawyer role to prevent getting in the way of his actors.    Birth year: 1925 Death year: 2003 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Roman Polanski

Zygmunt Malanowicz, Nóz w wodzie/Knife in the Water, Poland, 1962.    Polanski also intended to star as the young hitchhiker in his   directing debut, until   Jerzy Bossak, head of the Polish film unit Kamera, said he was not attractive enough. Polanski did, though, dub the bass-voiced Malanowicz. The first Polish film nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar …
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Mark Polish

1. – Casey Affleck, Ocean’s Eleven, 2001. The hell with real brothers… to play   Danny Ocean’s getaway drivers. The Wilsons couldn’t make it due to The Royal Tennenbaums… the Coens were also beating looming strikes… and the Polish twins were unavailable    Birth year:  Death year:  Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Ronan Keating

Ewan McGregor, Moulin Rouge! 2001.    “A perfect role for me but…” The Boyzone star auditioned in New York with the director Baz Luhrman’s wife playing Nicole Kidman’s part. “I just panicked. I was crap. I hate that I ws  crap” The handsome Irish singer lost out to the Scots actor – who could warble …
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Stanley Kubrick

1. – Douglas Rain, 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968. “I’m afraid. I’m  afraid, Dave…” The script  has two voice-overs: Mission Control and, of course, HAL 9000, the mellifluent, murderous superputer.  And Kubrick played both. “Later on, when he was putting the picture together,” recalled Gary Lockwood, the luckless of his two astronauts, “he went out, …
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Philippe Labro

1. – François Truffaut, L’Enfant sauvage/The Wild Child, France, 1970. Realisateur Truffaut required an unknown to play Dr Itard, educator of the savage child found in a  forest. Labro, the radio-TV-print journalist, sometime film-maker (Sans Mobile apparent, L’Heritier) and best-selling novelist, was considered until the day Truffaut  associate  Suzanne  Schiffman entered Maurice Berbert’s office  at …
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Louis Malle

Maurice Ronet, Le feu follet (UK: A Time to Live and a Time to Die; US: The Fire Within), France, 1963.     The budget was not huge for realisateur Louis Malle’s ninth film (his favourite of his early works), so he considered playing the central character. Also a writer, he is close F Scott Fitzgerald. …
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Paul Mazursky

Dennis  Franz,  Dressed To Kill,  l980.    Nothing much went right with director Brian De Palma’s original  planning  –  Liv Ullmann, Sean Connery, Matt Dillon and director pal Mazursky.  In the roles later filled by Angie Dickinson, Michael Caine, Keith Gordon and, in a forerunner of  his Hill  Street Blues/Beverly  Hills  Buntz/NYPD Blue cops, Dennis …
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William.A Wellman

Fredric March, The Bridges At Toko-Ri, 1954.   In the Paramount frame for William Holden’s boss,  Rear Admiral George Tarrant, were: Walter Abel, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Pidgeon, Spencer Tracy and even director Wild Bill Wellman.   He had seven acting credits, including two narrations.  Dana Andrews, The Satan Bug, 1964. The legendary, Wild Bill Wellman (83 movies …
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John Huston

  Cyril Delevanti, The Night of the Iguana, 1963.  Producer Ray Stark wanted John  Huston to cameo as the poet Nonno – which was, more or less, Huston’s exact reponse.  After all, he was already directing the Tennessee Williams 1961 piece.  And that was more than enough for the Grand Old Man. The veteran Delevanti  …
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Elia Kazan

Henry Fonda, Blockade, 1937.   The future director of Beatty, Brando (three times), Clift, Dean, etc.,  was not considered a suitable leading man for Madeleine Carrroll. Nor were Willy Costello and Alan Marshal. The difficulty in finding the right guy had the production shelved for a year. Not a jot about it in Kazan’s 1988 bio, …
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Henry Hathaway

Sam Fuller, The Last Movie,1969.      Or: The Last Movie or Boo Hoo in Tinseltown! “Old Henry” agreed to risk being forced into 85 takes by director Dennis Hopper, who wanted the veteran director to play the veteran director of the film within the film. “Then, his health wasn’t good enough. I’d liked a …
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Blake Edwards

1. – Sydney Pollack, The Player, 1992.   When one director could not, as planned, do   fellow director Robert Altman a favour, another   obliged.    Pollack, shanghaied back into acting   in Tootsie by   Dustin   Hoffman,   continued with bits for A to Z – Woody Allen to Robert Zemeckis – before subbing Harvey Keitel in the Kubrick finale, …
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Federico Fellini

Louis Seigner, M Klein (UK/US: Mr Klein), France-Italy. 1975.    In a flash of inspiration, director Jospeh Losey asked the maestro to play Alain Delon’s  father.  This was Fellini’s reply: “Thank you for your nice gram, so flattering. I felt like a débutante stripper reading it. I, myself, made offers of the same kind to Bergman …
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Jean-Luc Godard

Roger Vadim, Into The Night, 1984.   Loudmouth director John Landis had his fetishes. Certain phrases (“See you next Wedneday” – it’s from 2001) and cameo roles for director buddies. (Remember Spielberg at the very end of The Bluse Brothers?)  Now he had invited M Nouvelle Vague, himself, to join the latest party.  “Everything was fine,” …
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Frank Lloyd

Clark Gable, Mutiny on the Bounty, 1934.   The Scottish actor-turned-director Frank Lloyd bought the rights for $12,000  and promised a great epic from the first two novels of Bernard Nordhoff and James Norman Hall’s trilogy about the 18th Century mutiny, if he (a) directed and (b) played the hero, Fletcher Christian. MGM’s production  genius Irving …
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Budd Boetticher

Eli Wallach, The Two Jakes,  1990.  John  Huston  had been  in Chinatown, so Jack Nicholson tried to win won another veteran director for for the sequel’s wicked tycoon.    Birth year: 1916 Death year: 2001 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Sir Kenneth Branagh

Tom Hulce, Amadeus, 1984.     Originally, a young Branagh (seven years younger than Hulce) was chosen, before Milos Forman  Americanised the major roles. Daniel Day-Lewis, My Beautiful Laundrette, 1985.  Gary Oldman was first choice for Johnny, Kenneth Branagh auditioned but Day-Lewis said: Yes!  Written by Hanif Kureishi, the Stephen Frears classic dissected Margaret Thatcher’s Britain …
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Luis Buñuel

Marshall McLuhan, Annie Hall, 1977.      The medium was not always the message… Bunuel did not fancy flying to New York to be in a cinema queue with Woody Allen and Diane Keaton for a single joke. The $39,000 offer was good but “what I wouldn’t do for a dollar, I wouldn’t do for …
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George Cukor

1. – Laurence Olivier, Marathon Man, 1976.  Is it safe – to turn a legendary director  into an actor?  No, just too Jewish to be a Nazi.    Birth year: 1899 Death year: 1983 Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0 

Lindsay Anderson

Basil Henson, Galileo, 1975. The stage and screen director was infuriated by an offer to play The Infuriated Monk from Joseph Losey – who directed the original Broadway production, 1947. John Barron, To Catch A King, TV, 1983. Clive Donnor talked tohis fellow director about playing Sir Walter Selby. Good idea. Until Anderson read the …
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Claude Berri

Michel Reynal, Les fruits sauvages, France, 1953.   Among the first auditions of the future producer (66 films) and director (24 films, from Le Vieil Homme et l’Enfant to Jean de Florette). David Saire, The Greengage Summer, (US:), 1960.    “I have an alibi. I was at my grandmother’s.” Try as he might, and he …
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Luc Besson

Jean-Marc Barr, Le Grand Bleu (The Big Blue),  France, 1988.  Not satisfied with writing, directing andf photographing, the French wunderkind also considered playing the diving hero.  Well, he was a  deep-sea diver –  which is the how and why of the film in the first place.    Birth year:  Death year:  Other name:  Usual occupation: Film director Casting Calls:  0