Tim Robbins


  1. Tom Hanks, Bachelor Party, 1983.    A dirty little  comedy that was as dramatic, behind the camera, as the  heavier 1956 film of the same name. After one week, head Fox Joe Wizan sacked the leads (Paul Reiser and Kelly McGillis) during rehearsals for bad (or no)  chemistry and spent  three weeks  testing new Richies – er, no, now it was Ricky. The queue included Jim Carrey, Howie Mandell, Dean Paul Martin, David Naughton  (An American Werewolf in London) and  Tim Robbins. Not Hanks… He’d previously passed but was called back (for $15,000 a week) after completing Splash – which would make  him a star. McGillis  McGillis  had the last laugh: Witness, Top Gunand The Accused while  Reiser headed TV’s Mad About You, 1992-1999.  Oh and Bachelor sequel came out… 24 years later. Never met anyone who saw it.
  2. John Cusack, The Sure Thing, 1985.        After auditioning for Gib, a highly impressed director Rob Reiner had another role created for Tim – one named after Gary Cooper.
  3. Thomas F Wilson, Back To The Future, 1985.      Robbins and Jeffrey Jay (now JJ) Cohen missed out on the bullying Biff Tanen, making life hell for Marty McFly’s dad.
  4. Adam Baldwin, Next of Kin, 1989.   Robbins, Baldwin (no kin to Adam), Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, Ray Liotta, John Malkovich, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Ron Perlman were seen for mobster Joey Rossellini in the hillbillies v the Mafia re-run of the same UK director John Irvin’s tons better Raw Deal, 1985.
  5. Kiefer Sutherland, Article 99, 1992.       M*A*S*H meets The Hospital.
  6. Woody Harrelson, Indecent Proposal, 1992.    “Oh, they’re saying I’m doing that.  No!  I want to spend some time with Susan [Sarandon] and our family.”  Or tend it, while she worked a spell.
  7. Sam Neill, Jurassic Park, 1993.   
  8. Matthew Broderick, The Night We Never Met, 1993.       Tim was part of the first cast in 1990.
  9. Denzel Washington, Philadelphia, 1993.       Still called At Risk when he turned down being the lawyer of AIDS victim (then Daniel Day-Lewis), as he had the inside track on director Robert Altman’s (un-made) twin-film version of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning AIDS play, Angels in America – not made, and then by Mike Nichols, until 2003…  When Day-Lewis skipped to make The Name of the Father and Michael Keaton preferred dying (of cancer) in My Life, Demme called on William Baldwin, Andy Garcia, Tim Robbins – even gay porno star Jerry Kelly – before  Hanks lost 26lbs to be the dying Andrew Beckett… and win the first of his consecutive Best Actor Oscars
  10. Johnny Depp, Benny & Joon, 1993.        MGM thought of Robbins, and his lady, Susan Sarandon, as the weirdo lovers.

  11. Ralph Fiennes, Quiz Show, 1994.    “They gave me the answers…”  Robert Redford inherited his third (best) directing gig after Harold Becker, Barry Levinson and Steven Soderbergh and their suggested cast quit for paid work! William Baldwin and Tim Robbins were up  for Charles Van Doren, rather loftily called the man who took America’s  innocence  –  by  confessing to cheating on the #1 TV game show, Twenty-One, during 1957-1959.  Richard  Dreyfuss was set as Herb Stempel, who deliberately lost to Van Doren (to boost NBC ratings) and blew the whistle on constantly rigged answers. No one believed him, nor wanted to. Until a probe by future JFK speechwriter Dick Goodwin. Watching the show at 22, Redford was always convinced Van Doren was acting. .”   Redford auditioned Alec Baldwin before going British with Fiennes as the scandalous cheat in the staid 50s when Eisenhower was president and all was hunky dory. Redford said the scandal marked  the end of American innocence. Aw c’mon, Bob!  Surely two world wars and the KKK had done that…
  12. Matthew Broderick, The Road To Wellville, 1994.        In the first flood of hopefuls outlined by US director Alan Parker.
  13. Tom Arnold, Touch, 1997.    Robbins fell out of the Paul Schrader v Elmore Leonard project after convincing Schrader that the character wasn’t the book’s “snotty little villain but just a big kid.” Schrader ended up with the biggest kid of ’em all.
  14. Woody Harrelson, The Thin Red Line,1998.       Seen by producer Mike Medavoy for Terrence Malick’s first film for 20 years.
  15. Angus Macfadyen, Cradle Will Rock,1998.    Chicago critic Roger Ebert was among the many feeling Macfadyen didn’t look or sound much likethe film’s obnoxious and often drunken portrait of Orson Welles during his staging of Marc Blitzen’s pro-unions, anti-capitalist operetta in 1937. Ebert suggested Robbinsas an ideal Welles. Tim wrote it, produced it, directed it and (rightly) figured  (other) critics would savage him if he also played Orson Welles.
  16. Holmes Osborne, Donnie Darko, 2001.    Virginia auteur Richard Kelly’s first choice as the imperturbable father of real-life siblings Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal.Robbins passed such heavy responsibilities to Osborne –  unknown, then and now, despite close on 100 screen roles since 1976.
  17. Patrick Wilson, Angels in America. TV, 2003.     Mike Nichols brilliantly took over another Robert Altman plan that came to naught and made it HBO’s most prestigious event – six hours of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzter Prize winning two plays about AIDS, the Reagan years, political and personal hypocrisy, corruption, compassion, Mormons, spirituality and all that jazz.
  18. Julian McMahon, Fantastic Four, 2005.      A really off-the-radar notion for Dr Doom until Dr Nip/Tuck won the role.  Mel Gibson – and Cliff Curtis, the Maori actor from The Piano and Blow – were also lucky to lose Victor Von Doom in this mess, the second of four flop versions of the comic. One day, Marvel will doubtless regain all rights and fit the Four into its triumphant Cinematic Universe.
  19. Dennis Quaid, The Special Relationship, 2009.    Alec Baldwin, Russell Crowe, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robbins were also trying to be President Bill Clinton opposite Michael Sheen’s third  outing as UK Premier Tony Blair in a Peter Morgan scenario – following The Deal, 2003, and The Queen, 2006. This one opened with  Oscar Wilde wisdom: “True friends stab you in the front!”
  20. John Slattery, Iron Man 2, 2009.    Among early choices of Howard Stark, father of Robert Downey’s hero.

  21. Kevin Spacey, Margin Call, 2010.   “You’re selling something that you know has no value…” Robbins was tied up elsewhere and Spacey made a perfect Sam Rogers in the Lehman Brothers-esque Wall Street drama. A performance greatly admired by Chicago critic Roger Ebert: Spacey “projects incisive intelligence in his very manner.”
  22. Willem Dafoe, Odd Thomas, 2012.      Robbins passed on Chief Porter in Stephen Sommers’ film of the Dean R Koontz novel about a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities meeting dark forces.  As for the Odd name, his folks forgot to add T for Todd.




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  22