1. - Bradford Dillman, 1969. Good enough for The Lion In Winter, but rejected when Hollywood went to war - again.
2/3. - Robert Mitchum & Christopher Jones, Ryan's Daughter, 1970. John Box, David Lean's production designer on Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago, suggested the star of his own production for the schoolteacher - or his wife's lover! Lean preferred young Jones from the same film, The Looking Glass War. Big mistake!
4. - Christopher Plummer, International Velvet, 1978. Writer-producer-director Bryan Forbes offered Tony a choice of horsey roles. He left Seaton to Plummer and chose Captain Johnson, “the crusty trainer - I needed the cash!”
5. - Michael Caine, The Island, 1980. Jaws author Peter Benchley chose Caine on hearing an exec's wife talking about the terrible Swarm. “If he can carry that, he can carry this.”
6. - John Thaw, The Grass Is Greener, Sweden-Zambia, 1980. First duo for the Doris Lessing novel in 1978, Hopkins-Glenda Jackson, became Thaw-Karen Black.
7. - Ian McKellan, Priest of Love, 1981. Too busy (with a new agent) to play DH Lawrence.
8. - Ben Kingsley, Gandhi, 1982.
Director Richard Attenborough asked Tony in 1973 and again after directing him in Magic, 1978. “That really got to my ego, my vanity. I'd think, well, I've got Gandhi to look forward to. Then, I looked in the mirror and thought: ‘He's crazy!' I'd sweat off the weight - agony! But I can't go through a year of macrobiotic junk. I can't do that! I enjoy food. I enjoy living. I'd be impossible to live with. I mean, I would die! I called Dickie [Attenborough]: 'I't would be madness. I'll destroy your film. I won't be able to give you my best. I'll probably not live long enough.' He was very sweet about it. But if I had done it, it would have been an act of terrible vanity, proving I can cosmetically change myself and lose 10 stone and end up in a coffin. I would've died. I know that."
9. - Albert Finney, Under The Volcano, 1984. “Decided to take Bligh in The Bounty. I knew him better and preferred Tahiti to Mexico.”
10 - Peter Firth, Lifeforce, 1984. After also losing Michael Gothard and Terence Stamp for SAS Colonel Colin Chase, director Tobe Hooper signed Firth. Hopkins knew everyone would be distracted by Mathilda May’s constant nudity. After all, Hopkins and Firth co-starred in Equus on Broadway... when Firth had been naked for much of the time.).
11 - Michael Caine, Mona Lisa, 1985. “I’m not right for it.” More than 20 years later, Hopkins told Jay Leno he informed director Neil Jordan that Caine would be perfect the London mobster.
12 - Timothy Dalton, The Doctor and the Devils, 1985. Producer Lawrence Schiller's plan when first winning rights to the 32-year-old Dylan Thomas script.
13 - Raul Julia, The Threepenny Opera, 1988. Welsh or not, he worried about his singing voice - and about film's backers. The dreaded Cannon!
14 - Gary Oldman, Immortal Beloved, 1994. “I’ve hated you for years,” director Ken Russell told fellow UK film-maker Bernard Rose. “I was going to make that movie. I had Anthony Hopkins: he even got into the costume...” Rose knew; when he inherited the project he tried to get Hopkins, too. No way. Rose may have been Ken’s greatest fan, but he was not Russell. “Sorry if I pinched Immortal Beloved off you,” Rose told his idol in 2008. “Anyway, it got terrible reviews."
15 - Michael Caine, On Deadly Ground, 1994. The star - and director! - Steven Seagal went for the LA cliché. A Brit as the villain. Caine, Hopkins, Rickman - anybody!
16 - Tom Cruise, Interview With The Vampire, 1994.
17 - Jeff Bridges, White Squall, 1995. Both Hopkins and Gary Oldman let Ridley Scott’s storm-struck yacht sail on by.
18 - Robert Duvall, The Scarlet Letter, 1995. Like Daniel Day-Lewis who refused to be Demi Moore’s lover, Hopkins knew manure when he sees it and likewise avoided her husband - played by Duvall, said Chicago critic Roger Ebert, “as if he'd never had sex in his life and didn't want anybody else to partake, either.”
19 - Patrick Stewart, Richard III, 1996. Ian McKellan’s first choice for Buckingham, but funding took so long, Tony was playing the US version - Nixon.
20 - George Segal, The Mirror Has Two Faces, 1996. Director and star Barbra Streisand wanted Tony and Ralph Fiennes backing her and Jeff Bridges in her (sort of) re-make of Michele Morgan's 1958 role.
21 - Tony Curtis, Brittle Glory, 1996. While plugging away for international sales of his film, then called The Continued Adventures of Reptile Man and His Faithful Sidekick Tadpole, at the 1995 Cannes festival market, writer-director Stewart Schill insisted other actors who showed interest in being old caped TV hero on hard times included Hopkins, Harvey Keitel and John Malkovich.
22 - Arnold Schwarzenegger, Batman & Robin, 1996.
23 - Jonathan Pryce, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997.
24 - Jeremy Irons, Lolita, 1997. Adrian Lyne felt Tony too old at 60 - just as Hugh Grant was way too young at 35. Irons was 49
25 - Geoffrey Rush, Les Miserables, 1997. Javert was just too “unrelenting.” He preferred the fun of The Mask of Zorro, 1998. He wuz right.
26 - Michael Caine, The Cider House Rules, 1998. Hopkins and Billy Crudup were early choices for the abortionist and the orphan in the greatly delayed film of John Irving’s 1985 novel - winning Caine his second support Oscar.
27 - Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast, 2000. Kingsley re-launched his career and image as an explosive London gangster far from his usual reverential, not to say boring roles - based, so he said, upon his granny
28 - Robert De Niro, Meet The Parents, 2000. It’s just possible that Hopkins could have been a more frightening father-in-law than De Niro. Remember: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
29 - Marcel Iures, Hart's War, 2001. Big break for the Romanian actor when Tony passed on the cameo of the German commander of POWs like Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell.
30 - Ian McKellen, The Lord of the Ring trilogy, 2001-03.
31 - Terence Stamp, The Haunted Mansion, 2003. He’d buttled, already... Terry was made up to resemble Boris Karloff in the specrtretacular, the second movie inspired by a Disneyland ride. Eddie Murphy, however, is no Johnny Depp.
32 - Hugh Jackman, Van Helsing, 2004. First due in 1994 as a sequel to Dracula, 1992, with Hopkins reprising the (now title) role. He preferred to continue being Hannibal Lecter.
33 - Michael Caine, Batman Begins, 2004.
34 - Bob Hoskins, Danny The Dog (UK/US: Unleashed), 2004. A Luc Besson offer (written for an occupied Albert Finney) interested - Hopkins, Michael Caine, Billy Connolly, Brian Cox - until they discovered Besson was producing only, not directing.
35 - Jonathan Pryce, The Brothers Grimm, 2005. Originally due as General Delatombe, Napoleon’s man in his occupied Germany, 1811. Gilliam simply called up his 1985 Brazil star.
36 - David Kelly, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, 2004. Tim Burton is so quirky. Hannibal Lecter as Grandpa Joe! Burton had a dozen possibilities (two passed before passing) and gave it to the veteran Irish actor on running into him at Pinewood studios for a costume fitting for another film.
37 -Marlon Brando, Superman Returns, 2006.
38 - Ed Harris, Copying Beethoven, 2006. The biopic was designed for Hopkins, who backed out just as he had with a previous Beethoven offer - Immortal Beloved, 1994.
39 - Christopher Plummer, The Last Station, 2009. Following Anthony Quinn’s death in 200l, Hopkins was the next choice for Tolstoy in the long and winding road of bringing Jay Parini’s novel about the writer’s death to the screen - 18 drafts over 20 years. “I found myself wrapped in extended real-life version of Zorba,” said Parini, “loving Tony Quinn as a friend, but increasingly uncertain about the versions of my novel that we generated.”