- Pierre Richard, La chevre, France, 1981. What was planned for Lino Ventura-Villeret became Gérard Depardieu-Richard - and they were so good, they made two more Francis Veber comedies. Villeret got his own Veber hit with Le diner des cons, on stage, 1993, and screen, 1998.
- Dominique Besnehard, A nos amours, France, 1983. No question who would be Suzanne, bouncing from lover to lover at age 15. But her brother Robert, who punishes her for such promiscuity? Obnoxious realisateur Maurice Pialat considered Villeret, Jackie Berroyer, Vincent Lindon, Robin Renucci. Pialat then phoned Besnehard, the actor turned casting director who’d walked out on Pialat in fury during Passe ton bac d’abord, to say: “Robert, it’s you!”
- Daniel Auteuil, Jean De Florette & Manon des sources, France-Italy-Switzerland, 1985. ”Don’t worry, ma poule,” Coluche told his mentor, auteur Claude Berrri, “I’ll be your Ugolin.” And he tried but tests proved him incapable of capturing either Ugolin’s Midi accent or his lovelorn soul. (“It's not me that's crying. It's my eyes”). The comic, who had won a Cesar for Berri’s Tchao Pantin, 1983, then balked at the eight-month shoot and demanded 10m Euros - to help free Berri into searching elsewhere. He took a long time talking with Villeret while the ideal candidate had the same name as the area where Berri shot his tests - Auteuil. Ironically, the same tests proved how Yves Montand (merely helping Coluche out by playing opposite him) proved perfect for the role he had already refused: the Cesar Soubeyran, aka le Papet. In turn, he refused the chubby Villeret. “We’re not doing Laurel & Hardy!”
- Michel Blanc, M Hire, France, 1988. The outstanding French comic Coluche starred in Patrice Leconte’s directing debut - Les vécés etaient fermés de l’intérieur, 1975. And they would have worked together again for this Georges Simenon tale. But by then Coluche, already a Best Actor César award winner and national ikon, was dead - in a motor-cycle accident in 1986 at 41. Leconte then thought of Villeret - one of his 1982 stars. He (like Coluche) was physically closer to the titular character than Blanc. “But Michel was magnifique,” said Leconte. “That’s not in question.”
- Claude Brasseur, Camping, France, 2006. Died just before shooting and Brasseur agreed to play the role - “for Jacques upstairs.” One of the busiest character actors in French cinema, the chubby Villeret had five films released in the year of his death.
- Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Dialogue avec mon jardinier, France, 2006. When he was writing his script, auteur Jean Becker was thinking of the star of his Les enfants du Marais, 1998, and Effroyables jardins, 2002. When production began, the extremely popular alcoholic Villeret was dead. At 54.