1. - Mandy Patinkin, Yentl, 1962. 1962. Who was going to be Avigdor, the rabbinical student lover of Barbra Streisand as the cross-dressing Yeshiav Boy in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s tale? Trouble was, La Barb was also the director, producer, and “co-writer”... Obvious, therefore, who was going to have all the closer-ups! So Douglas, Richard Gere, Kevin Kline and Christopher Walken just fled.
2. - Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970.
3. - Brad Dourif, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975.
4. - Sylvester Stallone, First Blood (aka Rambo), 1982.
5. - Kevin Costner, The Untouchables, 1987. Michael had done his cop time, thank you, almost 100 hours on The Streets of San Francisco, 1972-76. It took him 16 years (and $14m) to return to the SFPD in Basic Instinct.
6. - Richard E Grant, Warlock, 1988. Sean Connery also said no.
7. - Tom Hanks, Bonfire of the Vanties, 1990. The idea was yet aother rotten one: Gordon Gekko as Sherman McCoy!
8. - James Caan, Misery, 1990. "Beatty, Douglas, Dreyfuss.. sure, I approached all those people," says director Rob Reiner. "Every single one of those bastards turned me down... As much as I tried to convince them that I'd try to elevate the genre - which I feel we did - they saw it as a Stephen King, blood and guts kinda film."
9. - John Heard, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
10/11 - Kevin Costner & Tommy Lee Jones, JFK, 1991.
12 - Michael Ontkean, Making Love, 1992. Worried about the subject matter: a young husband’s bisexuality being aroused by Harry Hamlin. Also fleeing: Harrison Ford, Richard Gere.
13 - Tom Hanks, Radio Flyer, 1992. Once helmer Richard Donner lowered the ages of the children in the movie, producer Douglas passed on narrating it as the older version of Elijah Wood..
14 - Robert Duvall, Falling Down, 1992. Swopped roles with Duvall, preferring the bad guy nut-case (in a Spartacus crew-cut) to yet another cop. He also wanted his Basic Instinct fee: $14m. Warners preferred his Shining Through fee: $6m.
15 - Craig T Nelson, Take Me Home Again, TV, 1994. After years of searching for a script to do together, Michael and Kirk found this drama of a dying father asking his son to take him back to the old neighbourhood. Michael passed: "I'm doing a film with Demi Moore." Kirk: "You can do that another time." Michael: "Are you crazy?" Said Kirk later: "I've met her now and I can see what he means." He found them another script, with parts for Mom Diana and son Cameron: It Runs in the Family, 2003. Didn’t run that well.
16 - Charlie Sheen, Terminal Velocity, 1994. The skydiving thriller also interested wee Tom Cruise. For a wee while.
17 - Matthew Modine, Cutthroat Island, 1995. Who’s gonna look best in the close-ups...? "It didn't smell good. And I just didn't feel comfortable doing a picture with the director married to the leading lady." Most of The A List agreed, until Renny Harlin and Geena Davis found Modine more keen on playing pirates. No survivors when this baby sank!
18 - Denzel Washington, Virtuosity, 1995. One of Denzel’s sons talked him into chasing this virtual-reality serial killer. Junior should have been grounded!
19 - Pierce Brosnan, Dante's Peak, 1997. One of the two volcanic numbers in the USummer of '97. He turned down $20m. The current 007 did it for $5m, his injuries delaying the 19th Bond movie.
20 - John Travolta, The General's Daughter, 1998. Bruce Willis and John Cusack also backed off, allowing Travolta’s Army CID investigator to do quite a James Bond riff.
21 - Bill Paxton, U-571, 1999. "The film was pushed back too far for my comfort." So was history. The UK’s Royal Navy captured the Nazi Enigma decoding machine aboard a sunken U-boat four months before the US entered WWII.
22 - Richard Gere, Runaway Bride, 1999. During a decade of changes, everyone (Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson) had a shot at being the journalist probing reluctant brides from Sandra Bullock to Demi Moore.
23 - Andy Garcia, Ocean's Eleven, 2001. After Bruce Willis and Ralph Fiennes also passed, Garcia did a smooth job of Terry Benedict - the guy who kicked Danny Ocean out of Vegas and wed his gal, Julia Roberts.
24 - Will Smith, I, Robot, 2004. Went around the block from director Ridley Scott to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
25 - Liam Neeson, Kinsey, 2004. Oldest of auteur Bill Condon’s candidates for the world's most famous sexologist.
26 - Bruce Willis, Sin City, 2005. Initial Robert Rodriguez thinking for John Hartigan in the quite brilliant “translation not adaptation’ of (co-director) Frank Miller’s graphic novel
27 - Basic Instinct 2, 2005. “I did a sequel once,” Michael said in 2001, “and I don't see it as anything other than a financial decision.” Hey, fella, you just worked that out now?
28 - Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006. During 25 years in Development Hell, the titular casting also included Robert De Niro, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino. Tim Curry was the sole Brit considered and the most absurd notions were... Warren Beatty, Harrison Ford and Robert Redford!
29 - Will Smith, I Am Legend, 2007. During the 30-year history of Warners and the Richard Matheson sf novel (two films - one Italian - ten directors), potentials for the last man on earth also included Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Ted Levine, Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, ultimately, Smith, who had first considered making with with director Michael Bay in 2002. (They gave it up for... Bad Boys II).
30 - Alex Loughlin, Hawaii Five-0, 2010. Five years earlier there had been a lot of chat about a Five-0 movie - headlined by Douglas, Harrison Ford or Mel Gibson. However, the island cop Steve McGarrett was rebooted (badly) as a new TV series. Dead in the water after ten episodes.