Category Archives: not starring

The List – The Top 5 ‘could have been’ actors for roles that went to another actor

A lot of people know that Christopher Walken was screen tested and considered for the role of Han Solo in Star Wars (and in that link you also find out that “Han Solo first appeared in the rough and first drafts of Star Wars as a hulking green alien with no nose and large gills. He was a Jedi warrior and friend of General Skywalker. As the story developed, Solo became a burly, bearded Corellian pirate who dressed flamboyantly. By the third draft, Solo became the reckless starpilot we all recognize.”) The possibility of Walken starring as that iconic character is tantalising. You cannot imagine anyone else playing as Solo other than Harrison Ford, but Walken in the role could have made the character more a loose cannon, less of a lovable rogue. It could have given the film a completely different dynamic, with Solo and Luke Skywalker showing real antipathy toward each other – I merely speculate, just to illustrate how interesting ‘could have beens’ can be. Another example is Tom Selleck turning down the role of Indiana Jones, due to his commitment to the wonderful TV show Magnum PI, so the role of the whip cracking archeologist went to….Harrison Ford. Being able to turn sloppy seconds into a major career victory twice? Is Harrison Ford the jammiest guy in Hollywood? Tom Selleck would have brought the requisite humour and charm to the role, but would have probably not offered much different to what Ford did with the character anyway.

What we have here though, are some other possibilities – some are tantalising, and some are strictly WTF?? Here are TWLBs top 5 ‘could have beens’ – actors considered / offered / lined up for major roles, but for whatever reason, another guy got the gig;

1) Charles Bronson as Snake Plisken (Escape From New York)

Okay, so Kurt Russell is Snake Plisken, but you know what? I think Bronson would have completely owned that movie as well.

2)Ray Winstone as Jimmy McNulty (The Wire)

Played to perfection by posh Yorkshireman Dominic West, I am just not sure that Ray Winstone would have cut it as the troubled murder police from Baltimore. Intriguing, but as far as I am concerned, this was a fortuitous miss. The reason Winstone turned it down is in an interview conducted with The Guardian

3) Sean Connery as Morpheus (The Matrix).

Wouldn’t have worked – Laurence Fishburne gave the role the energy and physical prowess that made him the perfect mentor to Neo, and a respected, feared warrior. Sean Connery would have been to old, and although he would have given the role a certain maturity and gravitas, Fishburne was definitely the man for the job.

4) Charles Bronson as Superman (Superman: The Movie)

Charles Bronson – seriously??? Apparently so – him and a whole lot of others – I cannot imagine why they would have thought Bronson was right for the role – he would have been better as Batman in Millers ‘the Dark Knight Returns’. Superman has an image of clean cut American handsome wholesomeness – Charles Bronson was a lot of things, but the craggy faced actor was NOT an epitome of clean cut American handsome wholesomeness. Look st the picture below, of Bronson in 1973, a good 3 or 4 years before the first Superman was shot. Do you see what I mean? Bronson as Plissken – yes. Bronson as Superman – no!

Charles Bronson in 1973

5) OJ Simpson as the Terminator

Just. Wrong. In hindsight.

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