'Almost cast' actors

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Private Frazer
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'Almost cast' actors

Post by Private Frazer »

I just read in the book 'A Celebration of The Good Life' that the actor Peter Bowles was sent scripts for this sitcom and the part of Jerry Leadbetter. He was also sent scripts for two stage plays and opted for one of them. Richard Briers was in the same play and, puzzled, Peter Bowles asked him how he could also do The Good Life. "It's shot on Sunday's" he said. It's interesting to know how close he came to being in it!

Do you know of any others, 'almost cast'?
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by ctraynor »

John Gavin, apparently, as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever.

Robert Culp as the lead in Space:1999 until he stretched his luck and insisted what a marvellous writer and director he was on top of being a marvellous actor, which resulted in Gerry Anderson ending talks.

Ron Moody as the Doctor in Dr Who, at the stage where Jon Pertwee eventually got the role.

Ian McShane as Richard Barrett in The Champions.

Peter Sellers rejected the role of Fagin in Oliver! (which Ron Moody ended up doing)

Wanda Ventham was seriously considered as Abby Grant in Survivors.

Steve McQueen as Major Julian Cook in A Bridge Too Far, which Robert Redford ended up playing. McQueen asked for an impossibly high amount of money as well as expenses for his massive entourage/hangers on.

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Paul Hayes
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Paul Hayes »

Diana Rigg *was* cast as the lead in the 1977 BBC adaptation of "Anna Karenina", and according to at least one source had even signed the contract.

She left the production for reasons which I've yet to discover, possibly related to John Glenister also leaving as director. This seems to have resulted in the whole thing being delayed by a year.

Bizarrely, more than one newspaper obituary of Donald Wilson in 2002 had it that Rigg *did* star in the serial...

(The whole thing had started life as a non-BBC film series project by Carlo Ponti, to star his wife Sophia Loren. When this fell through, the BBC eventually bought the rights to Wilson's scripts and contracted him to turn it into a studio VT production).

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Mickey
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Mickey »

ctraynor wrote:Ian McShane as Richard Barrett in The Champions.
Good Lord, that was a narrow escape!

Paul McGann as Sharpe is one that I would like to have seen. Sean Bean was good, obviously, but McGann would have been as well.

Supposedly Nigel Havers was going to play the Saint. Not sure what happened there. One of those projects that never got off the ground, I guess.

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David Boothroyd
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by David Boothroyd »

One unusual one - the two leads in GBH were both cast in each other's roles, Robert Lindsay playing Jim Nelson and Michael Palin playing Michael Murray.

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Post by Paul Hayes »

David Boothroyd wrote:One unusual one - the two leads in GBH were both cast in each other's roles, Robert Lindsay playing Jim Nelson and Michael Palin playing Michael Murray.
That was a slightly odd case, though, wasn't it?

As I recall they were originally wanted for the roles they ended up playing on-screen. Then it seemed that Lindsay wasn't available, and Palin quite fancied playing an unpleasant character for a change. So he was given the Michael Murray part in place of Lindsay, but then closer to production Linday suddenly *was* available and willing to be in the serial. So they cast him as Jim Nelson, but - after about a week or so, if I remember rightly from the DVD extras - the production team decided that it just wasn't right, and they agreed to swap back to the original idea.

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by videoking »

Martin Landau was almost cast in the role of Mr. Spock which of course went to Leonard Nimoy.

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Post by videoking »

Interesting, I wonder how it would have worked out if Landau became Spock and Culp became John Koenig.

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Post by Simon Coward »

videoking wrote:Martin Landau was almost cast in the role of Mr. Spock which of course went to Leonard Nimoy.
Interesting, given that Nimoy effectively replaced Landau in Mission: Impossible.
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Mickey
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Mickey »

Paul Hayes wrote:
David Boothroyd wrote:One unusual one - the two leads in GBH were both cast in each other's roles, Robert Lindsay playing Jim Nelson and Michael Palin playing Michael Murray.
That was a slightly odd case, though, wasn't it?

As I recall they were originally wanted for the roles they ended up playing on-screen. Then it seemed that Lindsay wasn't available, and Palin quite fancied playing an unpleasant character for a change. So he was given the Michael Murray part in place of Lindsay, but then closer to production Linday suddenly *was* available and willing to be in the serial. So they cast him as Jim Nelson, but - after about a week or so, if I remember rightly from the DVD extras - the production team decided that it just wasn't right, and they agreed to swap back to the original idea.
According to the most recent volume of the Palin Diaries, Alan Bleasdale wanted Palin for Murray and Billy Connolly for Nelson. Connolly proved unavailable, so they brought in Robert Lindsay, felt he was more right for Murray, and asked Palin to swap.

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Paul Hayes »

Mickey wrote:
Paul Hayes wrote:
David Boothroyd wrote:One unusual one - the two leads in GBH were both cast in each other's roles, Robert Lindsay playing Jim Nelson and Michael Palin playing Michael Murray.
That was a slightly odd case, though, wasn't it?

As I recall they were originally wanted for the roles they ended up playing on-screen. Then it seemed that Lindsay wasn't available, and Palin quite fancied playing an unpleasant character for a change. So he was given the Michael Murray part in place of Lindsay, but then closer to production Linday suddenly *was* available and willing to be in the serial. So they cast him as Jim Nelson, but - after about a week or so, if I remember rightly from the DVD extras - the production team decided that it just wasn't right, and they agreed to swap back to the original idea.
According to the most recent volume of the Palin Diaries, Alan Bleasdale wanted Palin for Murray and Billy Connolly for Nelson. Connolly proved unavailable, so they brought in Robert Lindsay, felt he was more right for Murray, and asked Palin to swap.
Very interesting. Given that Palin was presumably writing at the time, whereas Bleasdale on the DVD extras is speaking more than a decade later, Palin would seem the more reliable source.

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by SgtPepper »

It's been said that the part of Delboy was originally going to be played by Enn Reitel. I can never see his name in print without bursting into a chorus of The Eton Rifles by the Jam. :-)

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Post by Paul Hayes »

SgtPepper wrote:It's been said that the part of Delboy was originally going to be played by Enn Reitel. I can never see his name in print without bursting into a chorus of The Eton Rifles by the Jam. :-)
Didn't they also offer it to Jim Broadbent?

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Post by Simon36 »

Adam Faith pulled out of playing Harvey Moon about a week before production started. Sylvester Stallone was originally gonna be the lead in Beverley Hills Cop, Christopher Reeve turned down American Gigolo, and Frank Sinatra was nearly Dirty Harry. Eillen Atkins as Sarah in Upstairs Downstairs... Hugh Grant as the ninth Doctor Who (he said he regretted saying no when it turned out to be such a success). And Stanley Baker as Jack Regan...

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by stanbutler »

David Jason went for Corporal Jones in Dad's Army but not sure how close he was to being cast. Lots of people aution for roles without coming that close to actually getting them.

On radio Prunella Scales had almost been definitely decided on to replace Joy Nichols in Take It From Here when they auditioned one more performer, June Whitfield, who got the job. I don't mind Scales but I can't image the Glums sketches would have been quite the same with her as Eth.

EDIT: Wasn't Some Mother's Do 'Ave 'Em originally written for Norman Wisdom?

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Post by ctraynor »

David Boothroyd wrote:One unusual one - the two leads in GBH were both cast in each other's roles, Robert Lindsay playing Jim Nelson and Michael Palin playing Michael Murray.
That reminds me of Brideshead Revisited. Initially, Anthony Andrews was going to play Charles, and Jeremy Irons Sebastian. I find it impossible to even imagine that scenario.

As an aside, I did like Arthur Dent as Bridey.

I'd forgotten about the Martin Landau/Mr Spock one.

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Gervase Fen »

Robert Lindsay was cast in the second series of Line of Duty, and then quit after two days' filming - but was paid his full fee. Mark Bonnar was his replacement (and terrific in the role.)

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Private Frazer »

Quite well known one this. Elizabeth Shepherd had filmed all of "The Town of No Return" and part of "The Murder Market" in The Avengers when the programme makers went for someone else; Diana Rigg.
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by DuncanS »

The unavailability of Alun Armstrong made Alan Plater rewrite his Get Lost sequel and eventually ended up with James Bolam and Barbara Flynn playing the leads in some sort of trilogy,

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Post by ctraynor »

And Patrick McGoohan turned down James Bond and The Saint.

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Post by Simon Coward »

Martin Skinner was originally cast in the title role in Thames' Smith but then lost the role to Ian Ramsey after being hospitalised with some kidney problems before shooting started.
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by BrentCleever21 »

DuncanS wrote:The unavailability of Alun Armstrong made Alan Plater rewrite his Get Lost sequel and eventually ended up with James Bolam and Barbara Flynn playing the leads in some sort of trilogy,
As her obituary http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/f ... get-turner notes, Bridget Turner (who played Judy Threadgold in Get Lost) was asked to play Sybil Fawlty (presumably based on her string of successes in Aykbourn plays) but turned it down.
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

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Some bizarre ones include:

Roy Thinnes once considered for the role of James Bond.
Ronnie Barker as Frank Spencer.
Patrick McGoohan for the lead in the original 'Star Trek' series (can't remember without looking if it was for 'The Cage' or the series proper but imagine a chaste and phaser-less Kirk!)

Some less eyebrow raising ones include:

Michael Jayston for Bond
Spencer Banks for John in the original 'Tomorrow People' (lost because Roger Price didn't think the viewers would take him seriously!)

Famously apocryphal:

Charles Manson as one of The Monkees (Manson was actually in jail at the time of the auditions)
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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

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Controller 2957 wrote:Patrick McGoohan for the lead in the original 'Star Trek' series (can't remember without looking if it was for 'The Cage' or the series proper but imagine a chaste and phaser-less Kirk!)
Really??? I knew Jack Lord was considered but not McGoohan. Do you have a source for that?

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by MAldridge »

Although David Renwick always wanted Richard Wilson for One Foot in the Grave, Wilson was less keen (and some at the BBC weren't too pleased with the choice either). When looking for alternatives Renwick considered Les Dawson, who wasn't able to do it anyway. The thinking was that if he couldn't get Wilson, he'd go in a different direction for the casting rather than have someone similar.

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Robin Davies wrote:
Controller 2957 wrote:Patrick McGoohan for the lead in the original 'Star Trek' series (can't remember without looking if it was for 'The Cage' or the series proper but imagine a chaste and phaser-less Kirk!)
Really??? I knew Jack Lord was considered but not McGoohan. Do you have a source for that?
I think I read it in Stephen E. Whitfield's 'The Making of Star Trek'. I don't have a copy to hand at this moment so I can't check.
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MAldridge wrote:Although David Renwick always wanted Richard Wilson for One Foot in the Grave, Wilson was less keen (and some at the BBC weren't too pleased with the choice either). When looking for alternatives Renwick considered Les Dawson, who wasn't able to do it anyway. The thinking was that if he couldn't get Wilson, he'd go in a different direction for the casting rather than have someone similar.
Andrew Sachs turned down the part, as well.

Speaking of Renwick, there were also earlier choices for Jonathan Creek. I believe he wrote it with Nicholas Lyndhurst in mind, but he wasn't keen. Hugh Laurie then accepted the part, but shortly thereafter changed his mind.

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Post by Tilt Araiza »

Controller 2957 wrote:Ronnie Barker as Frank Spencer
Or Reginald Perrin. Or Stan in On The Buses (Varney was first choice, I believe, but Barker was penciled in as a possibility).

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by MAldridge »

Paul Hayes wrote:
MAldridge wrote:Although David Renwick always wanted Richard Wilson for One Foot in the Grave, Wilson was less keen (and some at the BBC weren't too pleased with the choice either). When looking for alternatives Renwick considered Les Dawson, who wasn't able to do it anyway. The thinking was that if he couldn't get Wilson, he'd go in a different direction for the casting rather than have someone similar.
Andrew Sachs turned down the part, as well.
He was interviewed but wasn't offered the role, as I understand it. He had his own reservations over the scripts and Renwick was never convinced that he was right - it was Susan Belbin who had encouraged the meeting.

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Re: 'Almost cast' actors

Post by Paul Hayes »

MAldridge wrote:
Paul Hayes wrote:
MAldridge wrote:Although David Renwick always wanted Richard Wilson for One Foot in the Grave, Wilson was less keen (and some at the BBC weren't too pleased with the choice either). When looking for alternatives Renwick considered Les Dawson, who wasn't able to do it anyway. The thinking was that if he couldn't get Wilson, he'd go in a different direction for the casting rather than have someone similar.
Andrew Sachs turned down the part, as well.
He was interviewed but wasn't offered the role, as I understand it. He had his own reservations over the scripts and Renwick was never convinced that he was right - it was Susan Belbin who had encouraged the meeting.
You're quite right, I'd misremembered - I've just gone and had another look back at the relevant part of Richard Webber's book.

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