The first is Denzel Washington, who appears in "Flight" later this year (it also makes its world debut at NYFF soon). The story that Washington almost appeared in David Fincher's "Seven" is probably familiar to you if you have a good memory; the actor revealed in a 2002 Playboy interview that he turned down the lead long before Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman became the iconic pair in the film. What's likely less known is that Washington turned down the lead in "Michael Clayton" that went on to earn George Clooney a Best Actor Nomination in 2008. Asked by GQ which roles he turned down he regretted the most, Washington cited both films.
" 'Seven' and "Michael Clayton," he said. "With 'Clayton,' it was the best material I had read in a long time, but I was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong. It happens." Tony Gilroy, are you listening? Maybe we can make this happen again one day?
Meanwhile, GQ also spoke to Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who's evidently picky when it comes to choosing roles. He eventually turned down the lead in "Nine," which went to Daniel Day-Lewis, and when Steven Spielberg approached him to play Colin Farrell's part in "Minority Report," Bardem passed. When asked by GQ, he had a blunt response as to why he turned it down: "I don't see myself running on roofs," he said. The actor apparently said that if he doesn't believe in the role, he felt like the audience wouldn't either.
So no running in "Skyfall" then, Javier? Thoughts? Does this simply join the detritus of what-could-have-been Hollywood legend and or would you die to see the versions of these films with the aforementioned cast in your mind (you could always pen fan fiction, right?). Or, maybe one day they'll be a Spielberg/Bardem, Gilroy/Washington collaboration.