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Denzel Washington Turned Down 'Seven' & 'Michael Clayton,' Javier Bardem Passed On 'Minority Report'

by Edward Davis
September 26, 2012 3:10 PM
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Denzel Washington/Javier Bardem GQ

Guess who read their latest issue of GQ this morning? And like you may have heard recently, making the rounds is a bit of what-might-have-been, movie-related casting news with two heavyweight actors revealing roles they turned down. Let's get to it, shall we?

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. 

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  • Sophie | October 6, 2012 11:58 PMReply

    Interesting. I love both Michael Clayton and Minority Report, especially the former. I thought George Clooney was phenomenal in the role and it had great actors throughout (Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, etc.). And the story is just perfect. It would have been a very different film with Denzel instead of George, but I think he would have pulled it off.

  • Abner | September 28, 2012 1:25 AMReply

    Breaking: Alec Baldwin is no longer Jack Ryan!

  • MJ | September 27, 2012 12:07 PMReply

    Javier Bardem with Spielberg would be cool, but I just can't see him fitting in the role Farrell played. Plus, American accents aren't his strong suit, and the character is pretty much an American golden boy type.

  • Alan | September 26, 2012 9:09 PMReply

    "Denzel Washington Turned Down 'Seven' & 'Michael Clayton,' Javier Bardem Passed On 'Minority Report'" Aka things we already knew about. Why is this news?

  • Fry | September 26, 2012 8:27 PMReply

    Wel all know that Denzel isn't really afraid of first time directors, he's afraid of films not having trains or airplanes in it.

  • CHARLES | September 26, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    You mean Gilroy/Washington. Michael Clayton isn't a real person.

  • James | September 26, 2012 5:38 PMReply

    Of course the most interesting "No" Spielberg ever got, from what I've read, was Juliette Binoche, who turned him down twice in one year for "Jurassic Park" (the Laura Dern role) and "Schindler's List" (the Embeth Davidtz role as the maid). She did the "Trois Couleurs" trilogy instead...

  • James | September 26, 2012 5:35 PMReply

    I'm more curious about the original production of Minority Report, which was put on hold in 2000 so Spielberg could do A.I. I love both film as as they are, so I'm not complaining, but it would have been fascinating to see the original actors - Matt Damon in the Colin Farrell role, Cate Blanchett in the Samantha Morton role, Ian McKellen in the Max Von Sydow role and Jenna Elfman instead of Kathryn Morris as the wife.

  • MJ | September 27, 2012 12:06 PM

    I don't dislike any of those actors, well maybe Elfman, but the cast it ended up with is far better suited to the material.

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