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There goes first choice In Focus by Richard Crouse FOR METRO CANADA June 18, 2010

jonah-hex-1024The first glimpse of Josh Brolin as scarred comic book bounty hunter Jonah Hex reveals it is a role he was born to play. His natural bad boy swagger shines through the character’s heavy make up but Brolin wasn’t the first choice to play the character, or even the second. As is so often the case in Hollywood many other actors were first considered for the part.

California surf boy Matthew McConaughey was approached, as was indie film darling Emile Hirsch.

Thomas Jane even went as far as submitting photos in full Jonah Hex drag, scars and all.

In the end, Brolin brought that extra something special that made the role his, and joined a long list of actors who weren’t the first choice to headline big movies.

Many actors have played James Bond but a recent JamesBondwiki.com poll anoints Sean Connery as the two-to-one people’s favourite.

Guess what? He wasn’t the first choice.

Author Ian Fleming partially modelled the Bond character on Cary Grant, so the suave actor was top-of-the-list when the first Bond film, Dr. No, was cast. Grant, however, sent his regrets, saying he was too old to play the spy.

When Connery was cast, the writer was less than pleased.

“He’s not exactly what I had in mind,” said Fleming, who felt Connery was too “unrefined” for the role. He later changed his mind and Connery went on to play Bond in six movies.

Connery was the first choice to play Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series but said no.

“I didn’t understand the script when they sent it to me,” he said. “Bobbits? Hobbits?”

New Line apparently wanted him so badly they offered him a huge chunk of the of worldwide box office receipts. That “no” cost him almost $400 million.

Many other movies have “settled” for second choices. Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall courted Molly Ringwald and Daryl Hannah, who said no because she felt it denigrated women, before casting Julia Roberts.

Can you imagine The Matrix without Keanu Reeves? Apparently the Wachowski Brothers could as they offered the role of Neo to Will Smith first. Smith declined, opting to make the box office disaster Wild Wild West instead, but says he has no regrets.

“I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be — whereas Keanu was.”

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