It’s tough to imagine Noah Calhoun as anyone else but Ryan Gosling and James Garner, but that almost wasn’t the case.
During a virtual panel for the 64th BFI London Film Festival, George Clooney revealed that he and Paul Newman were going to play the young and old Noah, respectively, in The Notebook — but he turned it down!
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“We were going to do The Notebook together,” the two-time Academy Award winner, 59, said on Sunday, October 18. “Basically, I was going to play him as a young man, and it was funny. We met and said, ‘This is it. It’s going to be great.’”
However, after the Argo producer watched some of the icon’s biggest films, he backed out.
“He’s one of the handsomest guys you’ve ever seen. We met up [again] and I said, ‘I can’t play you. I don’t look anything like you. This is insane,’” Clooney shared. “We just wanted to do it because we wanted to work together, [but] it ended up being not the right thing for us to do.”
Newman, whose roles landed him an Oscar, a SAG Award, an Emmy and many other honors, died in 2008 at the age of 83.
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“We had a very funny relationship, late in life for him. I directed a movie that just completely bombed called Leatherheads. [Newman] was still racing at the time, and raced a car, and crashed it,” said the actor, whose next role is in Netflix’s The Midnight Sky — which he’s also directing and producing. “So, he took a photo of Leatherheads and superimposed it on the crashed car, and said, ‘I was driving your car in the race.’”
While the roles of Noah ultimately went to Gosling, 39, and the late Garner in the 2004 romantic drama, Clooney also had quite a successful year, reprising his role as Danny Ocean in Ocean’s Twelve and producing the drama Criminal.
His next film will be his first time working with the streaming giant rather than on the big screen — something that’s happening to multiple films now due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this film — which was partially shot in Iceland when it was 40 degrees below zero — was always set for Netflix.
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“The guys at Netflix sent it over to me to act in it. I read it and loved it, and thought I’d actually rather take a swing at directing it,” the Hail, Caesar! star said. “I’d done a couple of space movies, so I knew how complicated the space stuff was going to be, but this one felt like a really intimate story about what mankind is capable of doing to mankind. I also liked the idea of a story of redemption, and this was kind of the ultimate story of redemption.”