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The Untouchables: Brian De Palma originally wanted Don Johnson to play Eliot Ness

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Kevin Costner, The Untouchables
The Untouchables: Photofest

The Untouchables was almost Chicago Vice.

In 1986, when Brian De Palma was casting his big-screen version of the hit 1950s and ’60s TV show, his first idea for the lead role of G-Man Eliot Ness was Don Johnson. De Palma was friendly with Johnson through Melanie Griffith (whom he’d recently directed to a Golden Globe nomination in Body Double), but the actor was heavily involved with the five-season run of Miami Vice.

In this exclusive clip from the new documentary De Palma (in limited release now and expanding in the coming weeks), the legendary director describes calling up his buddies Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan to inquire about the lesser-known Kevin Costner. At that point in Costner’s career, he’d appeared on Spielberg’s TV anthology Amazing Stories and Kasdan’s Western Silverado — a role which was a mea culpa by Kasdan for cutting Costner’s role out of The Big Chill.

Nine years after The Untouchables, Costner and Johnson would costar as sports rivals in Ron Shelton’s great golf comedy Tin Cup. Costner, as he was almost exclusively after The Untouchables, was that film’s lead.

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