American actor Roy Scheider (1932 - 2008) as Frank Murphy in 'Blue Thunder', directed by John Badham, 1983. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Why Roy Scheider Turned Down The Deer Hunter, According To Producer Thom Mount
Following the historic success of “Jaws,” Roy Scheider became a favorite at Universal Pictures and agreed to star in the blockbuster’s sequel in exchange for being able to join two movies of his choosing. Scheider had expressed interest in Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter” but would eventually pass on the film, fueling a rumor that he was unhappy with the script.
However, producer Thom Mount addressed the gossip and shared, “He [Scheider] felt the role in ‘The Deer Hunter’ was going to be a starring role and that his fee, the deal he had signed, did not reflect that.” Mount explained that the reason had to be a financial one rather than Scheider being dissatisfied with the content, as “Universal were not in the habit of supporting films with poor scripts.”
Scheider chose to star in 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures’ 1979 “All That Jazz” rather than “The Deer Hunter” or another Universal project, leaving the role open for Robert De Niro. Mount shared that the studio management team was excited to have De Niro join the project, stating, “It was our judgment that Bob was a far better piece of casting and a far better actor.”