Warren Beatty Courted Cary Grant To Come Back in This
Cary Grant retired from movies at age 62, still looking pretty good but a bit more gray and heavy than he was in his youth. He decided not to continue as a old man in films.
Unlike some stars who had to resort to TV series and cameos in movies (James Stewart and Henry Fonda come to mind), Grant went out "on top" -- over the title as the lead of " Walk Don't Run," a superstar to the end.
Almost as soon as he retired, it seemed that everyone in Hollywood tried to lure Cary Grant back over the years. But he wouldn't do it.
Evidently the closest anybody came to getting Cary back was Warren Beatty, who, having taken the lead in the remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, decided that the film's key supporting role -- "Mr. Jordan," the heavenly head angel in charge of death -- could be upgraded to star level...for Cary Grant. Beatty's pitch to Grant was a good one: billing OVER Beatty, top dollars, a charming and mysterious role.
Director Peter Bogdanovich helped Beatty work on Grant by suggesting a way to show the aged Grant on film ...as a kind of floating-in, floating-out heavenly entity in while and silver, only occasionally seen in full view. Grant endorsed this approach, and actually thought about taking the role.
And then he didn't.
In retrospect, he was right not to. For in the original, Mr. Jordan was played by the skilled character man, Claude Rains. Rains was a great actor, but he was a SUPPORTING actor. He supported Grant in Notorious and Bogart in Casablanca.
I expect that Grant knew the Mr. Jordan role was really supporting -- and Jordan isn't in the movie all that much.
So Grant said no, and the role went to...James Mason ...Grant's doppelganger spymaster adversary in North by Northwest. The next best thing, I guess.
More irony: in the film as the conniving wife of a millionaire(she's out to kill him) was Dyan Cannon. Who had been married to Cary Grant and had given him his only child, Jennifer. We can assume that had Grant been cast in Heaven Can Wait, Cannon would not have been. But perhaps the lengthy attempts to get Cary Grant in Heaven Can Wait led to casting his ex-wife in the film. And what IF Beatty had gotten Grant for the film and kept Cannon in it? That would have been casting for the ages.
More irony: some years later, Warren Beatty successfully lured an old Cary Grant co-star, Katherine Hepburn, out of retirement to do some scenes in "Love Affair"(a remake of both Love Affair and An Affair to Remember...which starred Cary Grant.) Hepburn learned what Cary Grant likely would have: once Beatty concluded the seduction and got the grand old star, he rather reverted to his uncaring star-like ways, and, as a director -- displayed a penchant for scores of takes of any scene. Hepburn ended up regretting her decision to work for Beatty, and hating him.