Back on January 7, 1982, before Barry Levinson got involved, there were plans to make a Bobby Darin Bio Motion picture, called "Borrowed Time" (based on Al DiOrios book) as noted in this Newspaper press release from the Boston Herald American. Producers Bob Reno, Steve Metz and their associate Jan McCormick, had been working several years on the project and were expecting to interview more than 1,000 prospects for the role--searching for a actor who could sing rather than a singer who could act.
"The story is too deep and sensitive for us to take a chance on a singer without acting talent,"said Reno, a New Yorker who established himself in show business as a record producer before turning to film production.
Ideally the producers wanted the actor who played Darin to be from New York, have the vulnerability and toughness of a former street kid and a cocky attitude. The first established actor that came to mind was John Travolta.
"We thought about John of course," Reno said. "But John read the book and was so depressed, he didn't want to think about playing the part," Reno also said at the time.
"We aren't looking for a look-alike because it would considerably cut down the odds of finding the right guy. Gary Busey didn't look like Buddy Holly and Kurt Russell didn't resemble Elvis (in the bio films made of those singers). But they did assume the aura of the two singers. They darkened their hair and in the case of Busey, Holly's horn-rimmed glasses worked wonders. It's not that difficult to match an actor to a role ... of course, we can't think about hiring a blond, blue-eyed guy 6-foot -3. Bobby was dark and short. We need a quasi-ethnic look, a feeling of New York or Brooklyn. Bobby was Italian."
Below, original producers Bob Reno and Steve Metz.
Also in a news interview on KLAS-TV from Las Vegas in 1983, Bob Reno stated "In the industry ... (Darin) is bigger than life" and that "the movie will be upbeat ... it's anti-climactic that he died ... but still at 37, he had a full life ... because of how he ran and pushed an pressed everything into 37 years."
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