No Country for Old Men Premake
Who would have played Chigurh if No Country for Old Men was not only set in 1980 but also shot in 1980? Our vote goes to Oliver Reed.
Known for his burly physique, Reed also has the piercing blue eyes that Javier Bardem lacks. As far as Chigurh's appearance goes, there isn't a whole lot to go on in the book but the one thing Cormac McCarthy clearly describes are his eyes: "Blue as lapis. At once glistening and opaque. Like wet stones." The Coen brothers are on record saying this was a rare instance where they strayed from the book.
Quite the colorful character himself, Reed once needed dozens of stitches after a bar fight, leaving his face distinctly scarred. Not a bad look for Chigurh. But what qualifies Reed more than anything else is his stare.
For a role that relies so heavily on imagery as Chigurh, the ability to communicate through the eyes is paramount. It has to be subtle enough to avoid any hint of overacting but with the intensity to convey emotions (or lack thereof) to every member of the audience. Bardem did a great job, of course, and so would Reed. Reed naturally has the kind of gaze that cuts through glass, perfect for Chigurh.
If you've ever seen him in the role of Bill Sikes, you know what I'm talking about. The way he looked at people while threatening them was just incredible. You really can't act that look. Either you have it or you don't. And Reed put everything into it. It was the sort of bone-chilling performance that makes an historic movie villain and it deserves to be mentioned in any conversation about the greatest of all time.
Reed had a fine career but he could have achieved world stardom if it wasn’t for the booze. At one point Reed was the front runner to succeed Sean Connery as James Bond, only to be denied when his habitual fighting and drinking became public. He would have made a helluva lot more interesting James Bond than whatever they came up with after Connery but producer Albert Broccoli just didn't dare to take the risk.