The Unlikely Inspiration For Ryan O’Neal’s Character In Love Story

In hindsight, Ryan O’Neal was the perfect choice to play Oliver Barrett in “Love Story.” He clearly works hard to bring what Erich Segal intended for the character to the silver screen and gels perfectly with co-star Ali MacGraw. Together, they’re a compelling on-screen couple, which makes the tragedy of their characters’ romance all the more harrowing to watch. As it turns out, though, O’Neal wasn’t the first choice to play Oliver. Numerous other actors were offered the part before it landed at O’Neal’s feet.

Some serious Hollywood heavy-hitters turned down the part of Oliver in “Love Story,” including¬†Jeff and Beau Bridges, Michael Douglas, Jon Voight, and Michael York. Ultimately, O’Neal landed the role thanks in part to a recommendation from Segal himself. It was clearly the right move, as “Love Story” secured Oscar nominations for both O’Neal and MacGraw, and has gone on to be considered one of the greatest romance films of all time.

The fact that “Love Story” was released over 50 years ago and Ryan O’Neal’s work as Oliver Bennett remains as widely praised as ever is a testament to his craft. He will be sorely missed.¬†

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