J.T.B. wrote: ''It was hard to get three top stars together then, too. The biggest combo I can think of was the same year, The Towering Inferno
, with Paul Newman, Steve McQueen and William Holden. Even then Holden was seen as on his way down, but it was a real power struggle between McQueen and Newman.''
So powerful was the struggle that both ''claimed'' top-billing by having Newman's name on the left and McQueen's higher on the right. Officially McQueen's considered the first billed by many sources, but given that he's barely in the movie's first hour, I consider Newman to be top-top-billed.
Many of these 40 actors, including the final unrevealed three, have appeared as trios in various films. But, like J.T.B. pointed out, they weren't always together. Sean Connery and my number two pick were both in LONGEST DAY, but they never met in a scene, dammit. Even in TOWERING INFERNO, if memory serves, all three male leads never spoke together in any single scene.
THE CONVERSATION was one of the few with three at one moment. THE OUTSIDERS has at least three in many scenes, possibly more. Both are semi-''retroactive''. Whether you can now have three current superstars in a post-1980 movie is debatable, but the odds seem stacked against it.
So my emphasis is more on ''three great lead actors in the same scene'' than future, current or washed-up superstar. I appreciated the top-heavy cast of THE DEPARTED....all those great actors, plus one good one (DiCaprio), plus Alec Baldwin. LOOPER will no doubt benefit from Joseph Gordon Levitt, but even pairing him with Willis, you're still one actor short of the ''in-the-same-room'' equation.