The actor that I wished for most was Dalí: for the role of the insane Emperor... Which adventure!... The Emperor buffoon, seemed to me it, could be played only by one man of the great delirious personality of Dalí . To New York, with Michel Seydoux and Jean-Paul Gibon, I arrived at our hotel, San Régis and in the hall I sees sitted El Salvador Dalí . I guess that it is indelicate to approach him immediately and the following day I called him by telephone. I speak Spanish. Dalí had not see my films but friends spoke to him about them with enthusiasm. He invites me to a very private surrealist exposure and promises to leave me the invitation under the door.
The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. For the role of Rhett Butler, Selznick wanted Clark Gable from the start, but Gable was under contract to MGM, who never loaned him to other studios.  Gary Cooper was considered, but Samuel Goldwyn —to whom Cooper was under contract—refused to loan him out.  Warner offered a package of Bette Davis, Errol Flynn , and Olivia de Havilland for lead roles in return for the distribution rights.  By this time, Selznick was determined to get Gable and eventually struck a deal with MGM. Selznick's father-in-law, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer, offered in August 1938 to provide Gable and $1,250,000 for half of the film's budget but for a high price: Selznick would have to pay Gable's weekly salary, and half the profits would go to MGM while Loew's, Inc —MGM's parent company—would release the film.