Annette Bening


  1. Kelly Lynch, Road House, 1988.    Poor Bening was fired because Patrick Swayze  “just didn’t feel any chemistry with her or something., I don’t know what it was,” said Lynch. “I didn’t know who she was, I didn’t know what this movie was, all I knew was who Patrick Swayze was, and that’s because he’d just done Dirty Dancing.” (The Road Houseposter tag was: “The dancing’s over. Now it gets dirty.”.  Kelly didn’t understand the script. “There’s a big-wheel truck, there’s a bad guy, there’s a doctor in a mini-dress, and there are bouncers. It was just, like, a goulash.” She met producer Joel Silver (“who did not disappoint as a larger-than-life personality – hilariously funny and charming and a maniac”) and he reminded her she was under contract – a two–picture deal with UA which she had no memory of signing.  Silver told her: “First of all, I don’t make art, I buy it. But I promise you that this will be the best drive-in movie ever made. It will be fun, we’ll have a great time making it, and just trust me”. And he was right. [Quotes va IMDb; no other soruce credited].
  2. Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons, 1989.   UK director Stephen  Fears saw her for Madame Tourvel, then called her back for the courtesan – “the prostitute,” she corrects.   “The one whose backside John  Malkovich uses to write a letter on.“
  3. Laura  Benson, Dangerous Liaisons, 1989.   “I didn’t get the part –  wasn’t even offered it.  Make sure you get that right!  Well, it’s hard to be bitter when it’s your bum that didn’t get the part.”  All of her got Madame Merteuil in Czech helmer Milos Forman’s rival version, Valmont,  shot  during the same summer in France…. But in different chateaux. France had more than  enough of those for everyone.
  4. Angelica Huston, The Grifters, 1990.    Stephen Frears saw her again – as the mother.  “But she said no, she’d like to play the girlfriend.  As if only a fool would think otherwise.”  So she did.
  5. Glenne Headly, Dick Tracy,  1990.   With each having to cancel  various meetings, director-star Warren Beatty and the newest best actress  in town  never did  get together  about being the love of Tracy’s life. Instead, she became the love of Beatty’s life. As with his serious relationships – Joan Collins,  Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Diane Keaton – he first fell in love with Annette on-screen.  “She’s got everything.”  Including him, a son  and three daughters, after they wed in 1992.
  6. Robin Wright Penn, The Playboys, 1991.    Being pregnant with Warren Beatty’s Katlyn meant big headlines and a law suit – quickly settled out of court. Robin knew the territory having lost Maid Marian to Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood when expecting Sean Penn’s baby.
  7. Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns, 1991.
  8. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct1991.
  9. Judy Davis, The  New Age, 1993.    Portents were good: directing debut of The  Player writer Michael Tolkin for Oliver Stone’s company.  Beatty’s plans for a second film with his wife were stopped by another pregnancy (Benjamin). The role  was passed to (and by)  a former Beatty conquest, Isabelle Adjani. Peter Weller subbed for Beatty.
  10. Meryl Streep, The House  of Spirits, 1993.   Danish director Bille August was turned  down by Bening and  Michelle Pfeiffer.  He then gave Clara to Streep. Her daughter, Grace Gummer, made her screen debut, as the younger Clara…  among his ridiculous choice of Anglos (Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, Vanessa Redgrave, etc) for Isabel Allende’s passionate Chileans. Which made our favourite  critic Roger Ebert make use of  Mark Twain on women, swearing. “They know the words, but not the music.”

  11. Bridget Fonda, The Road To Wellville, 1994.    This time she was supposed to be replacing  Isabelle Adjani in Alan  Parker’s  early casting.
  12. Demi Moore, Disclosure, 1995.   Bening, Geena Davis and Michelle Pfeiffer were lucky  to miss  the  long, leering  cleavage shot in  in what was trumpeted as  the  first film  dealing with the male sexual harassment  of women in the workplace!  It was quickly shot down by  our favourite critic, the late Roger Ebert, as  “an exercise in pure cynicism, with little respect for its subject.” Bening quit  because. well, “I can only thank her for getting pregnant,” said Moore. With Warren Beatty’s lad, Benjamin.
  13. Nicole Kidman, The Peacemaker, 1996.    Pregnant again – Isabel – changing Spielberg’s plans for the leading lady of  the first DreamWorks production.  And so another Nicole Kidman Moment – when she was offered (and accepted) almost everything, suitable or not.  George Clooney was The Guy. determined to leave TV behind him.  As IMDb neatly pointed out, at times this film is scene-for-scene the same as  the  Boulting brothers’ 1949 UK movie, Seven Days To Noon
  14. Judy Davis,  Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, TV, 2000.  The mini-series was first planned for Bening. Finally, Tammy Blanchard and Davis played the young and older Judy to perfection in one of the better tele-bios.  With room for people playing a roll-call of Hollywood history:  Busby Berkeley, George Cukofr, Victor Fleming, Arthur Freed, LB Mayer, Vincente Minnelli, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner, Jack Warner, plus the essential Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man   
  15. Jamie Lee Curtis, Freaky Friday, 2003.    Tit for spat? Annette backed away from being Lindsay Lohan’s mother… Four years later, Lohan backed out of Bening film with a title to match the Lohan career: A Woman Of No Importance. 
  16. Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006.  Bening, Toni Collette, Nicole Kidman, Cyndi Lauper, Bernadette Peters, Meryl Streep plus great Brits Imelda Staunton, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet were seen for Mrs Lovett, making the meatiest of meat pies (from the victims of a demonic Johnny Depp). They all lacked one essential. They were not living with director Tim Burton! HBC was – and proved it by being pregnant during the shoot.
  17. Meg Ryan, The Women, 2007.    After  15 years trying to writer-direct her version of MGM’s  magic,  the fizz  had left the bubbly for the TV Murphy Brown creator Diane English. Early on, Bening was set for the Norma Shearer role – which Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts fought over in 1996,  like a re-tread of  the  1938 billing battles between Shearer and Rosalind Russell. Bening finally ally played opposite Ryan in Rosalind Russell’s old role.
  18. Meryl Streep, Doubt, 2007.      Directing his script of his 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning  Broadway play,  John Patrick Shanley first asked Frances to  be the dragon nun,  Sister Aloysius Beauvier.  Next: Bening, Kathy Bates, Anjelica Huston, Sigourney Weaver –  never the original Brodway star and Tony winner Cherry Jones. Result: Meryl’s 15th Oscar nomination.
  19. Virginia Madsen, The Magic of Belle Isle, 2011.    Bening dropped out, Madsen dropped in.  For, she claimed, Morgan Freeman’s first on-screen love story in his 50 year career.
  20. Anne Archer, Lullaby, 2013.   Bening and Hallee Steinfeld as mother daughter became Archer and Amy Adams.

  21. Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart, TV, 2013.   Annette, Julia (who passed first time around), Sharon Stone and, of course, Barbra Streisand,  were all due to play AIDS researcher Dr Emma Brookner –  as  La Barb spent ten “earnest and passionate” years trying to mount and direct a film  of the Larry Kramer’s 1985 play.  He complained he’d be dead before she managed it – nothing, of course, to do with him insisting on $1m for his script which must be used without changes He next accused Streisand of making Emma the most important role,  when she only offered to play her, as well as helming, to help raise a budget. Kramer couldn’t give it away over the  next decade,  until TV hot-shot Ryan Glee Murphy talked  HBO into a deal. 
  22. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County, 2012.  Oklahoma playwright (and actor) Tracy Letts wanted the Steppenwolf cast of his 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning play to be in the film. He was downright furious when Brits (and an Aussie) were suggested for the dysfunctional Westons. “They must be all-Americans!” Producer Harvey Weinstein won the battle for Benedict Cumberbatch and Ewan McGregor but gave in about Nicole Kidman – and Judi Dench (too old, anyway, at 78 to Meryl’s 63 for Violet aged 65). in what seemed a Western-set take on Lilian Hellman’s Little Foxes. Therefore, candidates for Violet quickly became Bening, Glenn Close, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek – and Jessica Lange, wed to Sam Shepard, another Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, cast as Violet’s husband.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  22