Barbara Hershey


  1. Cybill Shepherd, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  2. Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
  3. Liza Minnelli, Arthur, 1980.     Brand new auteur Steve Gordon knew exactly who was perfect. Dudley Moore as the titular rich drunk man-child and Minnelli as his lady. Orion Pictures also considered Hershey, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Kay Lenz (1972’s Breezy, already looking for a comeback), Bette Midler, Gilda Radner, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Sehpherd… even Meryl Streep, Debra Winger. Plus Tuesday Weld, in the throes of divorcing the titular Dud! Gordon made a big hit, but never a second film – he died at 44 in 1982.
  4. Sean Young, Blade Runner, 1981.    It was Barbara who first encouraged Hampton Fancher to script Philip K Dick’s cult book. It was Barbara who told him that Spielberg said Harrison Ford would be Hollywood’s biggest star. It was Fancher who wanted her to be the replicant Rachael. And it was Ridley Scott who preferred unfamiliar faces. So it goes… Scott saw Hershey and Nina Axelrod (an LA casting director and actress – now there’s a win-win… well, usually) before settling upon Young. During their tests, Deckard was played by Morgan Paull – he was given Holden for his pains.
  5. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.  
    In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (agwd 18; Linda was 27) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. James Cameron auteured Sarah for Bridget Fonda. She passed; so did Tatum O’Neal. He decided to go older… and Glenn Close won – her schedule didn’t agree. OK, Kate Capshaw! No, she was tied to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and Kathleen Turner was Romancing The Stone. Debra Winger won her audition, said yes… then no. The other 48 ladies were The ’80s Group: Hershey, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Diane Keaton, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Michelle Pfeiffer, Deborah Raffin, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sissy Spacek, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson, Sigourney Weaver… one aerobics queen, Bess Motta (she became Sarah’s room-mate, Ginger Ventura), two singers (Madonna, Liza Minnelli), two Brits (Miranda Richardson, Jane Seymour), five essentially funny girls, Goldie Hawn, Rhea Perlman (Mrs Danny De Vito), Gilda Radner, Mary Tyler Moore…plus the new MTM, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from Saturday Night Live. Most were in contention again a few years later for Fatal Attraction (won by Close) and The Accused (going to Foster and McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.

  6. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
  7. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988.  Paramount suits saw 40 young actresses for the (real life) gang rape victim. Or, their own rape bait fantasies… such as 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! And a further 27 for her lawyer. Including Fatal Attraction also-rans from Hershey, Geena Davis, Sally Field, Goldie Hawn, Tuesday Weld – to Diane Keaton Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner,  Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. Obviously. However, she agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney – on condition that the studio-described “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.
  8. Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  9. Helen Slater, City Slickers, 1990.   Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Billy Crystal stars and helped write it –  and invited Superwoman, herself,  Bonnie Rayburn. Also on his dream wish list were: Mary Gross, Barbara Hershey, Kay Lenz, and Meg Ryan. Jack Palance stole the movie and won a support Oscar – 38 years after his only nomination (for the Shanegunman) and celebrated with one-arm push-ups on the Academy stage – and the 1993 sequel.

  10. Madonna, A League of Their Own, 1991.   
    “There’s no crying in baseball….”  Long-time ball fan, director Penny Marshall had never heard of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) until seeing a 1987 PBS documentary. She swiftly contacted the makers to join her Hollywood writers to use their title for a fictional comedy-drama version.  Penny staged baseball tests for about 2,000 actresses: If you can’t play ball, you can’t play the Rockford Peaches. (Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty were best).  Also on the plate for ‘All the Way Mae’ Mordabito were Lindsay Frost, Barbara Hershey and  Micheller Pfeiffer. Madonna was not a happy camper.  As she wrote to photographer Steven Meisel: “I cannot suffer any more than I have in the past month, learning how to play baseball with a bunch of girls (yuk) in Chicago (double yuk). I have a tan, I’m dirty all day, and I hardly ever wear make up…  and when God decided where the beautiful men were going to live in the world, he did not choose Chicago.”
  2. Chistine Lahti, Leaving Normal, 1992.     Barbara joined the rush of fortysomethings wanting the waitress heroine once Cher pulled out of the second movie by TV’s thirtysomething creator Edward Zwick.
  3. Sandra Bullock, Speed, 1993.   Although sharing the heroics and the driving of the bus-bomb with Keanu Reeves, most girls saw it as The Guy’s film. An amazing 36 refused to be Annie: Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Glenn Close (!), Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariska Hargitay,, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tatum O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Jane Seymour, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Meryl Streep (!), Emma Thompson (!), Meg Tilly, Marisa Tomei, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver and Debra Winger.
  4. Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1995.     Considered for all of five minutes after winning a Chicago Sun Times readers’ poll asking who should play Francesca.
  5. Charlize Theron, The Devil’s Advocate, 1997.     None of first director Joel Schumacher’s choices were retained by second director Taylor Hackford.
  6. Charlize Theron, Waking Up In Reno, 2002.     Powers Boothe, Laura Dern, Mary Steenburgen had also read for the white trash couples in 1997.









 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  13