Drew Barrymore

  1. Heather O’Rourke, Poltergeist, 1981.     Steven Spielberg wanted someone more angelic and preferred Drew as ET’s little Gertie- making her the hottest movie moppet since Shirley Temple. After a fleet of films, she fell to the Barrymore curse: boozing at nine, pot at 10, cocaine at 12, washed up at 13 until a comeback at 17.Heather was not so lucky. She continued into Poltergeist II and III, but was dead at 12 during surgery for congenital intestinal stenosis in 1988.
  2. Aileen Quinn, Annie, 1981.      “Hollywood,” Drew was soon (primed?)  to say, “is a town where bullshit walks and money talks!”
  3. Uma Thurman, Dangerous Liaisons, 1988.  Drew nearly won the virginal Cecile de Volanges in Stephen Frears’ take on the French classic, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Ironically, her ET brother, Henry Thomas, was Danceny, Cecile’s love interest, in the Milos Forman’s version also shot in various French chateaux in that summer of  ’88.  I know because I was working on  the Frears’ set for weeks… where Tarantino’s future Dietrich, Uma Thurman,  and  Keanu Reeves  were the breakthrough couple.
  4. Winona Ryder, Heathers, 1988.     “I was black-listed, big time.I had two, three years of casting directors telling me I’d never work again in this town again.”
  5. Winona Ryder, Great Balls of Fire, 1988.      “When I was growing up, I was one step behind [Ryder] while she was getting everything.When she got Great Balls of Fire, and she was 18 playing 13, I was like: I’m 13 – so why?”
  6. Amy Locane, Cry-Baby, 1989.      “I walked into auditions and casting directors just sat there laughing.” She felt them saying: “Little Miss Drug Addict- like we’re reallygoing to give you this job.” John Waters preferred the publicity of casting ex-porn star Traci Lords over an ex-cokehead.
  7. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  8. Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991.       “Even after I’d do a good audition, they copped an attitude like:’Well, you’re not going to get this – but you’re not as bad as we thought.’ That shit only made me angrier.And through pure ambition, I showed these sons-of-bitches that I can do it.”
  9. Winona Ryder, Edward Scissorhands, 1992.    “Very irritating when I know certain actors – whose names I will not say – are totally fucked up on drugs and are working back to back, yet it gets covered up.”
  10. Kim Basinger, Cool World, 1992.      Basinger’s rivals for Jessica Rabbit reframed as Holli Would (no, really!) were Barrymore and porn star Tracie Lords. My favourite critic Roger Ebert nailed the film’s coffin tight. “Surprisingly incompetent.”  

  11. Winona Ryder, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992.     Francis Coppola allegedly mused about Barrymore as Mina Murray. Not for long as Ryder had earned the rôle. To make up from her quitting The Godfather: Part III), she had him the script when it was due as a TV movie by UK helmer Michael Apted. Francey snapped it up. Apted stayed for thewr ide. As exec producer.
  12. Patricia Arquette, True Romance, 1992.   “I’m not a whore. I’m a call-girl. There’s a difference, you know!” Quentin Tarantino created Alabama for Joan Cusack. UK director Tony Scott preferred Barrymore, fully booked at the time. So Bridget Fonda, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Juliette Lewis, Julia Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick, Brooke Shields and (inevitably) Uma Thurman were tipped for the girl… with the name sounding like a Pam Grier role, said QT. (Except she was called Jackie Brown when he directed her in 1997). In Tarantino’s first ending, Clarence was killed and Alabama would turn to crime with Mr. White – he asked about her during Reservoir Dogs, 1991.  
  13. Sharon Case, The Valley of the Dolls, TV, 1994.      Fox hopes for a big movie re-make (with Goldie Hawn), deteriorated into just another tele-trip.
  14. Tiffani Thiessen, Beverly Hills 90210, TV, 1994-2000.  Drew was producer Aaton Spelling’s replacement plan when Shannen Doherty quit after four years as Brenda Walsh.  But Drew was more keen on movies. Alyssaa Milano and Alicia Silverstone were considered for the new girl, Valerie Malone, before Thiessen signed on.

  15. Elizabeth Berkley, Showgirls, 1994.  
    Scenarist Joe Eszterhas interviewed 50-plus exotic dancers  and, aided by Hawaiian weed, came up with All About Eve in Vegas. And Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, Denise Richards, Charlize Theron and the inevitable unknown, Vanessa Marcil (too shy for nudity), they all fled his sexy heroine, Nomi Malone. Jenny McCarthy was favourite, except she couldn’t dance. Producer Charles Evans then found Elizabeth Berkley, from Saved by the Bell. In one of its 2018 It Happened in Hollywood podcasts, Hollywood Reporter took unseemly delight in reporting she agreed to audition in his New York hotel room – even adding that “after being blown away by her performance,” he convinced Paul Verhoeven to give her a shot. Unable to land his dream mix of Madonna and Drew Barrymore as the 90s Bette Davis and Anne Baxter, the Dutch director decided to create his own star.  He failed – and ruined Berkley’s career. “If somebody has to be blamed, it should be me because I asked Elizabeth to be abrupt in that way because her character had a history of drug abuse, so I tried to express that through her abruptness.”  So Richards won Verhoven’s next flop, Starship Troopers, 1997, and not Berkley. She never made anorher A-List film since Woody Allen’s The Curse of the Jade Scorpion in 2001, yet survived on TV: CSI: Miami, Law & Order, The L Word.

  16. Kristy Swanson, Higher Learning, 1994.     Over-obvious idea as the student finding solace with a Lesbian leader of a women’s group after being raped on campus.
  17. Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996. 
  18. Neve Campbell, Scream, 1996.    “Don’t Answer The Phone…”   Director Wes Craven offered the lead but she figured… Don’t Open The Door… playing the overture’s Casey would be more fun. Don’t Try To Escape.
  19. Asia Argento, B Monkey, 1997.      UK director Michael Caton-Jones quit when Miramax wanted a name instead of Sophia Okenedo as the street girllove object of a middle-class teacher.
  20. Joey Lauren Adams, Chasing Amy, 1996.      The story behind Quentin Tarantino’s favorite 1997 film…  New Jersey auteur Kevin Smith wrote the script for his pals. No, no, said Bob and Harvey Weinstein –  for a $3m budget, they wanted Barrymore, David Schwimmer, Jon Stewart.  No, no, said Smith, he’d make it himself for $250,000  with ex- lover Adams (it was their story), plus Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, and the Miramaxers could buy it for distribution. Done deal!  At that price, what else? 

  21. Anne Heche, Psycho, 1997.  
    So who should be knocked off real early in the shower? Except why should anyone play Marion Crane again? It’s been done. It’s a classic. And by The Master. Why re-make Hitchcock?  Ah, beg pardon, Gus Van Sant called it a reproduction. A bizarre (lazy!) notion of copying  –  the Psycho  script, word for word, action for action, move for move, shock for shock (except the shocks were too famous to  shock anymore). “Just shoot it in color and have, for instance, Jack Nicholson play the detective and Timothy Hutton play Norman Bates,” he suggested. “Universal wanted to rope me in, and I said: “Here’s the idea: don’t change anything! It’s never been done before. Isn’t that a great reason to try it? Not really! What had he said about re-makes? The essence is missing. You might as well make an original movie. Right!  Drew Barrymore, Claire Danes And  Winona Ryder (too young; “I  wanted to preserve the integrity of the characters”), Nicole Kidman (too busy), Laura Linney (she preferred The Truman Show, which was new) and Julianne Moor (finished up as Marion’s sister) were in the mix, before Anne Heche won the one sequence that was not the same as  in 1959 –  the shower. it’s more grotesque. It’s more disgusting… Hitchcock was holding back, I’ll bet.”  Yet it worked much better. First is always best.

  22. Winona Ryder, Celebrity, 1997.         They gelled well on Everyone Says I Love You, 1996, – “As long as you don’t sing!” – so Woody Allen chose her for the actress he leaves his wife, Famke Janssen, for. (Just five years after he left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn).  Nola was written for Barrymore. But so was Ever After: A Cinderella Story (her favourite movie). Before Ryder signed on, Kate Winslet was seen. Her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio was already in the film.
  23. Heather Graham, Boogie Nights, 1997. Gwyneth Paltrow was the surprise first choice for the erotic scamp, Rollergirl – who never took her skates off. Drew Barrymore and Tatum O’Neal were next in the frame and North Carolina newcomer Laurel Holloman tested. But it was Graham who shot the nude scene on her very first day on director Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration of the 70s porno biz as a family unit –  Burt Reynolds’ film-maker and Julianne Moore’s porno star being “the parents.” “That’s where I went from a person who was offered work:” said  Heather, “ to a person that was offered movies. I’m super grateful to have been in it with all those exciting actors that broke out because of that movie. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Don Cheadle. John C. Reilly. Mark Wahlberg. So many people that weren’t that well known really became movie stars afterwards.”
  24. Uma Thurman, The Avengers, 1998.     Instead of Mrs Emma Peel, Drew decided to be (the world’s first tattooed) Cinders. One review suggested that Ralph Fiennes in a cat-suit would have been a better Emma than Thurman.
  25. Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge!,1999.   Nicole’s other rivals for Satine had been Drew Barrymore, Sophie Ellis-Baxter, Courtney Love Natalie Mendoza, Sharleen Spiten Hilary Swank, Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger, and – opposite Heath Ledger – Catherine Zeta-Jones. “They didn’t have to be big singers,”  Baz explained,  “but they had to be able to move you emotionally. Basically, Ewan [McGregor] and Nicole were the best for the job. That’s the bottom line of it.
  26. Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry, 1999.    When numerouis actresses were scared of  portraying the life  and  1993 murder of a young transgender man called Brandon Teena, auteur Kimberly Pierce almost dropped plans to make a feature of her short film. Then, Diane  Keaton  got interested  in  directing  -with Barrymore as her Brandon.  Swank won her first Oscar in what . Chicago critic Roger Ebert called the “a sad song about a free spirit who tried to fly a little too close to the flame…. a worthy companion to those other masterpieces of death on the prairie, Badlands and In Cold Blood.” Swank’s second Oscar, five years later, was for Million Dollar Baby.  
  27. Christina Ricci, Prozac Nation, 2000. Barrymore and Sandra Bullock passing on Elizabeth led to Christina Ricci’s first nude scene. She called  it  “frightening” and only agreed (it wasn’t) in the script) if she had a closed set and co-star Michelle Williams watched the monitor  to approve the images.  She was ”naked” on the  poster and accepted future nudity requests. 
  28. Angelina Jolie, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, 2000.  For the girls, Lara Croft is their James Bond.  Well, more of a sexy Indiana Jones.  And 22 hopefuls wanted to bringther sassy, video-game adventurer to life. Demi More was, perhaps, the most keen, but who was simply disregarded. Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore ,Victoria Beckham, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Eggert, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Hudson, Elizabeth Hurley, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lopez, Gwneth Paltrow, Anna Nicole Smith (a joke, surely), Catherine Zeta-Jones were considered. Fairuza Balk, Natalie Cassidy, Kirsten Dunst and Milla Jovovich auditioned while Denise Richards, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman and Liv Tyler simply refused. And Lara’s guy (who fled the sequel) was Daniel Craig – complete with a Walther PPK pistolthat he would use again as 007 in Casino Royale, 2005.
  29. Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
  30. Renée Zellweger, Chicago, 2001.
  31. Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001.    Not interested (nor were 21 other youngstars)in being the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne. Of course not. She’d already been through the princess route for Ever After, 1998.
  32. Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge! 2001.    Drew auditioned for Satine.  But hey, she was busy enough, thank you. She had three films released that year.  “They didn’t have to be big singers,” director Baz Luhrmann explained about his  needs, “but they had to be able to move you emotionally. Basically, Ewan [McGregor] and Nicole were the best for the job. That’s the bottom line of it.”
  33. Kate Bosworth, Beyond The Sea, 2004.    Before Kevin Spacey directed himself as singer Bobby Darin, Barrymore was Barry Levinson’s choice for Mrs D- Sandra Dee.
  34. Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004.
    For inexplicable reasons, Hollywood kept trying to make a movie out of the  1968-1972 ABC sitcom about a good-looking witch and a Dagwood husband.  In 1993, Penny Marshall was going to direct Meryl Streep as Samantha, then passed the reins to Ted Bissell and he died in 1996 when his Richard Curtis script was planned as Melanie Griffths’ comeback.  Nora Ephron co-wrote and directed this lumbering version about an ego-driven actor trying to save his career with a Bewitched re-hash, but with the emphasis on him (of course) as Darrin, rather than the unknown he chose for Samatha because she can wiggle her nose…  (You didn’t need a nose to know it stank).  Over the years,   37 other ladies were on the Samantha wish-list. Take a deep breath… Kate Beckinsale, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Connelly, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Renee Zellweger.  Plus seven Oscar-winners:  Kim Basinger, Tatum O’Neal, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon… two Friends: Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow…eleven other TV stars: Christina Applegate, Patricia Arquette, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Helen Hunt, Jenny McCarthy, Alyssa Milano, Brittany Murphy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alicia Silverstone… even  Drew Barrymore and Uma Thurman, who had already re-kindled Charlie’s Angels and The Avengers.

  35. Naomi Watts, King Kong, 2004.      Peter Jackson kept the faith with his fellow down-under dazzler.
  36. Kate Beckinsale, Click, 2005.   After The Wedding Singer, 1998, and 50 First Dates, 2003, Drew wisely avoided Adam Sandler’s latest unfunny comedy… yet blindly returned to planet Sandler for Blended, 2013. 
  37. Cameron Richardson, Alvin and the Chipmunks, 2006.     Seven guys were up for Dave (Allvviinn!!), just four babes for his, er, babe. Barrymore, Sarah Michele Gellar, Salma Hayek and Jennifer Love Hewitt. But for once, the outsider won: the lively lovely from Baton Rouge became Claire Wilson.
  38. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, 2006.
  39. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns,2017.   When Walt Disney made the first Poppins, he mused over Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury or Mary Martin for Mary but by 1963, he had only one star in mind. Julie Andrews.  For this reboot, Disney suits went through no less than 37 contenders… Two Desperate Housewives:Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher. Two Friends:Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow. Two Brat Packers: Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder.  Two of the three authors of The Penis Song: Christina Aplegate, Cameron Diaz. Three sirens: Kim Basinger, Heather Graham Uma Thurman. Four ex-child stars: Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Tatum O’Neal, Brooke Shields. Ten Oscar-winners: Sandra Bullock, Helen Hunt, Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, Tatum O‘Neal, Julia Roberts, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, RenéeZellweger. Plus: Patricia Arquette, Melanie Griffith, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Peiffer, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Naomi Watts. But just two Brits: Kate Beckinsale  – and the winning Emily Blunt.










 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  39