Elisabeth Shue

  1. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981.  Both  Brooke and Ellen Barkin passed on all offers to become Stacy Hamilton in Cameron Crowe’s classic scenario. Also considered: Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kelly Preston.
  2. Ally Sheedy, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984.   One studio chief called the life-after-college pals “the most loathsome humans” he’d ever read.  Nobodyliked the script, the song, most casting ideas and the title – one Columbia suit spent 35 memo pages on why it should be Sparks or The Real World and not after an obscure  meteorological phenomenon! Co-scenarist Carl Kurlunder  told all to Deadline Hollywood for  the 35th anniversary in July 2020 – ten days after the death of his co-writer and director Joel Shumacher. They saw hundreds (“if not thousands”) of actors –  including Shue, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bridget Fonda, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Brooke Shields and Lea Thompson for the young architect Leslie Hunter.  Among the rejectees were  singer Laura Brannigan, Jonathan Cryer, Anthony Edwards, Linda Hamilton, Crispin Glover and Joel feltMadonna would not be keen on an ensemble.  After all, the cast was soon called The Brat Pack.  
  3. Meg Ryan, Innerspace,  1986.   The very title comes from dialogue in the film that inspired this spoof: Fantastic Voyage, 1965. Hero Dennis Quaid  is miniaturised into a capsule  and injected into Martin Short’s butt. (Never that funny). For the secondary rôle of Quaid‘s girl, 22 actresses were seen, auditioned and/or tested: Karen Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Beverly d’Angelo, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving (being wed to exec producer Steven Spielberg didn’t help!), Amy Madigan, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald Julia Roberts, Rene Russo, Ally Sheedy, Elisabeth Shue, Madeleine Stowe, Sigourney Weaver, Claudia Wells, Sean Young. And, of course, Meg – and Quaid married her during 1991-2001.
  4. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  5. Kim Basinger, Batman, 1988.
  6. Claudia Wells,  Back to the Future Part II, 1988.      Bad enough that Crispin Glover was substituted by Jeffrey Weissman in the first sequel, but them, Claudia had to quit to tend her mother suffering from cancer.  Shue  did so well, she is the sole Jennifer Parker for most fans.  By 1994, she’d won an Oscar nod for Leaving Las Vegas
  7. Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.    Although considered “not sexy enough,” Jodie won the role and her first Oscar. Andie MacDowell had been first choice – understandably as the role was written for her. But Paramount suits perversely saw 40 young actresses for the (real life) gang rape victim – or for their own rape bait fantasies… such as 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! Otherwise, the Fatal Attraction also-rans (from Kim Basinger to Debra Winger, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep) plus Shue, Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Kirstin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, Jennifer Grey, Virginia Madsen, Kelly Preston, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Mia Sara, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields. Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.”Rape victims shouldn’t be nice?   Oh, Hollywood!
  8. Ione Skye, Say Anything…, 1988.   Not quite a Shue-in.  “She did an amazing version of the graduation speech,” said auteur Cameron Crowe. So did Jennifer Connelly but Skye did better. And won Jennifer Connelly was also in the mix for Diane auteurCameron Crowe’s marvellous auteur debut about a  great girl and her father and her boyfriend and, above all else, honesty. Skye was, alas, wasted by Hollywood. Chicago critic Roger Ebert helped save the film from flopping by hailing it as one of the best of 1989.  “A film that is really about something, that cares deeply about the issues it contains – and yet it also works wonderfully as a funny, warmhearted romantic comedy.”
  9. Sherilyn Fenn, Of Mice and Men, 1988.  Auditioned for Curly’s wife – (author John Steinbeck never named her) –  and she was a problem not only for Curly, but the brothers John Malkovich and  (director) Gary Sinise. 
  10. Virginia Madsen, The Hot Spot, 1989.    UK director Mike Figgis still talks  about her wondrous audition – yet he still gave the role to Uma Thurman. (Then Dennis Hopper inherited the project). Figgis met Shue again in Farmers Market and he gave her Leaving Las Vegas, “she was the first signed, before Nicolas Cage.”

  11. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  12. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  13. Uma Thurman,The Avengers, 1997    Never ask Americans to do a Brit’s work…   Warner Bros insisted on Jeremiah Chechik directing the cinema version of the hit UK TV series – and the long delayed project suffered the worst casting in decades.  As if Ralph Fiennes as John Steed was not alarming enough, Uma as the essentially British Mrs Emma Peel was a disaster.  Shue, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Thompson had refused and Diana Rigg, the original Mrs Peel, likewise fled a proffered cameo. Sean Connery was the villain and if he ever wondered what 007 would have turned out like in Hollywood, this mess was the answer. Sheer balderdash!
  14. Anne Heche, The Third Miracle, 1999.     Or A Miracle Worker, when Shue “agreed in principle” to star during Cannes 1998.
  15. Keira Knightley, Domino, 2005.    A recounting of  Domino Harvey’s life… Laurence Harvey’s daughter fled her Ford model career to become…  a bounty hunter. She would have agreed with Shue: “I may look like the girl next door, but you wouldn’t want to live next door to me.”
  16. Virginia Madsen, The Number 23, 2006.    Pregnant with her and director Davis Guggenheim’s daughter,  Agnes Charles Guggenheim. So, she quit director Joel Schumacher’s 23rd film – for which Jim Carrey was paid $23m
  17. Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife, TV, 2009-2014.   The ER star   admitted she had been “sloppy thirds” for the titular Alicia Florrick.  Actually, it was sloppy fourths…   Her rivals  had been Hunt and Ashley Judd and one Julianna didn’t seem to know about: Shue.  And she was a great wife, wanting to spend more time with her family. 
  18. Diane Lane, Man of Steel, 2011.
  19. Ali Larter, Pitch, TV, 2016.      A first for US TV… A series not just about Major League Baseball, but the first female (Kylie Bunbury) playing for a MLB team. Shue was her tough agent, until the character was redrawn during the first table-reads with director Paris Barclay. Shue opted out and the Heroes alumna became Bunbury’s big sisterish protector.

    Erratum >>>>>

    Various books and websites say that Shue was up for the sensuous Dolly Harshaw – finding sex in car more fun than eating cotton-candy barefoot – in Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot, 1989. Not true… Shue had been due for the lead in a Mike Figgis heist film with the same title. Replacing the UK director, Hopper totally changed the gig – dropping the Figgis script for a noir Hot Spot, written in 1962 by Nona Tyson and the novel’s  author Charles Williams for Robert Mitchum. In ’89, Don Johnson played the amoral drifter. His wife, Melanie Griffith, had refused Dolly, being pregnant… with Dakota Johnson, who grew top be the 2014-2017 star of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise, decidedly far less steamy than what Hopper loved to call Last Tango in Texas.




 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  19