Geena Davis

  1. Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver, 1975.

  2. Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.

  3. Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981.     The US high school movie..! Researched and written by Cameron Crowe, directed by Amy Heckerling.   The rôle: Brad’s foxy sister, Stacy. The choices: Davis, Jdie Foster (studying at Yale), Ellen Barkin, Diane Lane, Lori Loughlin, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kelly Preston, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Shue. Few were keen on joining Richard Romanus in full-frontalism. (The love scene was cut to avoid an X-rating!).

  4. Debra Winger, An Officer and a Gentleman, 1981.  “You ain’t nothing special. You got no manners, you treat woman like whores and…you got no chance of being no officer.” There was a lot of choppping and changing about the officer and gent’s lady, Paula Pokrifki. Geena Davis, Rebecca De Mornay and Meg Ryan auditioned. Then, Paula  became Kim Basinger, then Anjelica Huston, then Jennifer Jason Leigh… JLT departing for Fast Times At Ridgemont Highwas Winger’s lucky day. Although she never got on with Gere (“a brick wall”) and hated the film, despite her Oscar nomination.
  5. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.  Italian maestro Sergio Leoneclaimed he interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles in his New York gangster epic.  He certainly saw 33 girls for nymphet Deborah Gelly Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Linda Blair, Glenn Close, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Kristy McNIchol, Liza Minnelli, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger. Plus Brooke Shields as the younger version. Deborah was 15 in the first script; McGovern was 20.
  6. Michelle Pfeiffer, Scarface, 1982.    Although far too tall for the titular Al Pacino, Geena tested as the glacial Elvira Hancock. So did Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Colleen Camp, Glenn Close, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Kelly McGillis,  Kristy McNichol, Deborah Raffin, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone,  Kathleen Turner.

  7. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.  
    In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (aged 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: Davis, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, 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.

  8. Pamela Stephenson, Saturday Night Live, TV, 1984-1985.     Geena almost won a regular spot on the in-comedy show but exec producer Dick Ebersol preferred a more known actress and finally settled on New Zealander Pamela Stephenson – totally unknown in the US! She  was first non-American SNL player. Pamela quit acting in ’87 to marry her partner,   Scots comic Billy Connolly, earn a psychology doctorate and become a clinical psychologist and writer: Dr Pamela Stephenson Connolly.
  9. Gale Barle, The Ratings Game, TV, 1983.      The tall Geena was tested for various roles in the TV satire – such as  Hamilton’s Girl. And went in to another TV  send-up opposite  Dabney Coleman  as egotistical chat show host Buffalo  Bill of the WBFL station in Buffalo, NY.
  10. Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor, 1984.      “So let’s do it. Right here. On the Oriental. With all the lights on.” Maerose Prizzi knew what she wanted, where and when from her Family’s hit man, Jack Nicholson – the unlikeliest Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan. Before realising his daughter was Oscar-winning perfection, director John Huston looked at some 17 potential Maeroses. From the sublime Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Liza Minnelli, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer (been there, done that and got the Married To The Mob and Scarface t-shirts), Debra Winger. To the ridiculous: Davis, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Emma Thompson, Sela Ward, Debra Winger. And the damn stupid: Linda Blair, Carrie Fisher, Kelly LeBrock, Heather Locklear, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ally Sheedy.

  11. Sissy Spacek, Crimes of the Heart, 1986.      Davis auditioned but… Sissy spaceked!
  12. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.   
  13. Susan Sarandon, Bull Durham, 1987.   Ron Shelton had one helluva job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball movies don’t sell.”  His producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad. He recognised what Roger Ebert would calla treasure because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” Kim Basinger was Shelton’s first choice for Annie (an Annie is s baseball groupie).“There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career.”  ”He tested Carrie Fisher, Mary Steenburgen, Pamela Stephenson, Debra Winger… considered Kate Capshaw, Geena Davis (who made the female ball movie, A League of Their Own), Michelle Pfeiffer (too young) and Isabella Rossellini…  felt  Kay Lenz and Michelle Pfeiffer were too young… while Glenn Close was having Dangerous Liaisons in France, Melanie Griffith was a busy Working Girl and Kelly McGillis preferred The Accused. He also thought of Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis as The Couple but Moonlighting got in the way. And that’s how the splendid Susan Sarandon met Tim Robbins and lived together for 21 years.  In 1990, Geena and Sarandon became the iconic Thelma & Louise.
  14. Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl, 1988.  “If you ever want to make money, do Cinderella,” said Mike Nichols. Even better if he’s directing – despite a coke-head star. (He made Melanie Griffith pay $80,000 from her salary for having to close down shooting one night due to her wasted condition). He saw Anne Archer, Cher, Geena Davis, Shelley Long, Natasha Richardson, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger for her boss. Plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Meryl Streep for Tess or the wicked witch of Wall Street.

  15. 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 Davis, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld – to Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross,  Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. Kelly 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.
  16. Nicole Kidman, Dead Calm, Australia, 1988.        Geena was up for Rae Ingram. Then, Kidman auditioned…

  17. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.

  18. Saffron Henderson, The Fly II, 1989.        Yeah, come join the sequel, Geena – but, er, your character is knocked off real early, OK?
  19. Anjelica Huston, The Grifters, 1990.  At first, producer Martin Scorsese and UK director Stephen Frears were thinking about Melanie Griffith as John Cusack’s con-artist mother.  But she was pregnant.  OK then, Davis!  Or Sissy Spacek? Lily Tomlin? But no, Huston got “the role of my life.” And a second Oscar nomination. (Kathy Bates won for Misery, which Huston had rejected due to work). All this after Frears had spent an entire evening to explaining why she wasn’t right for Lilly Dillon!  
  20. Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990.     For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other near Moms were Kirstie Alley, Lynda Carter, Kim Cattrall, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jennifer Grey, Gates McFadden, Kelly McGillis, Bette Midler, Ally Sheedy, Mary Steenburgen, Debra Winger… and the inevitable unknown: Maureen McCormick,  part of The Brady Bunch for seven 1981 chapters.

  21. Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  22. Kelly Lynch, Curly Sue, 1990.   “That was another movie that started out as one movie and ended up being another movie entirely,” reported Kelly. “But a great experience… like a throwback to one of those Depression-era movies that you’d seen Jean Harlow in.” Kirstie Alley, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Linda Hamilton (off shooting Terminator 2), Goldie Hawn, Sigourney Weaver also suggested for  the cynical Chicago lawyer missed up with a Paper Moon IIact: James Belushi and  young Alisan Porter.   Critic Roger Ebert fell for John Hughes’ final film  – “couldhave been written by Damon Runyon, illustrated by Norman Rockwell and filmed by Frank Capra.”
  23. Rene Russo, Lethal Weapon 3, 1991.   For a lively addition to the battle-fatigued  franchise, director Richard Donner leafed through Kirstie Alley, Joan Cusack, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brooke Shields… and a “too young” Winona Ryder – to be Lorna Cole, an Internal Affairs cop who, after a few suspicions, becomes the partner of Riggs and Murtaugh duo, aka Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. And she survived into #4.   Carrie Fisher was the #3 script doctor but Lorna’s best line – “Close is a lingerie shop without a front window” was a Russo ad lib.   
  24. Annette Bening, Bugsy, 1991.        Geena met with Warren Beatty and Barry Levinson.  But Annette had Beatty’s baby and married the man!    And trey had three more children.
  25. Penelope Ann Miller, Other People’s Money, 1991.      Canadian director Norman Jewison lost Michelle Pfeiffer (and Hoffman) and started all over…  Geena had won her Accidental  Tourist Oscar  when Lawrence Kasdan felt Miller too young for the role.
  26. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct1991.

  27. Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, 1992.        

  28. Sharon Stone, Sliver, 1993.      Producer Robert Evans kept telling Stone’s agent he was thisclose to closing with Geena. He hit upon the rght name!   Sharon  apparently loathed Geena for making Sharon a mere second choice for what proved her breakthrough, Basic Instinct. She did not want Sliver, said Evans,  “but she sure in hell didn’t want Geena to have  it.”
  29. Marisa Tomei, Untamed Heart, 1993.     Very keen on what was then The Baboon Heart.     The producers were very not.
  30. 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: Geena, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Glenn Close (!), Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariska Hargitay, Barbara Hershey, 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 andDebra Winger.

  31. Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1994.    
  32. Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1994.     A  change in  directors (Sidney Pollack to Bruce Beresford to Clint Eastwood)   meant  Davis was out and “our best actress” (said Clint – and his mum!) was in.   Davis made Cutthroat Island – and plummeted from  the A to Z-List overnight.  Which explains all the next items…
  33. Demi Moore, Disclosure, 1994.     Novelist and co-producer Michael Crichton’s first choice when Czech director Milos Forman was set to make the film. And that was one of the reasons he quit.
  34. Michelle Pfeiffer, Wolf,  1994.       After coming close with Revenge, 1990,  and Legends of the Fall, 1994  Jack Nicholson finally made a script by his novelist pal Jim  Harrison.  Geena did not.
  35. Demi Moore, Disclosure, 1994.   Davis, Annette Bening and Michelle Pfeiffer were lucky to miss the  big cleavage shot in  in what was trumpeted as  the  first film  dealing with the male sexual harassment  of wo men 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.”
  36. Cindy Crawford, Fair Game, 1995.    Real actresses, then models,  were  seen for what had been  Brigitte Nielsen’s role in Sylvester Stallone’s Cobra, 1986.   Sly refused the re-tread.  
  37. Holly Hunter, Copy Cat, 1995.     Geena was also considered for another teaming  with  Sigourney Weaver, Counterstrike.
  38. Julia Roberts, Runaway Bride, 1999.     Davis-Harrison Ford became a Class of ’90 reunion: Julia-Richard Gere. Made sense! Except this was no Pretty Woman II. Which is what the customers wanted.   
  39. Cameron Diaz, Gangs of New York, 2001.    Geena was among many  actresses attached (momentarily) to the Martin Scorsese project. The weakest of whom was… Diaz.
  40. Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001.     Among 22 youngstars (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, etc) rejecting the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne – after director Garry Marshall’s first choice (shock!) of Juliette Lewis quit.

  41. Jennifer Connelly, A Brilliant Mind, 2001.   If the choice of the right actor to portray the schizophrenic Noble Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr was vital, selecting his screen wife was even more so   – hence an Oscar for Connelly and not for Russell Crowe.  The other candidates included Julie Bowen, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Geena Davis, Kirsten Dunst, Portia De Rossi, Claire Forlani, Rachel Griffiths, Teri Hatcher, Famke Janssen, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine McCormack, Mary McCormick, Mia Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Julia Ormond, Amanda Peet, Christina Ricci, Meg Ryan, Chloe Sevigny, Alicia Silverstone, Mira Sorvino, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Rachel Weisz.  PS Emily Watson was rejected as “too British” – while Salma Hayek was seen because  Alicia Nash came from El; Salvador… which must have meant the others were too American, Australian,  South African, etc.  Director Ron Howard seemed to forget they were all actresses. Odd that, as he used to be one.
  42. Joan Cusack, Chicken Little, 2004.      To find the right voice for Abby Mallard in Disney’s paltry poultry pic, Disney went through Davis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Dern, Jamie Donnelly, Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Madonna and, of course, Sigourney Weaver. (She had Alien fans in every studio). Plus Sarah Jessica Parker, when her husband, Matthew Broderick, was in the frame for the titular hero.
  43. Joe Mantegna, Criminal Minds, TV, 2009-2013.     How do  you persuade her to succeed Mandy Pantinkin as a simple  head honcho of the FBI profilers… when she had just been Commander In Chief…?   Michael Keaton and Harvey Keitel also refused to join the next 210  episodes. 
  44. Isla Fisher, Rise of the Guardians, 2011.  Geena Davis, Mandy Moore, Maya Rudolph, Mia Wasikowska were also considered for voicing Tooth Fairy in the DreamWorks toon adventure about saving childhood, itself, from Jude Law’s dreaded Pitch Black. Other guardians included Easter Bunny, Jack Frost and a Santa Claus complete with tatts and a Russian accent!
  45. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight, 2014.  JJL wins another role from Davis –  33 years after Fast Times At Ridgemont High! JJL wins another role from Davis…  In a snit when his script wes leaked on-line, this is the Tarantino  film  that  nearly wasn’t. And isn’t. A movie, that is. It’s a single-set stage play with enough speechifyin’ for a UN climate congress. Never mind, Quentin loved his second Western (third if you count Reservoir Dogs). Or was it just the search for his Daisy Domergue… among Davis, Jennifer Lawrence, Demi Moore, Katiee Sackhoff, double Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, Amber Tamblyn (excellent, if too young, during  the public April script reading at LA’s United Artists theatre), Michelle Williams, Evan Rachel Wood, Robin Wright  No, he was  “crazy, gaga, eyes popping out of my head happy with this film.” Good for him. Not for us.  He was punching below his weight.








 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  45