Helen Hunt


  1. Cynthia Black (etc), Bewitched, TV, 1966-1972.   Back when Helen was all of 15 months old…  and up for her first role!  She was seen for the inevitably cute baby of America’s favourite witch, Elizabeth Montgomery, and her “mortal” husband, Dick York. Tabatha (later Tabitha!) was born in the second season and played by baby Cynthia Black and two sets of twins: Heidi and Laura Gentry, Julie and Tamar Young. During  Seasons 3/8 Tabitha was played by another set of twins, Erin and Diane Murphy – credited as just Erin, particularly after Diane was dropped (her looks changed) in the fourth season. She came back for a final appearance, in the fifth  season’s #149: Samantha Fights City Hall. Erin was still acting up to 2019 – when she  was Tabitha again in the TV Therapy show, which had an acted shrink looking at TV characters, comparing their yesterday with today.  (Hey ho!).

  2. Brooke Shields, Pretty Baby, 1977.    The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 28 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for pretty little Violet. From Laura Dern aged 10 and future Sex And The City(pre-Dallas)… co-stars Cynthia Nixon, at 11, Sarah Jessica Parker, 12 (like Shields) and (the often too buxom) teenagers Hunt, Melissa Sue Anderson, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Blair, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Mariel Hemingway, Anissa Jones (who tragically ODed at 18 before her audition), Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal (Dad said no), Dana Plato (Mom said no), Michelle Pfeiffer, Ally Sheedy, Meg Tilly, Charlene Tilton to seven twentysomethings. However, no make-up and soft lenses could make 12-year-olds out of Isabelle Adjani, Bo Derek, Carrie Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Amy Irving, Mary Steenburgen or Debra Winger.

  3. Kari Michaelson, Gimme A Break! TV, 1981-1987.       At 18, Hunt tested for Katie, one of three suddenly mother-less daughters of a small town police chief Carl Kanisky who finda surrogate mother in a black housekeeper, Nell Carter.

  4. Jennifer Beals, Flashdance, 1982.  The “nation-wide search“ (of LA…!!) came down to  20 possibilities for flashprancer Alex Owens. Hunt (she hated the script), Jamie Lee Curtis, Bo Derek, Janice Dickinson, Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Grey (yet she won Dirty Dancing), Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariel Hemingway,Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Andie MacDowell, Kathy Najimy, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer,  Kyra Sedgwick, Sharon Stone  and Debra Winger, Pix of the final three – Beals, Demi Moore and Leslie Wing – were shown to the studio’s  construction guys by Paramount suits asking: “Which do you most wanna fuck?”   Dissolve. 
  5. Elisabeth Shue, The Karate Kid, 1983.  Helen Hunt and Demi Moore lost The Kid’s girl, Ali-with-an-i, to Elisabeth Shue because they  hadn’t  make the Burger King commercial  that caught director John Avildsen’s (and America’s) eye in the 80s.  She was also a Shue-in for the first sequel, by which time, however, she had returned to Havard University. Her kid brother Andrew (Melrose Place) Shue had a bit role at the karate tournament.

  6. Alice Krige, Barfly, 1986.    German director Barbet Schroeder chose Hunt and then  realised he required a more experienced actress as Tully Sorenson – opposite such proven players as Mickey Rourke and (in her last great work) Faye Dunaway. Six years later Hunt achieved stardom in her TV triumph, Mad About You, 1992-1999.
  7. Isabella Rossellini, Blue Velvet, 1985.  The legend varies…  1.  Auteur David Lynch’s first choice for Dorothy Valens was the German star Hanna Schyguylla.  2. Lynch wrote Dorothy for Debbie Harry  but she was fed up with playing weirdoes. 3. He moved on to Karen Allen, Rebecca De Mornay, Jodie Foster, , Helen Hunt, Angelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Helen Mirren, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger – most found Dorothy her script way too erotic.  4.Lynch then met Isa in a NYC restaurant and fell head over clapperboard in love.  Literally.
  8. Julia Roberts, Flatliners, 1989.   For her first film since conquering the world in  Pretty Woman, Julia beat Helen Hunt and Nicole Kidman  to Rachel, one of five medical students toying with  near death experiences.  To clinically die and return  from the  tunnel of light…  In real life, Julia and co-star Kiefer Sutherland became lovers,  got engaged, then she ran off with Irish actor Jason Patric, came back and wed C&W singer Lyle Lovett
  9. 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.
  10. Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991    .Among the many- the very many – Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Shannen Doherty, Nicole Eggeret, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Tiffani Thiessen, Reese Witherspoon – considered by Steven Spielberg and, later, Martin Scorsese fortheteen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden. (Nicole in the 1962 original). Some found it too sexy and, indeed, even at 28 (!), Helen could hardly have equalled the on-heat musk of Juliette, 18, and her totally improvised – and one take – seduction scene with Robert De Niro.

  11. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  12. Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, 1992.    One of the first modern screentests – well, readings – seen on TV when Paramount’s Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes in 1995 – yet banned fromauction in Beverly Hills by the actors’ union in April 2013. “Auditions are not public performances,” said SAG-AFTRA. .“Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.”And yet not a word when Paramount’s Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes…in 1995! In all some25 ladies voted against Dr Ellie Sattler- not the finest woman’s role in a Spielberg movie.They included survivors of the Fatal Attraction/Basic Instinct campaigns… Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Grey, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Kelly McGillis, Michelle Pfieffer, Julia Roberts, Ally Sheedy, Sigourney Weaver,Debra Winger, Robin Wright. And among newer contestants: Hunt, Juliette Binoche, Sandra Bullock, Joan Cusack, Sherilyn Fenn, Teri Hatcher, Elizabeth Hurley, Laura Linney, Julianne Moore, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sarah Jessica Parker.
  13. Demi Moore, A Few Good Men, 1992.     Linda Hamilton, Elizabeth Perkins, Demi Moore also rushed to read for helmer Rob Reiner and casting director Jane Jenkins to be Tom Cruise’s love interest. (He’d wed the last one: Nicole Kidman).
  14. Geena Davis, Angie1993.     The official reason was Madonna was already booked for Abel Ferrara’sDangerous Game, 1992.Then, one of her emails was leaked – furious with the head Fox, Joe Roth, for dumping her for a non-Italian inthe titular role. In truth, she fled after hearing Roth didn’t want her becauseshe couldn’t carry a movie. (Not that this one did any better without her). Her director, Jonathan Kaplan, also quit and Martha Coolidge took over with her 1991 Rambling Rose star – after some thoughts about a dozen others, from Halle Berry to Meryl Streep.Oh, very Italian!
  15. Kate Capshaw, Just Cause, 1995.     Mid-way throughher triumphant 161 episodesof TV’s Mad About You, “I made myself turnthings down in the hope of finding something I really wanted.”Like Twister…?!
  16. Daphne AshbrookDoctor Who (The Movie)TV, 1996.  
  17. Samantha Mathis,  Broken  Arrow, 1996.     Hong Kong action ace John Wood considered Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Lauren Holly. Then gave the park ranger  to Hunt – but she preferred Twister.  Probably they all  agreed with Roger Ebert’s later criticism: the  purpose of The Girl was  to “take off her shirt as soon as possible.” Christian Slater suggested his similar main squeeze  from Pump Up The Volume, 1990.
  18. Annette Bening, American  Beauty, 1998.      Often  confused, Helen Hunt and Holly Hunter were both seen about being Kevin Spacey’s  loving wife. “Don’t you mess with me, mister, or I’ll divorce you so fast it’ll make your head spin!”
  19. Ming-Na Wen, Mulan, 1998.   Rather too Caucasian for a Chinese princess… Exactly why Chinese-Americn Ming-Na Wen won Mulan – only the second Disney princess in trousers, after Aladdin’s Jasmine, 1991. The songs of both characters were sung by the Manila-born Tony and Olivier award-winning stage star of Saigon, Lea Salonga.
  20. Maria Pitillo, Godzilla, 1997.  Tim Burton, James Cameron, Joe Johnston and Paul Verhoeven passed what was planned as the first of three movies about Japan’s cherished monster.  Enter: Jan De Bont. His ideal cast was headed by Bill Paxton and Helen  Hunt. Biut his budget was adjudged too high. He made Twister, instead.  With Bill and Helen..  A far better movie. 

  21. Madonna, The Next Best Thing, 1999.     Hunt and Richard Dreyfuss were lucky when The Red Curtain date was cancelled in 1995. Madonna and Everett took over the leads in what Chicago ace critic Roger Ebert buried as “a garage sale of gay issues, harnessed to a plot as exhausted as a junkman’s horse.”
  22. Famke Janssen, X-Men quartet, 1999-2013.      “Mutants are not the ones mankind should fear.”  Helen Hunt, Lucy Lawless and Peta Wilson could not shake the shackles of their series(Mad About You, 1992-1999, Xena: Warrior Princess, 1995-2001, and La Femme Nikita, 1997-2001).  Maria Bello passed. Bryan Singer (the final director after such notables as Kathryn Bigelow, Danny Boyle, Tim Batman Burton, Richard Superman Donner, Irvin Stars Wars VKershner, John McTiernan and Robert Rodriguez came and went) decided to go with Janssen as Jean Grey, aka – eventually – Dark Phoenix.
  23. Michelle Pfeiffer, What Lies Beneath, 2000.     She talked to Roger Zemeckis about being Mrs Harrison Ford, after making movies with Richard Gere, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey. She is not remembered for any of them. Just couldn’t cut it in movies.
  24. Julianne Moore, Hannibal, 2001.    Top Brit director Ridley Scott looked at Gillian Anderson, Cate Blanchett and Helen when Jodie Foster decided against reprising her Oscar-winning FBI agentClarice Starling in the Silence of the Lambs sequel.
  25. Renée Zellweger, Chicago, 2001.

  26. 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 Bewitcherd 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… twoFriends: 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.

  27. Joan Cusack, Chicken Little, 2004.   To find the right voice for Abby Mallard in Disney’s paltry poultry pic, Disney went through Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jamie Donnelly, Jodie Foster, Holly Hunter, Madonna and, of course, Sigourney Weaver. (By now many Alien fans were working at every studio). Plus Sarah Jessica Parker, when her husband, Matthew Broderick, was in the frame for the titular hero.
  28. Rachel Weisz, The Lovely Bones, 2008.  Peter Jackson goes modern again. And loses it.  Rachel took over Helen’s suggested role of the mother of… Well, let our favourite critic Roger Ebert explain as he shredded the “deplorable film with this message: If you’re a 14-year-old girl who has been brutally raped and murdered by a serial killer, you have a lot to look forward to.”  Poor Helen, she hardly ever put a foot right after seven years of Mad About You, TV, 1992-99, while looking for “a good script, a good script, a good script…or money.”   
  29. Vicki Lewis, Alpha and Omega, 2009.  Change of voice for Eve, caught up in the tale of the titular, Blue Lagoon-like wolves in what USA Today crtitic Scott Bowles called “one of those rarities in the modern era of Hollywood animation: bad.” 
  30. Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife, TV, 2009-2015.   The ER star   admitted she had been “sloppy thirds” for the titular Alicia Florrick.  Actually, she was sloppy fourths…   Her rivals  had been Hunt, Ashley Judd and the one Julianna didn’t seem to know about: Elisabeth Shue. 

  31. Lauren Graham, Parenthood, TV, 2009-2011.    Hunt’s people and NBC’s couldn’t agree on money, allowing Graham (Lorelai of The Gilmore Girls,TV, 2000-2007) to succeed Maura Tierney who quit the show to battle her breast cancer. By 2010, Helen was reminding LA how good and brave an actress she was by playing a  – totally naked  – sex surrogate in The Sessions.  Finally her “good script, good script.” But it did not relight her star… ony the Celebrity sections of numerous porno websites.   
  32. 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, Renée Zellweger. 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.








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