- Jeannie Berlin, The Heartbreak Kid, 1972. Writer’s instinct v director’s nepotism. “Diane gave a reading that was to die for!” reported Neil Simon. “Dynamite, perfect, a knockout, no contest - sensational! But she didn't get the part. I was shocked. I don’t think Elaine didn’t like her, she just wanted to get Jeannie in the film.” Elaine May was directing; Jeannie is her daughter. “If it had been a play,” added Neil Simon, “I'd have won.” He never doubted Berlin’s acting ability: “she got an Academy Award nomination and was quite good.” She could write, too. In 1990, Jeannie (co)-wrote a script for Elaine, The Spirit.
- Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives, 1975. UK writer-director Bryan Forbes got on famously with Diane. “She seemed to get on famously with me. We kissed goodbye and I said: ‘You’ll be very good.’ Next morning, she called and quit. ‘What changed your mind between 5pm and 9am?’ ‘I gave the script to my analyst and he got very bad vibes from it’.” A furious Forbes retorted: “Well, I’m not casting your analyst, I’m casting you.” The analyst was right.
- Julie Christie, Heaven Can Wait, 1977. Co-writer and co-director (and star) Warren Beatty has been Keaton’s schoolgirl crush after she saw Splendour in the Grass. And he came backstage to see her during her Broadway run in Play It Again Sam. But so did his lady, JulieChristie - “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Keaton preferred to “hit the bars as Theresa Dunn” in Looking For Mr Goodbar. Beatty had not given up on Diane though... And wooed her into Reds. “Once Warren chose to shine his light on you. there was no going back.”
- Mary Beth Hurt, Interiors, 1977. Keaton wanted to be Joey in what was then Windows. Of course, she did. She was the main sister of the trio. Woody knew his casting this time. (Mistakes abounded on his next serious project: September, 1986). He kept Hurt in place and gave Renata to Keaton and Kristin Griffith became Flyn - based on the second Mrs Woody, Louise Lasser. (The script was similarly based on her mother’s suicide, although the tragedy here was their parents’ unexpected divorce.
Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977. The rôle was horrendous - the prostitute allowing 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 possible little Violets - and another 15 actresses for her mother: Keaton, Candice Bergen, Cher, Glenn Close (passed), Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (prefered Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City together in 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
- Audrey Hepburn, Bloodline, 1979. Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bisset also backed away, blindly, from Terence Young’s thriller. “Keaton,” said Woody, “always looks like the woman who comes to take Blanche DuBois to the sanitarium.”
- Romy Schneider, La mort en direct (UK/US: Death Watch), France-West Germany-UK, 1979. Lyons realisateur Lyons realisateur Bertrand Tavernier unwisely insisted on Romy (and Harvey Keitel). His American producers wanted American names: Jill or Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro or Richard Gere.
- Liza Minnelli, Arthur, 1980. Arthur went from John Belushi and Bud Cort to Michael Palin and John Travolta as thoughts for his ideal woman Linda Marolla included Keaton, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Meryl Streep and Tuesday Weld - in the throes of divorcing the titular Dudley Moore.
- Mia Farrow, A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, 1981. “His Krafft is Ebing” said Washington critic Margot Kernan. Hah! After seven films, one Oscar and a long affair, Woody Allen asked Diane to be Ariel, but she was committed not only to Alan Parker’s Shoot The Moon with Albert Finney but promo-trailing Reds made by new new lover (Woody’s nemesis), Warren Beatty. “There were days,” said Mia, “when we shot scenes from two or three different films: Midsummer, Zelig and Broadway Danny Rose.". With her pre-Raphelite look, she was great and relaunched her floundering career as Woody’s lover and muse from 1980 until she found his naked polaroids of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, in 1992… when Diane rallied to his cause and replaced her in his Manhattan Murder Mystery, 1992 (based on an hour cut from their Annie Hall, 1977).
- Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982. All the female Hollywood A List adored, owed and hungered to play Frances Farmer: Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld.
- Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983. In all, 52 actresses were considered, seen, or tested for Sarah Connor. James Cameron created her for Bridget Fonda. She passed; so did Tatum O’Neal. He decided to go older… Glenn Close won - her schedule didn’t agree. OK, Kate Capshaw! No, she was tied to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - just as Kathleen Turner was Romancing The Stone. Debra Winger won her audition, said yes… then no. The other 46 ladies were: Keaton, , Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Angelica Huston, Amy Irving, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhea Perlman (!), Michelle Pfeiffer, Gilda Radner (!), Deborah Raffin, Miranda Richardson, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sissy Spacek, Sharon Stone, Sigourney Weaver. 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.
- Rosanna Arquette, Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985. Just not as important as desperately seeking Frances...
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
- Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.
Awful thing to say. Except it is true. Jodie Foster would never have won her (first) Oscar for this trenchant drama - if actress Kelly McGillis had not been raped in 1982… At first, the role of the rape victim Sarah Tobias was written for Andie MacDowell. She passed. The Paramount suits then saw 34 other young actresses for the (real life) victim. Or, for their own rape bait fantasies - including 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! Foster was refused a test because she was “not sexy enough”! And, anyway, the studio had decided upon McGillis, a high flyer in Paramount’s Witness and Top Gun. And, naturally, she refused point-blank! She knew what it was to be brutally raped and Kelly had no wish to revisit the horror and agony of her own assault six years earlier. The suits were annoyed. They needed her. She was hot at the box-office, their box-office. They had made her a star!! Eventually, McGillis agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney - on condition that unsexy Jodie played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… So is the huge list of talent also seen for Sarah. Starting with the Fatal Attraction also-rans: Keaton, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore, Kelly Preston, Meg Ryan, Jane Seymour, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Debra Winger. And moving on to the younger Melissa Sue Anderson (trying to break her Little House on the Prairie image), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, Judy Davis, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, Mariel Hemingway, Kelly LeBrock, Virginia Madsen, Brigitte Nielsen, Tatum O’Neal, Molly Ringwald, Mia Sara, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.” Rape victims shouldn’t be nice? Oh, Hollywood!
Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988. Next, the suits saw a further 27 actresses for the victim’s lawyer. Including, again, the Fatal Attractioners from Geena Davis, Sally Field, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld - to 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. 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.
Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Annette Bening, Bugsy, 1990. Twenty years earlier, the nouvelle vague icon Jean-Luc Godard wrote his own Bugsy Siegel story - called just that, The Story. He aimed it at Keaton, Jean-Paul Belmondo (or Robert De Niro), Vittorio Gassman, Charlotte Rampling. When Keaton changed her mind about being Virginia Hull, Godard gave up and went back to France., The scripting of Warren Beatty’s vesion took James Toback… six years.
- Ellen Barkin, Man Trouble, 1991. Because it was for Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson – the writer and the director of his finest work, Five Easy Pieces - Jack Nicholson stayed with the project since the 70s, seeing partners like Keaton and Jeanne Moreau come and go. He made it with Ellen Barkin. They shouldn’t have bothered. (He finally partnewred “Special K” in Something’s Gotta Give).
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Jessica Lange, Cape Fear, 1991. The 80s had begun to sour for Keaton, after her Oscar, her Woody Allen films, and new lover Warren Beatty’s Reds, her next four films tanked. “Somehow,” she reported, “Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro agreed to have a meet/greet... [Pause] They went with Jessica ” - Keaton’s sister in Cremes of the Heart, 1986.
- Annette Bening, The American President, 1995. The role: Michael Douglas' First Lady.
- Goldie Hawn, Everyone Says I Love You, 1996. Not free to be the only old-hand as Woody Allen struck out for the youth market with Julia Roberts, Tim Roth, etc.
- Madonna, Evita, 1996. Don’t cry for me, lah-di-dah. “I was pretty much washed up as an actress and certainly as a fledgling director” - before Something’s Gotta Give” in 2003.
- Cher, Tea With Mussolini, 1999. Director Franco Zeffirelli talked to various 50-somethings (Keaton, Glenn Close, included) about being the eccentric, wealthy, much-wed American adventuress and Italophile Elsa Morgenthal Strauss-Armistan - based on the childhood chapter of the maestro’s autobiography.
- Nicole Kidman, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 2006. Within weeks of 1984 publication, MGM snapped up rights to Patricia Bosworth’s bio of photographer Diane Arbus for Diane - “the perfect quality... she was funny and ditzy and brave.” Kidman was then 17, five years away from her initial breakthrough, Bangkok Hilton, on Australian TV.
- Jennifer Aniston, Life of Crime, 2013. Way back in 1986, Elmore Leonard’s tale was bought for Diane until the Fox suits thought it was too close to Ruthless People. John Hawks and Mos Deff enact the ex-cons played by Robert De Niro and Samuel L Jackson in Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. 1996. Leonard loved that film; he never saw this one, dying on August 20, 2013, a month before the Canadian opening. The remarkable writer was 87.