- Julia Roberts, Flatliners, 1989.
Director Joel Schumacher tells all...“There’s a moment when someone walks into a room and there’s no one like them. I remember Nicole, right after Dead Calm. Her manager brought her to my house.When she walked in, I knew... she was one of the ten most beautiful women I’d see in a lifetime, and also that she was unlike anyone else in the movie business at that time. I was going to give her Julia Roberts’ part, but Nicole then went on to do Days of Thunder. The rest is history.... Julia started working in the rehearsal phase the day after she finished shooting Pretty Woman.She got paid very little on Pretty Woman because it was a big break for her. All her agent was asking for was another $100,000. I think I had to offer her part of my salary. They [producers] didn’t realize her value and by the end of Flatliners, they were willing to give her millions! She was great. She deserved it. She had become the biggest female movie star in the world at that time.”
- Rachel Ticotin, Total Recall, 1989. Kidman and Alexandra Paul were seen for the Mars Resistance fighter Melina - opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest acting role. And I’m not joking. Nor was canny Chicago critic Roger Ebert: “He could have stalked and glowered through this movie and become a figure of fun, but instead, by allowing himself to seem confused and vulnerable, he provides a sympathetic center for all of the high-tech spectacle.”
- Judith Hoag, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1989. For the first live-action Turtle trot, the innovative director of music videos Steve Barron saw many a potential April O’Neill: Kidman, Jennifer Beals, Lorraine Bracco, Sandra Bullock, Melanie Griffith, Anna Kendrick, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Marisa Tomei, Sean Young. TMNT legend states Hoag was never considered for the sequels because she complained so much the violence - and the six-day shooting schedule.
- Demi Moore, Ghost, 1990. Little Miss Determined somehow got hold of a script in Australia. “She hired people to put together a reading and sent it off to us,” recalls scenarist Bruce Joel Rubin. “We were blown away. Demi was terrific - but Nicole came very close.” When wed to Tom Cruise and living in LA, she “knocked out” Rubin anew and won the top spot in his “twelve hankie” directing debut: My Life, 1994.
- Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Greta Scacchi, Shattered, 1991. The suits loved her “amazing” test - when she broke own and cried.The role was her’s if she wanted it. She didn’t! She was lucky again in April 2013 when her union blocked the auction of 54 test tapes, including hers. “Auditions are not public performance,” said the SAG-AFTRA.“Performers are entitled to expect them to remain private.” And yet not a wordwhen Paramount's Real TV tabloid show starting running such audition tapes…in 1995!
- 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, Helen Hunt, Diane Lane, Jennifer JasonLeigh, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker,Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Tiffani Thiessen, Reese Witherspoon - consideredby Steven Spielberg and, later, Martin Scorsese fortheteen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden.(Nicole in the 1962 orignal). Some found it too sexy and, indeed, few could have equalled the on-heat musk of Juliette’s totally improvised - and one take - seduction scene with Robert De Niro.The re-tread’s (uncredited) exec producer was Steven Spielberg - and he eventually cast Kidman in… his 2013 Cannes festival jury.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal, 1992. When Tom Cruise was slated as thehusband selling his wife for $1m for onenight to a zillionaire (Warren Beatty at the time), Adrian Lyne wanted a real couple inthe roles. They both passed.
- Bridget Fonda, Point Of No Return, 1992. Jodie Foster had little hesitation in refusing the Hollywood re-hash (as cumbersome as its title) of réalisateur Luc Besson’s much sharper 1989 French hit, Nikita. Winona Ryder also passed…. while director John Badham (!) somehow spurned Kidman, Halle Berry, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts for the hit-woman.
- Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle, 1992. Or… When Harry Met Sally Meets When Sam Met Suzy. Same writer, Nora Ephron. Same Sally - Meg Ryan in the second of three ephemeral romcoms with Tom Hanks. Also forgetting that romcoms are rarely plausible: Kim Basinger, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts. And a surprise Brit. Natasha Richardson.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hudsucker Proxy, 1993. Ellen Barkin, Bridget Fonda and Winona Ryder were also nearly Amy in the 1994 Cannes festival opener by the Coen brothers - not a patch on their following year’s Cannes winner (plus four Oscars), Fargo.
- Robin Wright Penn, Forrest Gump, 1995. Nic balked when director Robert Zemeckis insisted that potential Jennies had to test - with Tom Hanks as Gump.
- Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996.
- Minnie Driver,Good Will Hunting, 1997. When the writer-stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Oscars in hand, thanked Minnie Driver, the simultaneous translation on French TV said they thanked... beaucoup de chauffeurs!
- Uma Thurman,The Avengers, 1997.Kidman must have said: Thank God for Kubrick!Having her Eyes Wide Shut (not exactly the film of the year, either), meant she passed on Mrs Emma Peel in this abysmal cinemaversion of the hit UK TV series. Gwyneth Paltrow, Elisabeth Shueand Emma Thompson also refused. (Diana Rigg, the original Mrs Peel, likewise fled a proffered cameo). Sean Connery was the villain and if heever wondered what 007 would have turned out like in Hollywood, this mess was the answer. Sheer balderdash!
- Anne Heche, Psycho, 1997. The (inevitable) top choice passed on Marion Crane in the nuttiest idea in movie history – director Gus Van Sant re-making the Hitchcock clasic, shot for shot. “So no one else would have to.” He next saw Drew Barrymore, Laura Linney, Julianne Moore. The winning Heche had never seen the original. Hardly surprising. She lost Mary Corleone in Coppola’s Godfather: Part III by asking: “This guy ever direct anything I would know?”
- Monica Potter, Martha - Meet Frank, Daniel and Laurence, 1998.All the top gals wanted it, but Irish director Nick Hamm preferred to go unknown, fresh- with Nic Cage's Con Air wife.After it, the exquisite Monica all but disappeared. What a waste!
- Gwyneth Paltrow, A Perfect Murder, 1998. Supposedly a re-make ofDial M For Murder. Duh!Inthe epoch of mobile phones!
- Anne Heche, Psycho, 1998. A second Hitchcock re-make (shot-for-shot, this time by Gus Van Sant - go figure). Nicole was committed to a London play where she as famously compared to Viagra.
- Demi Moore, Passion In Mind, 1998. The hot female role of the year (on paper) was a woman living parallel lives as a New York book editor and an American mother oftwo in Europe. Kidman tried hard to set it upwith Australian director John Duigan.
- Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth, 1998. First plan of the Pakistani director Shekhar Kapur best known forhis Indianepic, Bandit Queen, 1994.Until Cate was discovered on stage in Sydney. She also anmde his sequel,Elizabeth The Golden Years, 2007.
- Uma Thurman, Vatel, France,2000. Due opposite the mighty Gérard Depardieu as the even mightier grand cuisiner of Louis XIV.
- Jodie Foster, Panic Room, 2001. When Foster rushes to the resue, her price is altering her role… After 18 days, Kidman had to leave due to a knee injury. Jodie immediately changed the heroine from an icy Hitchcockian blonde to a grittier political action-Mom. In 2006, she changed her Brave One heroine from newspaper reporter - "not compelling in terms of the narrative" - to… radio reporter! Foster quit being the Cannes festival jury chief to make this film because she wanted to work with director David Fincher. They had been set for The Game in 1996, when her role was eventually taken by Sean Penn - in 2004, Foster paid him back by taking over his role in Flightplan! Nicole remained in the thriller as the voice of the wife of Jodie 's divorced husband.
- Renée Zellweger, Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001. Among the outrageous ideas like Helena Bonham Carter, and Catherine Zeta-Jones (like Nicole, far too beautiiful for a dumpy dowdy) . More sensible choices inclued Rachel Griffiths and Emma Thompson.
- Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
- Julia Roberts, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, 2002. George Clooney turned director(superbly) with the bizarre tale of Chuck Barris, a (real) TV quiz show host who insisted he was also a CIAssassin.
- Kate Winslet, The Life of David Gale, 2002.Alan Parker’s initial choice for the reporter interviewing Kevin Spacey on Death Row.
- Meg Ryan, In The Cut, 2002. And she was the producer!“But as an actress I had to say to Jane Campion: I can’t do a film at this stage in my life. My priority is my children. It was hard for me because I’d been developing this with Jane for so many years. I went in with my own money and bought the rights to film the novel -I don't even have a production company.”
- Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2003. Also considered for Elektra:Jessica Alba, Jolene Blalock, Neve Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Portia de Rossi, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon, Salma Hayek, Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Lucy Liu, Mia Maestro,Rhona Mitra, Bridget Moynahan, Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon. Plus Norwegian ballet dancer Natassia Malthe, who became Typhoid in Garner’s Elektra spin-off.
- Angelina Jolie, Mr & Mrs Smith, 2004. Amarried couple of covert assassins (he’s Brad Pitt) are hired to kill each other! Nicole’s schedule went topsy-turvy due to the delayed Stepford Wives. Pitt returned only when her final replacement wasJolie - soon enough his lover, andmother of their 2006 daughter: Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt.
- Bryce Dallas Howard, Manderlay, 2004. “Lars, I’m going to star in your pictures, no matter what it will cost.” Despite the promises (forced out of her by Lars Von Trier at the Dogville Press conference at Cannes 2003) to make the trilogy, Kidman wiselyfled the rest of thepretentious and career-ruining trilogy (USA - Land of Opportunities). So did her screen dad, James Caan,“because Von Trier is very anti-American, so screw him.”
- Halle Berry, Catwoman, 2004. Would the French film-maker Pitof have de-glammed Nicole as much as he did poor “Halle-cat”?
- Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener, 2004.Everyone queued for meets with Kidman, but Brazilian directorFernando Meirelles was the first to reject her- as too old at 36 for the John Le Carré story. Her pal Naomi Watts, 35,had a date with King Kong andRachel was 35 - and got the Oscar.
- Naomi Watts, I Heart Huckabees, 2004. First choice Gwyneth Paltrow was still grieving for her father, Kidman was trapped among The Stepford Wives, Jennifer Anistonwas considered and Britney Spears auditioned twice -before the director David O Russell (a director much in need of anger-management) found his “real first choice” was free.
- Cate Blanchett, The Aviator, 2004. One Aussie pinch-hitting for another, in case Cate could not finish The Missing on time.She did and won an Oscar - two years after Nicole.
- Cate Blanchett, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004. Nicole moved aboard the good ship Belafonte when Gwyneth Paltrow baled out. Julianne Moore asked to be Jane Winslet-Richardson (a name inspired by Kate, of course). Cate was pregnant but Nicole just could not play everything...
- Julianne Moore, The Forgotten, 2004. Kidman and Moore had co-starred in The Hours, 2002.
- Monica Bellucci,The Brothers Grimm, 2005.Director Terry Gilliam’s first choice for the evil 500-year-old Mirror Queenquit what Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert said was“a work of limitless invention, but... without pattern, chasing itself around the screen without finding a plot. Watching it is a little exhausting.”
- Tilda Swinton, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2005.Change of accent for the CS Lewis’ White Witch.
- Uma Thurman, The Producers, 2005. Duringthe (brief) time when Nicole was first choice for anything, yet worthy of nothing. She dropped out of sight - too much of anything! – and Uma became the loopy secretary of the titular Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.
- Naomi Watts, The Painted Veil,2006. When Kidman left the W Somerset Maugham classic, Edward Norton persuaded Naomi to become his unfaithful wife.
- Helena Bonham Carter, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2006. Kidman, Annette Bening, Toni Collette, Cyndi Lauper, Bernadette Peters, Meryl Streep plus great Brits Imelda Staunton, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet were seen for Mrs Lovett, making the meatiest of meat pies (from the victims of a demonic Johnny Depp). They all lacked one essential. They were not living with director Tim Burton! As if to proove it, HBC was pregnant during the shoot.
- Kate Winslet, The Reader, 2008. Kate was always director Stephen Daldry’s first choice for Hanna Schmitz.However, she was delayed on Revolutionary Road, so he called his 2002 Oscar-winning Best Actressfrom The Hours and agreed to postpone shooting until Kidmancompleted Australia- when she proved pregnant! There was some talks with Kidman pal Naomi Watts... the same producer Anthony Minghella’s English Patient 1996 support actress Oscar-winner Juliette Binoche... and the new French rave, Marion Cotillard, the 2007 Oscar-winning actresss.Finally,Kate was freeand still unworried about the nudity - “I won’t do it again: I can’t keep getting away with it “ - and became the 2008 Oscar-winning actresss.
- Uma Thurman, Bel Ami, 2010. Out of kilter in Nine, Kidman could not get the money she wanted to joinWest End stage director Declan Donnellan’s movie debut. SoUma dallied with the titular Robert Pattinson.
- Lucy Punch, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, 2009. Did she jump - or was she pushed as she became box-office poison?Either way, Nic dropped out of the actress role - in theBen Hecht definition: "any woman under 30 who is not actively employed in a brothel, with many exceptions”- and auteur Woody Allen was won over the UK’s flavour of the decade for his fourth London film. Lucy was on a roll: Hot Fuzz, St. Trinian’s, Dinner For Schmucks. All her auditions were done by video, and when she finally met him at a wardrobe fitting, Punch gave Allen a huge hug. edged away stiffly and an assistant put her straight: “No one touches Woody.” “I’d never heard of Lucy,” Woody told Aussie journo Helen Barlow. “She just seemed like the best person - we looked at some pretty famous women too.”
All prepared to shake their
booty? “Yes. But they never did it as well as Lucy!”
- Cate Blanchett, RobinHood, 2009. When Sienna Miller quit as as the maid, er widow Marion (sic), Nic and her shadow, Naomi Watts, were among several Sherwood candidates: Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron,Annabelle Wallis,Kate Winslet.
- Naomi Watts, Fair Game, 2009. Originally, director Doug Liman chose an all-Aussie couple, Kidman and Russell Crowe,for the story ofValerie Plame Wilson, the Washinghton wife and mother outed as a CIA agent by the vengefulBush administration after her ambassador-husband’s New York Times article about the White Housemanipulated intel onweapons of mass destruction to justify theIraq war. On TV Karl Rove said, “Wilson’s wife is fair game.”Naomi’s husband was Sean Penn.
- Selena Gomez, Monte Carlo, 2010. Age difference. Kidman was attached to the first script of the Headhunters book (with Julia Roberts), before it won a teen spin (what else with Disney money?). All about two Monaco tourists, one called Grace, and the other is Kelly. (Owch!) Kidman went on to play the village-sized country’s princess in the 2014 Cannes festival opener: Grace of Monaco.
- Uma Thurman, Nymphomaniac - Volume I Volume 2, Denmark-Germany-France-Belgium, 2012. Having made his Dogville, 2002, and refused his Manderlady, 2004, Kidman agreed to return to Danish director Lars Von Triers for a cameo as Mrs H in the Lars Von Trier triolgy. (Ultra depressing). The final version boasted real sex from the stars, but proved (of course) to be inserts of porno players. Kidman had got close to that – and urination - in The Paperboy, 2011.
- Mia Wasikowska, Tracks, 2012. The first of various moves to film Robyn Davidson’s novel happened before Mia was born in 1989. Both Nicole and Julia Roberts had previously been up for the heroine - trekking through 1,700 miles of West Australian deserts with four camels and a dog.
- Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, 2013.
- Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman, 2015. On Warner shelves for a full decade (not helped by David Kelley’s disastrous 2011 TVersion), the demi-goddess daughter of Zeus finally joined the DC Extended Universe in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015. For her film, WW’s mother, Hippolyta, the Amazon queen of Themyscira, was first aimed at Kidman - too busy with Big Little Lies. The Danish Nielsen had been listed for Superman’s Ma, Lara Lor-Van, in Man of Steel, 2012.