- Mary Steenburgen, Goin' South, 1978. Made three tests for director and co-star Jack Nicholson. He sent roses as consolation. Plus a note: "We'll work together one day and have lots of fun and make lots of money." They did, too, when Bob Rafelson checked the tests and cast them as the sulpheric Frank and Cora in The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1980.
- Margot Kidder, Superman, 1978.
- Bette Midler, The Rose, 1979. When it was still The Janis Joplin Story, Fox wanted Lange - miming to Janis songs. "That always looks so fake," complained director Mark Rydell. He wanted a real singer. Like who? Like The Divine Miss M! Get outa here - she's nothing. When she became something, the studio called Rydell back... and he made a star out of "a living gland!"
- Shelley Duvall, The Shining, 1979. Duvall was the exact opposite of how author Stephen King saw Wendy Torrance. Which is why co-star Jack Nicholson had recommended Lange to Stanley Kubrick, a director suddenly without direction or understanding of the book. Nicholson always praised Duvall for "the toughest job that any actor that I’ve seen had.”. And made sure he got Lange for his next, more erotic partner in The Posman Always Rings Twice, 1980.
- 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 includedJessica, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Meryl Streep and Tuesday Weld - in the throes of divorcing the titularDudley Moore.
- -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. Hedecided 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: Jessica, 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,Diane Keaton, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz ,Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Mary TylerMoore, 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.
- Sissy Spacek, The River, 1984. After not touching farming for decades, suddenly Hollywood had three simultaneous farmers-in-recession dramas - all aimed at Lange. She passed on this one...
- Sally Field, Places in the Heart, 1984. ...and missed a possible Oscar here (Field won it, "You like me, you really like me!") in order to make the less effective Country, with lover Sam Shepard.
- Kim Basinger, Fool For Love, 1985. "If you can get Jessica and Sam Shepherd, here's the money," RKO told director Robert Altman. "When I said we can't - Jessica was pregnant - they withdrew." Shepard suggested Basinger. Having lost Frances to Jessica, this was a sweet revenge for Kim even though she had to put up with the tackiness of her boss, Cannon's Menahem Golan: "Just looking at her makes me want to screw her!" Harry Cohn lives!.
- Holly Hunter, Broadcast News, 1987. Here is the news...
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- 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 28 for her defence attorney. Including the Fatal Attraction also-rans (from Jessica to Debra Winger, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep). Plus Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Terri Garr, Mary Gross, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused Jodie Foster’s Oscar-winning role, but asked to play her lawyer.
- Sigourney Weaver, Gorillas in the Mist, 1988. UK director Michael Apted's moving, almost documentary account of primatologist Dian Fossey’s life among Rwanda's mountain gorillas grew out of two separate projects sensibly merging into an Universal-Warner combo. Jessica was not interested until talking to Apted. Something nagged him about their Fridaymeeting. "She kept her coat on - curious." She called him back on Moday: "Yes - but can you wait a year - I'm pregnant!" Apted told her: "I'm sorry, I can't wait ten minutes .I'm gripping on to this film with my fingertips. There's a thousand other people wanting to do it."
- Kathleen Turner, War of the Roses, 1989. Ron Meyer, CAAgent #2 during the reign of Mike Ovitz and his foot soldiers, yelled on a Deluth street corner that she should do it. The film she was making in Deluth underlined why she did not take any CAA orders- North, another flop with Shepard.
- Kathy Bates, Misery, 1990. Director Rob Reiner wanted a star - "in the book,she was gigantic, you know," said Bates.Bob settled forWarren Beatty - and then, he lost him. And Lange.
- Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford,Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Ellen Barkin, Man Trouble, 1991. Writer Carole Eastman hoped to make it with Jack Nicholson-Diane Keaton.Lawrence Kasdan planned Jessica-Robert De Niro. Finally, Barkin beat a pregnant Streep to Nicholson.For no good reason.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Christine Lahti, Leaving Normal, 1992. Producer-director Edward Zwick's first film since Glory, 1989, read likeThelmaand Louise, The Continuing Story.
- Alberta Watson, Spanking the Monkey, 1993. Jessica and fellow A-Listers Faye Dunaway and Susan Sarandon spurned director David O Russell’s offer to be Mrs Aibelli. They didn’t like the title (USlang for masturbation) nor Mrs A committing incest with her medical student son (Jeremy Davies). The Canadian Alberta (no kidding!) snapped up what became her favourite character. “I’m not a name with an image to protect. The subject was incest. It didn't scare me at all. I seized the character and made her something. She was a deeply disturbed woman with a roller coaster of emotions. Her son visits for the summer and she’s laid up in a cast with a broken leg and things get out of hand.”
- 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: Lange, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Glenn Close (!), Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, 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 and Debra Winger.
- Goldie Hawn, The First Wives Club, 1995. An early thought for Elise Elliot, one of three mid-aged women vowing vengeance ontheir husbands for being jettisoned for younger models. But director Hugh Wilson had to make do with just five Oscar-winnerrs: Marcia Gay Harden, Goldie Hawn, Eileen Heckart, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith.
- Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1995. Also short-listed for author Robert Waller’s Italian war bride Francesca were: Jacqueline Bisset, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon. Australian director Bruce Beresford before quitting. After tentative efforts by directors Bruce Beresford, (who tested Sonia Braga, Catherine Deneuve, Lena Olin, Isabella Rosselllini). Mike Newell, Sydney Pollack and the mighty Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood took over the helm. And casting. In a trice. He simply called up "our best actress".
- Meryl Streep, Marvin's Room, 1996. Jessica left but Robert De Niro stayed.
- Sophie Marceau, Anna Karenina, 1996. UK director Bernard Rose's first idea. The star and producer, Mel Gibson, must seenJessica totally miscast in another historical costume drama, Rob Roy, 1995 - and suggested hisFrench co-star from Braveheart, 1995.
- Sophie Marceau, Anna Karenina, 1996. UK director Bernard Rose's first idea. The star and producer, Mel Gibson, must seen Jessica totally miscast in another historical costume drama, Rob Roy, 1995 - and suggested his French co-star from Braveheart, 1995
- Meryl Streep, The Manchurian Candidate, 2004. Director Jonathan Demme, on his second re-make intwo years,looked at all the women with balls: Jessica, Glenn Close, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson.
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Chérie, 2009. When the Colette novel was been adapted in the 90s, Jessica was set to be Léa de Lonval. Director Stephen Frears made it as a Dangerous Liaisons reunionwith Pfeiffer and scenarist Christopher Hampton.