Jennifer Jason Leigh
Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver, 1975.
- Brooke Shields, Pretty Baby, 1977. The subject was horrendous - a 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 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for Violet. From Laura Dern aged 10 and future Sex And The City co-stars Cynthia Nixon, at 11, Sarah Jessica Parker, 12 (like Shields) and (the often too buxom) teenagers JJL, Melissa Sue Anderson, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Blair, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Mariel Hemingway, Helen Hunt, Anissa Jones (who tragically ODed at 18 before her audition), Diane Lane, 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.
Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon, 1979. Grease director Randal Kleiser’s #1 choice was willing - nudity or not nudity.But her father, actor Vic Morrow, refused his permission. (She made up for it in an often nude career).
- Cherie Currie, Foxes, 1979. Sex and the underage American teenage girl… Two films had the same subject that year. JJL, Rosanna Arquette, Diane Lane and Kristy McNichol (who won the other one, Little Darlings) were seen before runaway Annie went to Currie of… wait for it… The Runaways band. She only made six other movies; Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft in 2012 was her first for 22 years!
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Scarface, 1982. Too hasty for her own good, she rejectedthe role of Elvira Hancock. But then so did Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Colleen Camp, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Kay Lenz, Kelly McGillis,Kristy McNichol, Deborah Raffin, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone,Kathleen Turner.
- Lea Thompson, Jaws 3-D, 1982. For reasons more financial than artistic, JJL auditioned for Kelly Ann Bukowski in the worst Bruce sequel of ’em all. The original producers should have had their way and made it as National Lampoon's Jaws 3, People 0. But Spielberg went apoplectic and threatened to quit Universal if they did!
- 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. JJL was too young said Jim.., The other 43 ladies were: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, GoldieHawn, Barbara Hershey, Angelica Huston, Amy Irving, Diane Keaton, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, 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.
- Bess Motta, The Terminator, 1983. Cameron later talked withJJL about Ginger - then changed his mind.
- Ally Sheedy, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984. Directors John Hughes and Joel Schumacher were rather like Lucas and Spielberg in the 70s: dipping into the same talent pool. Those Brat Packers Hughes kept in the high school Breakfast Club, Schumacher made, as here, college kids. When Hughes said “Why can’t I make movies like The Lost Boys, Joel?” Schumacher replied: “Why can’t I make Pretty in Pink?” The answer was different experiences. Joel’s was “drinking at nine, smoking at 10, sexually active at 11.”
- 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 19 potential Maeroses. From the sublime JJL, Rosanna Arquette, 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: Geena 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.
- Madonna, Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985. For her second movie, New York director Susan Seidelman saw various New Young Things and became verycurious about a certain singer. “She was picked for her persona, since she had no body of work yet.”
- 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: JJL, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Diane Keaton, 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!
- Laura San Giacomo, sex lies and videotape, 1989. Opted for Miami Blues, instead.“It’s one of the few times I saw the finished movie and went: ‘Shooot, I wish I could have done that!’ But Laura was so rich init.I couldn’t have played it the way she did.”
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991. Oldest with Jodie Foster at 29 among the many - Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Shannen Doherty, Nicole Eggeret, Bridget Fonda, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, 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 for the teen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden. (Nicole in the 1962 original). 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.
Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman,1991.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Kyra Sedgwick, Singles, 1992. Although she got her big break in Cameron Crowe's Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1982, she dropped out of his new one fora studio move, Rush. She later joined her planned partner, Bridget Fonda, in another studio film, Single White Female, 1992. They had plenty to talk about:Bridget was living with JJL's ex-lover, Eric Stolz.
- Sherilynn Fenn, Ruby, 1992. Jennifer finally joined the Hollywood mainstream in Backdraft and Rush, 1991, and preferred Single White Female to the composite Jack Ruby stripper - perfect for Fenn's twin peaks.
- Lori Singer, A League Of Their Own, 1992. She refused to even read the proffered script. “The whole idea of auditioning actresses by having them play a ball game… I don’t think so.”
- Patricia Arquette, True Romance, 1992. When a hooker’s involved, they always send for Jennifer... Especially when she’s called Alabama Whitman… in a Quentin Tarantino screenplay!
- 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, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts. And a surprise Brit. Natasha Richardson.
- Amanda Plummer, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Holly Hunter, The Piano, 1993. Australian director Jane Campion met several actresses for her Ada: JJL, Juliette Binoche, Isabelle Huppert, Angelica Huston, Madeleine Stowe, Sigourney Weaver. But Holly was able to play most of the piano sequences, herself, as Campion became the first woman to win the Cannes Festival’s best film Palme d'Or.
- 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: JJL, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Glenn Close(!), Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariska Hargitay, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, 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.
- Nicole Kidman, To Die For, 1994.
“You aren’t anybody in America if you’re not on TV…” Most bright young things agreed this was a role to die for... the girl who would do anything (murder included) to get on TV, and stay there. They included JJL, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, Tatum O’Neal, Mary-Louise Parker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan (passing up $5m), Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. However, Debra Winger simply refused… and Kidman persuaded director Gus Van Sant that she was his destiny.
- Asia Argento, The Stendahl Syndrome, 1996 .When Bridget Fonda proved unavailable ,Italian horrorsmith Dario Argento talked with Jennifer - before giving the role to his daughter. “She has really matured as an actress since Trauma.” Well, she had started directing in 1994..
Jane Adams, Happiness, 1998. “I’d been wanting to work with Todd since Welcome To The Dollhouse, and I auditioned twice for Happiness... once, and I didn’t get the part, and then I begged to audition again, and still didn’t get it.” She finally made a Todd Solondz film in 2004. Palindromes.
- Marie Richardson, Eyes Wide Shut, 1999. The young Ingmar Bergman star replaced Jennifer when she was unable to return to London for re-shoots of Stanley Kubrick'sfinal film - she was shooting David Cronenberg's eXistenZ in Ontario.
- Renée Zellweger, Chicago, 2002.
- Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
- Cynthia Watros, Lost, TV, 2005-2008. Guest shots, sure, but not a full TV series, thank you.And it’s been that way since her career began in 1973.
- Jodie Foster, Inside Man, 2005. JJL rejected Spike Lee’s invitation. With good reason. She’d read the script. Chicago critic Rogert Ebert saw the film and still never knew who or what Madeleine was. “She is never convincingly explained, and what she does is not well-defined. She's one of those characters who is all buildup and no delivery” in a a thriller “that’s curiously reluctant to get to the payoff.”
- Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof, 2005. A battle of the stage Catherines to play... her on-screen. As Hollywood tradition dictates, the Broadway star (MLP) was side-swiped, as were two others who had played the role on stage: JJL and Anne Heche. But the London West End Catherine won the movie.
- Jill Hennessy, Lymelife, 2008. After dutifully waiting four years for the film to begin, Jennifer was no longer available. Enter: the ex-Law & Order series DA, 1993-1996.
- Anne Heche, Spread, 2008. A change of Samantha meant Heche was the one being introduced in a great, nearly four-minute Steadycam shot.
- Melissa Leo, A Single Shot, 2012. JJL was seen but Melissa had lately won a support Oscar - as Mark Wahlberg’s mother in The Fighter, 2010.