- Dany Robin, Julietta, France, 1953. Jean Marais nearly fled the film on finding “all the fun of the book is missing in the scenario.” Realisateur Marc Allegret called up a pal to re-write it - Roger Vadim. But who would be the “pure and sexy” Julietta. Marais’ lover, American dancer-choreographer George Reich, pointed to a girl on a Paris Match cover... Sometime later at the Lido, he pointed her out for real. There she was. With Vadim. “She’s called Brigitte and she’s my wife... and anyway, Marc signed Dany Robin this afternoon.” The followng year, Marais and BB co-starred in Future vedettes, also directed by Allegret from a script respun by Vadim. When BB and Vadim made their global breakthrough, Et Dieu...crea la femme, 1955, her role was called... Juliette.
Etchika Choureau, I Vinti (The Vanquished), Italy-France, 1953. For his third film, Italian maestro-to-be Michelangelo Antonioni collated three shorts based on true murders committed by post-war youth in France, Italy and the UK. For the French yarn, he wanted BB but his producers refused an unknown. Hah! The blonde Choureau had made one film only (to BB’s five) and was four years away from her brief Hollywood sojourn: Darby’s Rangers and Layfayette Escadrille. After 15 more films, her career was over by 1965 ; BB retired in 1973.
- Odile Versois, A Day To Remember, 1953.
London producer Betty Box introduced Bardot to the UK public in Doctor At Sea, 1955. But she had tried to import her earlier... “I saw her very first film, Le trou norm and, while on holiday near Monte Carlo in 1954. She was a captivating creature playing a schoolgirl... and she won me over immediately and I tried to get her for Remember. But she was studying at ballet school and could not leave before her exams. Then we went to see her again the following year. By this time she was engaged to Roger Vadim.” And soon taking up the five film contract first offered by producer Raoul Levy to Odile’s sister, Marina Vlady: Les bijoutiers du clair de lune, En cas de malheur, Babette s'en va-t-en guerre, La verité.With which, BB conquered the planet.
- Rosanna Podesta, Helen of Troy, 1954. Dumb Hollywoodians - director Robert Wise included - rejected the androgynous French find, making her Andraste as a consolation. BB glowed while Podesta simpered.
- Etchika Choureau, L’Impossible Monsieur Pipelet, France, 1955. All change for André Hunebelle’s film. First, Choureau (soon to be nicknamed The Sneeze by Hollywood flacks) took over Michel Simon’s daughter, Jacqueline, from BB. Then, Louis de Funès replaced Nöel Roquevert when he replaced a busy Saturnine Fabre as The Colonel, and Gaby Morlay succeeded Jane Marken as Jacqueline’s mother. A mutt named Gangster remained as… The Dog.
- Nicole Berger, Le Printemps, l'Automne et l'Amour, France, 1955. “Here's where I made the stupidest mistake of my career,” admitted Gilles Grangier. “Fernandel required a very special partner. My producer suggested Brigitte... and I refused her!” Her replacement later played the maid of BB and Grangier’s usual star, Jean Gabin, in En cas de malheur, 1956,
- Bernadette Lafont, Les mistons, France, 1956. Auteur François Truffaut’s debut - an 18 minute short (25 in Japan!) had the titular under-12 brats spying on Lafont’s skirts billowing on her bike, during tennis or making out with Gérard Blain (her real-life husband, who was against her acting as her place was in the kitchen). Lafont almost agreed: Surely Bardot would be better? “Incapable,” retorted Truffaut. Within a year he was hailing BB - “magnifique” - in Et Dieu...crea la femme. (Weren’t we all!).
- Françoise Arnoul, Sait-on jamais?/No Sun In Venice, 1957. Until UK/US clergy and other headline-seekers created la scandale success of God Created Woman, BB's big break was a flop at home and producer Raoul Levy quickly dropped her from her husband’s second film, passing it to the star of the (half) hour.
- Mylène Demongeot, Sois belle et tais-toi/BeBeautiful andShut Up, France, 1958. A Marc Allegret script, adapted by Vadim, for his wife and Henri Vidal, then re-adapted for BB Mk II into a mindless, 88-minute frolic with, in supporting roles...Belmondo and Delon.
- Anna Karina, Une femme est une femme, France, 1960. Brigitte was out when New Wave icon Jean-Luc Godard fell for the lovely Danish model. And wed her, 1961-1967.
- Annie Giradot, Rocco e I suoi fratelli (UK/US: Rocco And His Brothers), Italy-France, 1960. Luchino Visconti Visconti’s first producer wanted BB (or PP, Pascale Petit) - one of the reasons the maestro quit and persuaded Goffredo Lombardo to produce... with Visconti’s choice of Girardot. She gave the film’s best performance as Nadia, the hooker falling for two brothers and, in real life, marrying one of them, Italian actor (and future politico) Renato Salvatore.
- Annie Giradot, La proie pour l'ombre (US: Shadows of Adultery), France, 1960. For his third feature, Alexandre Astruc debated over Bardot or Jeanne Moreau for Anna - snared between two former BB co-stars, Daniel Gelin and Christian Marquand. Mais non! Moreau was too intellectual, BB too young. (They would, of course, co-star in Louis Malle’s Viva Maria in 1964). Paris critic turned auteur Astrucwas, according to Jean-Luc Godard, “le tonton de la Nouvelle Vague”… the Uncle of the New Wave. Ten years later, Bardot and Giradot co-starred in Les novices - as naked nuns. On the beach..
- Leslie Caron, Fanny, 1961. Brigitte and Leslie had attended the same Paris dance school. In fact, BB’s then lover, Roger Vadim, told me he had suggested Caron to Gene Kelly for An American In Paris, ten years earlier. (Gene Kelly’s then wife, Besty Blair, said that wqas due to another American in Paris: Eddie Constantine). Due to Vadim, both BB and Caron were seen by realisateur Marc Allegret for his (unmade) Vadim script: Les Lauriers sont Coupés (The Laurels are Cut) in 1950. They were also both up for The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967.
- Joan Collins, The Road To Hong Kong, 1961. Dorothy Lamour was too matronly for her usual sarong girl in the seventh and final Hope-Crosby Road movie. Used to getting any pin-up to join his Christmas shows for the US forces Hope tried Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren, BB. Lost ’em all.
- Elizabeth Taylor, Cleopatra, 1961.
- Irina Demick, The Longest Day, 1961. Darryl Zanuck’s mistress got the French resistance girl’s role (surprise, surprise). Both BB and Marina Vlady had rejected it as being too short.
- Francine Bergé, Judex, France-Italy, 1963. For the villainess Diana Monti, scenarist Jacques Champreux (grandson of the character's creator, Louis Feuillade) suggested Bardot. This would have made the role bigger, more Irma-Vep-like. The producer was enthusiastic - until realising a BB fee would also be bigger. Bergé was chosen due to the scandal in Cannes around her film, les Abysses “Maybe Judex would have been more successful, commercially, with Bardot,” said Champreux, “but it won a lot of credibility thanks to Francine. How could you not believe in her? Same thing for Edith Scob. And, to tell the truth, if Judex is accepted [as played by Channing Pollock], it’s because he’s backed up by very convincing actors.”
- Catherine Deneuve, Le Vice et la Vertu, France, 1963. When Vadim needed her to bail him out, BBcame running... Not this time and the role went to his BB Mk III - the only one of the Make Overs who remained a working star longer than Brigitte, herself.
- Shirley MacLaine, Irma La Douce, 1963. Marilyn proved unavailable and Billy Wilder considered Liz Taylor and BB. “With Bardot, there was the problem of her French accent... wouldn’t match the way Lemmon and anyone else was speaking.” Nor Wilder,cum to zat.
- Capucine, The Pink Panther, 1963.
- MarisaMell, French Dressing, 1964. Ken Russell’s cinema debut, “a weird mix of Fellini, Tati, Mack Sennett and Jean Vigo,” had a tiny British seaside resort copying the Cannes festival. A newly blonded MM was FF, an Eurosex-bomb, instead of BB. Wise decision. “Until then,” confessed Russell, “I'd used actors like tailor’s dummies in attitudes of inspiration. Now they not only spoke, they spoke to each other. I watched in open-mouthed wonder and astonishment.”
- Michèle Mercier, Angélique, marquise des anges, France, 1964. “One of my rare regrets,” admitted Brigitte. Francis Cosne thought he had it in the bag having produced Une parisienne, Voulez-vous danser avec moi? La Bride sur le cou, Le Repos du guerrier, 1957-1962. Bardot rejected the bursting bodice romp - Forever Amber meets Barbara Cartland. Then, she actually read the book and found it formidable. Too late. Cosne brought in the clones: Deneuve (too pale), Lisi (too busy), Fonda (too American), Stroyberg (too unknown). BB (and CC, Claudia Cardinale, were replaced by MM in the series of five chapitres, 1964-1976. featuring such ex-BB co-stars as Sami Frey, Robert Hossein and Roger Pigaut.
- Virna Lisi, How To Murder Your Wife, 1965.
Producer-writer George Axelrod needed an erotic foreign girl with bad English.He waited hours to meet BB in Paris. “When the audience was finally granted and I kissed the ring,” he told me in London, “she was terribly charming, very, very, very aloof, had no desire to work in America and, to my great chagrin, had never heard of me. That’s what blew it! She’d noticed immediately the man’s part was bigger and said she was unavailable until September. As we were due to shoot in July, I asked about her schedule. ‘My lover and I will be through in September and I’ll then be available for a film.’ It’s absolutely real!” Having already helped make Marilyn and invented Mansfield, Axelrod and his wife renovated Lisi into a blonde bébé.
- Mireille Darc, Galia, France-Italy, 1966. Galia was - you'll never guess! - a free spirit, treating men and sex the way men treated women and sex .So, obviously, it was both inspired by and created for BB. She passed on Vahe Katcha's novel and once the new blonde in town heard about it, she talked Georges Lautner into directing while they made Les Barbouzes, 1964. “We didn’t have to fabricate anything, she was the role: free and non-conventional.” They made 13 films together, more than doubling BB-Vadim’s output.
- Claudine Auger, Thunderball, 1965.
- Catherine Spaak, Hotel, 1966. And we hope you enjoy your stay at New Orleans’ St Gregory Hotel… Amid a cat burglar, a film-stealing countess, a battle to avoid foreclosure and a black couple denied a room. But no BB – nor Ursula Andress – in the rubbish rôle of real estate magnate Kevin McCarthy’s squeeze with an eye for hotel manager Rod Taylor. And the worst dialogue: “Take off your jacket. You interest me.” When it all became a TV series, 1983-1988, the St Gregory had somehow moved to LA.
- Anita Sanders, Nero su bianco/Black on White, Italy, 1966. Even the Italians got dumped. Venice rebel Tinto Brass flew to Paris to sweet-talk her into it. They had dinner - “bare-footed, I remember she was.” That’s all!
- Catherine Deneuve, Les demoiselles de Rochefort, France, 1966. Jacques Demy’s original twins, BB and Audrey Hepburn (Geraldine Chaplin was first reserve), became the Dorléac sisters: Catherine and Francoise.
- Susan Denberg, And Frankenstein Created Woman,1967. Hammer Films icon Anthony Hinds, producer and re-writer (as John Elder) had finally caught up with a Roger Vadim film and had a bright idea... And, bien sur, he wanted BB as Christina -played by an ex-Playboy Playmate who soon disappeared in a flurry of headlines... such as mine in the French Cinémonde magazine: L’Affaire Susan Denberg.
- Faye Dunaway, The Thomas Crown Affair, 1967. For the insurance agent investigating Tommy Crown, director Norman Jewison wanted Eva Marie Saint. Too old, screamed the suits. OK, the director drew up a dreamy wish list: Anouk Aimé, Brigitte Bardot, Candice Bergen, Leslie Caron, Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Sharon Tate, Raquel Welch… and his star, Steve McQueen, suggested testing Camilla Sparv. “Yeah, well, I’ve just seen an early print of Bonnie and Clyde… and you’re gonna spend eight hours kissing her!”
- Jane Fonda, Barbarella, France-Italy, 1968. Producer Dino De Laurentiis’ obvious choice. Next: Sophia Loren. Fonda said the film led her “down a new path - as a female impersonator.” US critic Charles Champlin called it: 2002 A Space Idiocy.
- Catherine Deneuve, La Chamade, France, 1968. Realisateur Henri-Georges Clouzot tried for La Vérité, 1960… Vadim, also, for Le repos du Guerrier, 1962... yet no one could get Bardot and Jean-Paul Belmondo ensemble. Not even for a Françoise Sagan novel.
- Anna Karina, Laughter in the Dark, 1969. Five years earlier, Roger Vadim aimed his adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov at Burton and BB (or Natalie Wood).
- Catherine Deneuve, La Sirene du Mississippi, France, 1969. BB said the nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut put producers off her. “We never discussed her,” swore Truffaut. Rubbish! The Hakim brothers (two Paris producers who, Stanley Baker once told me, “couldn’t produce a fart from a tin of beans”) first contacted Truffaut, promising BB and Jean-Paul Belmondo! It was Truffaut, not the Hakims, insisting on Deneuve. (His lover, after all). Anyway, the Hakims never actually had the rights! BB tried to get them for herself - but Truffaut won them with a 400,000 Francs loan from Jeanne Moreau, Claudes Berri and Lelouch. Result: his most expensive flop and, straight after backing out of marriage with Claude Jade, a two-year affair between, as he called themselves: Frank Truff and Kath Neuve. (She was one of the only three lovers he actually lived with, after his (1957-1965) wife, Madeleine Morgenstern and before final mistress Fanny Ardant).
- Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses, Don't They, 1969. Early in the 60s, Jean-Pierre Mocky won BB’s d'accord to film Horace McCoy's novel - opposite Montgomery Clift or Charles Aznavour. Years later, Mocky saw Sydney Pollack at Cannes:“You stole my book, you bastard!” As recompense, Pollack helped him get rights to Elliot Chaze’s sole pulp, My Angel With Black Wings - made by Mocky as Il gele en enter in 1990. And Vadim’s BB Mk IV made Horses her own.
- Diana Rigg, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1969.
- Dominique Sanda, Il Conformista (US: The Conformist), Italy-France-West Germany, 1969. Finding the titular hero and his wife was easy, said director Bernardo Bertolucci - persuading Jean-Louis Trinignant, Stefania Sandrelli took all of two minutes. Bisexual Anna Quadri was the quandry. “I even went to see Brigitte...In spite of all the admiration I had for her, she couldn’t possibly represent the trangressions of the character.” As the Italian BB wanted his Conformists to also star in his next film, Last Tango In Paris, Brigitte was thisclose to BButter.
- Goldie Hawn, There’s A Girl In My Soup,1970. Before the Boulting brothers landed Peter Sellers and Goldie Hawn, there had been plans for a rather French vets ion of the West End comedy hit with BB as the latest target of the roving eye (heated circular bed and, literal, shag carpet) of Yves Montand as a TV cuisine expert. (Sellers played Hoffman the same year - basically, the same movie. Just not as good).
- Gillian Hills La Faute de L'abbé Mouret, France, 1970. Realisateur GeorgesFranju had planned to film Zola, adapted by Jacques Prevert, with Pierre Brasseur. And BB as the carefee Albine.
- Dahlia Lavi, Catlow, 1971. Stephen Boyd and UK producer Euan Lloyd planned three Louis L’Amour Westerns together. Allegedly, Boyd let this second one go (enter: Brynner as the Irish-born outlaw!) when his copine, Brigitte, refused to join the party. With reason. She’d been here before - a girl’s part that was no part at all - in the first Lloyd-Boyd-L’Amour package, Shalako, 1968.
- Angie Dickinson, Pretty Maids All In A Row, 1971. Non to Hollywood even for a film by her old Russian. Vadim.
- Romy Schneider,Cesar et Rosalie, France, 1972. BB-Ventura-Belmondo became BB-Gassman-Belmondo, then Deneuve-Montand-Sami Frey, then Marlene Jobert pleaded for it, and, finally, gloriously, Romy was Rosalie in Claude Sautet’s greatest box-office triumph, his most cherished work for the French public. BB and Ventura made Boulevard du rhum, 1971
- Raquel Welch, The Three Musketeers, 1974. Keen on joining the rumoured Beatles project in1967. Not so after meeting John Lennon, back from the Maharishi in India. In a blue funk about meeting his dream girl - alone! - he sat lotus-style in her Indian-styled suite, told her not to ask questions – “Feel the vibes” - and collapsed into a beer-assisted sleep. “Fuckin’ terrible,” he said. “Worse than meeting Elvis.”
- Jane Birkin, La moutarde me monte aunez,France, 1974. Fanciful farce of a movie queen and a twit of a maths teacher. Birkin asked director Claude Zidi why he didn’t take areal star like BB. “I wrote it for her ten years ago. Anyway, after this film, you’ll be a star.” She already was for the French - and BB had retired.
- Isabelle Huppert, La Truite, France, 1982. The 1962 casting of the exiled US director Joseph Losey was: BB and Signoret. Then, he saw Huppert at the Bayreuth theatre festival.“I don’t think I was a good actress,” Bardot said years later. “I did my best to express what people asked me to play. I wanted to be frank, honest, and straightforward. Not scandalous - I didn’t want to be that. I wanted to be myself. Only myself.”
- Ornella Muti, Un amour de Swann/Swann In Love,France, 1983.
Part of the Brechtian and Marxist director Joseph Losey's shimmering 70s plans for Harold Pinter’s adaptation of Remembrance of Things Past and De cote de chez Swann - after Italian maestro Luchino Visconti suddenly, inexplicably cancelled his version. Between them, they had planned such stars as... Bardot, Bogarde, Boyer, Brando, Delon, Hoffman, Mangano, Moreau, Rampling, Schneider, Signoret.... And Garbo! The mind boggles!! Oh and Helmut Berger, who is said to have been jealous of Delon having the lead role and allegedly blackmailed Visconti into stopping his version to make Ludwig, 1972 ,instead... with Berger in the title role. No wonder BB was saying about her career: “I was really sick of it. Good thing I stopped [after her 42nd film in 1973], because what happened to Marilyn Monroe and Romy Schneider would have happened to me.” In 1989, Hollywood did offer her $1m to be the granny in 3 Men and A Little Lady. Er. there was no granny in the film. Exactly - as BB might have declared on reading the script!