- Heather O'Rourke, Poltergeist, 1981. Steven Spielberg wanted someone more angelic and preferred Drew as ET’s little Gertie- making her the hottest movie moppet since Shirley Temple. After a fleet of films, she fell to the Barrymore curse: boozing at nine, pot at 10, cocaine at 12, washed up at 13 until a comeback at 17.Heather was not so lucky. She continued into Poltergeist II and III, but was dead at 12 during surgery for congenital intestinal stenosis in 1988.
- Aileen Quinn, Annie, 1981. “Hollywood,” Drew was soon (primed?) to say, “is a town where bullshit walks and money talks!”
- Uma Thurman, Dangerous Liaisons, 1988. She tested and was thisclose to being the virginal Cécile until UK director Stephen Frears tested the unknown Uma. And a star was born. (Idem for screen partner Keanu Reeves).
- Winona Ryder, Heathers, 1988. “I was black-listed, big time.I had two, three years of casting directors telling me I’d never work again in this town again.”
- Winona Ryder, Great Balls of Fire, 1988. “When I was growing up, I was one step behind [Ryder] while she was getting everything.When she got Great Balls of Fire, and she was 18 playing 13, I was like: I’m 13 - so why?”
- Amy Locane, Cry-Baby, 1989. “I walked into auditions and casting directors just sat there laughing.” She felt them saying: “Little Miss Drug Addict- like we're reallygoing to give you this job.” John Waters preferred the publicity of casting ex-porn star Traci Lords over an ex-cokehead.
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991. “Even after I’d do a good audition, they copped an attitude like:'Well, you're not going to get this - but you’re not as bad as we thought.' That shit only made me angrier.And through pure ambition, I showed these sons-of-bitches that I can do it.”
- Winona Ryder, Edward Scissorhands, 1992. “Very irritating when I know certain actors - whose names I will not say - are totally fucked up on drugs and are working back to back, yet it gets covered up.”
- Kim Basinger, Cool World, 1992. Basinger’s rivals for Jessica Rabbit reframed as Holli Would (no, really!) were Barrymore and porn star Tracie Lords. My favourite critic Roger Ebert nailed the film’s coffin tight. “Surprisingly incompetent.”
- Winona Ryder, Bram Stoker's Dracula, 1992. Francis Coppola allegedly mused about Barrymore as Mina Murray. Not for long as Ryder had earned the rôle. To make up from her quitting The Godfather: Part III), she had him the script when it was due as a TV movie by UK helmer Michael Apted. Francey snapped it up. Apted stayed for thewr ide. As exec producer.
- Sharon Case, The Valley of the Dolls, TV, 1994. Fox hopes for a big movie re-make (with Goldie Hawn), deteriorated into just another tele-trip.
- Elizabeth Berkley, Showgirls, 1994. Unable to land his dream mix of Madonna and Drew as old and new Vegas strippers, Dutch director Paul Verhoeven decided to create his own star. He failed.
- Kristy Swanson, Higher Learning, 1994. Over-obvious idea as the student finding solace with a Lesbian leader of a women's group after being raped on campus.
- Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996.
- Neve Campbell, Scream, 1996. "Don't Answer The Phone…" Director Wes Craven offered the lead but she figured... Don't Open The Door... playing the overture’s Casey would be more fun. Don't Try To Escape.
- Asia Argento, B Monkey, 1997. UK director Michael Caton-Jones quit when Miramax wanted a name instead of Sophia Okenedo as the street girllove object of a middle-class teacher.
- Joey Lauren Adams, Chasing Amy, 1996. The story behind Quentin Tarantino’s favorite 1997 film... New Jersey auteur Kevin Smith wrote the script for his pals. No, no, said Bob and Harvey Weinstein - for a $3m budget, they wanted Barrymore, David Schwimmer, Jon Stewart. No, no, said Smith, he’d make it himself for $250,000 with ex- lover Adams (it was their story), plus Ben Affleck and Jason Lee, and the Miramaxers could buy it for distribution. Done deal! At that price, what else?
- Winona Ryder, Celebrity, 1997. They gelled well on Everyone Says I Love You, 1996, - “As long as you don’t sing!” - so Woody Allen chose her for the actress he leaves his wife, Famke Janssen, for. (Just five years after he left Mia Farrow for her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn). Nola was written for Barrymore. But so was Ever After: A Cinderella Story (her favourite movie). Before Ryder signed on, Kate Winslet was seen. Her Titanic co-star Leonardo DiCaprio was already in the film.
- Anne Heche, Psycho, 1997. Also up for Marion Cane were Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney and Julianne Moore when director Gus Van Sant had the nuttiest idea in movie history - re-making the Hitchcock classic, shot for shot. “So no one else would have to.” (!) With Heche - and a camerman - who’d never seen the original, work that out. Oh, and Bernard Herrmann’s score “adapted” by two other guys.
- Uma Thurman, The Avengers, 1998. Instead of Mrs Emma Peel, Drew decided to be (the world's first tattooed) Cinders. One review suggested that Ralph Fiennes in a cat-suit would have been a better Emma than Thurman.
- Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry, 1999. Plan A was Diane Keaton directing Drew as the heroine hiding her sexual identity crisis by living as a guy. Plan B was Pennsylvanian auteur Kimberly Peirce helping Swank win her first Oscar. Her second arrived five years later for Million Dollar Baby.
- Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
- Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001. Not interested (nor were 21 other youngstars)in being the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne. Of course not. She’d already been through the princess route for Ever After, 1998.
- Nicole Kiidman, Moulin Rouge! 2001. Drew auditioned for Satine. But hey, she was busy enough, thank you. She had three films released that year. “They didn’t have to be big singers,” director Baz Luhrmann explained about his needs, “but they had to be able to move you emotionally. Basically, Ewan [McGregor] and Nicole were the best for the job. That's the bottom line of it.”
- Kate Bosworth, Beyond The Sea, 2004. Before Kevin Spacey directed himself as singer Bobby Darin, Barrymore was Barry Levinson's choice for Mrs D- Sandra Dee.
- Naomi Watts, King Kong, 2004. Peter Jackson kept the faith with his fellow down-under dazzler.
- Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004. Who wants to play wriggly-nosed Samantha? Me, me, chorused… Drew, Jennifer Aniston, Kim Basinger, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham (who would have been quirkily great), Angelina Jolie, Lisa Kudrow (perfect!), Tatum O'Neal, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Hilary Swank, Naomi Watts. Among 35 possibles..Over the years.
- Kate Beckinsale, Click, 2005. After The Wedding Singer, 1998, and 50 First Dates, 2003, Drew wisely avoided Adam Sandler’s latest unfunny comedy… yet blindly returned to planet Sandler for Blended, 2013.
- Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, 2007.