- Patricia Pearcey, Squirm, 1975. Still waiting for her breakthrough, Basinger even tested for Jeff Lieberman’s awful horror trip trying to do for earthworms what Jaws did for sharks. D’oh! All shot in 24 days. Really! I would have thought three… Pearcey never matched Basinger, who won an supporting actress Oscar on March 23, 1998, for LA Confidential.
- Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver, 1975
- Farrah Fawcett, Charlie’s Angels, TV, 1976-1980. “When the show was #3, I figured it was our acting,” said Farrah. “When it got to #1d it could only be because none of us wears a bra.” Jigglevision was born! And she stole the show as Jill Munroe, one of Charlie’s dazzling trio of private eyefuls. (Kim had a guest shot in episode #4: Angels In Chains - before winning her own cop show, Dog and Cat, 1977). Then, in what reads like a dry run for Suzanne Somers’ hassles during the same ABC network’s Three’s Company in 1981, Farrah was sued for qutting after the first season. She was Farrah Fawcett Majors by then and when Ladd arrived to replace her, she wore a t-shirt branded: Farrah Fawcett Minor.
- Jessica Lange, King Kong, 1976. Jessica was so keen to get started in movies, she signed the exclusive seven-year contract with Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis. “Stupid! I didn't work for two years. Excruciating!”
- Pamela Stephenson, The Comeback, 1978. Having used Susan George in Die Screaming, Marianne, 1971, ex-soft porn director Pete Walker now hired her boyfriend Jack Jones - and cheekily chased Kim to play his assistant.
- Corinne Clery, Moonraker, 1979.
- Bo Derek, 10, 1979.
- Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon, 1979. Auditioned for Emmeline - despite Grease director Randal Kleiser wanting his shipwrecked couple to be naked throughout the re-make. (They were not). Shields had her long hair glued to her front - and a nude body double.
- Jessica Lange, The Postman Always Rings Twice, 1981. Testing and losing made her housebound with agoraphobia until her career got rolling anew with her “message in a bottle” - her 1982 nude Playboy session.
- Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982. She tested but finally “became an actress in my own eyes” during 9 1/2 Weeks, even though it resembled an softbore MTV video.
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Scarface, 1982. Too hasty for her own good, she rejected the role of Elvira Hancock. But then so did Rosanna Arquette, Colleen Camp, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Deborah Raffin, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Kathleen Turner.
- Lisa Hart Carroll, Terms of Endearment, 1983. Quit when Debra Winger's friend suddenly had less to do in the script. Kim joined The Man Who Loved Women, instead.
- 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. The other 46 ladies were: Kim, Rosanna Arquette, 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, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Madonna, Liza Minnelli, Mary Tyler Moore, 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 andf McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.
- Kathleen Turner, Prizzi’s Honour, 1984. Director John Huston looked over 11 Charley Partanna potentials, 19 Maerose Prizzis, but just five Irene Walkers… and three of them (Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal, Brooke Shields) were too young to be falling for Jack Nicholson’s hit man for the Prizzi Family and the unlikeliest Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan. Basinger pushed for the part. Huston was not swayed.
- Lea Thompson, Howard The Duck, 1985. In the mix for rocker Beverly Switzler were Basinger, Paula Abdul, singer Tori Amos, Jodi Benson, Phoebe Cates, Sarah Jessica Parker and the well-named Lori Singer. Thompson nailed it! “And I got to be a rock star. Everybody wants to be a rock star, right? So, I got to sing and wear really crazy hair. It’s unfortunate that it was such a bomb. But, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Not sure producer George Lucas agreed. Short of funds to complete his Skywalker Ranch, Lucas sold to Steve Jobs what became… Pixar!
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
- Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.
An 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: Basinger, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, 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, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Connelly, 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!
- Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988. Numerous actresses were talked about for the for the gang rape trial. Few were up for either role - the victim or her defence attorney. Not Meryl Streep - but Kim, for example! Apart from some Fatal Attractioners, her rivals included Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Terri Garr, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest.
- Annette Bening, Valmont, 1989. Richard E Grant and Basinger read for Czech director Milos Forman in LA, around Easter 1988.
- Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder, 1989. When Robin Wright proved unavailable for Dr Claire Lewicki, a dozen actresses were seen, from Kim to Madonna,. Having seen Dead Calm, Tom Cruise voted for Kidman to be the screen’s most unlikely brain surgeon - and wed her: 1990-2001.
- Christine Ebersole, Ghost Dad, 1989. Faced with “a horroble role, ” Kim fled Bill Cosby’s comedy - first designed for Steve Martin and director John Badham. Cosby’s director was actor Sidney Poitier, for the fourth time after Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again and Piece of the Action during 1973-1976.
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Ingrid Chavez, Graffiti Bridge, 1990. Prince’s warmed over Purple Rain simply poured down the drains.
- Madonna, Dick Tracy, 1990. Basinger was too expensive. Yet Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone's union scale - $1,440 per week plus a cut - added up, with her record deal, to about $20m.
- Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
- Julia Roberts, Hook, 1990. Kim and Michelle Pfeiffer were reserve Tinkerbells in Steven Spielberg’s Peter Pan update in case Julia never showed up. She had dumped Kiefer Sutherland (almost at the altar) and fled to Ireland with new lover, Jason Patric. She did turn up and proved so difficult the crew called her Tinkerhell.
- Julia Roberts, Sleeping With The Enemy, 1991. Her new agent said she was unhappy with script and co-star - Sean Connery at the time.
- Michelle Pfeiffer, Love Field, 1991. When first planned with Denzel Washington, the new Sidney Poitier.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1992.
- Sherilyn Fenn, Boxing Helena, 1992.
- Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle, 1992. A ridiculous idea, said Basinger of the romcom plot of a kid trying to get his father Tom Hanks together with Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally Meets When Sam Met Suzy. Same writer, Nora Ephron. Same Sally. Also forgetting that romcoms are rarely plausible: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts. And a surprise Brit. Natasha Richardson.
- Nancy Travis, So I Married An Axe Murderer, 1993. First to veto the “smart, sexy butcher” in the script’s four year gestation.
- Sharon Stone, Silver, 1993. For his comeback after a decade in a coke blizzard, Robert Evans voted for the ‘93 erotic model, instead of yesterday’s... Basinger went on to achieve something Stone never managed. An Oscar.
- Winona Ryder, House of the Spirits, 1993. Kim broke her no-testing rules for Danish director Bille August.
- Geena Davis, Angie, 1993. The official reason was Madonna was already booked for Abel Ferrara’s Dangerous Game, 1992. Then, one of her emails was leaked - furious with the head Fox, Joe Roth, for dumping her for a non-Italian in the titular role. In truth, she fled after hearing Roth didn’t want her because she couldn’t carry a movie. (Not that this one did any better without her). Her director, Jonathan Kaplan, also quit and Martha Coolidge took over with her 1991 Rambling Rose star - after some thoughts about a dozen others, from Halle Berry to Meryl Streep. Oh, very Italian!
- 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: Kim, Rosanna Arquette, 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, 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.
- Jodie Foster, Maverick, 1994. When Meg Ryan backed out, helmer Richard Donner considered Kim. Shooting was ten days old when Jodie turned up.
- Melanie Griffith, Nobody’s Fool, 1994. He landed Paul Newman, but not even director Robert Benton can get all the stars he desires. He had loved working with her in Nadine, 1987, “and I’ll find a way to work with her again.” He never did.
- Miranda Richardson, Kansas City, 1996. Too busy earning her eventual Oscar in LA Confidential to join revered director Robert Altman’s jazz movie, the one where Harry Belafonte played... Seldom Seen.
- Kathleen Turner, The Virgin Suicides, 1998. For her first feature, Sofia Coppola requested Basinger as Kirsten Dunst’s hysterical mother but - too expensive after her support Oscar for LA Confidential.
- Nicole Kidman, Eyes Wide Shut, 1999. Director Stanley Kubrick wanted a couple as his married leads. Like... er... first names off the top of his balding head: Kim and Alec Baldwin. The film was also way out of touch with the time it was made in. (Exactly like The Shining).
- Helen Hunt, A Good Woman, 2003. Julianne Moore must have been busy.
- Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004. Who wants to play wriggly-nosed Samantha? Me, me, chorused... Jennifer Aniston, 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.
- Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada, 2005. Kim and Helen Mirren were on the list to be Miranda Priestly, editor of Runway magazine - a thinly disguised take on Vogue’s Anna Wintour... aka Nuclear Wintour).
- Joanna Kerns, Knocked Up, 2007.
- Adrianne Palicki. Wonder Woman, TV, 2011. The DC comicbook heroine had not been seen on screens since Lynda Carter ended her four year reign on ABC in 1979. Time then, said Warner, for a new movie. DC’s testosterone duo, Batman and Superman, had cleaned up, now it up to the beautiful superhuman Amazon warrior Princess Diana of Themysacira, her Lasso of Truth, her indestructible bracelets and (honest) her invisible plane. With who…? Across a decade of plans by producers as diverse as Joel Silver (so wrong) and Joss Whedon (so right), 24 beauties were in the frame: from Madonna to Whedon’s favourite, Cobie Smulders. Then, the film morphed into an updated TV series by David E Kelley - that, too, was dead after the rushed pilot. Palicki was the sole actress considered for TV - she was previously seen by George Miller for WW in his aborted Justice League, in 2008.