- Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001. Among 22 youngstars (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, etc) rejecting the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne - after director Garry Marshall’s (surprising) first choice of Juliette Lewis quit.
- Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2002. Also considered for Elektra: Joanne Blalock, Neve Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Portia de Rossi, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon, Salma Hayek, Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu, Mia Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Bridget Moynahan, Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon. Plus Norwegian ballet dancer Natassia Malthe, who became Typhoid in Garner’s Elektra spin-off.
- Lauren German, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2003. Seen about playing Erin in the unnecessary - indeed, “contemptible, vile, ugly and brutal,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert - re-make of the 1974 chiller.
- Michelle Rodriguez, BloodRayne, 2005. “Too brutal,” said the star of Dark Angel, Sin City and The Eye...!
- Keri Russell, Mission: Impossible III, 2005. When Tom Cruise postponed everything to make Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, Scarlett jumped into two successive Woody Allen films, among other movies. The role of Lindsay Farris was then aimed at Jessica Alba, Elisha Cuthbert, Lindsay Lohan… and Katie Holmes, who won Cruise instead. (They wed in 2006). Finally, Russell was selected. Easily. She headlined the new M:I auteur JJ Abram’s TV series, Felicity, 1998-2002.
- Tara Reid, Alone in the Dark, 2005. Due to prior commitments, director Uwe Boll’s Christian Bale/Alba became Christian Slater/Reid.
- Clare Danes, Stardust, 2006. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anne Hathway and Scarlett Johansson also rejected Yvaine in Neil Gaiman’s fantasy kingdom of Stormhold - inhabited by Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer. Jessica preferred to go all political and spend more time with her family. Well, with her husband, Freddie Prinze Jr.
- Anne Hathaway, Get Smart, 2007. Tested - of course, she did. And she was more perfect for the first cinema appearance of Agent 99 than Hathaway, Jennifer Love Hewitt or Rachel McAdams.
- Isla Fisher, Confessions of a Shopaholic, 2008. For once, the prerequisite outsider won as Disney chose an unknown (cheaper, sure, but hilarious) after seeing everyone from the Jessicas (Alba and Biel) to Lindsay Lohan (!) and Reese Witherspoon.
- Malin Ackerman, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? As Alan Moore’s forcibly retired superheroes were called back to duty in an alternate 1985 America - Alba, Jennifer Connelly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hilary Duff, Milla Jovovich, Hilary Swank were up for Laurie Jupiter, aka Silk Spectre II. Two years on, as we shall see, Ackerman won another role from Alba.
- Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man 2, 2009. Already a Marvel favourite (as Susan Storm in the Fantastic Four franchise), Alba was tabled for the Black Widow. Scarlett was also keen on another Marvel creation, Moonstone. Also in the loop: Gemma Arterton, Jessica Biel, Emily Blunt, Eliza Dushku, Angelina Jolie, and Natalie Portman.
- Mandy Moore, Love, Wedding, Marriage, 2010. Jessica cleverly avoided the totally inconsequential directing debut of actor Dermot Mulroney. Slant Magazine’s Kalvin Henley dubbed it “a movie so shallow and wooden, its actors less models than mannequins, that it resembles a furniture catalogue.”
- Maklin Akerman, Wanderlust, 2010. Rejected director David Wain’s offer to play Eve opposite Paul Rudd.
- Mandy Moore, Love, Wedding, Marriage, 2010. Lucky escape! The comedy won scathing reviews such as Slant Magazine’s Kalvin Henley dubbing it “a movie so shallow and wooden, its actors less models than mannequins, that it resembles a furniture catalogue.”
- Hilary Swank, The Resident, 2010. Finnish director Antti Jokinen told his national TV how Alba, then Maggie Gyllenhaal, were first in contention for Dr Juliet Deveraux - in Christiopher Lee’s first Hammer film for 36 years.
- Carey Mulligan, The Great Gatsby, 2011. Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s hunt for Daisy in the third Gatsby movie matched all the season’s other major auditions. As if the only actresses left on planet earth were: Alba, Abbie Cornish, Eva Green, Rebecca Hall, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Rachel McAdams, Natalie Portman, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde, Michelle Williams. And Mulligan... soon sobbing on a red carpet, after being handed a phone. “It was Baz: Hello Daisy!”
- Abbie Cornish, RoboCop, 2013. Kata Mara, Keri Russell also auditioned and Rebecca Hall passed on being the Mrs Robo-reboot who, as Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers put it, intuits that her husband's heart is still in the right place.