- 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 Pfeiffewr, 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, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal (Dad said no), Dana Plato (Mom said no), 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.
- Shelley Hack, Charlie’s Angels, TV, 1979-1980. No, really…!When Kate Jackson quit after four seasons of jigglevision, Pfeiffer and Kathy Lee Gifford were suggested replacements. The series was structured around Kateand utilised many of her ideas, title included- better, she insisted, than… Alley Cats! Hack was succeeded in turn by Tanya Roberts, finally helping toachieve producer Aron Spelling’s first plan of a blonde, a brunette and a readhead as Charlie’s (originally, Harry’s) private eyefuls.
- Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon, 1979. Auditioned for Emmeline - despiteGrease director Randal Kleiser wanting his shipwrecked couple to be naked throughoutthe re-make. (They were not). Shields had her long hair glued to her front - and a nude body double.
- Debra Winger, Urban Cowboy, 1980. "At the time," said producer Bob Evans about Travolta, "anything John wanted, John got." Hundred of new faces were tested for the tough-cookie lead - a star-making part. It came down to Winger v Pfeiffer. "Winger won out," said producer Evans. "Why? Because I wanted Pfeiffer"!
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, 1981. In the mix (with Ellen Barkin, Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kelly Preston, Brooke Shields) for Stacy Hamilton in Cameron Crowe’s classic scenario.
- Deborah Foreman, Valley Girl, 1982. First in the loop for Julie Richman. Forman’s eventual screen mom, Colleen Camp, was a mere nine years older!
- Daryl Hannah, Splash, 1983. A mermaid? Moi?
- 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. Hedecided to go older…Glenn Close won - her schedule didn’t agree. OK,Kate Capshaw! No,she was tied toIndiana 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: Pfeiffer, 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, 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(!), 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 incontention againa 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.
- 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 Pfeiffer (been there, done that and got the Married To The Mob and Scarface t-shirs),Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Liza Minnelli, Demi Moore, 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.
- Elisabeth Shue, Adventures in Babysitting, 1986. For his directing debut, Gremlins writer Chris Columbus saw just about every gal in town for the explosive night of babysitter Chris Parker: a project hangingaround (with Jane Fonda) since the 60s. Twenty years on, Jane’s niece, Bridget Fonda, was booked. Kathleen Turner was the next “first choice.” Julia Louis-Dreyfuss auditioned - and passed toJodie Foster.. But she also passed - to Pfeiffer… and she quit for The Witches of Eastwick! More auditions were held for: Justine Bateman (her TV series, Family Ties, cancelled that idea!), Melanie Griffith, Andie MacDowell, Tatum O’Neal, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone. Columbus refused Kelly McGillis and Valerie Bertinelli lost out to Shue on the final day.
- Glenn Close, Fatal Atraction, 1987.
- Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988. Paramount suits saw 40 young actresses for the (real life) gang rape victim. Or, their own rape bait fantasies… such as 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! And a further 28 for her defence attorney. Including the Fatal Attraction also-rans (from Pfeiffer to Debra Winger, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep). Plus Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Terri Garrt, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis obviously refused the main role. She agreed to play the victim’s lawyer - as long as Foster was her client.
- Kim Basinger, Batman, 1988.
- Annette Bening, Valmont, 1989. As true Brit director Stephen Frears was trying to get Michelle for the virtuous Tourvel for Dangerous Liaisons, Czech film-maker Milos Forman was chasing her for the wicked Merteuil in his version. She chose wisely, narrowly lost an Oscar and later took over the pregnant Bening's Catwoman in Batman Returns, 1991.
- Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder, 1989. When Robin Wright proved unavailable for Dr Claire Lewicki,a dozen actresses were seen, from Michelleto Madonna. Having seen Dead Calm, Tom Cruise voted for Kidman - and then wed her: 1990-2001.
- Melanie Griffith, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1989. "I knew De Palma wanted someone else," said Melanie, "and I knew she'd turned it down. I went in and said: I really think I can do this - please let me. Same thing I did with Body Double."
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990. An astonishing 37 stars (Harrison Ford,Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone, etc) were considered for the forgetful parents - nothing roles in a film written for and duly stolen by the stranded kid, Macauley Culkin.
- Madonna, Dick Tracy, 1990. High on the list of the titular star and director Warren Beatty for chanteuse Breathless Mahoney - except he knew her price would be too high. His affair with Madonna led to her agreement for scale - $1,440 a week. With her resulting album, she actually made... $20m.
- Julia Roberts, Hook, 1990. Michelle was in Tinkerbell wardrobe when Julia skipped off to Ireland with new lover Jason Patric in mid-shoot, causing delays in the over-stretched production. Steven Spielberg said unless Julia reported back by a given date, she was out. She camew back and proved so difficult the crew called her Tinkerhell.
- Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs, 1991.
- Geena Davis, Thelma and Louise, 1991.
- Penelope Ann Miller, Other People's Money, 1991. By the time Canadian director Norman Jewison had accrued enough of the title, Hoffman-Pfeiffer, had became Danny DeVito-Miller. Totally turn off.
- Annette Bening, Bugsy, 1991. Once she quit Other People's Money, director Barry Levinson figured he had her as Bugsy Seigel's broad, Virginia Hill. She preferred Pacino in Frankie and Johnny and, thereby, Michelle helped change Hollywood’s sexual history - as Annette got Bugsy, co-star Warren Beatty (Film City’s #1 bachelor),marriage and babies... a son and three daughters. In eight years - just two more than it took James Toback to pen the script.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Susan Sarandon, Lorzeno's Oil, 1992
"It's this terrible inferiority complex she's got about not being educated," explained Australian director George Miller when, ever-honest, Michelle felt "she wasn't up to the role." She wasn't a mother and felt inferior to the IQ of Lorenzo's real mother, Micheala Odones. Susan refused to read the script until she knew that Pfeiffer was no longer part of the film. "Absolutely the right people ended up in the film," said Doctor George , "more by luck than design."
- 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 movies with Tom Hanks. Also forgetting that romcoms are rarely plausible: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Julia Roberts. And a surprise Brit. Natasha Richardson.
- Julie Kavner, This Is My Life, 1992. Scenarist Nora Ephron's directing debut was a go at Fox if she got Cher, Bette Midler or Pfeiffer - as a Jewish housewife-cum-comic from Queens! More suitable for Julie, aka the voice of Marge Simpsons in the toon series.
- Demi Moore, A Few Good Men, 1992. Beauty can be a beast... Director Rob Reiner considered her opposite Tom Cruise. Until casting director Jane Jenkins said: "If you put two of the most beautiful people in the world together, the audience would be disappointed if there wasn't a love story."
- Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, 1992.
- Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Sharon Stone, Sliver, 1993. "Sharon Stone was one, two and three on my dance card," said producer Bob Evans. Yet she had to be persuaded by him talking to other top ladies.
- Lena Olin, Mr Jones, 1993. Quit as Richard Gere's shrink when beating the Swedish Olin to Catwoman in Batman Returns.
- Meryl Streep, The House of the Spirits, 1993. Only Glenn Close remained from the Bening-Close-Pffeifer trio set for the film five years earlier.
- 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: Michelle, 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, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tatum O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, 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 Pfeiffer, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, Jennifer Jason Leigh, 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.
- Patricia Arquette, Beyond Rangoon, 1995. Veteran UK director John Boorman craved her. She didn't wish to subject her newly adopted daughter to Malaysia locations.
- Sigourney Weaver, Death And The Maiden, 1995. Paris director Roman Polanski's leading lady in mid-1994 - after his idea about re-uniting the long separated Jack Nicholson-Anjelica Huston did not pan out. (Sean Penn pulled that off that coup for The Crossing Guard, 1995).
- Annette Bening, The American President, 1995, Three years before it had almost been President Robert Redford eloping with Michelle. They still managed to set Up Close and Persona in1996.
- Sharon Stone, Casino, 1995. Always planned for Michelle, until becoming a golden opportunity for Sharon to remind Hollywood that she was, first and foremost, an actresss. She soon forgot that when she didn’t win her possible last shot at an Oscar.... before playing Afghanistani grannies with terminal cancer.
- Madonna, Evita, 1996.
"I wish I’d done it - a dream role! But not doing it was the right choice at the time. I was seven months pregnant when I started doing demos for [director] Oliver Stone singing 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina.' Then I had my son and the timing was so wrong." Brit director Alan Parker was also keen but the overtures made to Michelle "outraged" producer Robert Stigwood and the musical's creators, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Tim Rice. The fools!
- Rene Russo, Tin Cup, 1996. Writer-director Ron Shelton saw "scads more girls" after Pfeiffer passed on playing golf with Kevin Costner.
- Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element, France, 1996. That was the 1993 plan - still opposite Bruce Willis. Until realisateur Luc Besson (literally) fell in love with Milla.
- Ashley Judd, Double Jeopardy, 1999. Rejected Bruce Beresford's offer - twice. Jodie Foster also passed. "I still think people will find out that I'm really not very talented," Michelle said. "That I'm really not very good. That it's all just been a big sham."
- Demi Moore, Passion in Mind, 1998. Originally developed for Pfeiffer during a decade 's on-off history, the project of a woman living parallel lives in France and America - was soon chased by Nicole Kidman, Meg Ryan, among others, until Demi snagged it.
- Angelina Jolie, Original Sin, 2000. Michelle bought the rights to Cornell Woolrich’s pulp fiction. Waltz Into Darkness, and always intended to star in this re-make of Francois Truffaut’s 1968 version, La sirène du Mississippi. (His sevcond film from Woolrich, whose It Had to Be Murder was the basis for Hitchcock’s Rear Window). Finally, she simply produced, choosing Antonio Banderas and Jolie for the old Jean-Paul Belmondo/Catherine Denuve roles of coffee planter and his mail-order bride.
- Halle Berry, Catwoman, 2004. If they could only have come up with a more comfortable suit... Her Batman Returns outfit in 1991 put her off the role for life.
- Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004. Who wants to play wriggly-nosed Samantha? Me, me, chorused... Jennifer Aniston, Kim Basinger, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham (who would have been quirkily great), Angelina Jolie, Lisa Kudrow (perfect!), Tatum O'Neal (not so much), Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Hilary Swank, Naomi Watts. Among others seen. Over the years.
- Tilda Swinton, The Chronicles ogf Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2005.
Passed on the White Witch. She'd not made a movie since 2002. Her kids were asking: When ya going back to work, Ma? "I wasn't reading anything that I wanted to commit to. But it's hard to know if I was being dismissive because maybe, subconsciously, I was ready to take a break."
- Hope Davis, Infamous, 2006. A second Truman Capote biopic in twelve months - but Slim Keith was a tiny role. Or, it was after Michelle rejected it. "I'm always inclined to talk myself out of work, though, It's a strange thing that I do. I get cold feet. I overthink."
- Virgina Madsen, A Prairie Home Companion, 2006. Due as the Dangerous Woman in what, alas, proved to be veteran US director Bob Altman’s last hurrah. Michelle finally came back in three films in 2007 in I Could Never Be Your Woman, Stardust and the Hairspray musical.
- Sienna Miller, Factory Girl, 2006. Back in the 80s, Linda Fiorentino was set for… well, not exactly this script, but the same tragic life of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick. Also in the 80s, Warren tried to persuade director Bob Fosse to make the bio-pic with Michelle Pfeiffer (or Molly Ringwald) and Al Pacino as Warhol. Bio-wise, Fosse was satisfied with just one, his own, All That Jazz, 1979 - refused by both Beatty and Pacino. Mike Nichols and Natalie Portman also discussed a film about the poor little rich girl, then collaborated on Closer, instead. Vogue’s “youthquake” was dead at 28.
- Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, 2007.
- Juliana Marguiles, City Island, 2008. First Michelle, then Marcia Gay Harden were impressed by New York auteur Raymond De Felitta’s scenario but still passed on being Andy Garcia’s wife, Joyce, in one of those families never sharing habits, aspirations, and careers with one another.
- Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, 2013.