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Theresa Russell

  1. Sissy Spacek, Carrie, 1976. There would be other Carries later on stage and screen (and almost a TV series) but none had the Spacek magic. Stephen King’s kinetic heroine was 16 and yet the candidates ranged from Linda Blair avoiding any more Exorcists at 17, Melanie Griffith (Tippi Hedren’s daughter and De Palma’s 1984 Body Double) and Theresa Russell, both 19 -  to Glenn Close, 29, and Farrah Fawcett and Jill Clayburgh…  at 32!  Betsy Slade was director Brian De Palma’s earliest choice, then her 1973 Our Time co-star Pamela Sue Martin, then Amy Irving (who wed his pal, Steven Spielberg).  Sondra Locke’s agent told her to pass. Also seen: Catherine Hicks, Anjelica Huston, Margot Kidder, Christine Lahti, Jessica Lange, Kay Lenz, ex-MGM kid actor Terri Nunn, Bernadette Peters, Theresa Russell, Jane Seymour, Cybill Shepherd, PJ Soles, the unknown Meryl Streep (!), Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest (future Oscar-winner for two of her five Woody Allen films), Cindy Williams, Debra Winger. Sissy knew director DePalma (hubby Jack Fisk was his art director), she was seriously pissed that she’d only been offered Sue or Chris and not The Role.  Fisk persuaded him to test her and she blew the opposition away. Sissy was 25. Yet, absolutely perfect! Fledgling film-makers De Palma and George Lucas held joint  auditions for Carrie and for Princess Leia, Lucas chose another Carrie…
  2. Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, 1976.
  3. Morgan Fairchild, The Seduction, 1982.      US writer-director David Schmoeller had wanted Russell  for the stalked TV newscaster. But it was Morgan who received a fan letter from Bette Davis, praising her performance.
  4. Ruth Halliday, Aria, 1987.      Selected by her UK director-husband Nicolas Roeg to play the mistress of King Zog of Albania - she finished up playing the King! This switch came about   after a drunken evening for Nic and his London producer Don Boyd. "It needed a rather grand type of performance," suggested Roeg, "and an actor playing it might have put too much love into it.   Whereas, with a woman, it creates a sense of distance." Huh?
  5. Amanda Donohue, The Rainbow, 1989.     Among the Hollywood refusers, she worked later with over-the-top UK director Ken Russell on his next cinema movie, Whore, 1991.
  6. Virginia Madsen, The Hot Spot, 1989.      Doubtless put off by the required nudity, Russell refused director Dennis Hopper’s erotic movie. Debra Winger had been his initial choice. He also checked Jodie Foster (not best buddies since their earlier ’89 gig, Catchfire) and Melanie Griffith (pregnant… with Dakota Johnson, whose father, Don Johnson, was Hopper’s leading man). Ultimately Virginia Madsen was the supremely sensuous Dolly - finding sex in car more fun than eating cotton-candy barefoot - perfectly matching what Chicago critic Roger Ebert hailed as “a superior work in an old tradition.” Hopper liked to call it Last Tango In Texas. They wuz both right!
  7. Dana Delany, Exit To Eden, 1994.   Russell and Susan Sarandon were in the loop before Ann Rice's S&M novel was prettywomanised into another Garry Marshall comedy. (A flop, this time). 
  8. Jennifer Ehle, Wilde, 1997.      Among the actresses shortlisted for the innocent victim in thehistorical drama.Mrs Oscar Wilde.



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