- Brooke Shields Endless Love, 1981. Auditioned but...
- 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 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 ladies were:Meg (too sweet) (back then), 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 (!), 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 and McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.
- Ally Sheedy, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984. Directors John Hughes and Joel Schumacher were rather like Lucas and Spielberg in the 70s: dipping into the same talent pool. Those Brat Packers Hughes kept in the high school Breakfast Club, Schumacher made, as here, college kids. When Hughes said “Why can’t I make movies like The Lost Boys, Joel?” Schumacher would reply: “Why can’t I make Pretty in Pink?” Different school experiences. Joel’s was “risque and dangerous from a very early age. My father died when I was four, and my mother died at an early age as well. I started drinking at nine, smoking at 10, sexually active at 11....”
- Daphne Zuniga, The Sure Thing, 1985. Not so sure after testing for director Rob Reiner as the prim ’n’ proper co-ed.
- Robin Wright, The Princess Bride, 1986. Tested again for Rob Reiner. (So did all of Hollywood’s new young hotties). “Terrific auditions but not quite right for those parts.” It was third time lucky for Reiner’s best work, When Harry Met Sally...,1989; her “instant chemistry” audition with Billy Crystal won her the famous fake orgasm scene - “maybe the year’s single most uproarious scene,” said critic Gene Shalit.
- Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
- Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.
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: Ryan, Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Diane Keaton, Demi Moore, Kelly Preston, 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, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, 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!
- Valeria Golina, Rain Man, 1988. “There’s no school that teaches you how to read scripts. You have to learn by making mistakes.”
- Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias, 1989. Meg “turned us down to do When Harry Met Sally...” revealed director Herbert Ross, who upset Julia during and after shooting by asking: “Are you going back to New York to study?” (She won an Oscar nod).
- Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder, 1989. When Robin Wright proved unavailable for Dr Claire Lewicki, a dozen actresses were seen, from Meg to Madonna. Having seen Dead Calm, Tom Cruise voted for Kidman - and then wed her: 1990-2001.
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Demi Moore, Ghost, 1990. “I thought: What can an actor do with this? Not an awful lot.” Meg has never regretted her choices. “I'm pretty sure about my reasoning at the time. They probably wouldn’t have been big hits if I’d been in them.”
- Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs, 1990.
- Kim Basinger, The Marrying Man (UK/Australia: Too Hot To Handle), 1990. Director Herbert Ross reported an exceptional script reading with Alec Baldwin and Ryan. His producer reported how Disney would not pay his price. Ross quit and writer Neil Simon reported the Baldwin-Basinger power game was his worst professional experience.
- Demi Moore, The Butcher's Wife, 1990. Throughout 18 months of script discussions, Meg’s “reams of notes” were continually met with Uh-huhs. “And never would a single word be changed. The people weren’t taking me seriously, so I bowed out.” Husband Dennis Quaid and Bob Hoskins also ran.
- Julia Roberts, Hook, 1991. One of Steven Spielberg’s first reserves when Julia loomed dangerously close to being dropped.
- Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991. Among the many - the very many - Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Shannen Doherty, Nicole Eggeret, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Tiffani Thiessen, Reese Witherspoon - considered by Steven Spielberg and, later, Martin Scorsese for the teen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden. (Nicole in the 1962 original). Some found it too sexy and, indeed, few could have equalled the on-heat musk of Juliette’s totally improvised - and one take - seduction scene with Robert De Niro.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
- Goldie Hawn, Housesitter, 1992. “A script is really just a blueprint,” said Meg. “After reading it, and committing to it, you have to find out what kind of movie the director wants to make. I didn’t agree with Frank Oz on the tone or the point of view.” Also, she looked dangerously young opposite Steve Martin. (Who didn’t?)
- 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: Meg, 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, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, 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. She left the West to hubby Dennis Quaid in Wyatt Earp. After three successive films, since the birth of Jack Quaid, she was “just too tired, really.”
- Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1994.
- Amanda Plummer, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Nicole Kidman, To Die For, 1994. “Nicole got my number somewhere,” recalled director Gus Van Sant, “right after Meg Ryan dropped out... which involved her knowing inside information.” Well, she was Mrs Tom Cruise at the time. Ryan had passed up $5m; Kidman got $2m. Most young sparks agreed this was a role to die for - the girl who would do anything (murder included) to get on TV, and stay there. “You aren't anybody in America if you’re not on TV…” They included 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, Uma Thurman. Meg succeeded Kidman in her production of In The Cut, 2003. Final score: Nicole won, Meg lost
- Demi Moore, The Scarlet Letter, 1995. She tried hard but was (fortunately) rejected for the Adulterous Hester Prynne in the Roland Joffé mess- among the Razzie Awards’ list of 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made. Like many a Demi number…
- Patricia Arquette, Beyond Rangoon, 1995. Ironically, the boring director Gus Van Sant had wanted Arquette for To Die For - this was her first $1m role. The British John Boorman helmed.
- Julia Ormond, Sabrina, 1995. Director Sydney Pollack could not persuade her - or Julia Roberts - to re-tread Audrey Hepburn.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, Washington Square, 1997. Very square.
- Demi Moore, Passion in Mind, 1998. Michelle Pfeiffer developed the project of a woman living parallel lives. Once she quit, the A Team, rushed in - and Moore won the Hollywood debut of French realisateur Alain Berliner.
- Julianne Moore, The Shipping News, 2001. Meg considered joining Billy Bob Thornton in the film, after the Travoltas backed away.
- Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare In Love, 1998. Five years before at the Deauville festival, Meg had told me, without any hesitation, that the American actress to watch for was... Paltrow!Angelina Jolie, Beyond Borders, 2000. Kevin Costner kept losing his leading ladies. Catherine Zeta-Jones and then Meg withdrew due to the advent of new lovers - Michael Douglas and Russell Crowe, respectively. Then Costner left and Jolie became the London society woman in love with Clive Owen’s doctor in war-ravaged Ethiopia.
- Ashley Judd, Double Jeopardy, 1999. Libby is framed for her husband’s murder (if he’s really dead) but Ryan, Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Brooke Shields all passed. (What? He was Bruce Greenwood. And yes, of course, he wasn’t…).
- Meryl Streep, Music of the Heart, 1999. Madonna quit after Creative Differences with the usually horror film director Wes Craven. Ryan and Sandra Bullock were seen. Enter: Streep. Game over. Would any of the others have toiled as valiantly as Streep - practising the violin, six hours a day for eight weeks?
- Angelina Jolie, Beyond Borders, 2000. Kevin Costner kept losing his leading ladies. Catherine Zeta-Jones and then Meg withdrew due to the advent of new lovers - Michael Douglas and Russell Crowe, respectively. Then Costner left and Jolie became the London society woman in love with Clive Owen’s doctor in war-ravaged Ethiopia.
- Carrie-Ann Moss, Red Planet, 2000. You offer a role, like Kate Bowman, to an actress. She then reads the script. Then, she promptly disappears. And you wonder why. So you read the script. And start all over…
- Jessica Alba, Fantastic Four, 2004. After being stymied by Roger Corman’s cheap quickie designed to retain the rights, Chris Columbus (not that one!) planned to film the Marvel comic. With the then-wed Ryan and Dennis Quaid, for Sue Storm and Reed Richards.
- 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 sop much), Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Alicia Silverstone, Hilary Swank, Naomi Watts. Among 35 possibles. Over the years.
- Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct 2, 2005. Refused the sequel, too, when Stonethreatened to quit over money issues.She was in good company... Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer, Greta Scacchi, Julia Roberts,Emma Thompson.
- Emily Watson, Wah-Wah, 2004. Actor Richard E Grant turned writer-director to relate his Swaziland childhood with dysfunctional, not to say wildly inappropriate parents. He kept a diary about the shoot, freely admitting that Ryan, Emmanuelle Beart, Toni Collette, Rachel Weisz all turned him down… for roles as varied as his mother and his American airline stewardess step-mom.
- Holly Hunter, The Big White, 2005. The money men yelled: Meg! She replied; Give me some time. After about ten months, she spoke again: No thank you!
- Kate Bosworth, Superman Returns, 2005.
- Nicole Kidman, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 2006. After dining with biographer Patricia Bosworth, Meg said she rather play Sylvia Plath. By now Luc Besson, Jonathan Demme, Ang Lee, Adrian Lyne, Mike Nichols, Martin Scorsese, Barbra Streisand had all refused to direct.
- Annette Bening, The Women, 2007. After 15 years trying to writer-direct her version of MGM’s magic, the bubbles had left the bubbly for the TV Murphy Brown creator Diane English. Egos hit the fan during the 1996 read-through as Ryan was not keen in the Rosalind Russell 1938 comedy turn and fought Julia Roberts for the old Norma Shearer role. Reminiscent of the billing battles between Shearer and Rosalind Russell in 1938.
- Linda Gray, Dallas, TV, 2011. Efforts were made since 2002 to reboot the iconic series (and tele-films) for the cinema. Result? This pilot for a 2012 series.... about JR and Bobby’s rival sons. Directors, stars, genres changed: Robert Luketic, Gurinder Chadha quit, Betty Thomas was to shoot a Southfork comedy; Drew Barrymore, Minka Kelly, Catherine Zeta-Jones were named for Pam, James Brolin as Jock and Jane Fonda, Diane Ladd or Shirley MacLaine as Miss Ellie. The movie idea collapsed when Lopez quit the idea of being JR’s alcoholic wife, Sue Ellen, opposite John Travolta as JR Ewing. Finally, the original Sue-Ellen joined the old-timers returning to their 1978-92 roles.
- Emily Blunt, Into The Woods, 2013.