- Tyra Ferrell, Jungle Fever, 1991. New York director Spike Lee was first to see the talent behind her beauty. “He let me learn… Yeah, that was my first movie. Spike called me in to audition for the role of his wife. All I was up until that point was a model and…some beauty pageants, I thought: How can I shed this image? And I asked him if I could read for the crack kid. So that was a great way to start in the industry, sort of shedding my physical self and doing a little bit of a character piece.”
- Bridget Fonda, Point of No Return, 1992. Jodie Foster had little hesitation in refusing the Hollywood re-hash (as cumbersome as its title) of réalisateur Luc Besson’s much sharper 1989 French hit, Nikita. Winona Ryder also passed…. while director John Badham (!) somehow also spurned Daryl Hannah, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts for the hit-woman. And Berry: "I met the director who wouldn't even let me read for it." That made a change. "I once had an audition where the guy said, subtly, 'Sleep with me and the part's yours.' Well, only women with half a brain fall for that shit."
- Karina Lombard, The Firm, 1993. She was seen for the bait on the beach, the beauty tempting Tom Cruise into sex in the dunes. A tiny scene but Berry wanted it "because it was ina big film anddidn't call for a black woman."And Mrs Justice(then wed to Atlanta Braves ball player David Justice) wanted justice.
- Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal, 1993. "I really wanted to be seen. The producer called my manager and said: 'Why would a black woman sell her body for a $1m?' The fact is, why would any woman sell her body for a $1m? If you're going to make this movie with anyone, why can't it be with a black woman?"
- Angela Bassett, What's Love Got To Do With It, 1993. "I'm not ready to play another abused, battered woman," she cried after the Queenie mini-series. So Bassett played Tina Turner; four years later, Berry played her Tina - Dorothy Dandridge.
- Lolita Davidovich, Intersection, 1993. Sharon Stone surprised everyone (herself, included?) by voting to be Richard Gere’s plain wife, while Halle lost to Lolita as his sultry mistress.
- Geena Davis, Angie, 1993. The official reason was Madonna left was that she was already booked for Abel Ferrara’s Dangerous Game, 1992. Then, one of here mails 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 Berry to Meryl Streep. 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: Halle, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, 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.
- Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1993.
- Lolita Davidovich, Intersection, 1994. "I'll test or read for or with anybody, anywhere.I just want to know that I'm getting the same shots as Julia or Winona or Marisa or Whoopi."
- Lela Rochon, Waiting To Exhale, 1995. Having selected Angela Bassett and Whitney Houston, Forest Whitaker decided on lesser-knowns for the other roles.
- Samantha Mathis, Broken Arrow, 1996. Elbowed by the producers - “there are no black park rangers.” Hong Kong director John Woo is not hot on choosing women. He also let Jennifer Aniston and Lauren Holly go, while Helen Hunt preferred Twister. Probably they all agreed with Roger Ebert’s later criticism: the purpose of The Girl was to “take off her shirt as soon as possible.” Christian Slater suggested his similar main squeeze from Pump Up The Volume, 1990
- Rosario Dawson, Pluto Nash, 2000. Jennifer Lopez also escaped being Dina Lake, the singer from earth at Eddie Murphy's 2087 lunar night club. Not released until 2002, the “comedy” scored one of the largest financial losses of any Hollywood movie. Budget: $100m for a US take of… $4.41m.
- Jennifer Lopez, Gigli, 2002. Luckily (the film was the worst of the decade), Berry‘s dance card was full: the new Bond, X-Men 2 and shining her Oscar.... the first won by a black Best Actress in 74 years of Academy Awards. While the Lopez-Ben Affleck horror saw business drop a record 81.9% at its second weekend. It remains the only movie to win all top Razzie Awards: Worst Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Script and - as the public was fed up of "Bennifer"- Worst Screen Couple.
- Kate Beckinsale, Underworld, 2003. So goeth the legend... As if director Len Wiseman was going to build a franchise around anyone other than his future wife.
- Diane Lane, Need, 2004. Luis Madoki had been planning it for Berry. Until she played a similar role (a shrink) in Gothika. Marcus Nispel chose Lane. No one should have chosen Gothika.
- Diane Kruger, Troy, 2004. Diane’s rivals as the face that launched a thousand ships - Helen of Troy - were Halle, Keira Knightley Kristin Kreuk, Jennifer Lopez, Sophie Marceau, Connie Nielsen,Catherine Zeta-Jones. Said The Times (of London).
- Uma Thurman, Be Cool, 2005. Berry, Jennifer Connelly, Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts were all in the mix for Edie Athens, but John Travolta (as Elmore Leonard’s Chilli Palmer, himself) wanted more magic with his Pulp Fiction co-star. And, apparently., not with his 2000 Swordfish co-star.
- Angelina Jolie, Wanted, 2007. Jessica Biel, Beyonce Knowles and Jada Pinkett Smith were also candidates for Fox, of thethousand-year-old secret society of assassins, The Fraternity.
- Zoe Saldana, Avatar, 2009. If director James Cameron is so clever, how come he could turn down Halle as Neytiri in his latest greatest box-office champ of all time!
- Katherine Heigl, New Year’s Eve, 2011. She quit the project because of a custody battle over her young daughter. That was settled quicker than envisaged and she became free for another role.
- Kurt Russell, Furious 7, 2014. Universal suits wanted A Name to have a minor rôle leading to something stronger in the next sequel. Targets included Taylor Lautner and two Oscar-winners: Berry and Denzel Washington. Russell played Mr Nobody as if his Tequila Suprise guy Nick Frescia had moved from LA sheriff to US government agent.