- Thora Birch, American Beauty, 1998. Jessica was chosen by UK director Sam Mendes as the daughter of Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning - but her 7th Heaven TV producer Aaron Spelling wouldn’t play ball. Enter 17-year-old Thora - with parental permission for a brief topless scene.
- Jordana Brewster, The Fast and The Furious, 2000. Mia Toretto was written for Eliza Dushku but she turned it down. Jessica auditioned, as did Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bijou Phillips and Natalie Portman. Jordana returned for chapters 4, 5, 6 and was filming #7 when co-star Paul Walker as killed in an off-duty car crash on November 30, 2013. at age 40. He was not driving.
- 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.
- Rachel McAdams, The Notebook, 2003. The strangest adution ever... “That’s one that I wanted so badly.” Biel recalled in 2011. “I was in the middle of shooting Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I auditioned with Ryan Gosling in my trailer - covered in fake blood. [Director] Nick Cassavetes put me through the wringer in an interesting, excitingly creative way.”
- Kirsten Dunst, Elizabethtown, 2004. Auteur Cameron Crowe loved her audition for Claire and gave her... Ellen.
- Jessica Simpson, The Dukes of Hazzard, 2005. Mandy Moore and Britney Spears also got crushed in the Daisy race.
- Angelina Jolie, Wanted, 2007. Halle Berry, Beyonce Knowles and Jada Pinkett Smith were also candidates for Fox, of the thousand-year-old secret society of assassins, The Fraternity.
- Scarlett Johansson, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2007. Both Biel and Emma Bull auditioned for Mary Boleyn - battling her sister, Anne, for Henry VIII’s eye. And keeping her head.
- Carlo Gugino, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who playeth them? As Alan Moore’s forcibly retired superheroes were called back to duty in an alternate 1985 America, Biel, Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver were considered for Sally Jupiter aka Silk Spectre (the mother of Laurie, Silk Spectre II, doncha know). Warners then took over the rights. And went cheaper.
- 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.
- Kristen Bell, Burlesque, 2009. Jesse was considered for Nikki. So was Lindsay Lohan. For - surprise! surprise! - Cher’s first musical
- Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man 2, 2009. Scarlett proved her commitment to becoming Natalie Rushman aka Natalie Romanoff aka Black Widow - by dying her blonde tresses... scarlett. Those who did not included Biel, Jessica Alba, Gemma Arterton, Emily Blunt, Eliza Dushku, Angelina Jolie, Natalie Portman.
- Keira Knightley, Last Night, 2010. Jesse tested for Joanna - wed to Sam Worthington, straying to Guillaume Canet when Sam found Eva Mendes.
- Ashley Judd, Flypaper, (aka Hold-Up$), 2010. Liv Tyler was also up for the bank teller being protected by secret admirer (Patrick Dempsey) when her bank is hit by not one but two robbery crews. Just like the film had not one, but 17 producers, Dempsey included.
- Jamie Alexander, Thor, 2010. Biel and Diora Baird were among the finalists for Sif, part of Thor’s Asgardian gang before banished to earth by his father Odin.
- Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises, 2011.
- Amy Adams, Man of Steel, 2011.
- Cody Horn, Magic Mike, 2012. Not many actresses turn down Steven Soderbergh - but Jessica passed Brooke on to the daughter of the Walt Disney company and ex-Warner Bros president, Alan Horn. No one was pulling strings, of course
- Scarlett Johansson, Under The Skin, 2012. Many of the same faces from the late 2010 casting season - Gemma Arterton, Abbie Cornish, Megan Fox, Eva Green, January Jones, Blake Lively, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde - were up for the voracious alien hanging around Glasgow …originally the wife of an alien Brad Pitt, but he couldn’t wait for director Jonathan Glazer to get started on his “chilling masterpice” (The Guardian).
- Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables, 2012. Jesse was among the potential Fantines - Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, Marion Cotillard, Rebecca Hall, Kate Winslet - until Hathaway’s audition left everyone in tears...
- Samantha Barkes, Les Misérables, 2012. … and she was also in the loop for Eponine, alongside Emily Browning, Lucy Hale, Scarlett Johansson, Leah Michelle, Hayden Panettiere, Taylor Swift, Emma Watson (also up for Cosette), Evan Rachel Wood. One of the West End Eponines, Danielle Hope, was seen instead for Cosette.
- Svetlana Khodchenkoiva, The Wolverine, 2012. Everyone wanted her to be the mutant villain Viper - except Jesse. She passed - “cold feet,” said rumours - as rapidly as she had quit another comicbook icon in 2007: Wonder Woman in a Justice League of America movie (that never happened). Her successor, opposite Hugh Jackman’s sixth outing as X-Man Logan/Woverine, was the Russian blonde who had enlivened Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, 2011
- Olivia Wilde, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, 2012. Judy Greer, Riki Lindhome, Michelle Monaghan, Winona Ryder and Sarah Silverman were also seen for the rose between two thorny magicians in their old-fashioned Vegas act.
- Elizabeth Olsen, In Secret 2012. While into TV work and shorts, actor and stage director Charlie Stratton spent “decades” preparing his film directing debut - based on Emile Zola’s 1867 classic, Thérèse Raquin. Kate Winslet was set for the lead for a long time, until she could wait no longer. Jessica was next in line. When she also left, Olsen, younger sister of the once infamous Olsen TV twins, became Tom Felton’s wife and Oscar Isaac’s lover.
- Keira Knightley, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 2012. Tom Clancy’s CIAnalyst hero, Jack Ryan, has been around since The Hunt For Red October, 1989. Time, then, for a third reboot… After Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, young Chris Pine became the fourth Ryan. Also in the mix for his surgeon wife, Cathy, were Kate Beckinsale, Felicity Jones and Evangeline Lilly.
- Margot Robbie, Focus, 2014. First, Kristen Stewart and Emma Stone passed, then Biel, Rose Byrne, Olivia Munn, Michelle Williams were assessed for Jess, the beauty being coached in grifting techniques by an adoring Will Smith.
- Rachel McAdams, True Detective 2, TV, 2014. For the second HBO season (changing from Southern to West Coast noir, still owing everything to Elmore Leonard/Justified), Malin Akerman, Jamie Alexander, Oona Chaplin, Rosario Dawson, Kelly Reilly, Brit Marling read as the tough, no-nonsense Monterey sheriff Ani Bezzerides for creator Nic Pizzolatto. Also seen because of their recent outstanding cops (counting for or against them) were Michelle Forbes, from The Killing (also by Pizzolatto), and Elisabeth Moss, who made Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake.
- Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman, 2016. On Warner shelves for a full decade (not helped by David Kelley’s disastrous 2011 TVersion), spinning through numerous directors, the demi-goddess daughter of Zeus, eventually became the Israeli Gadot. “Very different,” she said, “from the experienced, super-confident, grown-up woman” that she introduced in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015. Rivals for the DC DC Extended Universe included Biel, Mischa Barton, Kate Beckinsale, Rachel Bilson, Sandra Bullock in 2001 (and for the 2011 tele-film), Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra in 2006, US wrestling star Chyna, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Eva Green, Mad Men’s busty Christina Hendricks (Nicolas Winding Refn’s choice, 2011), Angelina Jolie in 2001 (ten years later she was asked to direct), Cobie Smulders (WW’s voice in The Lego Movie, 2013), Kristen Stewart. The final trio, auditioning in November 2013, were Olga Kurylenko, Elodie Yung and… Gadot.
- Gal Gadot, The Justice League, 2016. For ten years, Warner exercise extreme cowardice, until Marvel showed them how to make superhero summits with Avengers and Guardians of the Galay, In October 2007, Mad Max’s dad, George Miller, found his Bat/Supermans, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aqua Man, Green Lantern, even Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onzz, after auditioning about 40 youngsters in synch for a franchise… but Biel passed on WW. Four months later, everything was “tabled.” Dumped! By 2010, Miller had gone and who could blame him. Besides, he wanted to go to the Max again.