- Vera Famiga, The Departed, 2005. Testosterone ruled the roost (as per usual in a Martin Scorsese movie) but Vera held her own as Madolyn - a composite of two women in the original Hong Kong thriller, Internal Affairs, 2001. Scorsese had also thought about Hilary Swank and Kate Winslet for the police shrink before preferring a lesser known (cheaper?) actress.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Dark Knight, 2007.
- 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.
- Scarlett Johansson, Iron Man 2, 2009. Bad schedules clash. Emily couldn’t be Black Widow as she was the Lilluptian Princess Mary. And to be, er, blunt: Iron Man went (huge) everywhere; her Gulliver’s Travels went (absolutely) nowhere. Also in the loop: Jessica Alba, Gemma Arterton, Jessica Biel, Eliza Dushku, Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman.
- Rose Byrne, Get Him To The Greek, 2009. Emily had to quit being Jackie Q in the second film about Russell Brand’s rocker Aldous Snow - a rock re-hash of My Favourite Year, 1981. “Someone else originally had the role, and dropped out over scheduling,” said the Australian star of Damages, TV, 2007-09. “I just went in and auditioned, got a call back., went in again, and - yeah, got the role. It's a very small part, a bit at the beginning and a bit at the end. But it's a real departure, something I've never done before. And it's so much fun - the way they work, sort of improvising. Russell Brand, Jonah Hill - they’re pretty funny guys.”
- Cate Blanchett, Robin Hood, 2009. Before Sienna Miller was set as the maid, er widow Marion (sic), Emily was among several Sherwood candidates: Zooey Deschanel, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman.
- Anna Kendrick, Up In The Air, 2009. Auteur Jason Reitman wrote Natalie for Anna after admiring her in Rocket Science, 2007 - but still considered his Juno star - and Emily.
- Amy Adams, The Fighter. 2009. Turned down the role of the barmaid catching the eye of Boston pugilist, Irish Mickey Ward. Well, this was Mark Wahlberg’s dream project about boxing - and he and Christian Bale had the best material.
- Ellen Page, Inception, 2009. After Evan Rachel Woods turned him down, UK director Christopher Nolan considered Blunt, Rachel McAdams, Carey Mulligan, Emma Roberts, Jessy Schram and Taylor Swift before settling upon a fifth Oscar nominee for his thriller in... the architecture of the mind.
- Hayley Atwell, Captain America: The First Avenger, 2010. At one time it looked as if Emily and lover John Krasinski would be Cap Am and his girl, SHIELD agent Peggy (ex-Sharon) Carter. Except Marvel was offering a nine-movie deal. “I’m not someone who likes to plan too much ahead.” Nor, apparently, did Gemma Arterton, Alexa Davalos, Alice Eve, Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike.
- Jessica Alba, The Killer Inside Me, 2010. As directors changed from Andrew Dominik and Marc Rocco to Michael Winterbottom, so did the favourites to play the much beaten hooker Joyce Lakeland. From Emily to Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried and, finally, Jessica.
- Abbie Cornish, The Girl, 2011. Schedules clashed like cymbals again and she had to quit being the young Texas mom smuggling Mexicans across the border.
- Scarlett Johansson, The Avengers, 2011. Suddenly Scarlett is an action star - leading to more Avengers films, the French Lucy and her own Black Widow solo. And all because Fox enforced an option and insisted that Blunt make Gulliver’s Travels. A. Total. Flop.
- Rooney Mara, Side Effects, 2012. “My last film,” said Steven Soderbergh. Hardly surprising when he could’t select his own leading lady. His producers refused Blake – like Lindsay Lohan before her. He searched on through Emily, Alice Eve, Imogen Poots, Amanda Seyfried, Olivia Wilde and Michelle Williams before the suits agreed on Rooney.
- Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco, 2012. Also in the mix to play Grace Kelly were: Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Chastain, Kate Hudson, January Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosamund Pike, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon. But not Christina Applegate, the young Grace on TV in 1983 when Cheryl Ladd was the older. None of them resembled Her Serene Highness, but then nor did Tim Roth look like Prince Rainier.
- Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables, 2012. On the short-list for Fantine. So were Amy Adams, Jessica Biel (also up for Eponine), the genuinely French Marion Cotillard, Rebecca Hall, Kate Winslet - until Hathaway’s audition had everyone in tears.
- Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl, 2013. Abbie Cornish, Julianne Hough, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, Olivia Wilde, Reese Witherspoon were also discussed for Amy, who goes missing on her wedding anniversary. A great Briton won…
- Rebecca Hall, Transcendence, 2013. Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer Wally Pfister was spoilt for choice of (eager) stars for his directing debut. Blunt and Kate Winslet were keen on Evelyn. Plus both girls with the dragon tattoo: the American Rooney Mara and Swedish Noomi Rapace.
- Alicia Vikander, The Man From UNCLE, 2013. For Gaby Teller, the rose betwixt the thorns of the two heroes (the mismatched Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer) the Warner suits looked over Blunt, Gemma Arterton, Emilia Clarke, Alice Eve, Sarah Gadon, Felicity Jones and Mia Wasikowska. Blunt was all but in just as director Steven Soderbergh quit in a budget flurry fury