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Dianne Wiest


  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. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988.     Paramount suits saw 40 young actresses for the (real life) gang rape victim. Or, their own rape bait fantasies… such as 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! And a further 27 for her lawyer. Including Fatal Attraction also-rans from Geena Davis, Sally Field, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld - to Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Wiest, Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner,  Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. Obviously. However, she agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney - on condition that the studio-described “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.
  4. Kathy Baker, Street Smart, 1987.    Photographer-turned-director Jerry Schatzberg thought Dianne was brilliant in Hannah And Her Sisters and found a way to fit her into his film. Two weeks before rehearsals, her agent Sam Cohn called: "I hate to say this but Dianne may not be able to do it, her father is very ill." He called after the weekend: "Do you have a back-up?" "Quite honestly, I did," said Schatzberg. "Kathy Baker, I just felt, was so special and so sexy." She got the role, the National Critics' award and a Robert De Niro film... as Wiest got an Oscar for Hannah.
  5. Holly Hunter, Broadcast News, 1987.     A chance to break away from Woody.
  6. Mia Farrow, Another Woman, 1988.      Set as the woman talking to her shrink - being overheard by Mia’s philosophy professor. When Mia became pregnant, Woody Allen made her the now pregnant woman talking to her shrink. Then, poor Dianne fell ill…
  7. Gena Rowlands, Another Woman, 1988. She got better and won two supporting Oscars for Woody work: The Purple Rose of Cairo, 1984, and Bullets Over Broadway, 1994. After the shoot, Mia Farrow gave birth to her own production on December 19, 1987 - Woody’s only biological child, then named Satchel O’Sullivan.
  8. Judy Davis, Husbands and Wives, 1991.      Jane Fonda wouldn’t cut her hair to be Sydney Pollack ex-wife, so Woody Allen thought of Dianne (of course) until falling for the Aussie eager to cut her tresses. Judy, said Woody, matched “the nervous personality” of Charlotte Rampling, his Stardust Memories star in 1979.
  9. Michelle Pfeiffer, Frankie and Johnny, 1991.     What New Yorek stage-screen director Mike Nichols saw as Dianne and Richard Dreyfuss became the usual Hollywood-prettier pairing when the Marty-esque couple - Al Pacino and Michelle - was shot by Garry Pretty Woman Marshall's usual rose-coloured lenses.
  10. Melanie Griffith, Lolita, 1997.   Griffith had something that her rivals, Shepherd and Dianne Wiest did not. Knowledge of the director. She had twice tested for Adrian Lyne - losing both Flashdanceand Fatal Attraction. This time he didn’t waste their time on any auditioning - he simply made her Lolita Haze’s Mom. 

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