- Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991. Talking about her audition on the plane to New York, it became obvious that she had no idea who Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were. The passenger next to her raved about them to such an extent that he made her nervous and she blew the audition. Bad one to lose. Never mind, Reese had an Oscar by 2006.
- ClaireForlani, Mallrats, 1995. Good one to lose. (One of her ancestors, John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence).
- Neve Campbell, Scream, 1996. She missed the lead of what scenarist Kevin Williamson had titled Scary Movie - and that become an even funnier Miramax franchise!.
- Claire Danes, Romeo + Juliet, 1996. Another bad one to lose.
- Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996.
- Alicia Witt, Urban Legend, 1998. Another horror no-no.
- Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club, 1999. Fox wanted a name for Marla Singer - hanging out at support groups because "it's cheaper than a movie, and there's free coffee.” UK director David Fincher felt Reese was too young and, in turn, the Sandra Deeof the 90s’ found the script too dark. So did Sarah Michelle Gellar, Courtney Love, Winona Ryder. Fincher wanted HBC (or Anna Friel) and got his way. So did Fox Daddy Rupert Murdoch - he hated the movie and, consequently, dumped his studio chief Bill Mechanic.
- Kate Hudson, Gossip, 1999. Change of Naomi among the college students investigating gossip. From Witherspoon and Brittany Murphy to Kate.
- Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001. Among 22 youngstars (Jessica Alba to Christina Ricci) rejecting the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne - after director Garry Marshall’s (rather surprising) first choice of Juliette Lewis quit. And so, Hathaway made her first movie.
- Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2002. Also considered for Elektra: Jessica Alba, Jolene Blalock, Neve Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Portia de Rossi, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon, Salma Hayek, Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu,Mia Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Bridget Moynahan, Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, Charlize Theron. Plus Norwegian ballet dancer Natassia Malthe, who became Typhoid in Garner’s Elektra spin-off.
Kathryn Morris, Mindhunters, 2002. Not released (more like escaped) until 2005, by which time Kathryn had a huge TV following due to Cold Case, 2003-2008.
- Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2002.
- Kathryn Morris, Mindhunters, 2002. Change of Sara Moore, from Witherwhosis to the TV Cold Case blonde who never made enough movies. The science fictionish title proves to be Cludeo Meets The FBI on the cliché isolated island (in Holland), (no, really), where profilers are being trained… and, as it happens, killed. Actually, the title is FBI slang for its ISU, Investigative Support Unit, assisting US cops in tracking mainly serial killers.
- 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 so much), Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Hilary Swank, Naomi Watts. Among 35 possibles. Over the years.
- Kirsten Dunst, Wimbeldon, 2004. Advantage, Witherspoon!
- Kathryn Morris, Mindhunters, UK-Holland-Finland-US, 2004. Surprisingly for a Finnish director (Renny Harlin) and an all-American cast, the overall influence was Agatha Christie’s closed-world-murders formula. Only louder.
- Sarah Jessica Parker, Failure To Launch, 2005. Like Brooke Shields and Tori Spelling (!), Reese refused to be Paula, the interventionist in Matthew McConnaughey’s life in a re-mould(y) of the 2001 French hit, Tanguy.
- Isla Fisher, Confessions of a Shopaholic, 2009. For once, the prerequisite Great 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… who thought it rather close kin to her Legally Blonde.
- Kate Beckinsale, Whiteout, 2009. Here’s a new beat for a cop. Beckinsale substituted Witherspoon – the 2002 choice for US Marsahl Carrie Stetko hunting a killer in… Antarctica. Just as the sun is due to go AWOL for six months.
- Amy Adams, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonsian, 2009. Reese had been first choice for Amelia Earhart.
, she who became a pilot, as her 1932 memoir was called: For The Fun Of It.
- Mandy More, Tangled, 2009. “Being a Disney Princess,” said Mandy, “is every girl's ultimate dream.” Also in the voice mix for Rapunzel in Disney’s 50th animation feature were Witherspoon, Kristin Chenoweth, Natalie Portman, - and the co-stars of #51, Frozen, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. Portman’s audition was used to voice for early pencil drawn tests of the heroine.
- Kelly Macdonald, Brave, 2012. Aw c’mon, begone Witherspoon! Merida was Disney’s first Scottish princess, so she required a Scots voice, right? Right! And Kelly was neatly none too heavy on her Glaswegian accent.
- Katheriene Heigl, New Year’s Eve, 2011. Wisely passed director Garry Marshall’s star-stuffed kinda-sequel (only emptier) to Valentine’s Day.
Amy Adams, The Master, 2011. In the loop for Peggy in 2010, then Universal lowered the boom and it was another year before director Paul Thomas Anderson could get the Scientiology-esque project rolling and gaining three Oscar nods for incredible acting by Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix. Anderson - but no trophies.
- Jessica Biel, Hitchcock, 2012. Hitchcock’s back in business! With two films headlinedby UK actors (Anthony Hopkins, Toby Jones) in bad impressions and fat suits. This is the secondone - Hopkins making Psycho. And telling Janet Leigh: “You can call me Hitch. Hold the cock.” As Leigh was just two years older than the dowdier Vera Miles, most actresses were up for either role: Diana Agron, Camilla Belle, Abby Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Natalie Dormer, Sarah Gadon, Ashley Greene, January Jones, Kate Mara, Brit Marling, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chloe Sevigny, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Evan Rachel Wood. But Reese was seen only for Miles.
- Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco, 2012. And she was also in the mix for the real thing - the uiltimate Hitchcock blonde - Grace Kelly. But so were: Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Kate Hudson, January Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosamund Pike, Charlize Theron. 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.
- Amy Adams, Big Eyes, 2013. For the first time - in a long time - Tim Burton wanted actors he had not previously worked with. Not that easy to keep ’em! Thomas Haden Church and Kate Hudson became Ryan Reynolds and Witherspoon and, ultimately, Christoph Waltz and Amy.
- Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl, 2013. Witherspoon won the rights to Gillian Flynn’s novel and everyone. Reese included, expected she’d take the main role of Amy Dunne. However, director David Fincher was not happy with the idea of having a star who was also his producer. Rather than firing Fincher, she gracefully dropped out. “It was very clear that I was not right for his vision.” And she moved on to filming another hit book, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
- , 2014. Reese followed Tina Fey and was in turn succeeded by Hathaway as the boss of a fashion website bonding with an elderly intern. Robert De Niro, no less!
- Emma Stone, Aloha, 2014. They were cast in 2008, but as time dragged on, Witherspoon and Ben Stiller quit for other duties. Auteur Cameron Crowe spent four more years re-booting and going younger. With Stone and Bradley Cooper. Didn’t help. In June 2015, Crowe apologised for his “odd or misguided casting choice” of having the Caucasian Stone (and indeed Witherspoon before) as the daughter of a half-Chinese and half-Hawaiian father, causing major annoyance (like the rest of the film) in Hawaii.
- Kristen Wiig, Downsizing, 2016. The reunion of Witherspoon and her 1998 Election director Alexander Payne fell into tangled schedules leading instead to a reunion of Wiig and her 2014 Martian co-star Matt Damon.