- Drew Barrymore, Firestarter, 1983. A suggestion for Charlie McGee, Stephen King’s little girl who who can start fires at will due to tan experiment that her parents were involved in.
- Christine Marsillach, Opera, Italy, 1987. Director Dario Argento's first choice for Betty but he did not want any comparisons to his and her previous film, Phenomena (US: Creepers), 1985. Christine really became known in director Martin Scorsese’s black-white Armani commercial in 1986.
- Winona Ryder, Beetlejuice, 1987. Finding Betelgeuse was easier for directorTim Burton than unearthing a Lydia. He saw Connelly, Justine Bateman, Diane Lane, Juliette Lewis, Lori Loughlin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Brooke Shields. He fell for Winona. Didn't we all. She was sweet 17 at the time.
- Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.
Awful thing to say. Except it is true. Jodie Foster would never have won her (first) Oscar for this trenchant drama - if actress Kelly McGillis had not been raped in 1982… At first, the role of the rape victim Sarah Tobias was written for Andie MacDowell. She passed. The Paramount suits then saw 34 other young actresses for the (real life) victim. Or, for their own rape bait fantasies - including 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! Foster was refused a test because she was “not sexy enough”! And, anyway, the studio had decided upon McGillis, a high flyer in Paramount’s Witness and Top Gun. And, naturally, she refused point-blank! She knew what it was to be brutally raped and Kelly had no wish to revisit the horror and agony of her own assault six years earlier. The suits were annoyed. They needed her. She was hot at the box-office, their box-office. They had made her a star!! Eventually, McGillis agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney - on condition that unsexy Jodie played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… So is the huge list of talent also seen for Sarah. Starting with the Fatal Attractions also-rans: Rosanna Arquette, Ellen Barkin, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Diane Keaton, Demi Moore, Kelly Preston, Meg Ryan, Jane Seymour, Sharon Stone, Meryl Streep, Debra Winger. And moving on to the younger Connelly, the Prairie mould), Melissa Sue Anderson (trying to bust out of her Little House on the Prairie mould), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Joan Cusack, Judy Davis, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, Mariel Hemingway, Virginia Madsen, Brigitte Nielsen, Tatum O’Neal, Molly Ringwald, Mia Sara, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.” Rape victims shouldn’t be nice? Oh, Hollywood!
- Winona Ryder, Heathers, 1989. Written for her. Apparently not well enough.
- Ione Skye, Say Anything, 1989. As far as writer-director Cameron Crowe was concerned, they tied for the role. Not being as inventive as Buñuel, he could select one only.
- Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
- Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991. Among the many - the very many - Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, , Shannen Doherty, Nicole Eggeret, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Tiffani Thiessen, Reese Witherspoon - considered by Steven Spielberg and, later, Martin Scorsese for the teen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden. (Nancy in the 1962 original). Some found it too sexy and, indeed, few could have equalled the on-heat musk of Juliette’s totally improvised - and one take - seduction scene with Robert De Niro.
- Nicole Kidman, To Die For, 1994. “You aren't anybody in America if you’re not on TV…” Most young sparks agreed this was a role to die for... the girl who would do anything (murder included) to get on TV, and stay there. They included Connelly, Patricia Arquette, Joan Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tatum O’Neal, Mary-Louise Parker, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan (passing up $5m), Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. However, Debra Winger simply refused… and Kidman persuaded director Gus Van Sant that she was his destiny.
- Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996.
- Robin Wright (Penn), Unbreakable, 2000. Julianne Moore also passed Bruce Willis’ wife to Wright because of her TV series, The $treet - brutally executed by Fox after 12 great episodes.
- Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
- Naomi Watts, The Ring, 2001. Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Gwyneth Paltrow - good screamers all - were also seen for Rachel (ex-Reiko), heroine of the Hollywood re-make of Hideo Nakata’s gigantic 1998 Japanese horror hit.
- Rachel Weisz, Runaway Jury, 2002. Two years earlier, UK director Mike Newell asked Jennifer to join Will Smith in the John Grisham courtroom thriller. Gary Fleder made the final film with Rachel and John Cusack.
- 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, Liza 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.
- Rachel McAdams, Red Eye, 2004. Horrorsmith Wes Craven also saw Neve Campbell, Claire Danes, Amanda Peet, Rachel Weisz, Robin Wright - and made the right choice. Chicago critic Roger Ebert praised McAdams. Highly. “When she’s stalking a terrorist with a hockey stick, she seems like a real woman stalking a real terrorist with a real hockey stick. It’s not as easy as it sounds.”
- Paris Hilton, House of Wax, 2005. Both Jennifer and Kate Winslet turned down the remake of the 1953 horror classic. Jennfier preferred “things that intimidate me.”
- Jodie Foster, Inside Man, 2005. She rejected Spike Lee’s invite to be Madeleine White. With good reason. She’d read the script, Chicago critic Rogert Ebert never understood who or what Madeleine was. “She is never convincingly explained, and what she does is not well-defined. She's one of those characters who is all buildup and no delivery” in a a thriller “that’s curiously reluctant to get to the payoff.”
- Uma Thurman, Be Cool, 2005. Jennifer, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Naomi Watts were all in the mix for Edie Athens, but but John Travolta (as Elmore Leonard’s Chilli Palmer, himself) wanted more magic with his Pulp Fiction co-star.
- Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, 2007.
- Salli Richardson, I Am Legend, 2007. Somewhere along the 30-year history of Warners and the Richard Matheson sf novel (two films - one Italian - ten directors), Connelly was up for Zoe Neville, the wife of the last man on earth.
- Hayley Atwell, Brideshead Revisited, 2007. UK director David Yates was due for the totally unnecessary cinema version of the huge 1981 tele-triumph. Except he had another date with Harry Potter. His top three stars also quit, including the married Connelly and Paul Bettany - chosen for Julia Flyte and Charles Ryder – Diana Quick and Jeremy Irons last time..
- Rosamund Pike, Creation, 2008. It was ex-Bond girl Rosamund (“definitely a Darwinist”) who revealed to the world that she and Joseph Fiennes were playing Emma and Charles Darwin in Jon Amiel’s bicentennial biopic - and not the Bettanys.
- Malin Ackerman, Watchmen, 2008. Not so much “Who watches the watchmen?” as Aristotle asked, but who them playeth? As Alan Moore’s forcibly retired superheroes were called back to duty in an alternate 1985 America - Connelly, Jessica Alba, Jamie Lee Curtis, Hilary Duff, Milla Jovovich, Hilary Swank were up for Laurie Jupiter, aka Silk Spectre II. Cast included actors playing Brezhnev, Castro, JFK and Jackie, Kissinger, Nixon, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol…
- Gwyneth Paltrow, Contagion, 2010. A black screen. The sound of a harsh cough… Director Steven Soderbergh thought of Connelly for the cougher - the second victim of what Roger Ebert praised as a realistic, unsensational film about a global epidemic.
- Adrianne Palicki. Wonder Woman, TV, 2011. The DC comicbook heroine had not been seen on screens since Lynda Carter ended her four year reign on ABC in 1979. Time then, said Warner, for a new movie. DC’s testosterone duo, Batman and Superman, had cleaned up, now it up to the beautiful superhuman Amazon warrior Princess Diana of Themysacira, her Lasso of Truth, her indestructible bracelets and (honest) her invisible plane. With who…? Across a decade of plans by producers as diverse as Joel Silver (so wrong) and Joss Whedon (so right), 24 beauties were in the frame: from Madonna to Whedon’s favourite, Cobie Smulders. Then, the film morphed into an updated TV series by David E Kelley - that, too, was dead after the rushed pilot. Palicki was the sole actress considered for TV - she was previously seen by George Miller for WW in his aborted Justice League, in 2008.