Jessica Biel

  1. 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. 
  2. Jordana Brewster, The Fast and The Furious,  2000.  Vin Diesel ‘s sister, Mia Toretto,  was written for Eliza Dushku but she passed.   Biel auditioned, as did Kirsten Dunst, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bijou Phillips and Natalie Portman. Brewster  then didn’t make another film  for three yearsf and eventually  re-franchised in  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.
  3. 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.
  4. Rachel McAdams, The Notebook, 2003.  The strangest audition 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” . Jessica and hubby Justin Timberlake were seen for Allie and Noah as the project passed from Steven Spielberg to Bondsmith Martin Campbell and finally, Nick Cassavetes… who promptly booked his Mom, Gena Rowlands, as the older Allie.  The older Noah was James Garner.
  5. Kirsten Dunst, Elizabethtown, 2004.   Auteur Cameron Crowe’s first misstep in six films was never finding  a Tom Cruise-Renée Zellweger Mk II. Orlando Bloom was committed to Kingdom of Heavenand Dunst was into The Village. Crowe looked at other guys for Drew (Chris Evans, James Franco, Colin Hanks, etc)  – and Claires like Biel, Scarlett Johansson and “too young” Evan Rachel Wood. Bloom and Dunst had zero chemistry, while Evans and Biel, his then lover, would have burnt up the screen. Chicago critic Rogert Ebert called  Claire  “the kind of person who would alphabetise alphabet soup.”
  6. Jessica Simpson, The Dukes of Hazzard, 2005.    Mandy Moore and Britney Spears also got crushed in the Daisy race.
  7. 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.
  8. Scarlett Johansson, The Other Boleyn Girl, 2007.  A tale previously untold of how both Boleyn girls, Mary and Anne, bedded Henry VIII. Mary gave him two sons, but Natalie Portman’s Anne got him to the altar – and we all know how that wound up a thousand days later. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers got it right:  bedroom view of history.
  9. 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.
  10. 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, who rightly felt Rebecca Bloomwood was too close to her Elle Woods in the two Legally Blonde films..  Also in the  mix: Emily Blunt, Kirsten Dunst, Anne Hathaway,  Katie Holmes,  Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried.

  11.  Kristen Bell, Burlesque, 2009.     Jesse was considered for Nikki. So was Lindsay Lohan. For  – surprise! surprise! – Cher’s first musical
  12. 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 two Jessicas (Alba and Biel), plus Gemma Arterton, Emily Blunt, Eliza Dushku.  Plus Angelina Jolie, who led Marvel’s The Eternals, 2019, after  Natalie Portman won Jane Foster in the Thorfranchise.
  13. Keira Knightley, Last Night, 2010.    Jesse tested for Joanna – wed to Sam Worthington, straying to Guillaume Canet when Sam found Eva Mendes.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises, 2011.
  17. Amy Adams, Man of Steel, 2011.
  18. 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
  19.  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).

  20. 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…
  21. 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.

  22. Scarlett Johansson,  Hitchcock, 2012.    Thirty-two years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock’s back in business! With two films headlined by UK actors (Anthony Hopkins, Toby Jones) in bad impressions and fat suits. This is the first before the cameras  – Hopkins making Psycho. And telling Scarlett’s  Janet Leigh: “You can call me Hitch. Hold the cock.”  As Janet Leigh was just two years older than the dowdier Vera Miles (played by Jessica Biel), most actresses were up for either role…

  23. Jessic Biel,  Hitchcock, 2012.    …the candidates included  , Dianna Agron, Camilla Belle, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Natalie Dormer, Sarah Gadon, Ashley Greene, Kate Mara, Brit Marling, Gwyneth Paltrow,Chloe Sevigny, Mary Elizabeth Winstead., Reese Witherspoon, Evan Rachel Wood… plus  Jessica Biel (chosen for Vera Miles)  and January Jones, who was also up for the role of Tippi Hedren in the Hitch-making-The Birds TV  drama, The Girl, seen first in October 2012.  (Timothy Spall was booked as her Hitchcock, finally portrayed by Toby Jones opposite Sienna Miller).

  24. 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
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Rachel McAdams,  True Detective 2, TV, 2014.   The second season could never match the impact and huge viewership – averaging 11.9m – of the first HBO season. They were both written by exec producer Nic Pizzolatti and even if the second show was better, no one would say so as the first had long since entered the pantheon alongside The Sopranos, Oz, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Last time, two cop guys; this time, guy and gal. They were considered a flop. The locale changed from Southern to West Coast noir, still owing everything to Elmore Leonard. Biel, Malin Akerman, Jaime Alexander, Cate Blanchett, Oona Chaplin, Jessica Chastain, Rosario Dawson, Brit Marling, Elisabeth Moss, Kelly Reilly, Abigail Spencer were all up for the role of Detective Ani Bezzerides… opposite Colin Farrell.
  30. 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” she’d teaser-trailed that year in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2015.  Her 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.
  31. Alicia Vikander, Tomb Raider, 2017.    Lara Croft is the girls’ James Bond.  Many tried to succeed Angelina Jolie  from her 2000 version – she won it from  20 candidates.  Two dozen lost to the Swedish Vikander, on a roll with her 2016 Danish Girl Oscar and Ex Machinarobot…The Franchise Brigade was represented by two from the Percy Jackson flicks (Alexandra Daddario, Rosario Dawson), two Terminators (Emilia Clarke, Summer Glau), two Underworlders (Kate Beckinsale, Rhona Mitra) and three Twilighters (Ashley Greene, Nikki Reed and Kristen Stewart who simply refused). Plus 007’s Gemma Arterton, Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, Marvel’s Wanda Maximioff (Elizabeth Olsen), Star Wars’Daisy Ridley, Transformers’ Megan Fox, TRON’s Olivia Wilde, X Men’s Jennifer Lawrence,  Other also-rans were: Jessica Biel (as perfect as Dawson), Emily Blunt, Emily Browning, Cara Delevingne (Vikander’s co-star in Tulip Fever,2017), Nina Dobrev, Anne Hathaway, Sienna Miller (too mild, surely), Saoirse Ronan and Moon’s Kaya Scodelario.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  31