Molly Ringwald


  1. Daryl Hannah, Splash, 1983. A mermaid?  Moi? That’s what they  all said, more or less.  Except Debra Winger who longed to be  Madison. (Director Ron Howard did not agree). The full 19 options were… Hannah,  Rosanna Arquette, Jodie Foster (she was booked into The Hotel New Hampshire), General  Hospital  soap queen Genie Francis, Melanie Griffith, Diane Lane, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Tanya Roberts (booked for Sheena: Queen of the Jungle), Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields (studying French Literature at Princeton), Sharon Stone, Kathleen Turner, Lisa Whelchel (from The Facts of Life, 1979-1988), Debra Winger.  Plus two Brits, Lynne Frederick and Fiona Fullerton – impressive as the daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra, 1970.  Oh and PJ Soles, who was originally chosen to co-star with… Bill Murray – as Disney’s new (“adult”) Touchstone unit rushed Splash into production to beat Warren Beatty’s similar “half-human-half-kipper” tail. Mermaid.

  2. Ally Sheedy, The Breakfast Club, 1985.       In writer-director John Hughes’ previous Brat Pack film, 16 Candles, Molly had snatched the role that Ally craved. Vice versa, this time. In both cases, they were compensated with other’s roles.

  3. Laura Dern, Blue Velvet, 1985.        “Let me know if I should read  them,” she asked her mother about a bunch of scripts. Returning home, she found mother furious with Ringwald’s agent Hildy Gottleib. “How dare you? This is awful. It’s… it’s… about S&M and…  bugs!” The  “graphic content” would ruin her darling’s   career.  But no, Molly managed that all by herself…  Lynch turned to Dern –  her mother was an actress. Made all the difference!  The Lynch experience  sure didn’t harm  Laura. She went on to make two more for him:  Wild At Heart, 1990,  Inland  Empire, 2006.
  4. Lea Thompson, Some Kind of Wonderful, 1986.        John Hughes hated his 1985 Pretty in Pink ending (as much as Ringwald hated the dress). He respun it for yet another teen triangle number. However, Ringwald cut loose. The star discovery of his first three hits wanted to move on from high schooldaze. “I can’t be 16 forever.” Hughes was furious and never worked with her again. Eric  Stolz recommended Thompson – and she fell for director Howard Deutch, wed him, and had two daughters. Free at last, Molly sent up the Hughes canon in Not Another Teen Movie, 2001.
  5. Meg Ryan, Innerspace,  1986.   The very title comes from dialogue in the film that inspired this spoof: Fantastic Voyage, 1965. Hero Dennis Quaid  is miniaturised into a capsule  and injected into Martin Short’s butt. (Neverthat funny). For the secondary rôle of Quaid‘s girl, 22 actresses were seen, auditioned and/or tested: Karen Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Beverly d’Angelo, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving (being wed to exec producer Steven Spielberg didn’t help!), Amy Madigan, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald Julia Roberts, Rene Russo, Ally Sheedy, Elisabeth Shue, Madeleine Stowe, Sigourney Weaver, Claudia Wells, Sean Young. And, of course, Meg – and Quaid married her during 1991-2001.
  6. Winona Ryder, Beetlejuice, 1987.    Finding Betelgeuse was easier for director Tim Burton than unearthing Lydia.   He saw Ringwald, Justine Batman, Jennifer Connelly, Diane Lane, Juliette Lewis, Lori Loughlin, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields.  And fell for Winona. Didn’t we all. She was sweet 17 at the time. 
  7. Catherine Mary Stewart, Weekend at Bernie’s, 1988.  They would have been perfectfor the original title, he being Hot and Cold being her…  The way Molly told it to Moveline, she and Andrew McCarthy “had chemistry, but we never got along when we were working. He was terribly mean to me, just horrible.” So when her three-time co-star, called her to do something else, she put him straight. “Andrew, I think we’ve just been a little too closely connected. Besides, why the hell do you want to work with me. anyway? You never even talk to me.”

  8. Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1988.   
    An 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 Attraction 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 Ringwald, Melissa Sue Anderson (trying to break her Little House on the Prairie image), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly, Joan Cusack, Judy Davis, Kristin Davis, Bridget Fonda, Annabeth Gish, Mariel Hemingway, Kelly LeBrock, Virginia Madsen, Brigitte Nielsen, Tatum O’Neal, 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!

  9. Kim Basinger, Batman, 1988.
  10. Demi Moore, Ghost, 1989. ”I was approached,” said Molly. ”But,at the time, the director, the actor who was going to be opposite me – all those elements – didn’t sound like a great thing to do, so I didn’t do it. But I like the movie – one of the best things Demi has done.”
  11. Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally… 1989.       Tom Hanks was Harry and director Rob Reiner juggled various Sallies. His first choice Susan Dey, from TV’s Partridge Family.  She virtually ended her movie career by rejecting the role. Rob next looked at both Elizabeths (Perkins and McGovern) and was thisclose to signing Molly Ringwald when t’other MR nailed it!   Meg and Hanks next made another hit, Sleepless in Seattle., 1992. But after a bunch of near-misses, Inner Space, Promised Land, Rom Com Queen, DOA, The Presido, plus  her image-destroying Proof of Love affair with Russell; Crowe she was toast.  Playing unmemorable mothers of Colin Hanks here and Kristen Stewart there.  Molly later played Sally in a  2004 London stage production..

  12. Emily Lloyd, Cookie, 1989.    “Somebody said it takes five years to recover from a Time magazine cover,” said Molly ofher 1986 honour.
  13. Emily Lloyd, In Country, 1989.        All too swiftly, after three hits earning $110m, Molly’s career was in heavy doldrums. Emily’s career did not fare any better. Emily won more screen roles despite battling her Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mild schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder and chronic insomnia.
  14. Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder, 1989.         Dr Claire Lewicki was aimed at all the usual misses. Ringwald, Kim Basinger, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Heather Locklear, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Robin Wright. And a newcomer to such rosters: the Irish Alison Doody. They all passed what was a formulaic Tom Cruise movie – ie, all about Cruise as a cocky young talent, with an older mentor, older (even taller) woman, and surpassing his enemies… literally, in this chapter, as a Daytona NASCAR driver. He chose Kidman, after seeing Dead Calm, and promptly married her: 1990-2001.  And she learned about superstar formulas. When she begged time to study neurosurgery for her surgeon’s role, she was told, basically, not to be so silly.
  15. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1990.
  16. Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991.     Among the many- the very many – Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Shannen Doherty, Nicole Eggeret, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman, Diane Lane, Jennifer JasonLeigh, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Tiffani Thiessen, Reese Witherspoon – consideredby Steven Spielberg and, later, Martin Scorsese fortheteen daughter of Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange: Danielle Bowden.(Nicole 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.
  17. Lori Petty, A League of Their Own, 1991.  “There’s no crying in baseball….”  Long-time ball fan, director Penny Marshall had never heard of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) until seeing a 1987 PBS documentary. She swiftly contacted the makers to join her Hollywood writers to use their title for a fictional comedy-drama version.  Penny staged baseball tests for about 2,000 actresses – if you can’t play ball, you can’t play the Rockford Peaches.  Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty were best; those turned down included Farrah Fawcett, Lori Singer, Marisa Tomei and Maria Maples (before becoming the second Mrs Donald Trump). Also on the plate for pitcher Kit Keller were Jodi Benson, Courteney Cox, Moira Kelly and…  Molly.

  18. Heidi Kling, Out on a Limb, , 1992.
     In the September 13, 2016 issue of Movelies, Stephen Rebello simply  asked Molly if she ever had any crazy screentests.   (Take a deep breath…) “Want to hear about the worst?” She begs Rebello not to mention the title, director, or co-star, who was a friend. “In 1987, they’d given me a script to develop as a vehicle for myself. It was kinda funny, but I didn’t think it would make a great movie. Anyhow, the script went away, then, five years later, it’s being made, has a director, a male star, the same script, mind you with very few changes that I had already passed on. But now, I was in a situation where I had to audition for it.. I’m terribly nervous because I hadn’t done an audition since I was about 13 and I’m terrible in auditions, anyway. I’m in the waiting room, very nervous, and the star, with whom I’m friends, comes out and says Hi and, you know: Isn’t this embarrassing?whateverand goes back into the room. About half-an-hour later, they call me in and it was only supposed to be the star, me and the director, but it’s actually the star, the director, the casting people, the head of the company, the video crew all in this room. Everything went wrong. My pages stuck together. I couldn’t remember the lines. I’m so embarrassed and humiliated. Terrified, There’s supposed to be a scene where she’s punching him out and he grabs her wrists together to subdue her. The director tells me in broken English that he has a great idea: that my co-star should take off his belt and wrap it around my neck like it’s a leash and lead me around like I’m a dog. I look over to see my fellow actor, my friend, the movie star, undoing his belt and I’m thinking, ‘This is for real. It’s going to happen. Either I do this or walk out the door making a scene and have another story following me around that Molly Ringwald walked out of an audition…  I did it. I was flushed, every line I spoke was completely monotone, I was absolutely paralyzed. I shook everybody’s hand, got out to the parking lot and broke down in tears and sobbed all the way home..” She called her agent, told him all and he said: Great anecdote for your memoirs.  What? Oh yeah.  Matthew Broderick was the star, Francis Veber, the réalisateur . The result? “Out on a Limb plays like pure driftwood.,” said Austin Chronicle critic Marjorie Baumgarten.  In fact, such a flop I’d never heard of it.  So thank you maestro  Rebello.

  19. Courteney Cox, Friends, TV, 1994-2004.        
  20. Wendy Crewson, The Santa Clause,1994.   For the ex-wife of Tim Allen – the man who killed Santa! – Disney looked at Crewson, Ringwald, Kate Burton, Patrica Clarkson, Sally Field, Jennifer Grey, Goldie Hawn, Patrica Heaton, Angelica Huston, Nicole Kidman, Mary McDonnell, Pamela Reed, Julia Roberts and Ally Sheedy.Joe Dante, Richard Donner, even Steven Spielberg were Disney’s dream wishes to direct.
  21. Neve Campbell, Scream, 1996.  In the heroine mix for Wes Craven’s quirky new horror franchise: Drew Barrymore (preferred to die early like Janet Leigh in Psycho), Melinda Clarke, Melissa Joan Hart, AJ Langer, Melanie Lynskey, Brittany Murphy, Tori Spelling, Reese Witherspoon (refused), Alicia Witt. Even a way too old Sharon Stone tried to buy Kevin Williamson’s “hottest script of the year” – written in three days in the hope of a quick sale to save his car from being repossessed. Hell, with $500,000 he could get a new one!   He wanted Molly, his favourite star (well, he was the John Hughes of horror films) to play Sidney. She told him, as she had told Hughes a full decade earlier… “You can’t be 16 forever.” She was 28. Yes, but ten years younger than Stone.
  22. Renée Zellweger, Jerry Maguire, 1996.   “You had me at Hello…”Once Tom Hanks passed and Tom Cruise breathed a sigh of relief, auteurCameron Crowe started searching for The Girl: Dorothy Boyd.   Ringwald, Patricia Arquette, Cameron Diaz, Bridget Fonda, Janeane Garofalo, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Courtney Love, Parker Posey, Winona Ryder, Mira Sorvino, Marisa Tomei, Uma Thurman, even Zellweger, came and went. Recommended by Edward Burns (one of the Jerry possibles), Connie Britton made a good test with Cruise and she was Dorothy – depending on  Zellweger’s call back meeting with him. “We have video of that because I was filming,” Crowe told Mike Fleming Jr for Deadline Hollywood’s 20-years-later feature in 2017, “and you just see something happen when Tom sees her. He lights up… As Jerry discovers Dorothy, we discover Renée . That was a very personal thing for me and the way I feel about movies.”
  23. Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.

  24. Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004.      
    For inexplicable reasons, Hollywood kept trying to make a movie out of the  1968-1972 ABC sitcom about a good-looking witch and a Dagwood husband.  In 1993, Penny Marshall was going to direct Meryl Streep as Samantha, then passed the reins to Ted Bissell and he died in 1996 when his Richard Curtis script was planned as Melanie Griffths’ comeback.  Nora Ephron co-wrote and directed this lumbering version about an ego-driven actor trying to save his career with a Bewitched re-hash, but with the emphasis on him (of course) as Darrin, rather than the unknown he chose for Samatha because she can wiggle her nose…  (You didn’t need a nose to know it stank).  Over the years, 37 other ladies were on the Samantha wish-list. Take a deep breath… Kate Beckinsale, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Connelly, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Renee Zellweger.  Plus seven Oscar-winners:  Kim Basinger, Tatum O’Neal, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon… twoFriends: Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow…eleven other TV stars: Christina Applegate, Patricia Arquette, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Helen Hunt, Jenny McCarthy, Alyssa Milano, Brittany Murphy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alicia Silverstone… even  Drew Barrymore and Uma Thurman, who had already re-kindled Charlie’s Angels and The Avengers.

  25. Sienna Miller, Factory Girl, 2005.       Back in the 80s, Linda Fiorentino was set for… well, not exactly this script, but the same tragic life of the drug addict, kleptomaniac, celebutante, mental patient and Andy Warhol  “superstar” Edie Sedgwick. Also in the 80s, Warren tried to persuade director Bob Fosse to make the bio-pic with Michelle Pfeiffer (or Ringwald) and Al Pacino as Warhol. Bio-wise, Fosse was satisfied with just one, his own, All That Jazz, 1979 – refused by both Beatty and Pacino. Mike Nichols and Natalie Portman also discussed a film about the poor little rich girl, then collaborated on Closer, instead. Vogue’s “youthquake” was dead at 28.
  26. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns, 2017.   When Walt Disney made the first Poppins, he mused over Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury or Mary Martin for Mary but by 1963, he had only one star in mind. Julie Andrews.  For this reboot, Disney suits went through no less than 37 contenders… Two Desperate Housewives:Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher. Two Friends:Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow. Two Brat Packers: Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder.  Two of the three authors of The Penis Song: Christina Aplegate, Cameron Diaz. Three sirens: Kim Basinger, Heather Graham Uma Thurman. Four ex-child stars: Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Tatum O’Neal, Brooke Shields. Ten Oscar-winners: Sandra Bullock, Helen Hunt, Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, Tatum O‘Neal, Julia Roberts, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, RenéeZellweger. Plus: Patricia Arquette, Melanie Griffith, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Peiffer, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Naomi Watts. But just two Brits: Kate Beckinsale  – and the winning Emily.













 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  26