Sissy Spacek

  1. Cybill Shepherd, The Last Picture Show, 1971.    Sissy and Morgan Fairchild came  – and went.  That is how careers are made – and lost. Sissy, previously just an extra in Andy Warhol’s Trash, had the finer future. Five years later she was Carrie and  four years after that she won an  Oscar for her Coal Miner’s Daughter.
  2. Marilyn Chambers, Rabid, Canada, 1972.    Canadian weirdo director David Cronenberg fell for Sissy in Badlands but was also “fascinated with the Chambers myth, although I hadn’t seen any of her films. She wanted to break into   legitimate   movies and hadn’t made a porn movie for four or five years. She was willing to do a low-budget horror film.   Only question was: can she do it? She was great – a complete professional.”
  3. Laurie Heineman, Save The Tiger, 1973.    Sissy  passed the role of Myra went to the soap stat of As The World Turns, 1961-1966. Nobody noticed as this was Jack Lemmon’s master movie from start to (Oscar) finish..
  4. Jessica Harper, Phantom of the Paradise, 1973.   She had just finished Badlands when testing for Phoenix. She lost but turned up anyway, as a set dresser when her future husband, production designer Jack Fisk, fired his entire crew on the first day.  She claimed she ruined a day’s filming by doing her new job so badly.  Director Brian De Palma still chose her two years later for Carrie.

  5. Amy Irving, Carrie, 1976.  
  6. Nancy Allen, Carrie, 1976.   

  7. Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,  1976.
  8. Susan Sarandon, Pretty Baby, 1977.  The plot sickens… A prostitute allows her 12-year-old  daughter’s virginity to be auctioned off in a brothel in the red-light Storyville district of  New Orleans, circa 1917. Elegant French director Louis Malle saw 29possible pretty Violets – and another 19 actresses for her mother: Candice Bergen, Cher, Julie Christie, Glenn Close (passed), Faye Dunaway, Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett (passed), Jane Fonda (with Jodie Foster as her daughter), Goldie Hawn (preferred Foul Play), Anjelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle, herself),   Liza Minnelli, Cybil Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Sigourney Weaver. Plus Joan Collins, who suggested Jasmine Maimone, her screen daughter in that year’s Magnum Cop,  would  make a fine Violet. Louis  Malle and Sarandon became lovers and also made Atlantic City, 1980… the year he married Bergen until his 1995 death.
  9. Amy Irving, The Fury, 1977.   Or  Carrie II… ! Director Brian De Palma felt his 1976 Carrie didn’t match Jaws at the box-office because it did not feature A Star.   (The Jaws star was the shark).  Because she was now a star, he wanted Sissy back, alongside Kirk Douglas. Sissy passed (been there, done that,egot the blood-stainmd prom dress). The only Carrie involved was Carrie Snodgress.  Kirk helped sell a few more tickets, but nowhere in the Jaws range.  Amy had been Carrie’s best friend and final victim. And Steven Spielberg’s first wife, during 1985-1989. 
  10. Mia Farrow, A Wedding, 1978.    The ever brilliant director Robert Altman also lost another of   his 3 Women: Shelley Duvall.
  11. Debra Winger, Urban Cowboy, 1980.    Director James Bridges wrote it   for her – the role was even called Sissy.
  12. Theresa Russell, Bad Timing, 1980.     UK director Nicolas Roeg tried to set the film up three years before with Spacek and Art Garfunkle. He still had them in  mind, he told me in London, when the money finally came through. “Oh Christ,” she said on the phone, “I’ve just signed for Coal Miner’s Daughter. Put it off six months.” “Sissy, if it doesn’t go now, I won’t do it.” “Oh God – good luck.” Spacek got an Oscar.   Nic got a new wife – marrying Sissy’s “marvellous” replacement.

  13. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.   
    Howard Hawks  said  she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943 She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood),  pop and rock songs  – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and  wanted to ply…  Frances Farmer.  From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep to Susan Dey  of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983  TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Plus Constance Money, who met  with  producer  Mel Brooks and debuting director Graeme Clifford. They liked her. Not her CV. Seven porno films in three years.  Even if they used her real name (Sue Jensen), someone would have blown an expensive whistle about her hardcore career.

  14. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   Italian maestro Sergio Leoneclaimed he interviewed “over 3,000 actors,” taping 500 auditions for the 110 speaking roles in his New York gangster epic.  He certainly saw 33 girls for nymphet Deborah Gelly: Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Beals, Linda Blair, Glenn Close, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Goldie Hawn, Mariel Hemingway, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Kristy McNIchol, Liza Minnelli, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Meryl Streep, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger. Plus Brooke Shields as the younger version. Deborah was 15 in the first script; McGovern was 20.
  15. Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment, 1983.     Director James L Brooks wrote Emma for her but…   “My baby was a baby then.”

  16. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.    
    In all, 55 actresses
    were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (aged 18; Linda was 27) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger.     James Cameron auteured Sarah for Bridget Fonda. She passed; so did Tatum O’Neal. He decided to go older…  
    and Glenn Close won – her schedule didn’t agree. OK, Kate Capshaw! No, she was tied to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – and Kathleen Turner was Romancing The Stone. Debra Winger won her audition, said yes… then no.   The other 48 ladies were The ’80s Group: Spacek, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Christy Brinkley, Colleen Camp, Jamie Lee Curtis, Geena Davis, Judy Davis, Mia Farrow, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Teri Garr, Jennifer Grey, Melanie Griffith, Darryl Hannah, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Amy Irving, Diane Keaton, Margot Kidder, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Heather Locklear, Lori Loughlin, Kelly McGillis, Kristy McNichol, Michelle Pfeiffer, Deborah Raffin, Meg Ryan, Susan Sarandon, Ally Sheedy, Cybill Shepherd, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Lea Thompson, Sigourney Weaver… one aerobics queen, Bess Motta (she became Sarah’s room-mate, Ginger Ventura), two singers (Madonna, Liza Minnelli), two Brits (Miranda Richardson, Jane Seymour), five essentially funny girls, Goldie Hawn, Rhea Perlman (Mrs Danny De Vito), Gilda Radner, Mary Tyler Moore… plus the new MTM, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, from Saturday Night Live. Most were in contention again a few years later for Fatal Attraction (won by Close) and The Accused (going to Foster and McGillis). Ten years later (after T2), Linda gave birth to Cameron’s daughter and Josephine’s parents wed in 1997… for two years.

  17. Isabella Rossellini, Blue Velvet, 1985. The legend varies…  1.  Auteur David Lynch’s first choice for Dorothy Valens was the German star Hanna Schyguylla.  2. Lynch wrote Dorothy for Harry but she‘d had enough of weirdoes. 3. He moved on to Karen Allen, Rebecca De Mornay, Jodie Foster, Debbie Harry, Helen Hunt, Angelica Huston, Diane Keaton, Helen Mirren, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Sigourney Weaver, Debra Winger – most found Dorothy’s script way too erotic.  4.Lynch then met Isa in a NYC restaurant and fell head over clapperboard in love.  
  18. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  19. 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 28 for her defence attorney. Including the Fatal Attraction also-rans (from Sissy to Debra Winger, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep).  Plus Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Terri Garr, Mary Gross, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused Jodie Foster’s Oscar-winning role and asked to play her lawyer.
  20. Anjelica Huston, The Grifters, 1989.   Sissy’s “reality” convinced UK director Stephen Fears and his US producer Martin Scorsese.  The role was her’s. Except,  they had agreed to see Anjelica in the afternoon!

  21. Greta Scacchi, Shattered, 1991.    German director Wolfgang Petersen’s 1989 choice (with William Hurt) when arranging a Hollywood debut with Richard Neely’s Plastic Nightmare thriller.
  22. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
  23. Meryl Streep, Marvin’s Room, 1996.    The reunion of an estranged family had beenduein 1994 withSissy or Jessica Lange – co-stars in Crimes of the Heart, 1986.
  24. Frances Fisher, ER, TV, 2005.     Sissy was first idea to playthe birth mother of Dr Weaver (Laura Innes),eventually played by Fisher in the 237th episode, Just As I Am.
  25. Melissa (Chessington) Leo, Don McKay, 2008.    Debuting New Yorker auteur Jake Goldberger had “an extensive conversation” with Sissy about being Marie in the homage (shall we say) to the Coen brothers.
  26. Meryl Streep, August: Osage County, 2012.  Oklahoma playwright (and actor) Tracy Letts wanted the Steppenwolf cast of his 2008 Pulitzer Prize winning play to be in the film. He was downright furious when Brits (and an Aussie) were suggested for the dysfunctional Westons. “They must be all-Americans!” Producer Harvey Weinstein won the battle for Benedict Cumberbatch and Ewan McGregor but gave in about Nicole Kidman – and Judi Dench ( too old, anyway, at 78 to Meryl’s 63 for Violet aged 65). in what seemed a Western-set take on Lilian Hellman’s Little Foxes. Therefore, candidates for Violet quickly became  Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek – and Jessica Lange, wed to Sam Shepard, another Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, cast as Violet’s husband.
  27. Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, 2013.
  28. Diane Keaton, And So It Goes, 2014.  She won  the romcom and then decided against Leah, the neighbour of a Michael Douglas suddenly stuck with grand-daughter on his hands, ho, ho…
  29. Debra Winger, Boychoir, Holland, 2015.     Subbed, for the third time, by Winger – in  basically a US take on Les choristes.  She was stuck on an earlier commitment,  13 episodes of the Bloodline series
  30. Molly Shannon, Other People, 2015,   Due to her Bloodline series, for Sissy read Molly  In Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly’s auteur debut  – adding cancer (and great writing) to the wares more usually associated with Quebec auteur Xavier Dolan.  Mommy issues. Homophobia. Sexuality.





 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  30