Uma Thurman

  1. Robin Wright (Penn), The Princess Bride, 1986.    Too exotic looking! Director Rob Reiner thumbed through a veritable little black book of Hollywood’s new young hotties!Suzy Amis, Valerie Bertinelli, Yasmine Bleeth, Phoebe Cates, Courteney Cox, Kim Delaney, Rebecca de Mornay, Cathryn de Prume, Sherilyn Fenn, Jennifer Grey, Anne Heche, Marg Helgenberger, Lauren Holly, Patsy Kensit, Juliette Lewis, Carey Lowell, Kelly Lynch, Virginia Madsen, Mary Stuart Masterson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alexandra Paul, Amanda Pays, Meg Ryan, Mia Sara, Greta Scacchi, Annabella Sciorra, Kyra Sedgwick, Tori Spelling, Catherine Mary Stewart, Brenda Strong, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Meg Tilly, Charlene Tilton, Nancy Travis, Amy Yasbeck, Sean Young.

  2. 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 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 Thurman, 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, Molly Ringwald, Mia Sara, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields.  Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.” Rape victims shouldn’t be nice? Oh, Hollywood!

  3. Melanie Griffith, Bonfire of the Vanities, 1989,  “Uma’s a great actress,” agreed director Brian De Palma, “but she isn’t comedic. Tom Hanks is a natural comedian and he wasn’t able to play off her.  She didn’t have the comic timing. You either have it or you don’t.” As the film’s flop proved about  De Palma. And the worst cast film of the decade.  I mean, Bruce Willis as a UK journalist,  Tom Hanks as a Master of the Universe.   I mean, c’mon
  4. Jennifer Connolly, The Hot Spot, 1989.    Sharing Sam Shepard as her drifter lover with Anner Archer- that was one plan. Then, UK director Mike Figgis left and Dennis Hopper took overfor a sulphuric film noir. “A superior work in an old tradition,” said Chicago critic Roger Ebert.   Hopper liked to call it Last Tango In Texas. They wuz both right!
  5. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  6. Mary Stuart Masterson, Fried Green Tomatoes, 1990.   In the mix for lesbian Idgie Threadgood, who  formed a lesbian couple with Mary-Louise Parker’s Ruth. This much is clear from film (and Fannie Flagg’s book), despite the suits cutting their love scene  to make them, well,  just good friends. Director Jon Avnegt felt their food fight represented their sex scene. So now we know what all those silent custard pie fights were all about… 
  7. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct,  1991.
  8. Patricia Arquette, True Romance, 1992.     “I’m not a whore. I’m a call-girl. There’s a difference, you know!” Quentin Tarantino created Alabama for Joan Cusack. UK director Tony Scott preferred Drew Barrymore, fully booked at the time.  So Bridget Fonda, Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Juliette Lewis, Julia Roberts, Kyra Sedgwick, Brooke Shields and (inevitably) Uma Thurman were tipped for the girl…  with the name, said QT, sounding like a Pam Grier role!  (Except she was named Jackie Brownwhen he directed her in 1997).In Tarantino’s first ending, Clarence was killed and Alabama would turn to crime with Mr. White – he’s asked about her during Reservoir Dogs, 1991.  Thurman went on to star in QT’s Pulp Fictionand Kill Bill: Vol 1 and 2.
  9. Amanda Plummer, Pulp Fiction 1993.    
  10. Julia Roberts, Mary Reilly, 1994.     UK director Stephen Fears had first hoped for a reunion with his Dangerous Liaisons find. 

  11. Nicole Kidman, To Die For, 1994.     Most young sparks agreed this was a role to die for… Including Thurman, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Connelly, 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, Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. However, Meg Ryan (passing up $5m) and Debra Winger simply refused… and Kidman persuaded director Gus Van Sant that she was his destiny.
  12. Sharon Stone, Casino, 1994.     The role? Robert De Niro’s ex-show-cum-call-girl wife in Martin Scorsese takedown of the Mafia running the biz called Las Vegas. Michelle Pfeiffer felt it was too close to her 1982 Scarface. (It was also close to Goodfellasbut that didn’t hinder the De Niro-Joe Pesci-Scorsese trinity). Ex-porn queen Traci Lords nearly won after an impressive test.  Likewise, Madonna. Amber Smith also tested and De Niro got her into Faithful and  Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral. Also seen: Cameron Diaz, Melanie Griffith, Nicole Kidman, Rene Russo and Uma Thurman.  “I want to be good enough to work with Robert De Niro,” Sharon Stone had told her drama coach. This time she was. Never again.
  13. Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996. 
  14. 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.   Thurman, Patricia Arquette, Cameron Diaz, Bridget Fonda, Janeane Garofalo, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Courtney Love, Parker Posey, Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder, Mira Sorvino, Marisa Tomei, 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 Renee. That was a very personal thing for me and the way I feel about movies.”
  15. Jodie Foster, Contact, 1996.  Uma and Gillian Anderson  were seen for Dr Ellie Arroway, in the Robert Zemeckis take on the story by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan about finding radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence… Enough for Jay Leno (as Himself) to quip: “So it turns out there’s life on other planets. Boy, this is really going to change the Miss Universe contest, you know what I mean?”

  16. Helena Bonham Carter, The Wings of the Dove, 1997.    Due opposite Rufus Sewell as Henry James’ dying American heiress. “That fell apart,” said Sewell. By then time Humpty-Dumpty was put back together again, Umaand Sewell were gone.
  17. Jennifer Aniston, Object Of My Affection, 1998.  Brooklyn social-worker Nina Borowski is pregnant, falling for a gay guy and wanting to raise her child with him.  Nothing is that simple…  Casting went through two other couples: Sarah Jessica Parker-Robert Downey Jr and Uma Thurman-Keanu-Reeves (someone loved Stephen Frears’ Dangerous Liaisons), before settling upon Jennifer Aniston-Pau; Rudd.  Winona Ryder, Kyra Sedgwick and Debra Winger were also in the Nina mix. But just not as famous as Friends!
  18. Kate Hudson, Almost Famous, 2000.  Looking for his Penny Lane groupie in his semi-autobiographical look back to his Rolling Stone reporter daze auteur Cameron Crowe saw 48 of LA’s bright young things… Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Lara Flynn Boyle, Neve Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Claire Danes, Cameron Diaz, Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jenna Elfman, Jennie Garth, Maggie Gyllenhal, Alyson Hannigan, Angie Harmon, Anne Heche, Katherine Heigl, Jordan Ladd, Kimberly McCullough (busier as a TV director these days, High School Musical: The Musical – The Series, etc), Rose McGowan, Bridget Moynahan, Brittany Murphy, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laura Prepon, Lindsay Price, Christina Ricci, Rebecca Romijn, Winona Ryder, Chloë Sevigny, Marley Shelton,  Tori Spelling, Mena Suvari, Uma Thurman, Liv Tyler, Lark Voorhies.  Plus the English Saffron Burrows, Anna Friel, Thandiwe Newton and Rachel Weisz, Madrid’s Penélope Cruz, the French Charlotte Gainsbourg, Canada’s Natasha Henstridge, Ukrainian Milla Jovovich, Scottish Kelly Macdonald, Israeli Natalie Portman, German Franka Potente, Australian Peta Wilson and Welsh Catherine Zeta-Jones.  And the winner, Canada’s Sarah Polley, simply split. (Silly girl).  Crowe then chose Kate  (previously booked  for Anita) because “she seemed more like a free spirit.”  But, but, but… Chloë  was the freest spirit in all Hollywood. As she proved two years later in The Brown Bunny… in a way the others would never have dared.
  19. Angelina Jolie, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, 2000.  For the girls, Lara Croft is their James Bond. Well, more of a sexy Indiana Jones. And 22 hopefuls wanted to bringther sassy, video-game adventurer to life. Demi More was, perhaps, the most keen, but who was simply disregarded. Christina Applegate, Drew Barrymore, Victoria Beckham, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Eggert, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kate Hudson, Elizabeth Hurley, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Lopez, Gwneth Paltrow, Anna Nicole Smith (a joke, surely), Catherine Zeta-Jones were more serioiusly considered. Fairuza Balk, Natalie Cassidy, Kirsten Dunst and Milla Jovovich auditioned while Denise Richards, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman and Liv Tyler simply refused. And Lara’s guy (who fled the sequel) was Daniel Craig – complete with a Walther PPK pistol that he would use again as 007 in Casino Royale, 2005.
  20. Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels, 2000.  Tele-tycoon Aaron Spelling decided to put Aaron’s angels on the big screen  (to help generate a new series on the small). His first new  trio: MTV discovery Jenny McCarthy, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and 007’s Hong Kong martial arts superstar. Then, Drew Barrymore showed him how to do it. with the  third  of her numerous (canny) productions. Just look at the 25 girls she shuffled to find the right  angel Alex Munday: Aaliyah (“too young”),  Jennifer Aniston, Asia Argento, Halle Berry, Lara Flynn Boyle, Helena Bonham Carter, Penélope Cruz, Kristin Davis, Jodie Foster, Angie Harmon (stuck on Law & Order),  Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nia Long, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiffani Thiessen, Uma Thurman, Liv Tyler, , Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Robin Wright, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones… And two singers: Lauryn Hill and another  Spice Girl: Victoria Beckham.

  21. Rebecca Romijin, Femme Fatale, 2001. Pregnant. And director Brian De Palma  – trying to be a realisateur by living and working in Parisdid not wait for her like Tarantino did for Kill Bill. 2003.
  22. Miranda Otto, The Lord of the Rings trilogy,  2001-2003.
  23. Liv Tyler, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-2003.
  24. Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man, 2001.
  25. Jennifer Connelly, A Brilliant Mind, 2001.   If the choice of the right actor to  portray the schizophrenic Noble Prize-winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr was vital,  selecting his screen wife was even more so   – hence an Oscar for Connelly and not for Russell Crowe.  The other candidates included Julie Bowen, Toni Collette, Claire Danes, Geena Davis, Kirsten Dunst, Portia De Rossi, Claire Forlani, Rachel Griffiths, Teri Hatcher, Famke Janssen, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Catherine McCormack, Mary McCormick, Mia Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Julia Ormond, Amanda Peet, Christina Ricci, Meg Ryan, Chloe Sevigny, Alicia Silverstone, Mira Sorvino, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Uma Thurman, Rachel Weisz.  PS Emily Watson was rejected as “too British” – while Salma Hayek was seen because  Alicia Nash came from El; Salvador… which must have meant the others were too American, Australian,  South African, etc.   Director Ron Howard seemed to forget they were all actresses. Odd that, as he used to be one.

  26. Alexandra Staden, My Name Is Modesty: A Modesty Blaise Adventure, 2003.    
    Closer to author Peter O’Donnell than Joseph Losey’s 1965 campy rubbish, this 18-day quickie was simply made to allow Miramax to retain the rights for an 007-ish series to star… Natasha Henstridge, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, Mira Sorvino, Catherine Zeta-Jones or Quentin Tarantino’s  very own Dietrich: Uma Thurman. Plus Russell Crowe as sidekick Willie Garvin.  We all know what happened to Miramax and how the brothers running it named their next combine after themselves. Weinstein. So, like  Sidney Gilliatt’s 60s’ British Lion version  and the ABC plans for a 1982 series with Ann Turkel, Quentin Tarantino’s dream project never happened. He had trailed his interest  by having John Travolta found reading a Modesty book on the john in Pulp Fiction.  
    Maybe Harvey Weinstein’s alleged inappropriate touching of the director’s then-lover, Sorvino (among other allegations about abusing Asia Argento, Salma Hayek, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, etc) was why the big film version was never happened… although such stories had not  stopped Tarantino making six features  for Weinstein during 2003-2015, including Kill Bill and Django Unchained.  He later moved far from the producer, admitting: “I knew enough to do more than I did…. I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard.” 

  27. 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 wriggle 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, Win ona 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… two Friends: 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.
  28. Carla Gugino, Sin City, 2004.  Directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller also looked at Ashley Judd, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah-Jessica Parker and Naomi Watts for Lucille in their  “live” comic-strip.
  29. Eva Green, Casino Royale, 2005.
  30. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up, 2006.

  31. Carol Burnett, Horton Hears A Who, 2007.    Burnett, of course, was rather more comedic than Thurman for voicing  Sour Kangaroo in the fourth toon from Blue Sky Studios, home of the Ice Age franchise. Jim Carrey voiced the elephant, his first toon gig. “A 15-minute picture locked in an 85-minute narrative,”complained The Guardian critic Philip French.
  32. Winona Ryder, Cheaters, 2010.   Uma flew herself to the auditions – and then back home, empty-handed as the ’80s iconette consolidated her comeback…caught between tubby hubby KevinJames and best pal Vince Vaughn.
  33. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl, 2015.    The role? Gerda Wegener, the Californian-born wife of Danish painter Einar Wegener. In 1930, he was one of the first men to surgically become a woman: Lili Ebe.  First choice Charlize Theron dropped out in 2008. Gwyneth Paltrow moved in. but split for more family time. Thurman entered the mix, then Edith Piaf – Marion Cotillard – in 2010. Rachel Weisz followed in 2011 and, finally, Vikander played Greta for UK director Tom Hooper… opposite Eddie Redmayne as her husband. 
  34. 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.  
  35. Diane Lane, Serenity, 2017. Quite understandable why Uma changed her mind about “this pathetic excuse for a mystery thriller.” I’m quoting Flick Filospher MaryAnn Johanson. She added:Women here are either sad victims or happy toys ofmen.”  So why did Diane accept being Matthew McConaughey’s lover?
  36. Halle Berry, John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum, 2018.   Still in need of a  haircut and a real beard, Wick III kicks off when his his dog is klilled (“It wasn’t just a puppy”) and the Latin title explodes: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Not much room then for a girl alongside Keanu Reeves.  Shortlisted for Sofia were Uma, Jennifer Beals, Marion Cotilliard, Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria, Marisa Tomei. Halle had the edge. She’d worked with James Bond… played Catwoman… and won an Oscar! 












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