Blythe Danner

  1. Diane Keaton, The Godfather, 1971.
  2. Vanessa Redgrave, The Bostonians, 1982.  The glorious team of producer Ismail Merchant, director James Ivory and scenarist Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, wanted Vanessa in The Europeans, the first of their three superbly crafted adaptations of Henry James novels.  But she was tied to the theatre (Ibsen, no less). They called her again to join their Bostonians, she agreed, changed her mind, Glenn Close took over. Or she did until offered The Natural movie with Robert Redfod (“every woman’s fantasy … and I never got to touch him!”). Asked again after Blythe Danner, Meryl Streep and Sigourney Weaver passed, Redgrave relented and was so impressed  by her co-star, Christopher Reeves, that she encouraged him to join her in another James piece, The Aspern Papers  – as a tribute to her dying father. A huge honour for Reeve as Sir Michael Redgrave, had inaugurated the role on 1959.
  3. 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 23 wanted to be… 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, Ann-Margret, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Phillips, 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.  

  4. 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 27 for her lawyer. Including Fatal Attraction also-rans from Geena Davis, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld – to Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Danner, Beverly D’Angelo, Sally Field, Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross,  Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. Obviously. However, she agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney – on condition that the studio-described “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.
  5. Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager, TV, 1995-2001.
  6. Holland Taylor, Two And A Half Men, 2003.   Creator Chuck Lorre’s first choice for Charlie Sheen’s mother began rehearsals but still had to quit.  Her nearly-TV son became the highest paid actor on a comedy TV show in 2006 at $300,000 per show.
  7. Cloris Leachman, The Women, 2007.    After  15 years trying to make  her version of MGM’s 1938 magic,  the fizz  had left the bubbly for the TV Murphy Brown creator Diane English.  Few among her cast(s) could  match the  30s ladies like  Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell.
  8. Judith Light, Nurse Jackie: #29: Rat Falls, TV, 2011. After Danner and Swoosie Kurtz turned up as Peter Facinelli’s lesbian moms – Mrs Scheinhorn and Maureen Cooper – on #$6: Tiny Bubbles, 2009, they were called back for a reprise. Danner, however, was committed elsewhere and Light became the new Maureen Cooper… opposite Edie Falco’s Emmy-winning nurse.


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  8