Debra Winger


    1. Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver, 1975.  
    2. Jodie Foster, Freaky Friday, 1975.      At 12, Foster won (a younger) Princess Lei in Star Wars: Chapter IV – A New Hope, 1976, when her agent realised she was she as still contracted to Disney. While she could have been lawyered out of it, her mother felt duty bound to tell Jodie to forget outer space and swop roles with Mom, Babara Harris, just for one day. Winger had also tested for Annabel, despite being… 21.    
    3. Sissy Spacek, Carrie, 1976.    
    4. Carrie Fisher, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, 1976.
    5. Brooke Shields, 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 29 hopefuls and/or instant (parental) refusals for pretty little Violet. From Laura Dern aged 10 and future Sex And The City co-stars Cynthia Nixon, at 11,, Sarah Jessica Parker, 12 (like Shields) and (the often too buxom) teenagers Melissa Sue Anderson, Rosanna Arquette, Linda Blair, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Mariel Hemingway, Helen Hunt, Anissa Jones (who tragically ODed at 18 before her audition), Diane Lane, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kristy McNichol, Tatum O’Neal (Dad said no), Dana Plato (Mom said no), Michelle Pfeiffer, Ally Sheedy, Meg Tilly, Charlene Tilton (pre-Dallas)… to seven twentysomethings. However, no make-up  and soft lenses could make 12-year-olds out of Winger, Isabelle Adjani, Bo Derek, Carrie Fisher, Melanie Griffith, Amy Irving or Mary Steenburgen
    6. Lauren Hutton, American Gigolo, 1979.  Winger  had to wait a trifle longer for her breakthrough.  She used her Warner salary to buy herself out of Warner custody in time for the double whammy of An Officer and a Gentleman, 1981, and Terms of Endearment, 1982.
    7. Brooke Shields, The Blue Lagoon, 1979.     Urban Cowboy got in the way of down being the “naked” shipwreck victim. Ironically, her cowpoke John Travolta had already rejected the lead in the desert island re-make.
    8. Liza Minnelli, Arthur, 1980.     Brand new auteur Steve Gordon knew exactly who was perfect. Dudley Moore as the titular rich drunk man-child and Minnelli as his lady. Orion Pictures also considered Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Kay Lenz (1972’s Breezy, already looking for a comeback), Bette Midler, Gilda Radner, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Sehpherd… and even Debra and… Meryl Streep! Plus Tuesday Weld, while in the throes of divorcing the titular Dud! Gordon made a big hit, but never a second film – he died at 44 in 1982.
    9. Karen Allen, Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981.
    10. Kathleen Turner, Body Heat,1981.      “It was her first film, so I tried to help herout,” recalled co-star William Hurt. “We became friends, not that way. Kathleen’s got charisma. It’s a cheap, over-used word, but she does have it.”

    11. Rosanna Arquette, The Executioner’s Song, 1982.     The ex-Wonder Girl, younger sister of TV’s Wonder Woman, made the worst choices since George Raft, but having started in Slumber Party ’57, 1976, and Thank God It’s Friday, 1978, she had no training in script selection.
    12. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   Italian maestroSergio Leone claimed 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.
    13. Jennifer Beals, Flashdance, 1982.    The “nation-wide search“ (of LA…!!) came down to  20 possibilities for flashprancer Alex Owens. Jamie Lee Curtis, Bo Derek, Janice Dickinson, Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Grey (yet (yet she won Dirty Dancing), Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariel Hemingway, Helen Hunt (hated the script), Jennifer Jason Leigh, Heather Locklear, Andie MacDowell, Kathy Najimy, Tatum O’Neal, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kyra Sedgwick Sharon Stone and Winger, who  moved on, with one of her potential co-stars Jack Nicholson, into Terms of Endearment.  Pix of the final three – Beals, Demi Moore and Leslie Wing – were shown to the studio’s  construction guys by Paramount suits asking: “Which one do you most wanna fuck?”  Dissolve. 
    14. 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.
    15. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.  In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (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: 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, Sissy Spacek, 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. 

    16. Kathleen Turner, Romancing The Stone, 1984.
      “There were a couple of others being considered,” admitted Michael Douglas. “One in particular – but I was concerned  that she might be so crazy that I just couldn’t take a gamble with her in the jungles in Mexico.”  Winger? asked Playboy. “Sounds like.”   Or, bites like… They had  met in a Mexican restaurant to discuss the movie when, according to Douglas, she ended up biting him.  “I can’t go to the jungle with her,” he told Fox. “She bit me in the arm! I can’t do it! We’re going to need somebody to be a total team player.”

    17. Anjelica Huston, Prizzi’s Honor, 1984.     “So let’s do it. Right here. On the Oriental. With all the lights on.” Maerose Prizzi knew what she wanted, where and when from from her Family’s hit man, Jack Nicholson – the unlikeliest Mafioso since the Corleones’ James Caan. Before realising his daughter was Oscar-winning perfection, director John Huston looked at some 19 potential Maeroses. From the sublime Winger, Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Liza Minnelli, Demi Moore and Michelle Pfeiffer (been there, done that and got the Married To The Mob and Scarface t-shirts)… to the ridiculous, Geena Davis, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Emma Thompson, Sela Ward, Debra Winger… and the damn stupid: Linda Blair, Carrie Fisher, Kelly Lebrock, Heather Locklear, Sarah Jessica Parker, Ally Sheedy.
    18. Sissy Spacek, Marie, 1985.      Stand up, please – the three of you who saw the film…  Someone?
    19. 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 her script way too erotic.  4.Lynch then met Isa in a NYC restaurant and fell head over clapperboard in love.
    20. Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married, 1985.    The mighty Coppola made the (bad) movie with Turner (worse).  At the end of the previous year, as directiors switched from Jonathan Demme, to Penny Marshall, Winger had been set as (the perfect) Peggy Sue.  Coppola even postponed the shooting until Turner completed The Jewel of the Nile. Why, Francey, why?

    21. Kelly McGillis, Top Gun, 1985.   In the script, instructor Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood at the elite USNavy flying school was a bimbo called Kirsten Lindstrom. No, no and no, said Paramount boss Dawn Steel. “Make her a real woman – and intelligent – or no movie.”  The writers didn’t have to look far for inspiration. They based Charlie on a civvy flying  instructor, Christine Fox, they met during reseach at San Diego’s Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Fiirst in the frame were: Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Darryl Hannah, Diane Lane, Tatum O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brooke Shields. And, of course, Debra Winger, from  the movie’s obvious inspiration – Officer and Gentleman!  Linda Fiorentino refused the film which he saw as a glorification of war. Anyway, the suits preferred an unknown and were bowled over by McGillis in Witness.  (She’d got on better with Harrtson Ford  in that film than Cruise in this). Fox did better than any of them, retiring  in 2014 when Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense, the highest post achieved  by  woman  at the US Defense Department. When is her film being made?
    22. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
    23. Holly Hunter, Broadcast News, 1987.     Bad timing! Director James Brooks wrote it for her but she was pregnant with her and Tim Hutton’s son, Noah. “She’s real smart, very dedicated, extremely resourceful about her work,” said Jack Nicholson, guesting as a TV news anchor.  “The girl’s got boom!”
    24. Elizabeth Perkins, Big, 1987.     Steven Spielberg’s sister, Anne, wrote the script, so it was perhaps obvious that she would think first of her brother’s pals: Winger and Harrison Ford. They declined. Politely. Wisely. Well, Debra was pregnant and recommended Perkins for Anne’s third and last filmed script and final producing gig. She’d also acted – in Escape To Nowhere in 1961, directedby her brother. At 13.   

    25. Jodie Foster, The Accused, 1987.  
      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! A huge list of talent had been seen for Sarah.   Starting with the Fatal Attraction also-rans:  Winger, 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. And moving on to the younger 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, Uma Thurman.  Oh, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, said the suits, was “too nice.” Rape victims shouldn’t be nice? Oh, Hollywood!

    26. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1987.      Paramount suits then saw 43 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 awyer. Including the Fatal Attraction also-rans (from Debra to Faye Dunaway, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep). Plus Winger, Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner, Geena Davis, Sally Field, Carrie Fuisher, 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 “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.
    27. Theresa Russell, Black Widow, 1987.       Given the choice of the two roles, she chose the FBI agent, because she didn’t understand what motivated the Black Widow to kill. (Money, no?)
    28. Barbra Streisand, Nuts, 1987.      Winger + Nuts!   Hollywood thought that too close to the bone.  Director Mark Rydell was in charge when  Streisand showed interest.  He preferred Debra.  Then, La Barb came back – with director Martin Ritt!
    29. Susan Sarandon, Bull Durham, 1987.    Ron Shelton had one helluva job trying to win backing for his directing debut. “Baseball movies don’t sell.”  His producer Thom Mount was part-owner of the real Durham Bulls squad. He recognised what Roger Ebert would call “a treasure because it knows so much about baseball and so little about love.” Kim Basinger was Shelton’s first choice for Annie (an Annie is s baseball groupie). “There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career.”  He tested Carrie Fisher, Mary Steenburgen, Pamela Stephenson, Debra Winger… considered Kate Capshaw, Geena Davis (who made the female ball movie, A League of Their Own), Michelle Pfeiffer (too young) and Isabella Rossellini…  felt  Kay Lenz and Michelle Pfeiffer were too young… while Glenn Close was having Dangerous Liaisons in France, Melanie Griffith was a busy Working Girl and Kelly McGillis preferred The Accused. He also thought of Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis as The Couple but Moonlighting got in the way. And that’s how the splendid Susan Sarandon met Tim Robbins and   lived together for 21 years.
    30. Kathleen Turner, Switching Channels, 1988.    Fled this CAA package after the “nightmare” of the previous one: Legal Eagles.  Fled CAA, too . For a time.

    31. Sigourney Weaver, Working Girl, 1988.  “If you ever want to make money, do Cinderella,” said Mike Nichols. Even better if he’s directing – despite a coke-head  star. (He made Melanie Griffith pay $80,000 from her salary for having to close down shooting one night due to her wasted condition). He saw Anne Archer, Cher, Geena Davis, Shelley Long, Natasha Richardson, Kathleen Turner, Debra Winger for her boss. Plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Meryl Streep for Tess or the wicked witch of Wall Street.
    32. Kathleen Turner, War of the Roses, 1989.        When the battling spouse was Kevin Costner.
    33. Michele Pfeiffer, The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989.    After Winger fled, Madonna, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brooke Shields – were up for Susie the chanteuse.  None of them – especially Madonna, who found the script  ”too mushy” – could equal the heat of Pfeiffer’s sensuous Making Whoopee rendition atop a piano. Only took six hours to shoot!
    34. Jessica Lange, The Music Box, 1989.      Even rejected European director Costa-Gavras – after their Betrayed, 1988.
    35. Demi Moore, Ghost, 1989.    Not keen on another tear-jerker. Unless she could have Whoopi Goldberg’s role. (And her Oscar).
    36. Virginia Madsen, The Hot Spot, 1989.    Doubtless put off by the required nudity, Winger refused director Dennis Hopper’s erotic movie – when planned with Mickey Rourke.  Hpper also checked Jodie Foster (Hopper’s co-star in  his previous ’89 gig, Catchfire), Melanie Griffith (pregnant with Dakota Johnson, whose father, Don Johnnson,  became Hopper’s amoral leading man) and Theresa Russell. Ultimately Virginia Madsen was supreme as the sensuous  Dolly – finding sex in car more fun than eating cotton-candy barefoot.he aws jjust perfect for what Chicago critic Roger Ebert hailed as “a superior work in an old tradition.” Hopper liked to call it Last Tango In Texas. They wuz both right!
    37. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
    38. Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs,1989.
    39. Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise, 1990.Meryl Streep, Postcards From The Edge, 1990.      Debra’s version, circa ’87, was postponed. By the time it was ready anew, she was committed to an Arthur Miller script with a totally false title: Everybody Wins, 1990.
    40. Lorraine Bracco, Radio Flyer, 1990.  Columbia won what was then the hottest script in town – and cowardly  chickened out of its subject, cast and debuting writer-director.  And called in Richard Donner – “hey, The Goonies was a great kids’ movie!” However, the main subject here was (or had been) child, abuse. When David Mickey Evans was still in charge of his own semi-autobio drama, Rosanna Arquette’s kids – well, they were next going to be Debra’s, before Bracco – were James Badge Dale and Joseph Mazzello as his younger brother, abused by their stepfather. DME turned his ruined script into a novel, The King of Pacoima (with no cuts) and directed 16 other movies by 2020.
    41. Catherine O’Hara, Home Alone, 1990.     For the zero roles of Macauley Culkin’s forgetful parents (in a film written for and duly stolen by him), an astonishing 66 stars were considered – including 32 later seen for the hot lovers in Basic Instinct:Kim Basinger, Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Douglas, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Daryl Hannah, Marilu Henner, Anjelica Huston, Helen Hunt, Holly Hunter, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Christopher Lloyd, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Annie Potts, Kelly Preston, Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone, John Travolta.   Other near Moms were Kirstie Alley, Lynda Carter, Kim Cattrall, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jennifer Grey, Gates McFadden, Kelly McGillis, Bette Midler, Ally Sheedy, Mary Steenburgen, Debra Winger… and the inevitable unknown: Maureen McCormick, part of The Brady Bunch  for seven 1981 chapters.

    42. Geena Davis, 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! 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).  Jim Belushi and Laura Dern were set to star in 1990 when Fox suddenly pulled the plug; Tom Hanks, Geena Davis took over at Columbia.  Also on the plate for the star player Dottie Hinson were Sally Field, Nicole Kidman, Kelly McGillis, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Sean Young… Brooke  Shields won but was replaced by Debra Winger, replaced, in turn, by Geena……  after  Debra quit when Madonna was cast. Winger  accused Marshall  of making “an Elvis movie.”   To this day, she had no regrets about leaving what became a big hit.  “The studio agreed with me because it was the only time I ever collected a pay-or-play on my contract,”  she told The Telegraph. “In other words, I collected my pay even though I did not play, and that’s very hard to get in a court.”She thought none of the  actors  trained long enough to appear convincing at baseball and that the movie didn’t fully honor the real-life league it was inspired by.  . “As entertaining as it was, you don’t walk away going: Wow,  those women did that. You kinda go: ‘Is that true?”

    43. Penelope Ann Miller, Other People’s Money, 1991.    After losing Michelle Pfeiffer, Canadian director Norman Jewison looked at Geena Davis and Winger and fell for the girl who had played everything from Marlon Brando’s daughter to Robert De Niro and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s girls.
    44. Melanie Griffith, Shining Through,1991.     Set up by Dawn Steel (real name: Spielberg), when she was Studio President at Columbia, it proved an over-expensive flop for Fox with Michael Douglas, already leery of Winger six years earlier.
    45. Sharon Stone, Basic Instinct, 1991.
    46. Lorraine Bracco, Radio Flyer, 1991.     A Richard Donner switch when replacing writer-director David Mickey Evans, bumped down to exec producer by Michael Douglas. Debra Winger had also been sought. But Douglas also barred Winger from his Shining Through that year as he had for Romancing The Stone, in 1984.
    47. Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, 1992.
    48. Bridget Fonda, Point Of No Return, 1992.      Why would anyone be interested in Hollywood’s re-make of Nikita when the original’s auteur, Luc Besson, was not?
    49. Lorraine Bracco, Medicine Man, 1992.       Bracco was, ina word, appalling. Cher, Steenburgen and Debra Winger were seen by director MartinRitt for partnering Jack Nicholson in 1984, when the script was called Road Show.Sean Connery co-existed (barely) with Bracco for John McTiernan when critics proved either 100% for or against. The Washington Post’s Hal Hinson actually said Bracco displayed “the kind of tenacious, emotional ferocity that Debra Winger showed in some of her earlier roles.” No, she didn’t.  
    50. Demi Moore, Indecent Proposal,1992.      Robert Redford paying her and her husband $1m to sleep with her was not quite the way to keep Winger in the movies!  (No, that took a Leap of Faith – with Steve Martin). 

    51. Meg Ryan, Sleepless in Seattle. 1992.     This was a better idea. Just not better enough.   
    52. Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1993. 
    53. Ellen Barkin, This Boy’s Life, 1993.      Robert De Niro’s fee meant not enough left to hire Debra as Leonardo DiCaprio’s mom. “You can’t afford me,” Barkin told producer Art Linson. “But she liked the script so much, we were able to.”
    54. Sarah Jessica Parker, Ed Wood, 1993.     She rejected both Johnny Depp and his favourite director Tim Burton. Where had her sense of humour gone?
    55. Sandra Bullock, Speed, 1993.     Although sharing the heroics and the driving of the bus-bomb with Keanu Reeves, most girls saw it as The Guy’s film. An amazing 36 refused to be Annie: Winger, Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Halle Berry, Glenn Close (!), Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz, Carrie Fisher, Bridget Fonda, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Daryl Hannah, Mariska Hargitay, Barbara Hershey, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore, Tatum O’Neal, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Jane Seymour, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Meryl Streep (!), Emma Thompson (!), Meg Tilly, Marisa Tomei, Kathleen Turner and Sigourney Weaver.
    56. Meg Ryan, When A Man Loves A Woman, 1994.    The hot Debra-Tom Hanks became a tepid Ryan-Andy Garcia. Title also changed from The Significant Other. Still didn’t work.
    57. Nicole Kidman, To Die For, 1994.      
      “You aren’t anybody in America if you’re not on TV…” Most young sparks agreed this was a role to die for – the girl who would do anything (murder included) to get on TV, and stay there. They included 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, Meg Ryan (passing up $5m), Brooke Shields, Uma Thurman. However, Winger simply refused… and Kidman persuaded director Gus Van Sant that she was his destiny.

    58. Jessica Lange, Marvin’s Room, 1994.     Lost: another role for Robert De Niro’s company. Jessica had already made two successive De Niro movies.

    59. Jennifer Aniston, The Object Of My Affection, 1998.    Roommates – straight girl, gay guy. When Debra and director James Bridges were set to film Wendy Wasserstein’s script, it was the girl who was gay. 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 as famous as Friends

    60. Julianne Moore, Magnolia, 1999.   In the mix for Linda Partridge. But she could never have matched Moore’s work here. “Flawless as usual,” said Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, “[she] inhabits her role with a fevered urgency that explodes during a drugstore breakdown scene. in a blazing performance.”
    61. Renée Zellweger, Chicago, 2001
    62. Drew Barrymore,  Riding in Cars With Boys, 2001.    Writer-producer James Brooks bought the rights in 1989 for Cher and Debra as mother and daughter. Barrymore’s Ma was Lorraine Bracco.Their director Penny Marshall then quit as Hollywood  dropped films “with heart” for violent sagas after 9/11.
    63. Nicole Kidman, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, 2006.    MGM’s Ileen Maisel bought Patricia Bosworth’s biographyof the photography icon for Diane Keaton but two Euro directors she had dallied with both preferred Debra.So they didn’t last long.
    64. Joanna Kerns, Knocked Up, 2006

















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