Jean Seberg

  1. Jo Morrow, Our Man In Havana, 1959.   The Danish Evy Norlund was also seen for Milly, daughter of Alec Guinnness’ vacuum cleaner salesman-cum-British-spy in Cuba! From Graham Greene’s novel (based on a film idea set in WWII Estonia) which eventually inspired John le Carre’s book, The Tailor of Panama.
  2. Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1960.  Author Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe, 34, as his American geisha, Holly Golightly, aged 19.  She backed off when her drama coach, Paula Strasberg, said playing a callgirl  wasn’t good for her image. Next up: Jean Seberg, 22; Shirley MacLaine, 26; Kim Novak, 27… but hey, hasn’t Audrey, 31, had her baby?
  3. Julie Christie, Doctor Zhivago, 1964.    The Maid of Orleans was on the list for Boris Pasternak’s heroine, Lara Antipova (and her theme). Also in the frame: Jane Fonda (‘too American,” said director David Lean), Deborah Kerr (“too old”), Sophia Loren (‘too tall!”) and Yvette Mimieux (yes, ”too American”). Like all; of us, Lean fell for Julie in Billy Liar, 1962 (which toplined his Pasha, Tom Courtenay) and John Ford praised her to him after making Young Cassidywith her the year before.
  4. Elke Sommer, The Oscar, 1965.  Before coming good  with The Graduate, The Lion in Winter, etc,  New York producer Joseph E Levine had an unhealthy interest in snitty/snotty movies about Hollywood. The Carpetbaggers, Harlow and now the worst.  He wanted  Seberg as Kay Bergdahl. He did not get her,. Dropping  a mere $1m into the $3m  pot apparently did not give him casting rights. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther castigated the result: “another distressing example of Hollywood fouling its nest -professionally, socially, commercially and especially artistically.”
  5. Julie Christie, Fahrenheit 451, 1966.    For his first film in colour – and his only one in English – nouvelle vague icon François Truffaut wanted French favourites Seberg and Jane Fonda for Clarisse and Linda. They were finally played by one (but dubbed by two in the French lingo version: Michèle Bardollet and Nelly Benedetti). Seberg’s offers that year went from the sublime to the…
  6. Kim Hunter, Planet of the Apes, 1967.
  7. Katharine Ross, The Graduate, 1967.    Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned almost every babe of the correct age for Mrs Robinson’s daughter.   From Baby Doll to Lolita, by way of Saint Joan  and The Flying Nun…  Seberg, Ann-Margret, Elizabth Ashley, Carroll Baker, Candice Bergen, Patty Duke, Sally Field Jane Fonda, Sue Lyon, Carol Lynley, Hayley Mills, Yvette Mimieux, Suzanne Pleshette, Lee Remick, Pamela Tiffin, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Having played  Games with her that year, Simone Signoret recommended Ross to Nichols.
  8. Charlotte Rampling, The Ski Bum, 1971.    In the 60s. Seberg’s French writer-husband Romain Gary originally planned to direct her in his version of his book. Opposite Peter O’Toole… or George Segal.  
  9. Jacqueline Bisset,  La nuit américaine (UK /US : Day For Night, 1972.  For his delicious ode to cinema, auteur FrançoisTruffauit wanted – almost inevitably – the New Wave’s American star to be Julie Baker, leading lady of his film within the film.  He had always admired her since starring in  his 1959 story, Àbout de souffle- but now she never answered his calls.. No on could reach Jean in her depressed state after the death of her premature daughter, Nina, in 1970, leading to her (possible) suicide in 1979 when her decomposing body was found in the back seat of her car . Her death remains a mystery to this day.
  10. Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives, 1975.   “Sadly,” said UK director Bryan Forbes, “Jean was close to doing what she did.”   Not that close. Her  suicide came five films and four years later.
  11. Elke Sommer, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, 1978.      Although keen to work with David Niven again (after enjoying Bonjour Tristesse together), the much troubled Seberg committed suicide. Her body was found in her car in Paris some eleven days after ODing. For his 41st and final film, director Ralph Thomas called up Elke Sommer, from his silly Rank film, Deadlier Than The Male  –  also headlined by Richard Johnson.  

 Birth year: 1938Death year: 1979Other name: Casting Calls:  11