Joan Cusack


  1. Michelle Meyrink, Revenge of the Nerds, 1983.    Cusack, Jamie Gertz and Sarah Jessica Parker (!) were up for  Judy when Robert Carradine and Anthony Edwards led  college nerds’ anti-bully battle by setting up their own  frat house.   Excellent campus comedy (for once). 
  2. Demi Moore, St Elmo’s Fire, 1984.      “Everyone wanted that role,” recalled director Joel Schumacher. Demi got tired for waiting for John Hughes in his office opposite Schumacher’s. “I happened to see her running down the hallway. I had my assistant run after her and find out who she was –  ‘Demi Moore and she was on General Hospital.’   So I called her agent,  she came in and did a reading.  There was no one like Demi Moore at that age in the world.  In the movie she gets to be sexy, seductive, hilariously funny and dramatic.  She becomes a coke head and tries to kill herself by freezing to death by opening the windows in her apartment.  She had to go through 35 different things in the movie.  At that age?  Pretty fucking amazing, right?”

  3. 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 pain 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, and no one else, 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 Cusack, Melissa Sue Anderson (trying to break her Little House on the Prairie image), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Connelly,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!

  4. Julia Roberts, Pretty Woman, 1989.
  5. Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise, 1990.
  6. Imogen Stubbs, True Colors,1991.      After suffering director Herbert Ross’s bullying  tactics during My Blue Heaven, Joan hit back and  refused point-blank to make another film  with him.,  Ross (Jackie Kennedy’s ex-brother-in-law) had tortured  Dolly Parton and Julia Roberts to tears during Steel Magnolias, 1989.
  7. Rene Russo, Lethal Weapon 3, 1991.  For a lively addition to the battle-fatigued  franchise, director Richard Donner leafed through Kirstie Alley, Joan Cusack, Geena Davis, Laura Dern, Jodie Foster, Linda Hamilton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brooke Shields… and a “too young” Winona Ryder – to be Lorna Cole, an Internal Affairs cop who, after a few suspicions, becomes the partner of Riggs and Murtaugh duo, aka Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. And she survived into #4.   Carrie Fisher was the #3 script doctor but Lorna’s best line – “Close is a lingerie shop without a front window” – was a Russo  ad lib.
  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 Cusack. UK director Tony Scott preferred 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 sounding like a Pam Grier role, said QT. (Except she was called Jackie Brown when he directed her in 1997). In Tarantino’s first ending, Clarence was killed and Alabama would turn to crime with Mr. White – he asked about her during Reservoir Dogs, 1991.
  9. Whoopi Goldberg, The Player, 1992.     Joan was unavailable.  Goldberg chased the film – “and,” said veteran director Robert Altman, “it was the only part left.”  He always wanted the lead cop to be female and  “Whoopi came up with the thing about playing with the tampons right there on the set – she was the star of that scene.”
  10. Laura Dern, Jurassic Park, 1992. 

  11. Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction, 1994.     
  12. 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 Cusack, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Connelly, 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, Debra Winger simply refused… and Kidman persuaded director Gus Van Sant that she was his destiny.
  13. Demi Moore, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. 2002.   Drew Barrymore bought the movie rights and proved herself as star and producer with the 2000 movie and even this no-so-hot sequel. The same three Angels (Drew, Cameron Diaz, Lisa Liu) were kind enough to involve a fourth, a fallen Angel called Madison Lee. Drew looked at Cusack and Courtney Love,  then a suit must have joked: Why not a fallen star?  The biggest of those was Demi Moore. This was her comeback chance..  There were allegations that she tried to take it over.  She didn’t. No one did. Film flopped. So no 3 or 4. Indeed no more Angels until actress-turned-auteur Elizabeth Banks’ lukewarm reboot… as many as 17 years later!
  14. Bette Midler, The Stepford Wives, 2004.      “Personal reasons” were behind the sudden exit of of Joan as Nicole Kidman’s confidant  from the  Frank Oz re-make.   Much the same reasons covered brother John’s exit from being Kidman’s spouse.






 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  13