Kelly McGillis


  1. Michelle Pfeiffer, Scarface, 1982.       Seen for the glacial Elvira. As were Rosanna Arquette, Kim Basinger, Colleen Camp, Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kay Lenz, Kristy McNichol, Deborah Raffin, Brooke Shields, Sharon Stone, Kathleen Turner. McGillis actually had to return to waiting tables after a lead rôle in her first movie, Reuben Reuben, 1983.
  2. Tawny Kitaen, Bachelor Party, 1983.      A madcap comedy that was as dramatic, behind the camera, as the heavier 1956 film of the same name. After one week, head Fox Joe Wizan sacked the leads, Paul Reiser and Kelly McGillis, for bad (or no) chemistry. He also suggested that Kelly had no sex-appeal. She proved the contrary in Witness, Top Gun, and as Mrs Robinson in Broadway’s The Graduate. Kelly, an Oscar nominee (for Reuben, Reuben), was never the problem. Reiser was… The stand-up was not yet ready for, well, scripts – as he would be, superbly, during TV’s Mad About You, 1992-1999. The know-all Wizan also rejected… Julia Louis-Dreyfus!
  3. Linda Hamilton, The Terminator, 1983.       In all, 55 actresses were considered, seen or tested for Sarah Connor (aged 18; Linda was 27) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Auteur James Cameron created 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: McGillis, 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, 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 TV (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.
  4. Madonna, Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985.   The Susan desperately seeking a leading lady was Susan Seidleman.  She bypassed Kelly McGillis, et al, for the unknown singer with a “an incredible self-assuredness that said: Look at me.”
  5. Kim Greist, Brazil, 1985.  Women are Terry Gilliam’s weakest casting points…Ellen Barkin was his favourite for Jill, yet hefell for an unknown riddled with so many problems. “Kim just wasn’t getting it.”  She gave him so much trouble, during one love-scene with Jonathan Pryce that Gilliam strode off the set.  “Kim, do the scene yourself and let me  know when you’ve  got it done. I’m off.” He kept having to shorten her role and even resorted to her wearing a bandage for “more personality.” Not necessary if he’d chosen from his eight other interviewees:McGillis, Rosanna Arquette, Rae Dawn Chong, Jamie Lee Curtis, Rebecca De Mornay, Madonna, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathleen Turner.
  6. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
  7. Elisabeth Shue, Adventures in Babysitting, 1987.       Back in the 60s, teenage babysitter Chris Parker was set for Jane Fonda. By the 80s, her logical heir, her niece Bridget, was just not interested. Julia Louis-Dreyfus was signed, followed by Jodie Foster, then it became a battle between Kathleen Turner (the fourth #1 choice), McGillis (spurned by director Christopher Columbus !), Justine Bateman, Valerie Bertinelli, Judy Davis, Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Andie MacDowell, Tatum O’Neal (who simply fled), Michelle Pfeiffer (she preferred The Witches of Eastwick.. until she made it!), Brooke Shields and Sharon Stone.
  8. Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Liaisons,hatdau 1987.      Poor Kelly lost Madame Tourvel for a second time. She had auditioned for the Broadway play when Americans took over the run from the original London stars. Then, the film was taken from her when – apparently – the critic Pauline Kael persuaded UK director Stephen Frears to drop Kelly for Michelle. All news to me… and I was working every week on the Fren