Reese Witherspoon


  1. Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear, 1991.   Talking about her audition on the plane to New York, it became obvious that she had no idea who Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese were. The passenger next to her  raved about them to such an  extent that he made her nervous and she blew the audition. She could never have equalled the on-heat musk of Juliette’s totally improvised – and one take – seduction scene with De Niro.. Never mind, Reese had an Oscar by 2006.   (One of her ancestors, John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence).

  2. Alicia Silverstone, Clueless, 1994.   Witherspoon,   Zooey Deschanel, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keri Russell, Tiffani Thiessen, and Alicia Witt were up  for teen queen Cher  in director Amy Heckerling’s Beverly Hills flip-side of her Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Witherspoon got her revenge… making tons more money with her two Legally Blonde comedies (2000, 2002), so greatly, er, influenced by Heckerling’s marvel as to appear to be sequels Abklut the first, Chicago critic Roger Ebert noted: “Not a great movie (not comparable with  Clueless) which it obviously wants to remind us of.”

  3. Shannen Doherty, Mallrats, 1995.    Good one to lose.  Doherty and Heather Graham auditioned for Rene.  Reese Witherspoon did not.  Jay and Silent Bob, themselves  (Jason Mewes and auteur Kevin Smith), disliked their meeting with her  so much, they told casting director Don Phillips to scrub her from  the test list. 
  4. Neve Campbell, Scream, 1996.     In the heroine mix for Wes Craven’s quirky new horror franchise: Witherspoon (who refused), Drew Barrymore (preferring to die early like Janet Leigh in Psycho), Melinda Clarke, Melissa Joan Hart, AJ Langer, Melanie Lynskey, Brittany Murphy, Molly Ringwald (“I’m too old!” – at 28), Tori Spelling, Alicia Witt. Even a way too old Sharon Stone (38) tried to buy Kevin Williamson’s “hottest script of the year” – written in three days in the hope of a quick sale to save his car from being repossessed. Hell, with $500,000 he could get an entire fleet!
  5. Claire Danes, Romeo + Juliet, 1996.      A bad one to lose.
  6. Kate Winslet, Titanic, 1996. 
  7. Alicia Witt, Urban Legend, 1998.    No to Scream, no to Urban  – not exactly a horror fan, then.  Even though, “the gore is within reasonable bounds, as slasher movies go,” noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert.  Melissa Joan Hart also bypassed Nathalie Simon.
  8. Chloe Seigny, Boys Don’t Cry, 1998.    Auteur  Kimberly Pierce’s Plan A  refused to be Lana, girlfriend of the transgender man Brandon Teena  murdered in 1993. Likewise, her Plan B, Reese Witherspoon.  Next? Plan C fot Chloe, first seen for Brandon.  “At the end of the audition, Kimberly was like: Have you ever wanted to be a boy?’I said no. That’s when she said: Why don’t you come back and read for Lana. So I did.”
  9. Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club, 1999.    Director David Fincher looked everywhere for his Marla Singer.  Sarah Michelle Gellar, Winona Ryder, Kyra Sedgewick, Renee Zellweger.  Plus two great Brits: supermodel Vanessa Angel (71 screen roles since 1985), and Anna Friel. After seeing her Wings of the Dove, Fincher wanted HBC, the suits wanted the better known Reese Witherspoon, and Reese wanted out – ‘too dark!”  Courtney Love claimed the film’s star, Brad Pitt, had her dropped  because she wouldn’t let him play her late husband in a  Kurt Cobain biopic.  Team Pitt said “You cannot be fired for a job you didn’t get..” And, anyway, directors select actors, not actors…  and yet co-star Edward Norton vetoed any idea of New Jersey comic Janeane Garofalo as she “didn’t have the chops to do it.”HBC modelled Marla on the final years of Judy Garland.  Fincher even called her Judy on-set get her back in her mindset.
  10. Kate Hudson, Gossip, 1999.     Change of Naomi among the college students investigating gossip.   From Witherspoon and Brittany Murphy to Kate. 

  11. Brittany Murphy, Girl, Interrupted, 1999.  One Flew into the Cuckoo’s nest… stems from Susanna Kaysen’s memoir. She committed herself to a psychiatric institution and was kept there for two years, although she was quite sane. Chicago critic Roger Ebert said Winona Ryder) (also exec producer) and  the support Oscar-winning Angelina Jolie – as Susanna and the sociopath Lisa – were the reasons to see the film, although “their work here deserves a movie with more reason for existing.” Most other patients were teenage girls, played by rising young Hollywood actresses in their 20s – Angela Bettie and Jillian Armenante even played 22 at age 31. Why? Because, said Rose McGowan, “It’s the only decent thing out there that doesn’t involve taking your clothes off.”

  12. Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels, 2000.  Tele-tycoon Aaron Spelling decided to put Aaron’s angels on the big screen  (to help generate a new series on the small). His first new  trio: MTV discovery Jenny McCarthy, ex-Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and 007’s Hong Kong martial arts superstar. Then, Drew Barrymore showed him how to do it. with the  third  of her numerous (canny) productions. Just look at the 25 girls she shuffled to find the right  angel Alex Munday: Aaliyah (“too young”), Jennifer Aniston, Asia Argento, Halle Berry, Lara Flynn Boyle, Helena Bonham Carter, Penélope Cruz, Kristin Davis, Jodie Foster, Angie Harmon (stuck on Law & Order),  Salma Hayek, Ashley Judd, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nia Long, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiffani Thiessen, Uma Thurman, Liv Tyler, , Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Robin Wright, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones… And two singers: Lauryn Hill and another  Spice Girl: Victoria Beckham.

  13. Anne Hathaway, The Princess Diaries, 2001.    Among 22 youngstars (Jessica Alba to Christina Ricci) rejecting the awkward San Francisco teenager being groomed (by Julie Andrews!) to inherit the Genovia throne – after director Garry Marshall’s (rather surprising) first choice of Juliette Lewis quit. And so, Hathaway made her first movie.

  14. Jennifer Aniston, The Good Girl, 2001.  The One That Jen Fans (And Critics) Always Mention When Moaning About All That Jennifer Aniston Froth Out There.  Here, she is perfect.  She was still shooting Friends during the shoot weeks and told director Miguel Arteta to stop her getting too Central Perky. “Please don’t let her be Rachel,” She wasn’t.  Her rivals for the role, Laura Dern, Catherine Keener and Reese Witherspoon, could never have matched her. But then having proved she could do it, she didn’t anymore.  

  15. Jennifer Garner, Daredevil, 2002.   “How did I become Action Girl?” asked Garner.  Because 22 other girls were not punching their weight in TV’s Alias every week. They were Jessica Alba, Jolene Blalock, Neve Campbell, Penelope Cruz, Portia de Rossi, Eliza Dushku, Claire Forlani, Angie Harmon, Salma Hayek, Katie Holmes, Milla Jovovich, Nicole Kidman, Lucy Liu, Mia Maestro, Rhona Mitra, Bridget Moynahan, Natalie Portman, Kyra Sedgwick, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon.  Plus the Norwegian ballet dancer Natassia Malthe, who became Typhoid in Garner’s 2004 Elektra spin-off.   Garner reportedly KOed the blind hero, Ben Affleck, in one scene – he still married her three years later!-Rachel McAdams, Mornjng Glory, 2009.   Reese just “dropped out.”  She felt was no good at comedy unlike her second-time co-star Diane Keaton.  A good excuse for director Roger Michell to take her cinder to talk her into the role – several times.

  16. Kathryn Morris, Mindhunters, 2002.  Kathryn Morris, Mindhunters, UK-Holland-Finland-US, 2002.   Change of Sara Moore, from Witherwhosis to the TV Cold Case blonde who never made enough movies. The science fictionish title proves to be Cludeo Meets The FBIon the cliché isolated island (in Holland), (no, really),  where profilers are being trained… and, as it happens, killed. Actually, the title is FBI slang for its ISU, Investigative Support Unit, assisting US cops in tracking mainly serial killers.Not released (more like escaped) until 2005, by which time Kathryn had a huge TV following due to Cold Case, 2003-2008

  17. Catherine Zeta-Jones, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, 2002.  For DreamWorks’ last  hand-drawn 2-D toon, CZJ was  the winer of the Marina mix of Sandra Bullock, Teri Hatcher, Catherine Keener, Lisa Rinna…  and Reese.
  18. Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man,  2002.
  19. Kirsten Dunst,  Wimbledon, 2003.  Change of mixed doubles – from Witherspoon  and Hugh Grant to Dunst and Paul Bettany – in the the tennis love match.  ”No   script to speak of,” said Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, ”just two appealing actors volleying comic-romantic cliches at each other.”

  20. Nicole Kidman, Bewitched, 2004.    
    For inexplicable reasons, Hollywood kept trying to make a movie out of the  1968-1972 ABC sitcom about a good-looking witch and a Dagwood husband.  In 1993, Penny Marshall was going to direct Meryl Streep as Samantha, then passed the reins to Ted Bissell and he died in 1996 when his Richard Curtis script was planned as Melanie Griffths’ comeback.  Nora Ephron co-wrote and directed this lumbering version about an ego-driven actor trying to save his career with a Bewitched re-hash, but with the emphasis on him (of course) as Darrin, rather than the unknown he chose for Samatha because she can wiggle her nose…  (You didn’t need a nose to know it stank).  Over the years, 37 other ladies were on the Samantha wish-list. Take a deep breath… Kate Beckinsale, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Connelly, Cameron Diaz, Heather Graham, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Angelina Jolie, Ashley Judd, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michelle Pfeiffer, Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Winona Ryder, Brooke Shields, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Renee Zellweger.  Plus seven Oscar-winners:  Kim Basinger, Tatum O’Neal, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon… twoFriends: Jennifer Aniston and Lisa Kudrow…eleven other TV stars: Christina Applegate, Patricia Arquette, Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Helen Hunt, Jenny McCarthy, Alyssa Milano, Brittany Murphy, Sarah Jessica Parker, Alicia Silverstone… even  Drew Barrymore and Uma Thurman, who had already re-kindled Charlie’s Angels and The Avengers

  21. Sarah Jessica Parker, Failure To Launch, 2005.    Like Brooke Shields and Tori Spelling (!), Reese refused to be Paula, the interventionist in Matthew McConaughey’s life in a re-mould(y) of the 2001 French hit, Tanguy.
  22. Amy Adams, NIght at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, 2008.  Chicago  critic Roger Ebert wasnt happy with the sequel: It made him squirm. “One actor surpasses the material… Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart, because she makes Amelia sweet and lovable, although from what I gather, in real life that was not necessarily the case. I found myself thinking, isn’t it time for a biopic about Earhart?” She  became a pilot, as her 1932 memoir put i: For The Fun Of It.
  23. Isla Fisher, Confessions of a Shopaholic, 2009.     For once, the prerequisite Great Outsider won as Disney chose an unknown (cheaper, sure, but hilarious) after seeing everyone from the Jessicas (Alba and Biel) to Lindsay Lohan (!) and  Reese Witherspoon, who rightly felt Rebecca Bloomwood was too close to Elle Woods creation in the two Legally Blonde films. Also in the mix: Emily Blunt, Kirsten Dunst, Anne Hathaway, Katie Holmes, Rachel McAdams, Amanda Seyfried.
  24. Kate Beckinsale, Whiteout, 2009.     Here’s a new beat for a cop. Beckinsale substituted Witherspoon – the 2002 choice for US Marshal Carrie Stetko hunting a killer in… Antarctica. Just as the sun is due to go AWOL for six months.
  25. Mandy More, Tangled, 2009.   “Being a Disney Princess,” said Mandy, “is every girl’s ultimate dream.” Also in the voice mix for Rapunzel in Disney’s 50th animation feature were Witherspoon, Kristin Chenoweth, Natalie Portman, – and the co-stars of #51, Frozen, Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. Portman’s audition was used to voice for early pencil drawn tests of the heroine.
  26. Kelly Macdonald, Brave, 2011.     Aw c’mon, begone Witherspoon! Merida was Disney’s first Scottish princess, so she required a Scots voice, right? Right! And Kelly was neatly none too heavy on her Glaswegian accent.
  27. Katheriene Heigl, New Year’s Eve, 2011.    Wisely passed director Garry Marshall’s star-stuffed kinda-sequel (only emptier) to Valentine’s Day.
  28. Amy Adams, The Master, 2011.   Amy inherits another Witherspoon role but the film was totally made for Philip Seymour Hoffman as   the head of a religioso cult called Scient… er, The Cause. Adams, like the Paul Thomas Anderson film, and everyone else in it, was astonishing.  Reese made sure she had the necessary four days free for his next film, Inherent Vice, 2013, also opposite Joaquin Phoenix  as his drunken sailor fan.
  29. Nicole Kidman, Grace of Monaco, 2012.    And she was also in the mix for the real thing – the uiltimate Hitchcock blonde –  Grace Kelly. But so  were: Amy Adams, Elizabeth Banks, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Kate Hudson, January Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rosamund Pike, Charlize Theron. But not Christina Applegate, the young Grace on TV in 1983 when Cheryl Ladd was the older. None of them resembled Her Serene Highness, but then nor did Tim Roth look like Prince Rainier.
  30. Scarlett Johansson,  Hitchcock, 2012.    Thirty-two years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock’s back in business! With two films headlined by UK actors (Anthony Hopkins, Toby Jones) in bad impressions and fat suits. This is the first before the cameras  – Hopkins making Psycho. And telling Scarlett’s  Janet Leigh: “You can call me Hitch. Hold the cock.”  As Janet Leigh was just two years older than the dowdier Vera Miles (played by Jessica Biel), most actresses were up for either role…

  31. Jessica Biel,  Hitchcock, 2012.    …the candidates included  , Dianna Agron, Camilla Belle, Abbie Cornish, Emilie de Ravin, Natalie Dormer, Sarah Gadon, Ashley Greene, Kate Mara, Brit Marling, Gwyneth Paltrow,Chloe Sevigny, Mary Elizabeth Winstead., Reese Witherspoon, Evan Rachel Wood… plus  Jessica Biel (chosen for Vera Miles)  and January Jones, who was also up for the role of Tippi Hedren in the Hitch-making-The Birds TV  drama, The Girl, seen first in October 2012.  (Timothy Spall was booked as her Hitchcock, finally portrayed by Toby Jones opposite Sienna Miller).

  32. Amy Adams,  Big Eyes, 2013.    And a third time… The true tale of the US painter Margaret Keane and the husband who claimed credit for all her work (Colette’s husband Willy did the same about her books) was first aimed at Kate Hudson- Thomas Haden Church, then Reese Witherspoon-Ryan Reynolds and, finally, Amy Adams and the German double-Oscar winner, Christoph Waltz. Their director, Tim, Burton, was a Keane art collector and commissioned portraiats from her of his lovers, Helena Bonham Carter and Lisa-Marie.
  33. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl, 2013.   Witherspoon won the rights to Gillian Flynn’s novel and everyone. Reese included, expected she’d take the main role of Amy Dunne.  However, director David Fincher was not happy with the idea of having a star who was also his producer. Rather than firing Fincher, she gracefully dropped out.  “It was very clear that I was not right for his vision.” And she moved on to filming another hit book, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
  34. Emma Stone, Aloha, 2013.   Reese and Ben Stiller were the (odd) couple chosen by the usually casting-crackerjack Cameron Crowe.  They quit, so he  spent four years re-writing the script and  then upset everybody by his admitted “odd [again!]  or misguided casting choice” of Emma Stone as  the daughter of a  Chinese-Hawaiian father.  Well, she’d been Reese before…  Austin Chronicle critic Steve Davis nailed it better than Crowe. “The basic narrative problem here is that there’s more backstory than story.”
  35. Anne Hathaway, The Intern2014.     Reese followed Tina Fey and was in turn succeeded by Hathaway as the boss of a  fashion website bonding with an elderly intern.  Robert De Niro, no less!
  36. Kristen Wiig, Downsizing, 2016.     The reunion of Witherspoon and her 1998 Election director Alexander Payne fell into tangled schedules leading instead to a reunion of Wiig and her 2014 Martian co-star Matt Damon.
  37. Jennifer Lawrence, Passengers,  2016.  First developed for  Keanu Reeves (and Emily Blunt) at his and Stephen Hamel’s Company Films, the interstellar love story nearly took off at the Weinstein Company (yeah, that long ago) with Witherspoon or Rachel McAdams as Reeves’ co-star. Columbia signed Lawrence (for $20m) and Chris Pratt ($12m). They were hot –  yes,  but in separate films. Together, they were glacial. Allowing Michael Sheen to steal the proceedings as a robotic barkeep (“a cross between a puppy and a toaster”) in a copy-Shining bar.   On the Starship Avalon. Hence, the bartbot was called… Arthur.
  38. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns,2017.   When Walt Disney made the first Poppins, he mused over Bette Davis, Angela Lansbury or Mary Martin for Mary but by 1963, he had only one star in mind. Julie Andrews.  For this reboot, Disney suits went through no less than 37 contenders… Two Desperate Housewives:Kristin Davis, Teri Hatcher. Two Friends:Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow. Two Brat Packers: Molly Ringwald, Winona Ryder.  Two of the three authors of The Penis Song: Christina Aplegate, Cameron Diaz. Three sirens: Kim Basinger, Heather Graham Uma Thurman. Four ex-child stars: Drew Barrymore, Alyssa Milano, Tatum O’Neal, Brooke Shields. Ten Oscar-winners: Sandra Bullock, Helen Hunt, Angelina Jolie, Julianne Moore, Tatum O‘Neal, Julia Roberts, Hilary Swank, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger. Plus: Patricia Arquette, Melanie Griffith, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ashley Judd, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Peiffer, Meg Ryan, Alicia Silverstone, Naomi Watts. But just two Brits: Kate Beckinsale – and the winning Emily.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  38