Susan Sarandon


  1. Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives, 1975.    One of Bryan Forbes’ seven possible Joannas. Other included Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld.
  2. Cybill Shepherd, Taxi Driver, 1975.
  3. Ingrid Boulting, The Last Tycoon, 1975.      Mike Nichols felt sorry for young actresses. “Can you imagine coming up to meet Sam Spiegel, Harold Pinter and me – terrifying!” Each director saw Kathleen differently: Anjelicia Huston, Kate Nelligan and Sarandon (recommended by Deborah Kerr’s novelist husband, Peter Viertel). Before Elia Kazan’s enormous error of UK director Roy Boulting’s model step-daughter. Having voted Sarandon, Spiegel was horrified. The public, likewise. Poor girl was as bad for her role as De Niro was as F Scott Fitzgerald’s myhthical Thalbergesque producer Monroe Stahr. Hence, this was, alas, Elika Kazan’s final film. 
  4. Talia Shire, Rocky, 1976.
  5. 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 Sarandon, 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, Cybill Sehpherd… and even Meryl Streep, Debra Winger. Gordon made a big hit, but never a second film – he died at 44 in 1982.
    rthur went from John Belushi and Bud Cort to Michael Palin and John Travolta as thoughts for his ideal woman Linda Marolla included Susan,  Mia Farrow, Farrah Fawcett, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Diane Keaton, Jessica Lange, Cybill Shepherd, Meryl Streep – and Tuesday Weld, already in the throes of divorcing the titular  Dudley Moore.

  6. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.     
    Howard Hawks  said  she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.  She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood),  pop and rock songs  – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and  wanted to ply…  Frances Farmer.  From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep to Susan Dey  of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983  TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Plus Constance Money, who met  with  producer  Mel Brooks and debuting director Graeme Clifford. They liked her. Not her CV. Seven porno fikms in three years.  Even if they used her real name (Sue Jensen), someone would have blown an expensive whistle about her hardcore career.

  7. Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, 1982.   Italian maestro Sergio 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.
  8. Genevieve Bujold, Tightrope, 1983.     As Clint Eastwood told his lover and often co-star, Sondra Locke, on his previous venture, City Heat:  “I can’t make my career decisions on whether or not you get some job!” Susan rejected this  scenario (as he should have  done, not being up to the complexities of the role. Sondra suggested  Bujold…  and indeed, Carrie Snodgress for his next Western, Pale Rider.
  9. 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: Sarandon, 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, 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.
  10. Kathleen Turner, Romancing The Stone, 1984.     “I  was unwilling to give up a play.”
  11. Catherine Hicks, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1985. 

  12. Cher, The Witches of Eastwick, 1987.    
    Cher used all her increasing  clout for… well, “betrayal,” Susan said on being given the sexually frustrated cellist after being assured of what she considered the more central role of the man-hungry sculptress.  “Either you leave and everyone will make sure you don’t work for a year, or you find a way to be professional and do the best job you possibly can.  The experience hardened me.  In hindsight, I’m proud… that I took an absolutely humiliating experience and turned in a fairly decent performance.” In “satanical slime,”  according to some  United Congregationalists – the film was made.


  13. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1987.
  14. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988.    Paramount suits saw 40 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 defence attorney. Including the Fatal Attraction  also-rans (from Sarandon to Debra Winger, by way of Diane Keaton and, naturally, Meryl Streep). Plus Blythe Danner, Sally Field, Terri Garr, Mary Gross, Kathleen Turjner, Sigourney Weraver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead role but  agreed to play the lawyer on condition that Foster  was her client..
  15. Anjelica Huston, The Witches, 1988.  Olivja  Hussey topped  author Ronald Dahl’s wish list for Miss Ernst, aka The Grand High Witch. However, Anjelica was on Nic Roeg’s list. And he was the director!  He took his time combing through the 13 other candidates:  From Linda Blair (little Regan grew up to be a witch?), Genevieve Bujold, Cher, Frances Conroy, Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster, Liza Minnelli, Susan Sarandpn, Sigourney Weaver to true Brits Fiona Fullerton, Helen Mirren, Vanessa Redgrave… and the sole Black star considered, Eartha Kitt.  Together with Bancroft, they all escaped eight  hours of make-up each  day!  Appalled by the vulgar bad taste and :actual terror” in the film, Dahl threatened to take his name off it.  Jim Henson talked him out  of it for the Muppeteer’s final production.  
  16. Kathy Bates, Fried Green Tomatoes, 1991.  Not often  that someone  else is better suited to a role than the almighty Suze.
  17. Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns, 1991.
  18. Kathleen Turner, Serial Mom, 1993.      Moral: You only make John Waters films on the way down…
  19. Mary Stuart Masterson, Benny & Joon, 1993.     Considered with her guy, Tim  Robbins, for the bizarre lovers after Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks spurned MGM’s offer.
  20. Alberta Watson, Spanking the Monkey, 1993.     Susan  and fellow A-Listers Faye Dunaway and Jessica Lange spurned director David O Russell’s offer  to be Mrs  Aibelli. They didn’t like the title (USlang for masturbation), nor Mrs A committing incest with her medical student son. The Canadian Alberta (no kidding!) snapped up what became her favourite character. “I’m not a name with an image to protect. The subject was incest. It didn’t scare me at all. I seized the character and made her something. She was a deeply disturbed woman with a roller coaster of emotions. Her son visits for the summer and she’s laid up in a cast with a broken leg and things get out of hand.”

  21. Dana Delany, Exit To Eden, 1994.  Sarandon and Theresa Russell were in the frame before Ann Rice’s S&M novel was prettywomanised into another Garry Marshall comedy. (But a  flop this time).
  22. Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County, 1995.      Also short-listed for author Robert Waller’s Italian war bride Francesca were:Jacqueline Bisset, Claudia Cardinale,Catherine Deneuve, Jessica Lange, Sophia Loren, Isabella Rossellini, Susan Sarandon. After tentative efforts by directors BruceBeresford, Mike Newell, Sydney Pollack and the mighty Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood took over the helm. And casting. In a trice. For one of his finest films.
  23. Nicole Kidman To Die For, 1995.     Another example of her agelessness: Susan was much older than the Meg Ryanish clones being seen by boring director Gus Van Sant.
  24. Barbara Hershey, Portrait Of A Lady, 1995.  “The first time I’ve turned something down that really upset me because I think she’s a great director.” She was Jane  Campion and she understood how Sarandon put he family first. Shooting was switched from summer to November when her daughter was stressed about entering middle school. “I bring my kids everywhere, not just because I feel it’s best for them but because I know I can’t work away from them. I’d just be too unsettled.” (Result : a first Oscar nomination for  the delicious Hershey).
  25. Irène Jacob, Victory, 1996.     Paramount offered Godfather II, Graham Greene’s Honorary Consulor a remake of A Place in the Sun, yetauteur Louis Malle was more keen on having the studio back his 20-year-old dream project – the JosephConrad classic. On Long Island and his French estate, Le Coual, he was forever working – with Sarandon as his new lover – on the script. But Paramount was not as keen as it had been for its 1940 version. Gradually, shooting was planned, a France-Australia-Germany-Canada co-production in Indonesia and the Philippines for July-September 1979.  Malle and Susan went to Atlantic City, instead.  Jacob, the stunning Swiss actress, had made her debut in Malle’s Oscar-nominated Au revoir les enfants, 1987.
  26. Annette Bening, Mars Attacks! 1998.    Warren Beatty was Tim Burton’s first choice for  US President.  He passed (well, maybe he’d really run for the Whitge House one day). His pal Jack Nicholson took over and Mrs Beatty became his wife – not the  First Lady (that was Glenn  Close),  but the boozy dame wed to Nicholson’s unnecessary second role of a Vegas casino boss. She had been first aimed at Sarandon.
  27. Robin Wrght, The Conspirator, 2009.    Director  Robert Redford mused over  Sarandon and Nicole Kidman before making the Wright decision. She steals the drama as the first American woman executed by the US government in 1865 –  for, allegedly, being in the plot to assasassinate Abraham Lincoln.  Five of the conspirators had stayecd in her boarding-house   Mary Sturratt’s son wasin the group, not her. But in times of high national drama, the US drops the law for blind retribution (think: the US after 9/11). John was nor found, so the authorties settled for Mary in the dock – and on the gallows.
  28. Meryl Streep, Into The Woods, 2013
  29. Sela Ward, Graves, TV, 2015.     When Sarandon split – “artistic differences” – Lionsgate voted for Ward as the politically ambitious ex-First Lady wife of former US President Grave (Nick Nolte), now trying to right the wrongs of some of his policies from 20 year ago. Not so much satire as pure science fiction.   











 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  29