“Too much violence,” Michelle Pfeiffer said of Silence of the Lambs (1991). “Too much nudity,” she said of Basic Instinct (1992). And she passed on the leading roles in both. She had earlier said “no” to Pretty Woman and later to Casino (1995). Too many guns, gangs, and drugs, like Scarface (1983), perhaps?
So the parts went, respectively, to Jodie Foster, who won Best Actress Oscar, Sharon Stone, launching her career, Sharon Stone, again, earning her an Academy Award nomination, and Julia Roberts, whose place in the Hollywood firmament was cemented forever.
Pfeiffer isn’t the only one who has steered clear of what would be a career-defining character, albeit for someone else.
Kim Bassinger declined to play Catherine Trammel in Basic Instinct, but so did twelve other actresses.
Pretty in Pink actress Molly Ringwald passed on Pretty Woman, as well as Ghost, the highest grossing film in 1990 with five Academy Award nominations. She has since turned to writing.
Halle Berry, as well as thirty-four others, turned down Speed (1994), a critical and commercial success for everyone involved, including Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves, who, by the way, wasn’t the first choice to play the male lead.
By the time production on Million Dollar Baby (2004) started, Bullock, who was slated to play Maggie, was committed to Miss Congeniality 2, of which she was a producer. Million Dollar Baby won Hilary Swank her second Oscar.
Although a People’s Choice favorite movie actress for years, Bullock didn’t get her Academy Award until 2009 for Blind Side, a role in which Julia Roberts wasn’t interested.
Well, even the most glamorous among us make mistakes. Shall I go on?
Having already starred with Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes steered clear of the Titanic (1997) for which Kate Winslet earned an Oscar nomination.
Winslet, in turn, following the success inTitanic, decided Shakespeare In Love (1998) wasn’t for her. Julia Roberts felt the same way, dropping out of the running, reportedly after Daniel Day-Lewis decided he wasn’t suited to be William Shakespeare. So Gwyneth Paltrow became Viola to Joseph Fiennes’ Shakespeare and won a Best Actress Oscar for doing so.
As Queen Elizabeth in said picture, Judy Dench, who was on screen for all of eight minutes in four short scenes, won the Academy Award for supporting actress. A lesser performer might have deemed the part too small.
Round and round they go. When will the music stop? No one knows.
© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved