Christina Applegate is often so closely tied to Married with Children that we often forget that she’s had a pretty successful movie career, as well. Aside from a couple of sitcoms that didn’t pan out (Up All Night, Samantha Who?, Jesse), Applegate had iconic roles (to some of us, anyway) in Anchorman and Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, as well as some not-so iconic roles in major box-office disappointments like The Rocker, Hall Pass, and Surviving Christmas.
She’s long been considered a comedic actress — in fact, she’s starring in the Vacation reboot, out this week — but she clearly sought more dramatic roles throughout her career. You’d probably be very surprised about the 10 roles below that she was passed on or was under consideration for.
Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
Both Christina Applegate and her friend, Nicole Eggert, auditioned for the role of Sara in Adventures in Babysitting, losing out to Maia Brewton. Brewton, meanwhile, retired from acting in 1993. However, while losing out on the opportunity to play the sister of Keith Coogan’s character in Babysitting, Coogan and Applegate would pair up as siblings four years later in Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead.
Cape Fear (1991)
Martin Scorsese’s Cape Fear, starring Robert DeNiro, might have been a much different movie had Christina Applegate been able to accept the lead female role of Danielle. Her Married with Children schedule, however, kept her from taking the role when offered. Interestingly, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder were also offered the role, while Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon auditioned. Alyssa Milano was also offered the role, but Tony Danza pressured her not to take it so as not to mess with her Who’s the Boss image.
Princess Diaries (2001)
It seems odd to think that they’d be up for the same role again, but Christina Applegate was offered the role of Mia in Princess Diaries after Juliette Lewis (who took Applegate’s role in Cape Fear) turned it down. Applegate also turned down the Diaries role, which eventually went to Anne Hathaway in her movie debut, but not before others — including Amanda Peet, Cameron Diaz, Alyssa Milano, Kate Beckinsale, Tiffani Thiessen, Eva Mendes, Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon, Alicia Silverstone, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Katie Holmes, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Claire Danes, Kate Hudson, and Jessica Alba — also declined.
We’d have been much, much sadder had it been Christina Applegate’s head in the box at the end of Se7en, but Applegate declined the role of Tracy, which eventually went to Gwyneth Paltrow. That movie, actually, had a crazy casting history: Denzel Washington was originally up for Brad Pitt’s role, while Guillermo del Toro was asked to direct before David Fincher came aboard. Sylvester Stallone also turned down Brad Pitt’s role, while Val Kilmer (mistakenly) turned down the villain role that Kevin Spacey eventually landed.
The movie that would eventually become Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man spent years and years in development. In fact, James Cameron had his sites on directing the film for a very long time with Michael Biehn as Peter Parker. In fact, Biehn was bitten in the hand on every James Cameron movie he had ever been in (Terminator, The Abyss and Aliens), which was allegedly a nod to the way Peter Parker was bitten on the hand by a spider-man, giving him radioactive powers. At any rate, in the early stages of development, Christina Applegate was considered for the role of Mary Jane Watson, but by the time it actually began shooting, Applegate was too old, so it went to Kirsten Dunst.
Legally Blonde (2001)
Christina Applegate was offered the lead in Legally Blonde but, having just finished Married with Children, was scared of repeating herself by playing another dimwitted blonde. She now regrets that decision.
It’s even harder to imagine Christina Applegate as Clarice Starling as it is to imagine her as the lead in Cape Fear, but soon after Married with Children wrapped, she tried to go in a completely different direction by auditioning for Hannibal, the sequel to Silence of the Lambs. She ultimately lost out on the role to Julianne Moore, although before it was offered to Moore, several others were conflicted out due to other commitments, including Gillian Anderson, Calista Flockhart and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Before Michael Apted took over directing duties (Jodie Foster had originally wanted to star and direct), Christina Applegate was offered the role of Paula, which eventually went to Natasha Richardson. Applegate couldn’t take the role because of her commitments to Married with Children, but if she had, Natasha Richardson never would’ve met Liam Neeson, and they never would’ve married and had two children. That’s a sad thought.
Gangs of New York (2002)
In 2002, Christina Applegate and Cameron Diaz both appeared in The Sweetest Thing, a box-office dud that kind of killed female-driven comedies for a while (the movie would later find a second life on home video). However, those two were also up for the same role of Jenny Everdean in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, the second Scorsese role she ended up losing out on. Several others — many of whom have competed for roles with Applegate on several other films — also lost out, including Kate Beckinsale, Heather Graham, Kirsten Dunst, Alyssa Milano, Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman.
The 2005 film starring Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman was a major box-office bomb, in part — I believe — because Kidman didn’t have the comedic chops for the role. Christina Applegate — who was also up for the role — would’ve made a much better choice, especially in the wake of Ferrell and Applegate’s pairing the year before in Anchorman.