Auditions and Considerations

Labyrinth

Helena auditioned for the role of Sarah in the 1986 film Labyrinth. Described as being ‘dark and cynical’ by Jim Henson, Helena auditioned alongside nineteen other actresses on 5th July 1984. She was short-listed as a potential candidate, however it was decided that the part of Sarah ought to go to an American actress.

The role of Sarah eventually went to Jennifer Connelly.

Sid and Nancy

She tested for the role of Nancy Spungen in the 1986 film Sid and Nancy; Chloe Webb got the role. Helena’s Harry Potter co-star, Gary Oldman, played the role of Sid Vicious.

A Great Wind Cometh

You can read more about this role on our dedicated page.

Wuthering Heights

Desperate to be seen for the role of Cathy in this 1992 version of Wuthering Heights, Helena wrote a lengthy essay on Emily Brontë which she sent to director Peter Kosminsky. She was invited to audition and showed up in a pair of dungarees, which she admits was probably not a wise decision when you are up for the role of a romantic heroine. Kosminsky apparently described her as ‘a bit dumpy’.

Juliette Binoche was cast as Cathy, while Harry Potter co-star Ralph Fiennes played Heathcliff. Also starring in the film was Sophie Ward, who starred with Helena in A Dark Adapted Eye.

Breaking the Waves

Helena was Lars von Trier’s first choice to play Bess McNeill in the 1996 film Breaking the Waves and had signed on for the role, but withdrew shortly before filming began, paving the way for then-unknown actress, Emily Watson, who would go on to win an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.   It was largely reported by the press that Helena withdrew from the project as she was uncomfortable with the sexual content of the film, but her reasons were more complex:

The press said I pulled out because of the sex scenes but it wasn’t because of that…I loved the part […] But I had an allergic reaction to the idea of this girl, whose husband is paraplegic, who goes and prostitutes herself in the belief that it will make him better. I’m sure a lot of it is because my dad is paraplegic […] I supposed part of it is that I don’t want to see it and think, Oh God, I made the wrong decision. Perhaps I did, but I don’t think I would have been able to do it. – The Express, 28th April 1997

In an article for The Times dated 1997, Helena reportedly said “Having lived with a father who was crippled for 17 years, I didn’t buy the miracle at the end. It was a tough decision […] I couldn’t have done it. Emily Watson is much better than I would have been.”

Jude

Helena was apparently considered for and then turned down the role of Sue Bridehead in the 1996 film Jude. Kate Winslet was cast, with Doctor Who actor Christopher Eccleston as the title role. This is rumoured and unconfirmed.

Alien Love Triangle

Helena was rumoured to be in talks to star as Elizabeth alongside then-boyfriend Kenneth Branagh in the 1999 movie Alien Love Triangle. Heather Graham was cast instead.

Elizabeth

Another unconfirmed one: Helena is said to have been one of over 100 actresses considered or auditioned for the lead role of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 film. Cate Blanchett won the lead role.

Charlie’s Angels

Supposedly one of many actresses considered for a part in the 2000 movie-remake of Charlie’s Angels; some of the other actresses rumoured to have been on the list include Alyssa Milano, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Milla Jovovich, Penelope Cruz, Liv Tyler and Salma Hayek. The role that Helena was apparently considered for was Alex Munday, played by Lucy Liu. However, in an interview in 2011, Helena said that she “dreamed of being one of Charlie’s Angels [in the original television series]”  with no mention of any knowledge of ever being considered for the remake, so it is unlikely to be true. Couldn’t quite picture it myself.

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Helena was one of many actresses considered for the role of Bridget Jones, but it is unknown whether or not she actually auditioned. The role went to American actress Renée Zellweger, and Helena’s The King’s Speech co-star, Colin Firth, played Mark Darcy.

Hope Springs

Although rumoured to be in line to play Colin Firth‘s ex-fiancé in the 2003 film, the role of Vera Edwards actually went to Minnie Driver. Producer Barnaby Thompson dismissed claims that Helena had ever been considered for the role.

Lorelei

Helena was rumoured to be cast as Gillian Livingston in this 2009 drama about warring divorced couple who must conceive another child in order to save the life of their ill daughter. Nothing ever became of this film.

Wild Target

You can read more about this role on our dedicated page.

Akira

Helena was offered the role Lady Miyako and she was said to be considering it. The film fell through and it is unknown whether or not Helena had come to a decision in the end.

Good Will Hunting

There are rumours that Helena was one of five British actresses considered to play the role of Skylar in this 1997 film. Minnie Driver was cast. There is very little more to go on, so this is more rumour than anything.