Welp. There’s really no way around it — it’s been ten years since Mean Girls. I’ll give you a second to recover from that statement and the subsequent jolt of arthritis-feelings that it delivered to your (still actually very youthful) joints, and then we’re gonna talk about the movie.
You ready? Great. Because now that we’ve internalized all the one-liners and seen all the GIFs and forgotten why it is we say ‘boo you whore’ on the phone when someone cancels plans, we can very objectively look back and talk about the things about the movie that could have been different. BLASPHEMY, I know, because it was such a perfect movie, but there were actually a lot of things about it that were almost different. And not just moments in the script, or things that were originally supposed to be filmed another way — big ‘ol casting decisions.
From an interview that director Mark Waters did with Vulture, here’s are a list of people who weren’t supposed to play the roles they did — and a few who weren’t even supposed to be in the movie:
1. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay was initially slated to play Regina George, but when Freaky Friday came out and did way better than anyone was expecting, studio heads felt LiLo needed to be recast as ingenue Cady Heron because they no longer felt audiences would accept her as the bad girl.
“Lindsay kind of begrudgingly said, ‘Okay, I guess I’ll play the lead. At least I get to have more lines.’”
2. Rachel McAdams
Rachel originally read for Cady, back when Lindsay was still cast as Regina, but while they liked her read, it wasn’t quite right and they felt at twenty-four, she was a little too old for the role. But once Lindsay took Cady, it only made sense to cast Regina as her nemesis:
“When Lindsay was acting with Rachel, she got very shy, because Rachel was older and a very accomplished actress. She’d come in the room and not talk to Lindsay — she was very focused. Lindsay kind of got nervous around her, and I thought that, more than anything, was going to be the deciding factor, the fact that she affected Lindsay in that way.”
3. Amanda Seyfried
Amanda is another one who was up for Regina, as difficult as that is to imagine:
“She tested for Regina and was kind of brilliant, and very different than Rachel’s approach. She played it in a much more ethereal but still kind of scary way. She was more frightening, but oddly, less intimidating.”
Obviously Rachel ended up beating her out, because being terrifying is a super important part of Regina’s character, but they still wanted Amanda in the movie.
”And I think it was [producer] Lorne Michaels who had the genius idea of saying, ‘What about the dumb girl? I think Amanda could play the dumb girl. So she came in and read it and nailed it, and we got the best of both worlds.”
Yeah we did.
4. Scarlett Johansson
As you’re probably aware, Scarlett wasn’t actually in the movie at all, so why is she on this list? Well, because there’s been an enduring rumor ever since the film came out that she auditioned for it. But Mark Waters says that’s totally untrue.
“That’s not right. I did test her for something, but not Mean Girls — I actually tested Scarlett for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, when I was going to direct it with Owen Wilson in the lead, and she definitely would have booked the part. We had four really big actresses test — I’m not going to say who else — and she came in and nailed it, and Owen and I were in love with her. But then Hurricane Katrina hit and we ended up losing our sets, and we tried to reconfigure it for Toronto and we couldn’t do it.”
5. Tim Meadows
Even though he was perfect as the principal, Paramount was super not into Tim being in the movie at all, and Mark Waters really had to fight for him.
“It’s weird, but Paramount had a nervousness about Saturday Night Live. They’d been burned on some Saturday Night Live movies that had come from Lorne, so they didn’t want manySaturday Night Live actors in Mean Girls, because then it might feel like anSNL movie and people might shy away from it. [Casting Tim] took a lot of fighting with the studio. They’d made The Ladies Man and they thought, ‘He’s not a movie star,’ but I was very adamant about it. Frankly, he’s genius in the movie. It’s so fun to watch him play that part.”
6. Amy Poehler
As another SNL star, Amy came up against the same problem, even though most people would probably assume that Tina Fey wrote the role of Regina George’s (cool) mom just for her.
“When Tina said, ‘Amy would be really good for this if you’re interested,’ I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? Let’s fucking get Amy!’ From the moment I first saw Amy — I think it was an SNL sketch where she’s playing an amateur porn star on a date with Seann William Scott — I was in love with her.”
There was also the problem of her busy schedule (she could only work half days while she was on SNL) and the fact that she was only seven years older than her ‘daughter’ Rachel McAdams, but ultimately, as we know, it worked out:
“She was making baskets from all over the court. She killed it.”
7. That wide-set vagina
Who can imagine the movie without this iconic line? Nobody, that’s who. But the MPAA demanded that it be cut, threatening to give the film an R rating if it wasn’t.
“The line in the sand that I drew was the joke about the wide-set vagina. The ratings board said, ‘We can’t give you a PG-13 unless you cut that line.’ We ended up playing the card that the ratings board was sexist, because Anchorman had just come out, and Ron Burgundy had an erection in one scene, and that was PG-13. We told them, ‘You’re only saying this because it’s a girl, and she’s talking about a part of her anatomy. There’s no sexual context whatsoever, and to say this is restrictive to an audience of girls is demeaning to all women.’ And they eventually had to back down.”