Jan. 27 marks the 25th anniversary of Richard Linklater's cult classic, Before Sunrise, and while the role of Céline ultimately went to Julie Delpy, the film's casting director, Judy Henderson, tells The New York Timesthat they had other actresses in mind to fill the role of Ethan Hawke's love interest in the movie.
"I kept all the Polaroids because so many of the people who auditioned are superstars today," Henderson reveals. "We saw Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston, before she was on Friends."
Aniston and Paltrow weren't the only celebs to go out for the lead parts. In fact, Alias and Never Been Kissed star Michael Vartan nearly beat out Hawke for the role of Jesse.
"In the end, it came down to two women and two men: Ethan, Julie, Michael Vartan and Sadie Frost [Bram Stoker’s Dracula]," Henderson recalls. "I think they went with Julie because she was wonderful, and they thought the French accent gave a definite feeling that Jesse was meeting someone who was not from his world. And with Michael and Ethan, it was a tough choice because they were both really good. You could almost toss a coin."
In Before Sunrise, Jesse, an American 20-something man traveling through Europe, meets Céline, a pretty female French student, on a train to Vienna. The two decide to get off the train together in Austria’s capital and spend a night together talking and strolling the streets.
Ultimately, production was pleased with the casting of the romantic movie and Linklater went on to film two sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, with Hawke and Delpy.
"Ethan and Julie had a chemistry that was electric and charming at the same time," Henderson says.
Hawke and Delpy agree. "Meeting Julie was like meeting a character from a novel, like Anna Karenina or something. She’s a very deep person. I’d never felt so American and so dumb in my life," Hawke says of his longtime co-star.
Delpy recalls of first meeting the actor, "He was like a puppy, so young and sweet. He hates that, but really he had a beautiful naïve quality about him. I mean naïve in a good way, naïve but very smart at the same time."
Back in 1995, ET spoke with Delpy and Hawke at the Sundance Film Festival before they knew their movie would become a classic. Check out our exclusive interviews with the Before Sunrise stars from back in the day: