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Connie Britton: I lost ‘Jerry Maguire’ role to Renee Zellweger

Meriah Doty
Movie Talk
February 14, 2013
Connie Britton at this year's Golden Globe Awards show o
Connie Britton at this year's Golden Globe Awards show o

You know Connie Britton as the wife on "Friday Night Lights" and "American Horror Story," and as an aging country music singer clinging to fame in "Nashville." The 45-year-old actress is a television star who has truly come into her own, having earned her first Golden Globe nomination this year.

But there was a time when Britton had film fame on the brain. She gained notoriety in 1995 with her role as Molly McMullen in Edward Burns' indie darling "The Brothers McMullen," and attempted to leverage that into more, according to a profile the New York Times has written on Britton.

Burns was being courted for the lead in Cameron Crowe's "Jerry Maguire," which would come out the following year. The rising actor-director turned it down because, at the time, he only wanted to star in his own films, leaving the door wide open for Tom Cruise. But Burns had the perfect actress in mind for the female lead -- his "McMullen" co-star Britton. Burns handed her the script and she simply fell in love with it. "I was blown away. I loved the script, the role — I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is incredible.' And I walked into my brand-new agent's office the next day, and I put the script down on his desk, and I was like, 'I have two words for you: Jerry Maguire,'" Britton told the NYT.

Connie Britton, right and Ed Burns in 1995's 'The Brothers McMullen'
Connie Britton, right and Ed Burns in 1995's 'The Brothers McMullen'

The red-headed actress is said to have nailed the audition. Crowe was sold. As the process progressed, Britton felt more and more confident that the part was a sure deal. But when it came time to screen test, she was told "they just want to screen-test one other actress." That actress was Renee Zellweger. And, of course, she got the part.

"It was heartbreak," Britton recalled. She also offered a possible explanation as to why she didn't get to play Dorothy Boyd opposite Tom Cruise: "Maybe I was too tall." (Britton is one inch taller than Cruise's 5'7" stature.)

The New York Times' headline describes Britton as a "Late Bloomer," presumably making her second wind of success, albeit on television, ever sweeter.
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