While the actresses in 2001's cult hit Josie and the Pussycats only sang backing vocals for Letters to Cleo singer Kay Hanley, filmmakers apparently had a number of notable musicians audition for the film -- includingBeyoncé Knowles, who would later become one of the biggest stars on the planet.
The revelation came as part of an interview with Billboard, who were speaking with directors Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan as well as star Rachael Leigh Cook and Hanley ahead of a concert tonight in Los Angeles in which Hanley will play songs from the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack for the first time live.
“The list of people who auditioned to be in the movie. The fact that Beyoncé, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes and Aaliyah came in to audition was crazy,” Elfont said. “I think it was 2000. We read Left Eye twice. She really wanted to play the part. Beyoncé was really quiet and shy. Who knew? It was a comedy and Aaliyah was more serious and thoughtful. We wanted someone who could really play the comedy.”
When the film was in production, Beyoncé would have been well-known as a part of Destiny's Child but wasn't the global phenom that she would later become.
Had she won the role of Valerie Brown -- eventually played in the film by Rosario Dawson -- the band's meteoric rise in the film would likely have turned into a metaphor for Beyoncé herself in the years following the film's release and subsequent box office failure.
The Billboard story does not make clear what role the women were auditioning for -- it could have been Josie -- but unlike the reinvented Pussycats of Riverdale, the Josie movie featured the characters looking more or less like the cartoon and comics, so the obvious assumption is that they would have been auditioning for the one character of color.
The movie earned only about half of its production budget back during its original theatrical run, but has gone on to become a cult classic. The soundtrack, which is being reissued tomorrow on vinyl for the first time via Mondo, went gold and is fondly remembered even by people who don't love the movie.
Almost 15 years after Josie and the Pussycats was released in theaters, Marvel was said to be pursuing Beyoncé for a role, but it never happened.
You can get Josie and the Pussycats on DVD and streaming now. If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can still make it to the Hanley concert -- which will be followed by a screening of the film and a Q&A with Elfont, Kaplan, Cook, Tara Reid, and other actors from the film -- at the Ace Hotel tonight at 7 p.m. PT.