Yet there were those who did not realize Carrie was a horror film, or a supernatural thriller, until after seeing the final cut. Nancy Allen (Chris Hargenson) once felt her and John Travolta’s (Billy Nolan) characters were there for comic relief. Not knowing they would be the villains of the film. In a similar vein, Piper Laurie felt her performance was so over the top that it had to comedy! Obviously, the finished film and its released proved a different outlook for cast and crew alike.
With Lucas and DePalma holding joint auditions for Carrie and Star Wars together, a good number of the cast auditioned for both films. At this point, DePalma was unproven on a mainstream level, and Lucas had only been a moderate success with American Graffiti. Many even predicted Star Wars would be nothing more than a flop that would bankrupt 20th Century Fox. Yet both films proved everyone wrong on almost every level imaginable. Levels almost unheard of prior to the mid-late 1970’s.
DePalma wanted Amy Irving to play Carrie, the lead in a movie that was her feature film debut. The daughter of actress Priscilla Pointer, she actually hated the script once she read it. Yet decided to sign on for the film anyway, since it would be her first film role and give her experience. Howeve,r when she saw the finished film, she realized how magical it was and loved it. Nevertheless, she was disappointed to see some of her larger scenes cut from the film. Such as making onscreen love to William Katt in the backseat of his truck.
For her own screen test, Sissy Spacek put Vaseline in her hair without washing it, and wearing a sailor dress her mother made for her in the seventh grade, with the hem cutoff. This awkward look combined with the powerful delivery of her performance is what got her the role of Carrie White in the film. After DePalma considered Irving (who would play Sue Snell) and Pamela Sue Martin for the role, previously. Her husband, the film’s art director, Jack Fisk lobbied for her to get the screen test.