While the role ultimately went to then newcomer, Cameron Diaz, casting agent Fern Champion told Variety that director Chuck Russell wanted the Playboy model to be his leading lady.
Russell, however, told the publication he was initially interested in casting Anna Nicole, who died in 2007 at the age of 39, as the club performer, but after a meeting moved on from the idea.
“We met,” he said. “Anna was charming and bubbly, but did not have other qualities needed for the role. I never took the next step to run scenes with her. [I] would have had to read her for the part to get that far.”
At the time, Cameron was a working model looking for her break onto the big screen. Thanks to a stellar head shot she submitted, Diaz caught the eye of Russell who had immediate interest in meeting her.
“I saw Cameron's 8×10 on the casting desk and asked, 'What about her?'” he remembers. “I was told she was submitted, but had not acted in anything else yet. I said to bring her in and let's see.”
Casting director Champion also remembers the struggle to find the right girl to play Tina. First looking at top models of the time, no one was a seamless fit. It was then that Champion turned to a friend who worked at a modeling agency for leads and Cameron was the only girl suggested. Upon meeting Champion recalls, "[She had] an instant likability. She's a great girl. There were no barriers up. There was a brain behind her. She was just wide-eyed and blue-eyed, saying, 'Yeah, I want to act, Sure. What do I have to do?'”
Fast forward to eight callbacks, on-camera improv with Carrey, and a little friendly producer persuasion, landed Cameron her ground breaking role that would send her off into super stardom. “[She] was the only person for the part as far as I was concerned after her first reading," Russell says.