Choosing acting roles in Hollywood can be a little difficult since it’s hard to say which films will eventually hit it big with audiences at the box office. When hearing about the immense amount of money actors are paid to play characters on film, it seems almost unfathomable to think that an actor would choose to turn down a role. Yet, choosing the wrong direction in an acting career can mean the difference from becoming an A-list actor or going straight to video. The HBO series, Entourage, did an amazing job at giving some insight into how important it is to choose the right roles as an actor. Towing the line between taking a role to pay the bills and taking a role in the hopes of being considered a truly gifted actor is a huge leap of faith in some cases. While there are some actors that have the foresight to see the potential behind a role after reading the initial script, there are others that can’t see how significant a role will become.
Not until after a film has made it to the big screen, do many actors start to realize their mistakes in not fighting hard enough for obtaining a particular role. From films that have earned the actors critical acclaim and industry accolades to blockbuster hits that have become iconic, there are some roles that have helped to define an actor’s persona and worth. Check out our list of the 15 film roles that actresses should have fought over, and see how these characters have defined how the public perceives them to this day.
15. Selene In Underworld
Although Kate Beckinsale had acted in a number of roles prior to starring as the lead in the Underworld film series, the majority of them had her pretty much typecast in the “good girl” persona. From starring as Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass to the pinup girl nurse in Pearl Harbor, she wasn’t exactly considered a major badass throughout her early career. Yet, her role as Selene in the Underworld film series definitely changed all that. From the skintight catsuits to the high-tech guns and motorcycle-riding, Beckinsale proved to audiences that she was a force to be reckoned with on the big screen. There was a bit of controversy surrounding how she obtained the role in the first place since she later married the film’s director, Len Wiseman. Both have insisted that they only first met while on set but speculation has surrounded this casting call since even before the first film was released. Regardless, there are undoubtedly a number of other actresses that would have been willing to partake in some backroom casting sessions if they would have known just how successful the Underworld film series would become. Not only would they have guaranteed themselves a job for the next decade but they would have had a chance to prove their diversity as an actress on the big screen.
14. Mia Wallace In Pulp Fiction
There aren’t many films that can boast the amount of A-list actors that are in the iconic 1994 film, Pulp Fiction. Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, and Christopher Walken to name a few, the leading lady role for the Mia Wallace character should have been something that every actress in Hollywood should have wrestled for. Not only would it have given actresses a chance to star alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood but it would have given them a chance to get buddy-buddy with famed director, Quentin Tarantino. This is exactly what happened with Uma Thurman and she and Tarantino became very close afterward. In fact, Tarantino started spending time with Thurman and her daughter, which later gave him the inspiration to come up with the Beatrix Kiddo character for his later hit series, Kill Bill. Again, Thurman got another paycheck when she was cast in the two Kill Bill films and there is even talk of a Kill Bill 3 in the works. It definitely looks like the Mia Wallace character from Pulp Fiction was much more appealing than it must have seemed originally.
13. Rose DeWitt Bukater In Titanic
Kate Winslet had been featured in a few films in the ‘90s prior to being cast as Rose DeWitt Bukater in the James Cameron iconic film, Titanic, but obviously none even had half of the success at the box office. It was Titanic that truly put Winslet on the map, regardless of all of the critiques she received from those who felt the role should have went to a typical size zero actress rather than the buxom Winslet. While history-based romances have a hit-or-miss chance at the box office, actresses should have known that Titanic would have blown up due to James Cameron’s involvement. This should have been a role that actresses considered gouging each other’s eyes out for, not only because it was slated to be a huge success but because it would allow them to splash around with the young heartthrob, Leonardo DiCaprio. Perhaps, actresses weren’t too keen on spending all that time in the water or perhaps they heard the rumors of how difficult DiCaprio is onset. Regardless, they are all probably kicking themselves for losing out on this blockbuster win.
12. Ellen Ripley In Alien
When Sigourney Weaver was cast as the leading lady role in the original Alien film, she had only acted in minor roles prior to this blockbuster hit. This is like winning the Hollywood lottery since the film series has since become iconic in the eyes of moviegoers and is the role that Weaver is best known for throughout her film career. Ironically, the role was originally supposed to be given to a man. The original script called for the role that later became the Ellen Ripley character to be played by a male actor. Yet, the director, Ridley Scott, decided to change the character into a female lead, thus altering the script. Other actresses in Hollywood should have sought out this leading lady spot since it would show incredible diversity in their acting skills. Any leading lady that can shoot off big boy guns and fight aliens better than her male costars, should definitely be a role worth fighting for.
11. Sidney Prescott In Scream
Neve Campbell was first introduced to American audiences through her role on the television series, Party of Five, but she seemed to transition onto the big screen with ease. Her portrayal in The Craft was a great way for audiences to see that she was more than a TV star but it was her role as Sidney Prescott in the Scream film series that truly solidified her in the world of big budget films. Originally, the role of Sidney Prescott was supposed to go to Drew Barrymore. While Barrymore did have a brief role in the film, her Casey character was by far no comparison to Prescott’s. With the first film being released in 1996, there were a number of other actresses that should have jumped at the chance to star in this hugely successful film series. Not only did it help to put Neve Campbell on the map but it definitely lined her pockets with all that money from the subsequent sequels.
10. Clarice Starling In The Silence of the Lambs
There aren’t many actresses that can boast such a longstanding and hugely successful professional career in Hollywood like Jodie Foster. Starting out as a child actress, Foster has been acting for the majority of her life and has been involved in some of the most iconic roles in Hollywood. One of these was the role of Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. It seems a little unfair for Foster to have gotten this role since not only did it star the famed actor, Anthony Hopkins, but it was a huge success at the box office. Interestingly, the director, Jonathan Demme, stated that he didn’t even originally have Foster in mind for this lead role. In fact, he was considering other names like Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Laura Dern for the role of the FBI Agent, Clarice Starling. Reportedly, Ryan and Pfeiffer were put off by the gruesome nature of the film and Dern wasn’t a big enough star for the studio. Foster strongly campaigned for the role and the rest is film history. Yet, with the iconic status the film has since undertaken, the other actresses that were being considered should have probably given the script a second read or two.
9. Molly Jensen In Ghost
With so much talk over how youthful Demi Moore looks at her age and how vivacious her sex life must be, it seems almost unfathomable to believe that she had such a thriving film career in the 1980s. Yet, each year seemed to come out with another Demi Moore film, albeit none were that successful in retrospect. It wasn’t until her 1990 role as Molly Jensen in Ghost that fans truly got to see her as an A-list film star. What’s interesting is that originally, the role was supposed to go to Molly Ringwald. Unlike Moore who had a career in the ‘80s without many successes, Ringwald was already considered a huge success as a leading lady. Yet, the role fell through and it was ultimately Moore that became the love interest leading lady with the signature short hairstyle. Even if the role wasn’t for Ringwald, there should have been a fight with other actresses to get this iconic role. Not only would they have gone down in cinematic history but they would have been able to boast having sex with a ghost on screen.
8. Sally Albright In When Harry Met Sally
Hollywood is filled with romantic films that are often dubbed as “chick flicks.” Oftentimes, the film includes a male character that features the Holy Grail of romance, with a persona that seems utterly unbelievable in the real world. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth in the 1989 hit film, When Harry Met Sally. Harry was the typical “scared of commitment” guy, while Sally seemed ever-hopeful to the end. Unlike other romantic comedies, this is a film that even men can enjoy due to the comedic qualities of the character played by Billy Crystal. The leading lady role was initially never going to go to Meg Ryan since the director, Rob Reiner, had a number of other actresses in mind. Susan Dey, Elizabeth Perkins, and Molly Ringwald were all considered before the role was eventually nabbed up by Meg Ryan. Perhaps these actresses felt a little intimidated about simulating an orgasm in the middle of a diner but if they knew how iconic the film would become, they would probably have given the role a bit more thought.
7. Cecillia Carol In Beaches
The 1988 film, Beaches, is more than just a film about friendship, love, and loss. The film became a crowning glory moment for Bette Midler, despite having an already hugely successful film career throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s. Midler had always been known for having a good voice but it was the soundtrack to the Beaches film that truly brought on the bulk of her fans who still reference this film to this day. The film has become so iconic through the years that Lifetime has announced that they will release a remake starring Idina Menzel and Nia Long. The remake is slated to be released January 25, 2016. It’s not surprising that stellar celebrities of today would jump at the chance to recreate this iconic film, especially since the original was received so well by audiences. If actresses in the late ‘80s would have known how well Beaches would propel their careers, both in film and in the music industry, it’s no doubt that Bette Midler would have had to truly fight to get this role on the big screen.
6. Frances “Baby” Houseman In Dirty Dancing
Long before Dancing with the Stars, audiences had fallen in love with the storyline in the 1987 film, Dirty Dancing. Pairing up a professional dancer with a girl with absolutely no rhythm, moviegoers rooted for them to nail their routine and, of course, fall in love. When searching for the female lead, the writer and co-producer, Eleanor Bergstein, chose Jennifer Grey, who was the daughter of famed dancer and actor, Joel Grey. Playing Frances “Baby” Houseman, the character was meant to be on the unattractive side in order to truly blossom by the end of the film. Yet, the same goal could have been achieved if they had decided to go with a different actress. This would have been a breakout moment for any actress looking to prove their skills both on screen and on the dance floor. This would have also been a great role for actresses looking to downplay their looks in order to be taken more seriously as an actor. Because the film had such a focus on the dance aspect of the acting, this could have been a bit of a deterrent for actresses truly fighting over this role. However, any actress would have to be kicking themselves for missing out on the chance of being the infamous “Baby” onscreen, much less being able to boast dirty dancing with Patrick Swayze.
5. Nina Sayers In Black Swan
The 2010 film, Black Swan, received worldwide acclaim, as well as intense scrutiny over the symbolic and real-life meaning behind the characters and the plotline. From comparing the plot to the never-ending struggle for artistic perfection to describing the Nina Sayers character with having Schizophrenia or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, people have interpreted the film in numerous different ways. Yet, one thing that cannot be denied is how much the Nina Sayers role did for the actress that played her. Natalie Portman wound up winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, as well as the Golden Globe Award that same year. One of Portman’s dancing doubles, Sarah Lane, came out to speak against the fact that Portman didn’t dance the entirety of each scene on her own, but at that point, no one seemed to care. Perhaps actresses were intimidated by the amount of work that was needed in preparing for this role but they might have thought twice about it if they knew there would be body doubles on hand and an Oscar win at the end.
4. Vivian Ward In Pretty Woman
When the original script for Pretty Woman was being shopped around prior to its release in 1990, actresses weren’t exactly jumping at the chance to portray a prostitute. The original script was entitled, “3000” based on the amount agreed upon for one week of services. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the character, Vivian Ward, wasn’t even a high-class escort of types but was actually and quite literally, a streetwalker. The role was originally supposed to be given to Molly Ringwald who was coming off her successes in the ‘80s like Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. Yet, Ringwald passed on the role and it was ultimately given to Julia Roberts. While it may have seemed like a risqué character at the time, by today’s standards it is extremely tame. Taking in the fact that Julia Roberts became a huge star and solidified her role as America’s Sweetheart, actresses should have been flocking to don those over-the-knee stiletto boots. Adding that Roberts was able to use a body double for the nude scenes, this was definitely a role worth fighting for.
3. Tiffany From Silver Linings Playbook
When Jennifer Lawrence was seen in the 2012 film, Silver Linings Playbook, she had already solidified herself as a blockbuster hit movie star from her performances in The Hunger Games film series. Yet, she wasn’t just an actress that only wanted to go for the roles that would draw in the most amount of moviegoers. Obviously, she saw something in the Silver Linings Playbook script that was beyond its “little movie that could” exterior. In fact, the film wasn’t even released to nationwide theaters until long after it premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. What started off as a small art house film turned into a huge worldwide success and received eight Academy Award nominations. Yet, the true success was achieved for the role of Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress, the role earned her more than just another credit for her acting resume. If other actresses would have known the critical acclaim Lawrence went on to achieve after her portrayal in the film, they would have bent over backwards to star in this small little film. It should have been predicted given the fact that it starred actors like Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, not to mention the famed director, David O. Russell. Yet, not all actresses are so quick to jump into a role that they don’t think will reach international audiences.
2. Mary From There’s Something About Mary
When it comes to film roles, it’s well known that a particular character can either make or break an actor. If an actress is continuously portrayed as the promiscuous girl down the street, it’s a bit more difficult for audiences to all of a sudden believe her in a role where she’s supposed to be the “good girl” that is unattainable. On the flip side, if an actress is portrayed as the most sought-after woman in the world, it can subconsciously alter the minds of moviegoers. This is exactly what happened with the role of Mary in the film, There’s Something About Mary. Prior to being cast in this role, Cameron Diaz had already been in a number of films. Yet, this was the role that was her true breakout moment in her professional career and helped mold her public persona for years to follow. Perhaps other actresses were turned off by the zipper scene or the “hair gel” scene but those little scenes didn’t seem to deter the vivacious Diaz. Instead, she turned those scenes into iconic moments that helped to bring fans over to her and solidified her as one of America’s Sweethearts.
1. Harley Quinn In Suicide Squad
When teasers regarding Harley Quinn’s portrayal in Suicide Squad started to hit the Internet, people were on pins and needles thinking about how this character would come to life on the big screen. When Margot Robbie was slated to portray this favorite DC Comics character, people weren’t exactly sure how to react. Yet, the first trailer put all those fears at ease, with Robbie putting just the right amount of sexiness and craziness into the role. Her portrayal instantly created Harley Quinn lookalikes for Halloween, as well as an instant fanbase for the onscreen character. Donning heavy makeup, a wig, and a costume that Robbie told the New York Times made her feel “self-conscious,” it wasn’t exactly tailor-made for this Aussie actress. In fact, there are a number of actresses that could have portrayed the Harley Quinn character in her place. Not only would it have helped an actress to redefine her public persona but it would definitely add a few extra paychecks to their bank account, considering there will be at least a few more flicks featuring the Harley Quinn character.