Every time that Hollywood announces a new movie starring an iconic character, the internet loses its collective mind, speculating on what actor will take on the role. When it was announced, for example, that there was going to be a Tomb Raider reboot, fanboys everywhere were practically frothing at the mouth, arguing and fantasizing about who would fill Angelina Jolie‘s pistols and short shorts. (Oscar winner Alicia Vikander will be the next Lara Croft, FYI.)
And it isn’t just fans that get all worked up about it either. More than a few roles have had Hollywood’s most famous clamoring for an audition. When casting directors were searching for a broad-shouldered hunk to play Thor in Marvel’s cinematic universe, actors from all over the place got in line to wield that prop hammer, including Tom Hiddleston, who went on to play Loki, and Liam Hemsworth, who eventually lost out to his older brother, Chris.
Other roles, however, don’t garner the same level of excitement. It is probably safe to say that there wasn’t a lineup of A-listers hoping to screen test for one of the leads in Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! The same can be said for pretty much every single movie Nicolas Cage has starred in during the last decade or so of his career. But what might surprise you is how difficult it was for some of the biggest roles in movie history to find an actor willing to play them. Read on to see eight roles every actor out there wanted to play, and eight that no one seemed to give a crap about.
16. No One Wanted: Vivian Ward – Pretty Woman
The role of Vivan Ward in Pretty Woman is the role that turned Julia Roberts into an international superstar. Her chemistry with Richard Gere was palatable, her charm was through the roof, she was beautiful and likeable and that scene with the necklace was perfection. But Roberts was far from the first choice.
Several other better known actresses were asked to play the hooker with the heart of gold (classic, am I right?), and all of them decided against it. Some, such as Meg Ryan, had scheduling conflicts that prevented that from joining Gary Marshall’s production, but others, most notably Michelle Pfeiffer and Daryl Hannah, refused to take the part of Vivian because they disliked the story’s subject matter so much. They are probably kicking themselves now, don’t you think?
15. Everyone Wanted: Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games
After the explosive success of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian Hunger Games book trilogy, it was inevitable that Hollywood would jump on a film adaptation. When it was officially announced that a movie version of Katniss Everdeen’s struggle against the capital was on its way, fans of the books were beside themselves in an attempt to decide on the best actress to wield Miss Everdeen’s bow.
Likewise, almost every young, up and coming actress in town was hoping to move into District 12 and strike a romance with Peeta Mellark. Reports rolled in of Hailee Steineld, Abigail Breslin, Shailene Woodley, Emily Browning, Emma Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Chloe Grace Moretz, and more than a few others, all reading for the part. Eventually it was announced that Jennifer Lawrence, who had just recently been nominated for her first Academy Award for her performance in Winter’s Bone, would be wearing the famed braid and leading the rebellion against President Snow.
14. No One Wanted: Noah – The Notebook
You can probably credit the role of Noah in The Notebook as the one that solidified Ryan Gosling as a tinseltown heartthrob and Hollywood mainstay. The adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic novel has set hearts aflutter ever since its release over a decade ago. However, even though Sparks sold the film rights way back in 1995, production didn’t manage to kick into gear until the early 2000s. And while a film taking almost ten years to get off the ground isn’t unheard of, it usually isn’t because every single actor in Hollywood thinks the leading man’s character is boring AF.
According to reports, actor after actor after actor turned down the role because he has no character arc. Even Sparks himself admitted as much. Basically the guy falls in love, stays in love, and then (SPOLER ALERT FOR A MOVIE THAT IS LIKE 12 YEARS OLD) dies. But, alas, good ol’ Gosling and his sexy facial hair made it work, turning Nicholas Sparks books into film fodder for years to come.
13. Everyone Wanted: Amy Dunne – Gone Girl
As it goes with nearly all successful books, it seemed inevitable that a film adaptation of Gone Girl would hit theatres soon or later, and, unsurprisingly, it did just that in 2014. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network), Gone Girl was one of the year’s best flicks. While Fincher quickly found that Ben Affleck was a good fit for the lead male character, Nick Dunne, finding an actress to fill the spot of Nick’s wife, Amy, was trickier.
Because the character was so deeply complex, many top-notch Hollywood actresses expressed interested in playing Amy Dunne. Among the notables in contention were Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron, as well as House and The OC alum, Olivia Wilde. And while any one of those ladies could have been amazing, there is no doubt that Rosamund Pike, who would go on to grab an Academy Award nomination, was the perfect Amy.
12. No One Wanted: Michael Corleone – The Godfather
Seriously?! No one wanted to play Michael Corleone? It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Al Pacino taking on the role of the Italian mob boss, especially after two separate Oscar nods for Parts 1 and 2, but what is even harder to imagine is the slew of actors who passed on the opportunity to star in Francis Ford Coppola’s mafia masterpiece. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but let’s take a quick moment to examine who was considered before Pacino was cast.
First on the studio’s wish list was Jack Nicholson. And yeah, sure, Nicholson is pretty great, but can you really picture the dude who sang “I’m so pretty” with Adam Sandler making people offers they can’t refuse. Also considered pre-Pacino were Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty. Again, stellar actors in their own right, but only Al can be Michael Corleone.
11. Everyone Wanted: Rey – The Force Awakens
It’s nearly impossible to top the excitement that comes alongside a Star Wars movie and The Force Awakens was definitely no exception to the rule. Not only were generations of Star Wars fans giddy with galactic anticipation, but when it was revealed that Lucasfilm needed a new young lass to become the franchise’s new face, actresses came out of the proverbial woodwork to audition for what would surely be a career-making role.
It is reported that around 2,500 different actresses went out for the character that would eventually be revealed as Rey, including the likes of Elizabeth Olsen, Saoirse Ronan, and Shailene Woodley. But director JJ Abrams, in keeping with Star Wars tradition, chose a total newbie to star in the seventh episode: Daisy Ridley. He appears to have made the right decision.
10. No One Wanted: Clarice Sterling – The Silence Of The Lambs
While Anthony Hopkins‘ Hannibal Lecter is the most recognizable face of The Silence of the Lambs, FBI agent Clarice Starling is arguably the film’s lead character. And although Jodie Foster, who originated the role and campaigned tirelessly to get the part, would go on to take home the Oscar for it, a whole boatload of other actresses passed it over first.
Director Jonathan Demme’s first choice was allegedly Michelle Pfeiffer, and Meg Ryan was rumored to be next in line, but both actresses turned it down due to the disturbing content. To be fair, the movie does feature cannibalism, serial killers, chopped up body parts, and close-ups on a supremely creepy Anthony Hopkins. And even Jodie Foster ended up turning the part down when she had the opportunity to play Starling again in the sequel, Hannibal.
9. Everyone Wanted: Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman, a.k.a. Diana Prince, has been a role model for comic book readers ever since her creation in the 1940s. So when DC finally got around to making a big screen adaptation of the most badass female superhero of all time, every actress imaginable hoped to get her hands on Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth.
Over the years, many of Hollywood’s top leading ladies have expressed interest in the character, including America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, ex-Scientologist Katie Holmes, Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame, and one-time Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko. Despite all the interest and the sheer number of potential Wonder Women, it is hard to argue with the fact that Gal Gadot is damn near perfect as the Amazonian warrior princess, especially with the massive success of her standalone movie.
8. No One Wanted: Gandalf – The Lord Of The Rings
Gandalf is, without a doubt, the coolest wizard of all time. You Harry Potter diehards out there probably have a lot to say about that, but Gandalf came first and he killed a Balrog. So there. Gandalf’s innate coolness is largely why it is super weird that none of Hollywood’s white-haired echelon seemed to eager to pick up his magical staff and take on Sauron.
Sean Connery was famously offered the part, but turned it down because he didn’t understand the script, and Christopher Plummer, who is a huge fan of the books (just like we all are, right?) also passed on the chance to counsel a group of hobbits. When asked to explain his reason for turning the role down, Plummer couldn’t quite come up with a solid answer, but mentioned that the extensive time commitment likely had something to do with it. Of course, none of that really matters because Ian McKellen was freakin’ perfect as the white wizard.
7. Everyone Wanted: Batman
When Tim Burton rebooted the Batman franchise in the 1980s, it seemed like every A-lister capable of donning a cape tried to become the next dark night. It was a no-brainer. Huge paycheck? Yup. Enormous franchise? Yup. Cool AF costume? Double yup. What actor in their right mind wouldn’t want a chance at that? Even the guys you thought wouldn’t have a chance were reportedly considered. Let’s do an experiment: think of the one actor that definitely couldn’t be Bruce Wayne in a Tim Burton universe. Got it? Is it Bill Murray? It’s probably Bill Murray. Well guess what? Bill Murray, at one point, was considered a frontrunner for the role! He, along with Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, and Alec Baldwin, were all strongly considered before Michael Keaton finally inhabited the bat cave.
6. No One Wanted: Aragorn – The Lord Of The Rings
You would think that a beloved character from a treasured fantasy series would be an acting magnet for all the leading men out there, but Peter Jackson and crew had a surprisingly difficult time finding someone to take on the part of Aragorn when they were casting The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
At one point, it was hoped that Daniel Day-Lewis would play the rightful King of Gondor, but he quickly rejected the offer, stating that he feared playing the same character for such a long time would become boring. Russell Crowe was also offered the chance to wield Anduril, but had to turn it down because of budgeting concerns. Even Nicolas Cage was asked to come on board, but didn’t want to commit to spending three years with Frodo and his friends in Middle Earth. At long last Stuart Townsend was cast, but was fired just before filming began because Peter Jackson felt he was too young, and was finally replaced by Viggo Mortensen.
5. Everyone Wanted: Young Han Solo
It’s hard to imagine a role that would get all the actors alive between the ages of 18 and 30 as excited as the one of young Han Solo. The rugged nerf herder has only ever had one face – that of the legendary Harrison Ford – and being the next pilot of the Millennium Falcon would not only be a great honor, but it would also come with a crazy paycheck and a place in one of the biggest movie franchises to ever exist. When casting opened up for the Han Solo prequel, it is rumored that over two thousand actors either sent in tapes or auditioned in person for the titular character!
Of those considered, Miles Teller, Zac Efron, Ansel Elgort, and Emory Cohen should be familiar to you. Of the hundreds of potentials, the bigwigs in charge of these decisions settled on newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, who was previously only really known for his turn in Hail, Caesar!
4. No One Wanted: Leticia Musgrove – Monster’s Ball
When Monster’s Ball hit theatres in 2002, it was quickly regarded by critics as one of the best dramas of the year. The film detailed the relationship between a widowed corrections officer working on death row, played by Billy Bob Thornton, and a woman whose husband he had a hand in executing, played by Halle Berry. The part of Leticia Musgrove would go on to garner Berry the Oscar for Best Actress, the first for an African American woman, but prior to production several actresses passed over the role. Queen Latifah and Jennifer Lopez were both considered but didn’t take it on, and Vanessa Williams and Angela Bassett both turned down the role, citing the graphic sexual nature of it as the reason. Obviously baring it all on camera didn’t worry Berry and it certainly didn’t hurt her career!
3. Everyone Wanted: James Bond – Casino Royale
Bond, James Bond is without a martini-sipping doubt one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in cinematic history. Ever since Sean Connery slipped into 007’s tuxedo back in 1962, MI6’s wittiest double agent has been a universal emblem of cool, charisma, and kicking ass, so it’s no wonder that every time the series starts looking for a new British bad boy to play with Q’s deadly toys, every actor on seven continents makes a bid to enter her Majesty’s secret service. And now, with Daniel Craig‘s future as a philandering spy up in the air, all sorts of performers have tossed their hat in the ring. Names circling the Bond mantle include Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Gillian Anderson, Hugh Jackman, Henry Cavill, Tom Hardy, Aidin Turner, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell, and roughly a thousand others.
2. No One Wanted: Christian Grey And Anastasia Steele – Fifty Shades Of Grey
The Fifty Shades of Grey books might be one of the best selling series in recent memory, but that doesn’t mean that Hollywood’s best and brightest were fighting over the two romantic leads. We’re using the term “romantic” very loosely here. It seems like everyone knew that the film would suck harder than an overpowered Dyson, so despite the exuberance of the books’ lustful, middle-aged fan base, none of the expected choices panned out. Matt Bomer, Ian Somerhalder, and Alexander Skarsgard were all names thrown around for whips and chains enthusiast Christian Grey, while Alexis Bledel, Felicity Jones, Shailene Woodley, and Alicia Vikander were popping up on internet forums in fantasy castings of the character Anastasia Steele. Charlie Hunnam was originally cast as the male lead, but dropped out, and was replaced by Jamie Dornan, who starred alongside Dakota Johnson in one of the worst movies of 2015.
1. Everyone Wanted: Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind
Gone With the Wind is one of the most legendary films ever made and the casting for its leading lady, Scarlett O’Hara, was just as epic and melodramatic as the movie itself. In order to stir up excitement for the upcoming celluloid adventure (based on the book of the same name – big shock, we know), David O. Selznick, one of its producers, put out a highly publicized, nationwide casting call for the part, resulting in the studio seeing approximately 1,400 different actresses, and screen testing some of the biggest names of the time, including Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and pretty much every other famous leading lady of the 1930s. It took two years for the search to conclude, and eventual winner of the Scarlett sweepstakes, unknown British up-and-comer Vivien Leigh, wasn’t cast until filming had already begun!
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