Can you imagine a world in which our favorite films and shows had a different cast? Perhaps they might not have achieved that same success if it had been someone else taking on those roles. It’s not always a matter of talent; some actors are just more suitable for certain roles and can capture them like nobody else. There are plenty of times when movies were created with certain actors in mind, but for one reason or another, they got passed over for someone else.
We’re talking about some of Hollywood’s biggest name; you would find it hard to believe that someone else was able to snatch their part. Many of these entries turned out to be career changing for the actors who took on the roles, while those who were rejected had to wait longer for their big break.
It should serve as motivation for anybody losing hope, regardless of the industry that they are currently in. It should be noted that plenty of Hollywood stars don’t get the roles they audition for even at the peak of their careers. Every actor has been rejected in the past, and today’s list has a variety of famous figures that will surely surprise you. While plenty of actors turn down roles that were offered to them, today’s list covers the opposite angle: actors who hoped to be cast but were denied.
The list will remind you that even the biggest stars failed before they succeeded, as we look at 15 A-list celebrities who were rejected for major roles.
15. Anne Hathaway: Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook
Since 2010, there haven’t been many better-released films than Silver Linings Playbook. The film was a major success in the box office with $236 million, and with critics as it gathered a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. While Jennifer Lawrence was heaped with praise for her role as Tiffany, it’s been revealed that Anne Hathaway was the original pick. Lawrence played the role beyond imagination, making audiences invest in the story.
As talented as Hathaway may be, it’s hard to say that anyone else could have remotely captured that same magic. It’s been reported that the change was made due to creative differences between director David O. Russell and Hathaway, who had a different outlook on the character and storylines. Regardless of how big of a star one may be, directors never like having their ideas challenged and won’t hesitate to drop them.
14. Ryan Gosling: Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones
If Ryan Gosling was rejected once, nobody is safe. After having been signed up by director Peter Jackson to play the role of Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones, Gosling was dropped from the film and replaced with Mark Wahlberg. The film had been in the making for years, and Gosling’s appearance had drastically changed by the time it came to film. He was 150 pounds when hired for the role, but Gosling decided to bulk up to fit the image he had in mind.
Jackson was disappointed to see that Gosling had reached 210 pounds, and they clashed due to creative differences. They continued to argue about what the character should be like until Gosling was dropped from the project. The film went on to gross $93.6 million on a $65 million budget, which is somewhat underwhelming. Perhaps Gosling’s vision might have generated even more money.
13. Reese Witherspoon: Cher in Clueless
Director Amy Heckerling had a vision in mind for Clueless and she was set on her cast choices from the beginning. While major names had auditioned for different roles, it was Reese Witherspoon who came closest to be apart of the film for the lead role of Cher. Heckerling was highly impressed with the audition and had heard plenty about her, but she rejected the actress in favor of Alicia Silverstone. The role was perfect for her and the director simply wasn’t interested in anybody else.
The movie turned out to be a huge success with $56 million at the box office. It’s also one of the most influential teen films of that decade and has aged well despite being released 22 years ago. Unfortunately for Witherspoon, she had to wait 6 years to land a major role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. It goes to show that patience pays off even in an industry like Hollywood.
12. Ashton Kutcher: Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You
10 Things I Hate About You was one of the most popular films of the late ’90s, and has retained its popularity to this date. One could even say that it was one of the defining films for that generation, which makes us relive those times. It featured an all-star cast of Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and others who have gone to become major names in Hollywood.
For the role of Patrick, there were finalists out of hundreds of actors: Josh Hartnett, Heath Ledger, and Ashton Kutcher. Although the latter impressed in his auditions, the role would go to Ledger to become his on-screen debut. Kutcher could have done the role justice, but Ledger’s performance took it to another level, it’s one of the many reasons why the film is still praised today.
11. Dwayne Johnson: Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher
Dwayne Johnson may be the hottest name in Hollywood right now after being named the highest paid actor of 2016. Year after year, he has been attached to some of the biggest films of the year. While they won’t be nominated for any awards, they still manage to top the charts. Johnson has a huge following that instantly draws fans to check out his latest releases, but even he has been rejected in the past.
Earlier this year, a fan inquired about his interest in playing Jack Reacher, Johnson replied by saying that he had auditioned for it, but the role went to Tom Cruise. He also indicated that the rejection was one of the factors that kept him hungry and motivated to reach greater heights of success. The film Jack Reacher was released in 2012 and succeeded at the box office, but we can all agree that it might have been even bigger with Johnson on board.
10. Jennifer Lawrence: Bella Swan in Twilight
It’s really tough to imagine someone portraying Bella Swan other than Kristen Stewart. Plenty of actresses had auditioned for the role, among them was Jennifer Lawrence who was still trying to break into the industry at the time. When she auditioned for Twilight, she never imagined that the film would go on to gross $393 million at the box office, thinking it would just achieve moderate success.
The film became one of the biggest releases of the decade as Stewart was selected to play the role alongside Robert Pattinson. It’s unknown as to why Lawrence was rejected, but likely the director saw Stewart as the better fit, which is often the case with these auditions. It wouldn’t be long before Lawrence would catch her big break as she went on to star in some major movies, such as X-Men: First Class and Silver Linings Playbook.
9. Katie Holmes: Annette Hargrove in Cruel Intentions
While Reese Witherspoon was still searching for a leading role, she managed to land a major part in Cruel Intentions as Annette Hargrove. With a $10.5 million budget, the movie generated $76 million in the box office to become one of the biggest films of the year. During that period, plenty of teen films were being released due to their continuous success.
With such high demand, actresses were breaking into the industry at a young age to fit the roles of the movies. Katie Holmes was one of those names, which is why director Roger Kumble brought her in for an audition. Although she was strongly considered, he believed that she wasn’t entirely suitable for the role, claiming that he wanted someone with a stronger character. It worked out for all parties involved with Holmes picking up many other roles, including the 1998 film Disturbing Behavior.
8. Lindsay Lohan: Jade in The Hangover
Since Lindsay Lohan crushed the scene with hit film Mean Girls, but her career has crashed down quicker than anybody could have predicted. A chance for redemption came with an offer to play the role of Jade in The Hangover back in 2009. While it was rumored that Lohan had turned down the offer, director Todd Phillips would later reveal that she was rejected due to an issue of age.
He pictured Jade to be older than Lohan actually was, and since she had to portray a stripper, it had to be done right. After dropping Lohan, the director would search for an older actress before he settled on Heather Graham. It’s probably for the best that things turned out to be the way they are since Lohan was bound to attract negative attention towards the release. The Hangover is arguably one of the biggest comedies of the past 10 years with $465 million generated at the box office.
7. Kevin Hart: Genie in Aladdin
For the upcoming Aladdin remake, Disney has had a tough time casting characters, mainly Genie, who was portrayed by Robin Williams. He stole the show in the original film, becoming one of the most popular characters of all-time. Even after all these years, people didn’t want to see anybody else to replace Williams who sadly passed away a few years ago. Several names were considered for the new Genie, among them was Kevin Hart.
With all due respect to him, fans were rightfully upset about the news that he could potentially be the new voice of Genie. The director didn’t move forward with him with Will Smith coming in to pick up the role. Fans’ expectations have certainly increased with the new cast, and he’s probably one of the few stars who are deserving of carrying the legacy. The movie is set to be released in May 2019, so it will be a while before we see the new Genie.
6. Robin Williams: Hagrid in Harry Potter
Robin Williams is one of those names that most people would find it hard to believe he was once rejected. The versatile actor has played numerous roles that differ from one another, excelling on every occasion. Upon finding out that Harry Potter was in the making, Williams inquired to reveal his interest in portraying Hagrid. He was rejected by casting director Janet Hirshenson due to a rule that had been set in place, which only allowed British actors to be cast.
Williams understood despite his disappointment and even attended the premiere of the film. He had revealed an interest in being apart of sequel releases but unfortunately, that never happened. The director has spoken about the difficulty of rejecting Williams, claiming there was no way he would have hired a non-British once he turned down the legendary actor. It certainly would have been intriguing to see but Williams’ filmography is already iconic as it is.
5. Dakota Fanning: Mia Hall in If I Stay
Dakota Fanning was set to star in the 2014 film If I Stay, which turned out to be a bigger hit than most had anticipated. Some rumors claim that the actress opted to leave the project, while others say that director R.J. Cutler. dropped her following a change of heart. Fanning had been searching for a lead role, but would partake in different projects.
Perhaps she thought the film wasn’t going to advance her career, but with a box office revenue of $79 million, it’s safe to say the film would have been a great look for her. The lead role ended up going to Chloe Grace Moretz who didn’t take the opportunity for granted, adding another hit film to her resume in such short period. While the movie wasn’t exactly critically acclaimed, fans did go out in numbers to see it in theatre upon its release in 2014.
4. Miles Teller: Sebastian in La La Land
After previously working with Miles Teller, director Damien Chazelle was set to collaborate with the actor once again on La La Land. The movie was in the works for years and nearly fell through before it was picked up. Teller was supposed to portray Sebastian but the director rejected him by telling him that he didn’t fit the creative vision for the movie. Teller was upset upon hearing the news after having been promised the role.
One could assume that he was even more frustrated once La La Land was released and generated $445 million at the box office. Teller was replaced with Ryan Gosling who went on to win Best Actor at the Golden Globes. He was the perfect name for the role from style to charisma, and it’s possible that the movie wouldn’t have had the same success with a different cast.
3. Matthew McConaughey: Jack in Titanic
With over $2 billion generated at the box office, Titanic is the second highest grossing movie of all-time. Almost 20 years since its release, Titanic is still one of the most discussed films. The chemistry between the two stars is one of the main reasons behind its success, and the roles are still associated with them today. Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose have become some of the most famous characters ever, but the studios had different names in mind.
In fact, DiCaprio wasn’t the first choice until director James Cameron insisted on bringing him on board. Matthew McConaughey was supposed to portray Jack but talks fell through and the actor was dropped in favor of DiCaprio. While McConaughey has delivered some performances over the years, it’s hard to believe that he could have topped the original portrayal which we have all come to love since 1997.
2. Emma Roberts: Katness Everdeen in The Hunger Games
More than 30 actresses were cast for the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. The movie was expected to be a huge hit, so it’s no wonder that many of Hollywood’s top young actresses were called upon to try for it. But it was Jennifer Lawrence who turned heads with an audition so convincing that it left director Gary Ross in tears. If that’s not convincing enough that she earned her spot, then you are probably one of the few who haven’t seen the film.
Released in 2012, The Hunger Games went on to top the box office with $694 million. Emma Roberts was one of the names in consideration for the role, and as impressive as her audition had been, Lawrence was outshone everyone else to snatch the role. Roberts admitted her disappointment since she had read the novel, but was looking forward to seeing the film.
1. George Clooney: Jack Cole in Sideways
It may be hard to believe for some that someone would reject casting George Clooney, but it has occurred on more than one occasion. The most notable one is for the role of Jack Cole played by Thomas Haden Church, which Clooney really wanted to play but was turned down. What’s even more surprising is the reasoning behind director Alexander Payne‘s decision, who thought that Clooney wasn’t a realistic choice since he was too handsome for the role.
It certainly makes sense if you watch the film, the director believed that people would laugh off at the notion that Clooney was a struggling actor. He didn’t want critics to blast the movie over the contradiction, so he took it to another direction. Clooney understood and would end up working years later with Payne for The Descendants in 2011. As for Sideways, it was a major box office hit, so Payne’s decision worked out for the best.
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