Iconic films would not be iconic without perfectly chosen actors. Because let’s be honest – films can only become blockbusters if the actors selected for the roles manage to nail their characters. Choosing the right actor for the role can either turn a film into a success or a failure. So the process of casting is extremely important.
Think of your favorite iconic films and blockbusters, and then think of the lead actors in those films. They were perfect, weren’t they? And yet casting is a difficult task – sometimes the director’s vision and reality don’t quite match up.
Sometimes actors for whom the movie script is written have other commitments and thus can’t star in the role that was written for them. So other actors are chosen. And sometimes these other actors end up nailing the role which in turn makes the film into an extraordinary success and launches their career.
And those actors who turn an iconic role down or are narrowly passed over in the casting process? They go on to regret their decision. Or the decision of the director.
15 Tom Selleck Almost Played Indiana Jones In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Can you imagine anyone else but Harrison Ford playing the role of Indiana Jones? Us neither, but believe it or not, he almost didn’t get it! The Spielberg film was co-written by the filmmaker and the creator of Star Wars, George Lucas, who didn’t want to cast Ford in yet another one of his films. Lucas said – “I said, ‘Oh, Steven. He’s been in two of my movies. I don’t want him to be my Bobby DeNiro.”
The role of Indiana Jones was thus supposed to go to the actor Tom Selleck. Both Spielberg and Lucas thought Selleck would make an excellent Indiana Jones. However, at the time Selleck has already signed a contract with the CBS detective show Magnum P.I and couldn’t get out of it.
14 Sean Penn Was Almost Cast As The Narrator In Fight Club
Edward Norton nailed the role of the narrator in Fight Club so much so that we can’t imagine anyone else playing the part. However, before the director of Fight Club, David Fincher, settled on Norton he also considered Matt Damon or Sean Penn for the role.
Fincher decided to go with Norton because he was impressed with his performance as the grave lawyer in The People v Larry Flynt.
Interestingly, Sean Penn was also considered for the role of the narrator’s split personality, Tyler Durden. Thankfully, Brad Pitt landed the role instead.
13 Edward Furlong Was Almost Cast As Spiderman
Can you believe that the former teen idol Edward Furlong was almost cast as Spiderman in the first Spiderman movie? The movie was supposed to be directed by the iconic film director James Cameron who had just directed Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Furlong had starred in Terminator 2 as John Connor and Cameron thought that the actor would make perfect Peter Parker. Cameron prepared a script that focused on Parker’s origin as well as his fight with the two villains, Electro and Sandman.
However, Cameron eventually abandoned the project which was later taken over and rewritten by the film director David Koepp who obviously thought that Tobey Maguire would make a better Spiderman than Furlong.
12 Colin Farrell Was Almost Cast As James Bond In Casino Royale
Daniel Craig has done a great job playing Secret Agent 007, even if the audience was skeptical at first at the thought of a blonde James Bond. Still, Craig has won over the hearts of millions and most James Bond fans can’t imagine anyone else better suited to play Bond.
However, before the creators of Casino Royale settled on Craig they seriously considered the Irish actor Colin Farrell for the role instead. Surprisingly, Farrell did not want the iconic role – “The idea of me playing James Bond got into the press, but it is not true. I would not like to do it. They should find someone the audience has no history with.”
11 Jim Carrey Almost Played Jack Sparrow In The Pirates Of The Caribbean
Johnny Depp made the perfect Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean. But believe it or not, initially the role almost went to the comedy actor Jim Carrey. Can you imagine him as Sparrow? It just doesn’t fit.
However, you can see why Disney wanted Carey and not Depp. Back in the early 1990’s, Carey was an incredibly successful actor. Depp, on the other hand, was rarely seen or heard of. Thankfully, Carey could not commit to The Pirates of the Caribbean due to conflicting schedules – at the time he was engaged in Bruce Almighty.
10 Mel Gibson Almost Played Maximus In Gladiator
Even if you dislike the actor Mel Gibson you still can’t deny that he’s an incredible actor with the distinct ability to evoke emotions in his fans. Gibson’s role in the 1995 film Braveheart won him lots of praise and showcased his talent when it came to historical films.
Thus, it was no surprise when the film director Ridley Scott approached Mel Gibson with the intention of persuading him to play Maximus in his 2000 film Gladiator.
However, while Gibson thought the film was going to be a success he decided against taking on the role of Maximus because according to Gibson, he was far too old to play the role convincingly (he was 43 years old at the time). And perhaps Gibson’s refusal was for the better because Russell Crowe nailed the role of Maximus.
9 Bill Murray Was Almost Cast As Batman
Can you imagine Bill Murray as Batman? Us neither, and yet he was almost cast for the role in the 1989 Batman movie! Apparently, the reason Warner Bro’s studios thought of casting Murray was that they were planning on making the movie campier in tone. It was going to be more like the 1960s camp classic TV show Batman that starred Adam West.
Murray said he would have liked to have played Batman though – “I would have been a fine Batman. You know, there have been a number of Batmen. I like them... I thought Mike Keaton did a great job as Batman. It’s obviously – it’s a great role.”
8 O.J. Simpson Was Almost Cast As The Terminator
Arnold Schwarzenegger did a superb job playing Terminator in The Terminator film series. However, Schwarzenegger almost did not get the role because Orion Pictures chief Mike Medavoy wanted O. J. Simpson to play Terminator instead. And Schwarzenegger, according to Medavoy, could play the brave soldier from the future.
However, director James Cameron thought that was a terrible idea because back then Simpson was just too lovable – “This was when everybody loved him, and ironically that was part of the problem – he was this likeable, goofy, kind of innocent guy. Plus, frankly, I wasn’t interested in an African-American man chasing around a white girl with a knife.”
7 Ashton Kutcher Almost Played Superman
Back in the early 2000's, J.J Abrams wrote a script for a Superman film that was to be called Superman: Flyby. The film was going to be directed by McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol) and the lead role of Superman was to go to Ashton Kutcher.
Kutcher as Superman? We don’t quite see it. Luckily, the actor turned down the role because of scheduling conflicts with That '70s Show. In addition, it was planned that Shia LaBeouf would play Jimmy Olsen, Scarlett Johansson would play Lois Lane and Johnny Depp would take on the role of Luthor. However, the film was eventually abandoned.
6 Liam Neeson Was Almost Cast As James Bond In GoldenEye
There’s no denying that the Irish actor Pierce Brosnan made an excellent James Bond. Brosnan went on to star in four James Bond films. However, believe it or not, the iconic role of Secret Agent 007 almost went to another Irish actor.
The Irish actor Liam Neeson was offered the role of James Bond before Brosnan but turned it down. At the time his reason for turning down the role was the fact that he didn’t want to star in any action movies.
However, he recently revealed that the real reason for his refusal was his late wife Natasha Richardson who was against it – “Women. Foreign countries. Halle Berry. It’s understandable.”
Plus, Neeson had also just starred in the iconic movie Schindler’s List and his wife thought that by starring in a James Bond movie he would ruin his career.
5 David Boreanaz Was Almost Batman In Batman Begins
The actor David Boreanaz is probably best known for his role in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, its spin-off series Angel as well as Bones. However, it turns out that Boreanaz could have also been known as the guy who played Batman. Only he didn’t want to.
Apparently, Boreanaz was offered the role of Bruce Wayne by Warner Bros in the 2005 film Batman Begins. However, Boreanaz turned the role down due to his commitments on the TV show Bones.
4 Mickey Rourke Almost Played Butch In Pulp Fiction
The film Pulp Fiction had numerous lead characters and plot lines but no one can deny that Butch, played by Bruce Willis, was one of the lead characters. Willis made an excellent Butch. In fact, we can’t imagine anyone better suited for the role.
In fact, Rourke did not even bother reading the script for the role – “Quentin Tarantino called once – I think it was for Pulp Fiction, the part Bruce Willis played. I didn’t even read the script.”
3 Nicolas Cage Was Almost Cast As Superman
There’s no denying that actor Brandon Routh was the perfect candidate for the role of Superman. And he nailed the role. However, believe it or not, at one point Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of Superman instead.
Back in the 1990s, Tim Burton had decided to direct a Superman film which was to be called Superman Lives. And Nicolas Cage was the number one candidate for the role of Superman. However, Burton apparently got into a fight with screenwriter Kevin Smith and Warner Bros ended up canceling the film.
2 Jensen Ackles Was Almost Cast As Captain America
Can you imagine Captain America without Chris Evans? We can’t either, but the truth is that Evans almost did not get the role. You see, the actor Jensen Ackles auditioned for the role of Captain America and was so good at his audition that he was initially considered the number one candidate for the role.
However, even though Ackles would have made a great Captain America (Marvel thought he’d be amazing in the role) he declined the role because he was fully committed to the TV show Supernatural. So the actor Chris Evans was cast instead, and, let’s be honest, he did a great job.
1 Cary Grant Almost Played James Bond In Dr. No
The 1962 Dr. No film is iconic if only for the fact that it was the film that launched the James Bond saga. In the film, the actor Sean Connery plays the role of Agent 007. However, while nowadays we can’t imagine anyone else but the Scottish actor playing the iconic role, it actually almost went to an American instead.
The iconic Hollywood actor Cary Grant was almost persuaded to take on the role of James Bond by his friend and James Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli. After all, Grant was English by birth and only became an American in 1942, so he would have fit the role perfectly. However, Grant wasn’t interested even though Ian Fleming said that he based his Bond character on Grant.