Hollywood is cutthroat. New actors have to compete fiercely for minor roles in small films to even be considered in auditions for larger ones. Producers try to cast the same, well-established actors again and again for big-budget flicks, making it almost impossible for newcomers to break in. For every successful actor, there are thousands who retired after twenty years of failed auditions and barista jobs.
That makes it all the more interesting when we learn about what really goes on in the casting room for big films and TV shows. Big name actors, afraid of getting typecast, turn down roles they feel are too similar to past characters they've played only to see the no-name actor who got the part receive an academy reward. Nobodies with a persistent agent find their way to the director of a major film and become superstars. It's a world where anything can happen and every decision can make or break someone's career.
Come join the Hollywood thrill ride and see how movies and TV shows we know and love could have been completely different. Think you know what the producers of your favorite show were thinking when they cast the star? Think again.
20 Nicole Kidman Turned Down Indecent Proposal
Back in the early 90s, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise were slated to star in a steamy film where a billionaire buys a night with a poor man's wife for a million dollars.
Both actors turned it down, and Demi Moore ended up in the wife role.
Nicole Kidman saw more potential in the two movies she did film the year Indecent Proposal came out; Malice and My Life. They may have much better reviews, but they made a fraction of what Indecent Proposal brought in at the box office. After seeing what she did with Eyes Wide Shut, we're not totally sure the director should have let Nicole Kidman go - maybe she could have taken a popular hit with a raunchy premise and elevated it into a critical darling.
19 Eric Stonestreet Almost Didn't Get Cast As Cameron On Modern Family
The producers of Modern Family didn't see Cameron as a loveable, cuddly teddy bear of a man when they posted the first casting call. When Eric Stonestreet sent in his audition, they rejected it because he was the wrong body type for the role! He and his agent kept asking for a second chance, and when they were turned down again, they kept pushing. Finally, the producers decided to consider bigger-boned actors for the role of Cameron, and Eric Stonestreet waltzed in for his third audition and blew the competition away. Now we can't imagine anyone else playing Cameron. What would the show be like if he'd been a buff guy with six-pack abs?
18 Ryan Reynolds Could Have Been Xander On Buffy The Vampire Slayer
In 1997, Joss Whedon was after Ryan Reynolds to play Xander in his new show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Reynolds was interested, but with filming for X-Men: Origins on the horizon, he figured he should stick to his role as Deadpool. After all, he didn't want to get typecast as a high schooler.
Did he regret it when Buffy became the biggest hit of the early 2000s and Deadpool's role in Origins was whittled down to a single, masked scene?
Maybe, but we're sure having his own Deadpool franchise now makes up for it. Still, we can't help but wonder if Deadpool would have gotten his own movie faster if Ryan Reynolds had Joss Whedon on his side. Now there's a power team we wish we could see.
17 Jamie Lee Curtis Nearly Escaped Michael Myers In Halloween
It's hard to imagine Halloween without Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode. Director John Carpenter wanted Anne Lockhart, the daughter of a Lassie actress, to play the part. When Lockhart didn't take the role, Carpenter reluctantly considered Curtis, a TV actress his producer had been pushing on him from day one. Curtis is Janet Leigh's daughter - remember the famous Psycho shower scene? John Carpenter was going to let scream queen royalty slide by! Fortunately for him, he agreed to cast Curtis as Laurie Strode, and her performance as the final girl in Mike Myers's slasher rampage cinched Halloween's status as a classic. We hear she's starring in the reboot this year.
16 Did The Carrie Remake Flop Because Shailene Woodley Bailed?
The producers of the 2013 Carrie remake were after Divergent star Shailene Woodley to play the titular character. When she turned it down, they cast the gorgeous and ethereal Chloë Grace Moretz instead. Critics accused the film of going through the motions of the original without exploring any of the dark themes that made it a classic. We have to agree. When Carrie snaps during the prom scene she seems almost bored while she runs through the town covered in pigs' blood, destroying everything she encounters in the full flowering of her telekinetic abilities.
Could Shailene Woodley have brought a darkness to the role that Moretz just couldn't manage?
We think so, and we're pretty sure the Carrie reboot would have lived up to the potential of the original if she'd been cast.
15 Camilla Mendes Almost Missed The Bus To Riverdale
When Camilla Mendes was in the Riverdale audition process, she had to take two buses to and from the studio each day - and she wasn't sure if she would be cast.
Mendes was only one of three girls in the last round of auditions, and the casting director couldn't decide which one to pick.
She made that insane commute for weeks without knowing if she'd get the job! We hope those other two girls found work, too, but we're happy Mendes got the part. She's perfect for the mean-girl-trying-to-make-good role of Veronica. The chemistry she and KJ Apa have is sizzling, and we love her friendship with Lili Reinhart on and off screen. After a big break in Riverdale we're sure she'll have her pick of roles, and we're excited to see where she'll end up.
14 Leonardo DiCaprio Did Not Choose The Way Of The Jedi
When the casting call went out for adult Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, there was only one actor George Lucas wanted to cast in the role: Leonardo DiCaprio.
He was the biggest heartthrob of the late 90s after his performance in Titanic, and Lucas knew that DiCaprio would bring throngs of giddy teenage girls to the theaters.
What better way to expand the Star Wars fan base, especially after Episode One turned audiences off the prequels? DiCaprio didn't feel ready for the role, however, and Lucas ended up casting Hayden Christensen as the lonely boy who turned to the dark side. We'd say that Leo could have saved the prequels, but he is only one actor against the monstrosity that is Jar Jar Binks. Maybe he dodged a light saber there.
13 Christian Bale's Iconic Batman Voice Almost Cost Him The Role
When Christian Bale got home from auditioning for The Dark Knight, he tried out the BatVoice on his wife. She burst out laughing, telling him he'd blown the audition - and he had to agree. After all, he'd felt silly the whole time. In a later interview with MTV he said that his first thought was, "What guy walks around, dressed like a bat?" We'd have trouble taking ourselves seriously in a batsuit, too. Imagine his surprise when the director called to tell him he'd been cast! Now that voice is as much a part of the Batman universe as his utility belt. What will Ben Affleck bring to the new reboots that can match Bale's weird, signature growl? He's got a big voice box to fill.
12 Ryan Gosling Turned Down The Fifty Shades Role Created Just For Him
E.L. James originally envisioned Ryan Gosling in the role of her billionaire romantic lead, Christian Grey, for the novel's film adaptation. Gosling only does standalone movies, however, and rejected the role because he didn't want to participate in a trilogy.
Cue thousands of angry fans of both Fifty Shades of Grey and Ryan Gosling who were hoping to see their favorite hunk playing the hottest romantic hero of the decade.
Jamie Dornan, who was eventually cast as Christian Grey, had a lot of blowback from fans who thought Gosling would be better suited to the role. (We have to admit we're curious to see what he would have done with it.) Critics ended up hating the movies, but is that really Jamie's fault? It's hard to please everybody when you're filming something as controversial as Fifty Shades.
11 Sean Astin Barely Made The Cut For Bob Newby On Stranger Things
We can't believe the Stranger Things casting agent almost passed on Sean Astin. Hello, he's an 80s movie legend! Who could be better to play an 80s computer geek than the actor who both starred in The Goonies and won our hearts as Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings? Apparently, his fame worked against him - the Duffer brothers were worried that casting him would come off as a gimmick. We're happy they went for it anyway. Sean Astin is an incredibly talented actor who made us fall in love with Bob Newby as much as we did Sam Gamgee and Bob the Brain. Plus, you have to admit that there's nothing more fun than tuning into a new show to find that your favorite actor got there ahead of you! 80s nostalgia is all the rage right now, so we expect to see Sean Astin in many upcoming works.
10 John Travolta Regrets Passing On Forrest Gump
Dance, Forrest, dance! Can you imagine how different Forrest Gump would be if John Travolta played the title character?
He was offered the part but passed on it because he was filming Pulp Fiction that year. In later interviews, he's said that he wishes he'd accepted the role.
No wonder! He lost out on the Best Actor award at the Oscars to Tom Hanks. Still, would he have played the role with the same sensitivity and heart as Hanks? We can't imagine John Travolta sitting still on a park bench for that long. It's hard to picture the musical dynamo as a sweet, mentally-challenged man with a front seat to the major events of the late twentieth century, but it certainly would have been interesting. Now that every movie seems to be getting a reboot, Travolta might have another shot.
9 The Director Of Wonder Woman Didn't Think Casting Gal Gadot Was The Right Idea
Patty Jenkins, the Wonder Woman director, was reluctant to cast Gal Gadot as Diana Prince. For Jenkins, Wonder Woman was a quintessentially American story and casting an Israeli actress would ring false. She wanted a completely different actress for the part, but Zack Snyder had already cast Gadot as Diana Prince in Batman Vs. Superman. When Jenkins and Gadot started working together, however, it was a perfect partnership. Gadot's intensity and devotion to the part perfectly suited the atmosphere Jenkins wanted to create. They got along well off-set, too, and would even spend weekends together when they weren't shooting. We're happy this cinematic dream team came together, and we're excited to see where the duo will take the Wonder Woman franchise.
8 Brangelina Happened When Johnny Depp Was Too Busy To Take The Male Lead In Mr. And Mrs. Smith
Mr. and Mrs. Smith was, to be blunt, an utterly forgettable spy flick. It lives on in cinematic memory only because Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie famously hooked up for the first time on set, leading to Pitt's divorce from Jennifer Aniston, Pitt and Jolie's long and famous marriage, and their current divorce proceedings. Can you picture a world without over ten years of Brangelina?
If Johnny Depp hadn't turned down the role of John Smith, the Hollywood power couple might not have even happened and dozens of tabloids would have gone bankrupt for lack of material.
Why didn't Depp take the job? He says he got burned out from working on too many other movies at the time and had to take a break. Pitt stepped in, and the rest is history.
7 Jennifer Aniston Was The Second Choice For Rachel On Friends
Is there anyone on planet Earth who hasn't seen Friends? You can go anywhere in the world, sit down in a salon chair, and get a "Rachel" haircut. Jennifer Aniston as the café waitress with the improbably nice apartment and on-again, off-again romance with Ross is such a part of the sitcom that we can't begin to imagine Friends without her.
When the producers of friends first created the role, however, they tried to give the part to Courtney Cox.
Already demonstrating great intuition about the show's characters, Cox said that she'd prefer to read for Monica. We can't believe she was going to be Ross's love interest instead of his sister - ick! Jennifer Aniston is synonymous with Rachel Green in our minds. It's hard to believe that the Friends producers once thought otherwise.
6 Will Smith Chose Not To Enter The Matrix
The Wachowski brothers originally wanted Will Smith to play Neo in The Matrix, probably hoping to capitalize on his star power from Men in Black. But when Smith watched Keanu Reeves's audition tape, he was blown away. He couldn't take a role that was so perfect for another actor. Besides, as he told Wired magazine, "At that point I wasn't a smart enough actor to just let the movie be." It's true that Smith would have brought more comedic self-awareness to the role, which may have clashed with the movie's dark vision. Still, we can't believe that he said no to The Matrix and immediately after said yes to Wild, Wild West. You'd have to be the smartest actor in the universe to make that mess of a western into something watchable.
5 Reese Witherspoon Was On The Waiting List For Legally Blonde
Elle Woods speaks to the fashion-obsessed romantic in us all, while also showing that you don't have to act like a man to succeed in a male-dominated field. It's a role that requires the actor to switch tracks from campy and comedic to soberly dramatic at the drop of a hat, and Reese Witherspoon is the only woman for the job.
But the producers of Legally Blonde originally wanted Married...With Children star Christina Applegate for the role, and when she didn't see the movie's potential...
(she told ET online that she didn't want to play another ditzy blonde) they moved on to Tori Spelling. Witherspoon was not the top candidate. We're happy she got cast; not only is she perfect to play Elle Woods, this is the movie that catapulted her into stardom!
4 Julia Roberts Didn't Fall For The Oscar-Winning Role In Shakespeare In Love
After Julia Roberts charmed audiences with Pretty Woman, Hollywood was eager to cast her in another romance. She was excited to film Shakespeare in Love at first, but when Daniel Day-Lewis dropped out she couldn't see shooting with a different Shakespeare. The producers scrambled to find a different Viola, eventually settling on Gwyneth Paltrow.
Did Julia Roberts regret her choice when she saw Gwyneth receive an Oscar for what was once her character?
Maybe, but she also might have been cringing with everyone else when Paltrow gave her famously tearful speech. We won't weigh in on whether those tears were genuine, but judging from the Youtube comments section on the video of her acceptance speech, most people see her as shedding crocodile tears after stealing an Academy Award that rightfully belonged to Cate Blanchett.
3 Michael J. Fox Got Cast In Back To The Future After Most Of The Filming Was Already Finished
Filmmakers shot about half of Back to the Future with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly before they realized that their casting decision just wasn't working out. Stoltz seemed perfect for the role at first but didn't play the character the way the director wanted him to (it's hinted that he was a bit too slapstick even for Marty McFly). Michael J. Fox was busy with filming a TV show when the producers of Back to the Future began recruiting him aggressively. He refused to break his contract with Family Ties, so he ended up having to film both that show and the movie at the same time! We hope he got to take a long vacation after that insane shooting schedule. Don't feel too bad for him, though; it's worth losing sleep to get to drive the Delorean.
2 Hugh Jackman Let James Bond Get Away
Filmmakers initially envisioned Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Casino Royale. Wolverine looking sharp in 007's immaculate suits? Yes, please! But Jackman didn't see the potential of the role, telling People magazine that the plot just seemed too far-fetched.
He wanted to bring the gritty realism of the new X-Men movies to the campy James Bond franchise. When the producers told him he'd have no say in the scripts, he walked. Mistake?
Maybe. After he turned down James Bond, Hugh Jackman went on to expand his acting repertoire by playing Jean Valjean in Les Misérables and P.T. Barnum the upcoming The Greatest Showman. He said he didn't want to get pigeonholed as an action hero. We wish we'd seen him play a super spy, but we're content to let that gruff voice serenade us as he embarks on a musical career.
1 Vin Diesel Just Made It To The Starting Lineup For The Fast And The Furious
The producers of The Fast and the Furious were originally after Timothy Olyphant to play street racer Dom Toretto. The studio wouldn't even let them start filming until they got Olyphant on board! When the actor turned down the role, the filmmakers scrambled to find someone else who had the chops to play Dom. Moritz, who had seen Vin Diesel in Saving Private Ryan, suggested him to the studio as an alternate choice. Seven films later, it's difficult to imagine Dom Toretto played by any other actor. Vin Diesel is the foundation of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Still, we like to imagine a bizarro world where Vin Diesel was cast as Raylan Givens on Justified and The Fast and the Furious was a vehicle for Timothy Olyphant. What would that look like?
SOURCES: amc.com, clevver.com, femestella.com, mtv.com, eonline.com, accessonline.com, ew.com, time.com, vanityfair.com, cinemablend.com, businessinsider.com, imdb.com, bbc.com, vulture.com, people.com, notstarring.com, storiesbehindthescreen.wordpress.com, youtube.com