Can you imagine what it would be like if your favorite movie and television characters had been played by different people? Most people don’t realize that a lot of early scripts passed through the hands of way too many actors and actresses before the parts were finally given to our faves. It’s a scary thought, but a lot of iconic roles from movies like Titanic, Forrest Gump, Mean Girls, and the Harry Potter series, nearly went to other actors and actresses! And television shows are no different. Could you picture somebody else playing Carrie Bradshaw or Phoebe Halliwell? Well, in another universe, you might have had to! It’s not that the other contenders for the parts are terrible at what they do. It’s just that, you know, there’s only one Rose DeWitt Bukater! There’s only one Blair Waldorf. Let’s be thankful that for whatever reason, these 15 stars didn't get the iconic roles that they auditioned for. Here are 15 stars that were almost cast in super famous roles.
15 Leonardo DiCaprio
Film: Hocus Pocus (1993)
Role: Max Dennison
Leo almost got the leading role in everyone's all-time favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus. Let's look at a world in which Leo starred in Hocus Pocus as Max Dennison instead of Omri Katz. First of all, Leo never would have been able to take the role of Gilbert’s younger brother Arnie in What’s Eating Gibert Grape which also came out in 1993. If you haven’t seen it, do so immediately because it was one of the first major movies that he was in, and the acting is beyond impressive. Arnie Grape must have been a very difficult character, and in playing him, Leo proved his acting chops to the world. Anyway, if Leo had never played Arnie because he was busy playing Max, then maybe the industry wouldn’t have known how good he was and he wouldn’t have been cast in Titanic. What a crazy thought!
14 Busy Philipps
Film: Bridesmaids (2011)
We have nothing against Busy Philipp -- she was our favorite supporting character in White Chicks! It’s just that the role of Megan, Lillian’s soon-to-be sister-in-law, is now legendary, and we can’t imagine anybody but Melissa McCarthy trying to pull it off. It wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny or memorable! Megan is only a supporting bridesmaid but she makes the whole movie and we’re not sure she would have had quite as much significance if another actress was playing her. When you think about all of Megan’s hilarious scene, from the notorious bridesmaid’s dress fitting to sitting next to a secret air marshal on the plane (who is actually her husband in real life) to the puppy-stealing scene after Lillian’s bridal shower, none of them would be equally funny without Melissa. Imagine Busy trying to do the sandwich scene which plays right at the end! Nope, it just wouldn’t work.
13 James Franco
Film: Mean Girls (2004)
Role: Aaron Samuels
That’s right. Lindsay Lohan could have been asking James Franco what day it was on October third instead of Jonathan Bennett. With a movie as ingrained into the millennial psyche as Mean Girls is, it’s pretty much impossible to picture any of the characters played by other people. It’s bad enough to think that Lindsay first auditioned for the role of Regina George. We love us some James Franco, sure, but not at the cost of Jonathan playing the Aaron Samuels we all know. James would have brought a more rugged, manly vibe to Aaron, whereas we’re used to him being boyish and totally oblivious to all the girls’ BS. And we’ve tried (really hard) to imagine James telling Cady the date in math class, chasing Damien into the projection room above the auditorium, or kissing Regina at the Halloween party, but we just can’t.
12 Lily Allen
Television Show: Game of Thrones (2011)
Role: Yara Greyjoy
We’re actually not that sure about Lily Allen’s ability to act, but if her songwriting and angelic voice is anything to go by, we’re assuming she’d be pretty great! That isn’t the issue, though. The issue isn’t even that the actress who plays Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) in Game of Thrones is so iconic and amazing. It’s that Yara’s brother Theon is played by Lily’s brother, Alfie. Having a real-life brother and sister playing a fictional brother and sister might sound totally and completely awesome. However, being Game of Thrones, the show has a few graphic scenes that play out between Theon and Yara. A few touchy, wildly unfitting scenes that go way beyond what’s appropriate in a healthy sibling relationship. Lily knew how creepy and wrong it would be to put herself in that position, so she dismissed the idea straight away.
11 David Schwimmer
Film: Men in Black (1997)
Role: Agent J
Here’s the thing about the cast of Friends. They will always be Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Joey, Chandler, and Ross. It doesn’t matter how talented they are or how many other roles they play. That show was so iconic that we’ve forever been reprogrammed to see them as those six characters. That’s not fair and kind of sucks for them because they are super talented, but that’s the way it goes when your show is a hit! So the thought of David Schwimmer playing Will Smith’s role in Men in Black understandably does our heads in. Friends came out after MIB so maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad at the time. In hindsight, though, it’s a really strange and borderline offensive concept. Will was just so memorable and charismatic as Agent J that if he weren’t in it, MIB would have been totally different.
10 Lily Collins
Television Show: Gossip Girl (2007)
Role: Blair Waldorf
Absolutely nothing against Lily Collins, but Leighton Meester was made for the role of Blair Waldorf! Lily kind of looks similar, and we’re sure she would have made an awesome spoiled, pushy and conniving Upper Eastside princess. The thing is, in our humble opinion, Blair made that show. Well, Blair and Chuck together. If anybody else had played their roles and screwed it up, we would have been left with nothing but Dan, Serena and Nate, and their predictable and pretty stationary character arcs. It’s a big call to make, but we think we’re justified in saying that Gossip Girl would have been nothing without Chair. And we don’t think it’s just a coincidence that the characters of Chuck and Blair were cast superbly with Leighton and Ed Westwick who totally outdid themselves. We shudder to think of anybody taking that away from us!
9 Jennifer Lawrence
Film: Twilight (2008)
Role: Bella Swan
We can all probably agree that Bella Swan would have been a majorly different character if Kristen Stewart hadn’t played her. It’s not that Kristen is the best actress in existence, but she’s just Bella. We can’t imagine anybody else with Edward. It must be because the movie has embedded itself into our brains! Jennifer Lawrence is awesome, and she definitely would have brought a little more oomph to Bella. There probably would have been a more eclectic range of facial expressions and a bit more color, but it doesn’t really matter. A stronger and more striking Bella would have overshadowed Robert Pattinson playing Edward Cullen. Say all you want about the franchise, but Rob and Kristen did have some pretty magnetic chemistry going on between them! Look, we’re more than happy to keep Kristen as Bella Swan and keep J-Law as Katniss Everdeen.
8 John Travolta
Film: Forrest Gump (1994)
Role: Forrest Gump
Okay, we need a minute to process the thought of anybody but Tom Hanks playing the role of Forrest. It’s just so freaking weird! Again, this has nothing to do with John Travolta being a bad actor, because the man is an icon. But just try to imagine him saying, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” We’re afraid it’s an absolute no-go! Tom was spectacular and untouchable in that role, and it’s just bizarre to think that anybody else might have done it justice. Tom nailed every bit of it, from the southern drawl to the kind, oblivious demeanor. John will always have his iconic roles that nobody else would be able to pull off (we just pictured Tom Hanks in a leather T-Birds jacket and died of laughter), so he doesn’t need this classic one too.
7 Dana Delany
Television Show: Sex and the City (1998)
Role: Carrie Bradshaw
Since Sarah Jessica Parker is Carrie Bradshaw, and Carrie Bradshaw is Sarah Jessica Parker, and they’re well and truly one and the same in our eyes, this whole concept is ludicrous. Dana Delany can act her butt off, but she isn’t Carrie. We absolutely hated Dana’s character Katherine Mayfair in Desperate Housewives, which suggests that she is a top-notch actress, and she probably could have taken the role somewhere interesting, but it doesn’t matter. It’s actually a little bit blasphemous to think of anyone else but SJP as Carrie. Just think of a world in which Carrie didn’t have wild blond curls and a tiny frame. Would all that amazing fashion look as good on anybody else? Would Mr. Big and Aidan and even Petrovsky suit anybody else the same way they suited her? We’re going to go with no!
6 Lori Rom
Television Show: Charmed (1998)
Role: Phoebe Halliwell
When we say the role of Phoebe Halliwell nearly went to someone else, we literally mean that Lori Rom got as far as filming the pilot episode of the first season. Seriously, go and look it up on YouTube! If you’re a Charmed fan, you’ll know that Alyssa Milano totally killed the role of the youngest (and then middle!) Halliwell sister. All four actresses did so well that it’s another Friends situation. No matter how talented they are or how many interesting projects they do in the future, they will always be entrenched in our brains as the Charmed Ones. Even though Holly Marie Combs as Piper was the most hilarious cast member, we basically lived to see what outfits Phoebe would be wearing every week. And imagine anybody but Alyssa partnered with Julian McMahon as Cole Turner. Actually, don’t. It’s too painful.
5 Jim Carrey
Film: Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)
Role: Captain Jack Sparrow
Believe it or not, Johnny Depp wasn’t the only choice for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Jim Carrey was also being considered, and it’s clear that if he’d gone through with it, the Pirates of the Caribbean series would have been something totally different. Captain Jack might still have been funny because we all know Jim is an amazingly talented actor, but he wouldn’t have been as quirky, or let’s face it, steamy. It just would have been another kind of feel, and maybe the franchise wouldn’t have been as successful as it is now, with legions of fans flocking to see Johnny’s Captain Jack at the release of each new installment. We love Jim playing other heavily made-up characters, from Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004) to the Grinch in The Grinch (2000), but we’ll let Johnny have this one!
4 Jessica Biel
Film: The Notebook (2004)
Role: Young Allie Calhoun
Our hearts are breaking just thinking of anybody but Rachel McAdams playing young Allie Calhoun. We also love Jessica Biel, who reportedly ran through this script while she was in her trailer for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), but we already know that we wouldn’t have loved her in this role as much as we loved Rachel. It’s the acting skills Rachel has under her belt, but it’s also the chemistry she had with Ryan Gosling, who played hunky Noah Calhoun. The whole thing was just flawless, and the casting definitely has a pretty big thing to do with its success. Considering The Notebook (2004) is one of the most popular movies of our time and has been circulating the world and making people sob hysterically since it came out, we can’t imagine it in any way other than it is now.
3 Christina Aguilera
Film: Knocked Up (2007)
Role: Alison Scott
Word is that Christina Aguilera was being considered for the role of Alison Scott in the 2007 comedy Knocked Up, which eventually went to Katherine Heigl. It isn’t so much that this role was iconic, but it just sounds crazy because it’s Christina. We have major respect for her as a vocalist, performer, and recording legend who can hit ridiculously high notes, but we’re not so sure how the acting career would pan out for her. She’s done a few acting projects, but there hasn’t been anything that’s impressed us as much as her songs! Besides, Knocked Up might not have been iconic, but it was definitely good for a laugh and helped launch Katherine into the spotlight. It wouldn’t have been as funny with Christina, let's be honest, because the whole time we’d just be saying to ourselves, “OMG as if Christina Aguilera is in this!”
2 Gwyneth Paltrow
Film: Titanic (1997)
Role: Rose DeWitt Bukater
Warning: this is another one that is almost painful to imagine. Kate Winslet has definitely come a long way on her acting journey since she played the role of Rose opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic, but she still shined in it. She wasn’t very experienced at the time, but she made us all fall in love with her (Kate, not Rose!). No offense to Gwyneth, but we’re just struggling to visualize how that would have gone down. Would she have dyed her hair red or would Rose and Jack be blond together? Would we even have been moved when she was about to jump off the ship? Would Leo and Gwyneth be good friends now instead of Leo and Kate and even star together in the sad drama Revolutionary Road (2008) and have generations of fans wishing that they would fall in love for real and get married already?
1 Robin Williams
Film: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Role: Rubeus Hagrid
Get your tissues ready, guys! You're definitely going to need them (as in a lot of them). Apparently, Robin Williams was being considered for the role of Rubeus Hagrid in the first Harry Potter film, but author J.K. Rowling wanted to keep the cast as British as she could. Robbie Coltrane is exactly how we imagined Hagrid from the books, and we’ve fallen in love with him so it’s crazy to think of anybody else possibly playing him. He’s now legendary around the world for doing such a spectacular job. Having said that, is there anything that Robin Williams couldn’t do? He was so talented that we wouldn’t put it past him to also have given us a spectacular Hagrid if he’d been allowed the chance. Apparently, Robin wanted the role so much that he offered to do it without pay. Awwww. Seriously, where are the tissues?