Actors Who Almost Got the Part
What if Rachel McAdams turned down her part in The Notebook? What if Melissa McCarthy passed on Bridesmaids? These famous roles could have been played by other familiar faces, but would the films have been totally different? See who passed up or was passed over for some of the most memorable on-screen roles.
Freddie Prinze Jr. and Sarah Michelle Gellar
Before Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lopez landed the roles of Steve Edison and Mary Fiore in the 2001 romcom The Wedding Planner, a number of other notable stars were considered for the parts.
In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, director Adam Shankman said that British actress Minnie Driver was first up to play Mary. Later, when Sony Pictures acquired the rights to the movie, Jennifer Love Hewitt as well as real-life couple Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. were thought of for the lead roles.
"Those actors were people who were talked about, but no one was ever officially cast," Shankman said.
George Clooney revealed that he almost portrayed Noah Calhoun in the 2004 romance movie, The Notebook, a role that ultimately went to Ryan Gosling.
He also shared that Paul Newman was going to play the older version of his character, but that part ended up going to James Garner. Clooney said that he got cold feet after watching some of Newman's flicks in preparation for the project.
"He’s one of the handsomest guys you’ve ever seen," he said during the 64th BFI London Film Festival. "We met up [again] and I said, 'I can’t play you. I don’t look anything like you. This is insane.'"
The Sex and the City author revealed on The Bradshaw Boys podcast that she was asked if she wanted to play the role of Mr. Big's love interest, Natasha. "[Producer] Darren [Star] asked me 'Do you wanna play Natasha?' And I was like, 'No.'" Bushnell recalled on the podcast. "…They had an actress, she couldn’t do it. [Darren] was like, 'Come down here and play Natasha.' I was like, 'I’m busy, I cannot come to the set.'"
The role ultimately went to Bridget Moynahan.
Stanchfield revealed to ET while promoting her Netflix series, Locke & Key, that while she was testing for Scandal she also auditioned to play Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. "I would never want it, because [Lena Headey was] so amazing in the role, but it's fun to think, 'Oh you know'...She killed it and I worship her acting. But that's a fun one to say, right?"
In her memoir, Open Book, Simpson reveals that she read for "the most romantic movie in the world," The Notebook, but had her reasons for turning it down.
"They wouldn't budge on taking out the sex scene," she writes, adding that she wasn't thrilled about starring alongside Ryan Gosling after she heard that he and Justin Timberlake made a bet as to who would kiss her first (Timberlake won).
The role in the 2004 classic ultimately went to Rachel McAdams.
Anna Nicole Smith
Chuck Russell, the director of The Mask, revealed that the model was considered for the role of Tina, the nightclub singer who catches the eye of Stanley (Jim Carrey) in the 1994 film.
"We met," he told Variety. "Anna was charming and bubbly, but did not have other qualities needed for the role. I never took the next step to run scenes with her."
The action star nearly nabbed his Interview With the Vampire co-star's role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. On Josh Horowitz's Happy Sad Confused podcast, director Quentin Tarantino revealed that he sat down with Cruise to discuss him playing the role of of stuntman Cliff Booth, which ultimately went to Brad Pitt.
"We talked about it," Tarantino shared. "We he's a great guy, and we really hit it off."
It's hard to imagine anyone else playing vampire Bill Compton on True Blood, but it turns out that the series' creator, Alan Ball, originally had a different British actor in mind for the hit HBO show. During the Vulture Festival Los Angeles in November 2018, Ball told fans that it was very difficult to find the right actor for the role, and while he was searching for the right guy, he headed to London, where he met Cumberbatch. Sadly, the showrunner didn't reveal why Dr. Strange didn't end up scoring the part.
During a Live With Kelly and Ryan interview, the Outlander star revealed that he was up for the role of 007. "I did audition for Bond a long time ago, when they were redoing it with Daniel Craig when he was Bond 21," the actor disclosed. Back in 2014, Heugen also shared with Vulture that he auditioned a whopping seven times for the part of Renly Baratheon in Game of Thrones. The role ultimately went to Gethin Anthony.
Before she was casting spells in the Netflix original series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, star Kiernan Shipka almost ended up as a major player in a different Archie Comics-based TV series -- Riverdale. According to Riverdale and Sabrina creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Shipka was originally considered for the role of Betty Cooper -- a part that eventually went to Lili Reinhart. "Kiernan was iconic in Mad Men, and I had even thought about her, I was like, 'Oh I wonder if she’d ever do Betty,'" Aguirre-Sacasa told Entertainment Weekly on Oct. 12, referring to the actress' acclaimed performance as Sally Draper on the celebrated AMC drama. However, when the opportunity to write Sabrina came along, the creator says he immediately decided, "I’m writing this for Kiernan!"
The controversial actor has had, despite his tumultuous and scandal-filled past, an undeniably successful and storied career in both film and television. However, there are two roles that Sheen says he passed on that could have bolstered his early fame significantly -- and both roles went to Woody Harrelson! Sitting down on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, an Australian morning radio program, on Oct. 2, Sheen said he first passed on the starring role in the 1992 basketball dramedy White Men Can't Jump, as well as the one in the 1993 drama Indecent Proposal. "My friends tell me that Woody should send me roses for creating his career," Sheen quipped during the interview. Although his standout role on Cheers may have also played a part in that.
The Saved by the Bell star came very close to starring as Rachel Green on the hit sitcom Friends. Thiessen was a guest on comedian Nikki Glaser's SiriusXM radio show on Oct. 1, and she revealed that she auditioned and was screen-tested for the role. However, being 20 at the time, Thiessen said they felt she was "just a little too young" to be paired with the other castmembers, and a then-25-year-old Jennifer Aniston got the role instead.
Chris Evans' performance as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is now solidly part of the Marvel cinematic canon. However, it turns out there was almost another Boston native wearing Cap's classic stars and stripes: John Krasinski! The Quiet Place director star revealed in an interview with Variety that he actually found out he had been passed over for the origin story part in Captain America: The First Avenger on wife Emily Blunt's birthday, back in 2010. “My agent called and said, ‘They’re going to go with Chris Evans,’” he recalled. “And I remember I said, ‘Yeah, look at him. He’s Captain America.’” According to Krasinski, Blunt offered to cancel their evening plans in the wake of the disappointing news, but he rallied for the celebration. “I said, ‘It’s Chris Evans. Of course we’re going to dinner.’”
While Haddish has been enjoying meteoric success following her breakthrough role in Girls Trip, and several well-received appearances, including hosting Saturday Night Live and presenting at the Oscars. However, she revealed during her sit-down with Seth Meyers on April 9 that she turned down the chance to audition for Jordan Peele's groundbreaking horror film, Get Out, which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture and earned Peele the coveted trophy for Best Original Screenplay. Haddish, who previously worked with Peele on his film, Keanu, said the director asked her to audition for a role in Get Out, but she turned it down because she didn't want to be in a horror movie. "He let me read it and asked me to audition, [and] I was like ‘Aw, man. Look, I don't do scary movies, dog. I don't do that. You know, that's demonized kind of stuff. I don't let that in my house,'" she told Meyers. She went on to say that she had heard of horror movie sets being cursed in the past, and didn't want any part of it. "I don't want to get no curses," she said. "People already curse me out enough as it is."
The X-Files star revealed on Jimmy Kimmel Live that he auditioned for all three leading man roles on Full House, which ultimately went to John Stamos (Uncle Jesse), Dave Coulier (Uncle Joey) and Bob Saget (Danny Tanner).
"I had great disappointment because I had auditioned for a show called Full House," he shared. "They could not figure out how to use me. All they could figure out was how they did not want to use me."
While on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Kate Winslet revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio wasn't the only A-lister up for the part of Jack in the 1997 classic film Titanic.
"I auditioned with Matthew [McConaughey] -- isn't that weird?" she shared. "Never said that in public before!"
"I auditioned for Easy A. I wanted it so bad," Lawrence revealed.
"Well, guess what? You didn't get it," Stone quipped back. "You didn't get it because you suck!"
"Outside!" Lawrence fired back.
Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon told Yahoo Entertainment that he offered Beyonce the role of Plumette the feather duster in Disney's live-action movie.
"It wasn't a big enough part," Condon confessed. "She would have been a good feather duster."
The role ultimately went to Beyond the Lights star Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Hocus Pocus director Kenny Ortega revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that the Oscar winner auditioned for the part of Max in the 1993 movie but was too busy at the time to join the cast. Needless to say, DiCaprio left a lasting impression on Ortega.
"He’s just the most sincere and most centered and a wild child at the same time," he recalled. "He was feeling awkward. He was like, ‘I just feel really bad being here because I’m up for two other movies and I really want them both and I don’t want to lead you on.’"
Those two movies were What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and This Boy’s Life, both of which put DiCaprio on the map.
The actress revealed on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that she went out for the leading lady role in the 1984 movie Footloose.
"It was between me, Lori Singer and Jennifer Jason Leigh," she shared. The part ultimately went to Singer, and for good reason. "I can't dance," she confessed.
Siff ended up portraying Rachel Menken on Mad Men, who was the head of Menken's department store and became romantically involved with Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
After the death of actor Richard Harris -- who originated the role of the celebrated Hogwarts headmaster in the first two Harry Potter films -- producers approached a number of famed English actors to take over the role in the remaining installments in the franchise, including McKellen.
"When they called me up and said would I be interested in being in the Harry Potter films, they didn’t say in what part," McKellen recounted in a recent interview with the BBC. "I worked out what they were thinking, and I couldn't… I couldn't take over the part from an actor who I'd known didn't approve of me."
McKellen's explanation was in response to a comment Harris made years ago in which he criticized McKellen -- as well as actors Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi -- for being "technically brilliant but passionless."
However, the 77-year-old Golden Globe-winning screen legend admitted that he occasionally questions the choice, sharing, "Sometimes, when I see the posters of Mike Gambon, the actor who gloriously plays Dumbledore, I think sometimes it is me."
However, if the late producer Jerry Weintraub had gone with his first choice, fans could have seen Olympic superstar Michael Phelps running around the jungle sans shirt.
According to an interview with The Legend of Tarzan's Margot Robbie in Vanity Fair, Weintraub would often rave about Phelps, and told the actress, "It's going to be like Johnny Weissmuller!" referring to the original star of the Tarzan series in the 1930s, who was also an Olympic swimmer and five-time gold medalist.
Weintraub, who was instrumental in pushing The Legend of Tarzan through development and onto the big screen, reportedly decided against casting Phelps when he watched the swimmer's less-than-impressive performance hosting an episode of Saturday Night Live in 2008.
Sadly, Weintraub died on July 6, 2015, while The Legend of Tarzan was in post-production and almost exactly one year before the film hit theaters.
"Yeah, long time ago, to play Thor’s dad," Gibson told The Guardian when asked if he had ever been tapped for a part in a superhero movie. "But I didn’t do it."
"Charlize also auditioned, and I don’t recall her having any problem with the nudity at all," Verhoeven told the New York Daily News about the casting process. "She was good and wanted the part, but basically she was not well known enough at the time and just did not fit the part, so we said 'no.'"
Considering what the part did for Saved by the Bell star Elizabeth Berkley's career, Verhoeven almost admits, "She was very lucky that she did not get the part."
Bridgette Wilson was wrapping up her role on the Adam Sandler comedy Billy Madison when she got the call to fill in for Diaz.
"I went and filmed Billy Madison and thought, 'Oh my gosh, I'm going to lose the part because they couldn't make a decision,'" she told People in honor of the film's 20th anniversary. "Then on my last day of filming on Billy Madison, they called me up asked, 'Will you do it if we fly you out the next morning?' and I said 'Yeah!' I was so happy both worked out."
"I had screen tested with Amy Adams (who played Lois Lane in the movie) in the tights," Matt Bomer shared while on Josh Horowitz's Happy, Sad, Confused podcast, adding that Paul Walker was also in his audition. "It was a month of, 'OK, it looks like this is going to happen,' and then it slowly fell apart."
"It's OK," he continued. "I have zero regrets about that."
Litt said The Beatles frontman turned down the role in a handwritten letter. "He thanked me for my interest and said how flattered he was, but it was a very busy time for him," she recalled.
"My interpretation of Alice was a little crazy. I overplayed it -- the way a young girl would overplay all her emotions," she admitted. "I sent my tape off, and then I was at a wedding and this woman came over to me. She said, 'You don't know me, but I know exactly who you are (it was was Lili Zanuck, the wife of Richard Zanuck, the film's producer). She told me that they all loved my tape! And I went to Tim Burton's house and met with him. I didn't get the part, but that experience lit a fire in me."
The part of Alice ended up going to Mia Wasikowska.
"[Mad Men creator] Matt [Weiner] would not let Jon out of his contract to do Gone Girl," sources told the publication. "Jon was really upset about it at the time -- and is still upset, because he’s thinking about the future of his career as Mad Men comes to a close."
Taraji P. Henson
"When I went in to read for Shonda Rhimes, in my mind I was like, 'This is Kerry Washington. Why am I even in here?'...It was hers," she told Power 105.1's Angie Martinez. "It was her job, and she's great in it."
Charlie admitted that he needed to hone his craft a bit more before starting Sunny and landing roles in films like Horrible Bosses and Going the Distance. "The more stuff that I did just with friends at home with a video camera, the more I saw myself," he said, adding, "and the more I saw what I thought was working and not working."
The part ended up going to Amy Adams, who was nominated for both a Golden Globe and Oscar for her performance. Witherspoon went on to star in P.T. Anderson's 2014 film Inherent Vice.
That being said, Evans does admit that Jamie Dornan makes a good Christian Grey. "But I think Jamie is perfect for it and I can't wait to see it," he said of the Fifty Shades star. "He's flourishing in the acting world, and if I could do half as well as he has I'd be more than happy!"
The Oscar winner explained that director David Fincher didn't think she was the right fit to play Ben Affleck's missing wife. "We had a long conversation where [Fincher] was like, 'You're not right for it. And this is why,'" she revealed to THR. "And I actually completely agreed with him."
Reese added that Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt and Natalie Portman were also considered for the role.
One source claims the network was willing to offer Stewart "everything." The source tells the publication, "They were ready to back the Brink's truck up."
Instead, Chuck Todd took over the news program.
"No one ever calls me into to audition for things because I’m so specific," she told host Andy Cohen before going into her story of almost landing the role of bride Lillian. "Oh, you know what it was? Bridesmaids. Which was a movie I loved. It was for Maya Rudolph's part. I practiced it so much and I was so into it. I loved that whole cast. That was one that was a heartbreaker.”
"Now I think, 'Well I would have got pigeon-holed, have had to move to New York, leave high school and be signed away for six years. I wouldn't have done the films I've done, and everything would have been so different."
Do you think should would've been a good fit for the Upper East Side?
Though Garth eventually lost the role to Tiffani Thiessen, she did end up nabbing another iconic '90s role -- that of Kelly Taylor on Beverly Hills, 90210.
Interestingly enough, Thiessen later joined Garth on 90210, playing Valerie Malone years later.
That's when he and Cruel Intentions leading man Ryan Phillippe decided to persuade the actor's then-girlfriend (and later his first wife) Reese Witherspoon to take the part.
"So, basically, we took Reese out to dinner to get her drunk, and we ended up getting drunk," Kumble admitted. "And I literally got down on my knees and begged her: 'Please, it'll be 15 days, you'll be great.' And Reese was like, 'I'll do it. But we need to work on the character.' I'm like, 'Anything, anything, anything.' She wanted to strengthen the character, and she was right. And she and I got together, and we gave Annette more bite so she wasn't a doormat. And I'm very grateful to her for that."
The Oscar winner revealed in the Sept. 2014 issue of InStyle magazine that she was up for the female lead in 1993 classic Sleepless In Seattle. "I'd been offered Sleepless in Seattle but couldn't do it. [Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that," she revealed.
"I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town (in Pretty Woman), you know? I always feel like there is room for everybody. I don't consider myself really all that ambitious. When I didn't get a part -- even when I was younger and needing to pay my rent -- I would think, 'Oh, someone else got it. She's going to be so good.' I never felt sour grapes."
Why didn't Williams accept the role when it was offered to her? On a recent episode of Oprah's Master Class, she reveals it was because she had just given birth to her daughter Sasha, and didn't want to be nude in front of the whole world. "I just had a baby, and I was like, 'I am not getting naked in front of a crew of people at this time!'" she told Oprah.
The 2001 film, which graphically depicts the sexual relationship between a poor Southern woman (Berry) and a widowed prison guard (Billy Bob Thornton) after her husband gets executed for murder, was also nominated for Best Screenplay.
The S&M movie role ultimately went to Jamie Dornan as the leading man Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson, daughter to Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson, as Anastasia. "I think any girl in my demographic would have loved to be a part of it," Hale said. "Mainly, I was just interested in doing something risky and doing something a little different than my character on PLL so it took me out of my comfort zone."
Hale described the scene, saying, "The scene was, like, the girl telling her friends about some sexcapade she had, but it goes into extreme detail and uses the word 'sperm' a couple times. I was like, 'I don't know guys, I have to go home to my grandparent's house in a few months at Christmas, I don't know if I can do this.'" Do you think Hale would've been right for the shy, virginal role of Anastasia Steele?
"They asked me if I'd be interested in playing Theon's sister, and I felt uncomfortable because I would have had to go on a horse and he would have touched me up and sh**," Lily revealed. "Once they told me what was entailed, I said, 'No thanks.' I would be open to doing a musical cameo like Sigur Ros though."
As for Day-Lewis' portrayal of the late president, "I was thrilled that Daniel played him, and when I saw the film, I was like, 'He's f**kin' Abraham Lincoln. This is perfect. Perfect.'"
James Van Der Beek
"I remember I auditioned for this movie way back when I was doing theater in New York and the Albee play that I had done. I met this guy after one performance who said, ‘You know, I really wanted to play this role, but they told me I was too old,'" Van Der Beek recalled to Entertainment Weekly. "This guy had actually read the play when nobody had seen it and wrote Edward [Albee] all these letters saying, 'Why aren't you doing this in New York?' And Edward actually wrote him back and said, 'I did, you should come audition,’ and so this guy did -- but he was too old and didn't get it. Turns out that was the guy who got Primal Fear, and it was Edward Norton! He was phenomenal. I remember really thinking, 'Wow, this is a career-maker,' and I was really happy for Edward. It's so funny: For years it was the big joke in Hollywood that every young actor claims they were second choice for Primal Fear. I know so many guys for whom that was a conversation, like, 'Yeah, I was second choice for Primal Fear.' I was definitely not second choice. I must have been way down the list because I remember thinking I botched that audition."
Selleck added that Indiana Jones star Harrison Ford is "kinda sick of this story."
"I didn't get the role, but when I saw the guy who got it, he was great!" Oswalt said. "So I never get too down about not getting a part. Casting people know what they're doing. You want to be in a good movie, but you don't want to suck in something great. They got the perfect person to play that role."
The 12 Years A Slave star covers November's GQ issue and inside reveals he got very close to starring in 2001's Pearl Harbor! "Disney sent me a really nice note," he laughs of a failed audition for Ben Affleck's lead role.
For more from Fassbender's GQ, click here!
"When you know each other, you don't think, 'Oh we have gotta work together,'" Bullock told Yahoo! Movies about her Gravity co-star George Clooney. "Years ago I had a meeting with them for Out of Sight. They didn't want me for the film and I was like, 'Oh, our friendship is so over.' It obviously wasn't over. But that's the only time [we came close to being colleagues]."
Though not even Bullock could deny Clooney and Lopez's sizzling chemistry in the 1998 Steven Soderbergh film.
"I wasn't cast in a great movie, but now I get to work with him in another great movie," she said.
"I remember them saying, 'No.' That I was applying to junior high schools and that I had to apply," Gyllenhaal told host James Lipton. "I remember crying on the kitchen counter, telling them that I hated them."
Gyllenhaal then turned to his mother, who was in the audience, and said, "Mighty Ducks is a good movie. But ... whatever."
However, Herskovitz found Silverstone to be "too pretty." "People would have been telling her she was beautiful since she was six years old. You can't put that face in what's been written for this girl," he argued. Casting director Linda Lowy said of Danes' audition, "From the minute she walked in the room, Claire was chilling, astounding, and silent. There was so much power coming out of her without her doing much."
Frances Bean Cobain
The biggest standouts are Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott (auditioning for Jim), Suburgatory star Alan Tudyk (auditioning for Michael) and Mary-Lynn Rajskub (auditioning for Pam).
"I was the very first person to audition for the series," Rainn wrote. "Notice all the amazing talent on the sheet, including the amazing #13! This is perhaps the greatest Office keepsake I have. So grateful for the best job I will ever have."