18 Iconic Roles That Almost Went To Different Actors

18 Iconic Roles That Almost Went To Different Actors

1. Britney Spears could have played Allie Hamilton in The Notebook

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Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are iconic in The Notebook, but it could have been a very different movie had the casting directors gone with Britney Spears for the lead role. And they almost did — Ryan Gosling confirmed that Britney was one of the actors who screen-tested with him and she did a "great job," but ultimately the role went to Rachel.


2. Christina Applegate could have played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

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The role of Elle Woods may now be synonymous with Reese Witherspoon, but it turns out that Christina Applegate was approached for the role first. However, she was reluctant to take on another "dumb blonde" part for fear of being typecast following her role in Married With Children. Christina has since revealed that she regrets her decision, but believes the role went to the right person. Speaking in 2015, she said: "I got scared of kind of repeating myself. What a stupid move that was, right? But Reese deserved that. She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that’s her life. That’s her path.”


3. Matt LeBlanc could have played Phil Dunphy in Modern Family

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Matt LeBlanc revealed that he was offered the part of Phil Dunphy in 2009 following the cancellation of his Friends spin-off show, Joey. However, he ultimately turned it down because he didn't feel it was right for him. He's since said: "I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, but I'm not the guy for this. I'd be doing the project an injustice to take this." Of course, the role ended up going to Ty Burrell who's won several Emmys for his portrayal of Phil.


4. Matthew McConaughey could have played Jack in Titanic

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It's hard to imagine anyone other than Leonardo Di Caprio as Jack in Titanic, but the role could have gone to Matthew McConaughey. In fact, he left the audition pretty convinced the part was his: "It was one of those auditions where I left and thought I had it," he's since said. "I really enjoyed it, Kate Winslet really enjoyed it. That was a huge opportunity. But [James] Cameron liked Leonardo DiCaprio better."


5. Gwyneth Paltrow could have played Rose in Titanic

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It wasn't just the role of Jack that almost went to another actor, but Rose too. In fact, Gwyneth Paltrow was one of the final two contenders for the role, but actually turned it down. However, she doesn't regret the decision, saying: "I look back at the choices I’ve made and think, ‘Why the hell did I say yes to that? And no to that?’ And you know, you look at the big picture and think: There’s a universal lesson here. What good is it to hold onto roles?”


6. Connie Britain could have played Olivia Pope in Scandal

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Since the character Olivia Pope was inspired by real-life crisis fixer Judy Smith, Scandal's show-runner Shonda Rhimes decided from the offset that the role should go to a black woman. However, if ABC had had their way, Olivia would have been played by Connie Britton. Shonda recently recalled a phonecall she had with the network shortly after the show was picked up, in which they told her: “This would be the perfect show for Connie Britton.” Shonda responded: “It would be, except Olivia Pope is black.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by casting director Linda Lowy, who said: "The network was reading us their top choices, and it was Connie and all white women. I panicked. Somebody finally piped up, ‘We’re going to have to redo this list.'”


7. Ellen DeGeneres could have played Phoebe Buffay in Friends

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Ellen was reportedly offered the role of Phoebe Buffay before anyone else auditioned for the part, but she ultimately turned it down. Jane Lynch and Kathy Griffin were also considered before the part went to Lisa Kudrow.


8. Emma Watson could have played Mia Dolan in La La Land

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Emma Watson was the frontrunner during early casting conversations for La La Land. However, scheduling conflicts meant that she had to decide between that role or the part of Belle in Beauty and the Beast. She ultimately chose the latter.


9. Henry Cavill could have played Edward Cullen in Twilight

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Not only did Henry audition for the role of Edward, but his portrayal of the character was by far the favourite of the franchise's author, Stephenie Meyer. However, Henry has since revealed that despite her wanting him for the role, the decision wasn't Stephanie's and the casting directors ended up choosing Robert Pattinson instead.


10. Vince Vaughn could have played Joey Tribbiani in Friends

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Friends' casting director, Ellie Kanner, revealed in 2015 that Vince Vaughn originally auditioned for the part of Joey. Despite him being "handsome and tall" and a "good actor," she didn't feel he quite fit the role in the same way as Matt LeBlanc, and was ultimately turned down.


11. Gwen Stefani could have played Jane Smith in Mr and Mrs Smith

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It was the movie that spawned Brangelina, but how different things could have been had Gwen Stefani decided to take the role. In fact, she almost secured the part but decided to turn it down in favour of her music. Gwen's since revealed: "I feel like I almost got [the part]. I went to a bunch of auditions and I wanted to do it — but I wanted to do music more."


12. Rumer Willis could have played Serena Van Der Woodsen, Gossip Girl

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The CW's casting director, David Rapaport, told BuzzFeed that the network were desperate for Rumer Willis to play the part of Serena in Gossip Girl. However, he decided to give the opportunity to the then lesser-known actor, Blake Lively. And, speaking in 2015, David revealed he stands by that decision: "I love Rumer, she's grown into quite an amazing actress and person, but that, to me, was based on protecting the investment of a television show where creatively, these lesser-known girls really captured the essence of the show and carried it for six years."


13. Olivia Wilde could have played Naomi Lapaglia in Wolf of Wall Street

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In proof that ageism is a thing, Olivia Wilde was rejected for the part of Naomi in Wolf of Wall Street because she was "too old." Speaking in 2016, Wilde said: "I heard that I was too sophisticated [for the part]. I thought, ‘Oh, that sounds nice. I like that feedback. I didn’t get the part but I’m a very sophisticated person.' And then I found out later they actually said old.”


14. Anne Hathaway could have played Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook

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Anne Hathaway was the first choice to play the role of Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook and was actually cast as the lead. However, she ended up dropping out of the production due to "creative differences" with the director David O. Russell. Of course, the role ultimately went to Jennifer Lawrence who won an Oscar for her portrayal of Tiffany.


15. Eric McCormack could have played Ross Geller in Friends

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Although it's hard to imagine anyone other than David Schwimmer playing Ross, Eric McCormack also auditioned for the role. Of course, he didn't get the part and went on to star in Will and Grace instead, but years later confided in a director who'd worked on both shows about his audition for Ross. The director's response?: "Oh honey, you were wasting your time. They wrote the part for him."


16. Julia Roberts could have played Annie Reed in Sleepless in Seattle

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Julia was actually offered the role of Annie before Meg Ryan, but she turned it down. However, it's not a decision she regrets, saying that Meg and Tom Hanks' chemistry is rare, and something she found on the set of Pretty Woman anyway. She's since said: "I’d been offered Sleepless in Seattle, but couldn’t do it. Meg and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town, you know?"


17. Tom Selleck could have played Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones

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Steven Spielburg and George Lucas were both desperate for Tom Selleck to play the part of Indiana Jones, and even invited him to do a screen test for the role. Tom would've been down to play the role too, however he'd already signed up for a CBS detective show called Magnum P.I and so couldn't commit. Despite not originally wanting Harrison Ford for the role having worked with him twice before, George Lucas now believes that he was "perfect" in the part.


18. John Travolta could have played Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump

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It's hard to imagine anyone else aside from Tom Hanks playing the role of Forrest Gump, but it turns out the role was actually offered to John Travolta first. However, he turned it down to star in Pulp Fiction instead.