10 Actors Who Came Pretty Close to Not Playing Their Iconic Roles

9 months ago

The association between the characters and the actors who play them can get pretty strong. For one, we can’t imagine Jack from Titanic being portrayed by anyone but Leonardo DiCaprio. But not all actors, including Leo himself, got cast for the role they ended up playing with ease, and we could’ve lived in an entirely different timeline today had they been turned down.

1. Jennifer Aniston on Friends

During the casting of Friends, the creators really saw Rachel Green in Courteney Cox. However, Cox convinced them that she was more of a Monica, and now over 25 years since the show’s premiere, we can all — including the creators — agree that her judgment was correct. So the role of Rachel went to Jennifer Aniston instead.

2. Jon Hamm in Mad Men

One of the most important things to the creators of Mad Men was choosing their lead actor who would play Don Draper. So Jon Hamm was put through a callous audition process and had to do it 7 or 8 times. The actor said that everything was always riding on the latest audition he did, and it would take only 1 bad read for him to lose his chance, and he was hoping it wouldn’t come to that.

The network’s senior vice president was not particularly fond of Hamm’s audition, but he was still chosen for the role thanks to the recommendation of the casting director.

3. Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies

Tom Selleck was the actor initially selected to play the role of Indiana Jones. He did a screen test and was told he’d gotten the part.

However, at the time, he had already filmed a pilot for a show, so the network told him that he couldn’t do both projects simultaneously. Looking back at the situation, Selleck noted that he could’ve done both. But it’s nothing to feel down about since the part ultimately went to Harrison Ford.

4. Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption

Morgan Freeman liked the script for The Shawshank Redemption and wanted to accept the role, but someone sent him the source on which the script was based: a novella by Stephen King. The actor said that he had read one page of it and saw that the character he intended to play was Irish, so he was ready to turn down the offer, saying he “couldn’t play an Irishman.” But the movie’s creators convinced him that the character in the movie wouldn’t have to be Irish.

5. Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic

Before the filming of Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio was already a hot topic in Hollywood, and he seemed to think that every director would want to cast him no matter what. That’s why he assumed he wouldn’t need to audition for the movie, and when he was told to read the lines for the camera, he refused to do so. The director, James Cameron, told the young actor that refusing to audition meant he wouldn’t get the job, so Leo quickly returned to reality and did a screen test with Kate Winslet quite enthusiastically.

6. Sadie Sink in Stranger Things

Sadie Sink was only 14 years old when she was cast as Max in Stranger Things, but she almost missed out on her chance to play the beloved character because she was told that she looked “too old” for her age. However, she convinced the casting directors to give her more material to work with to prove that she could give them something fresh.

7. Scarlett Johansson in MCU movies

Believe it or not, Scarlett Johansson was initially not selected to play Black Widow, and she was pretty upset about it. She said she was a big fan of Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. and wanted to work with them.

Emily Blunt got the role instead. However, Blunt had to turn down the part because she was contracted for another job. So she could no longer portray the Marvel character, and Johansson was contacted by Favreau again, this time with much better news.

8. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Breakfast at Tiffany’s director Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe to play the main character in his movie. However, Monroe was talked out of accepting the role by her advisor, and the studio cast Audrey Hepburn instead. Capote was disappointed with this decision, saying he was “double-crossed in every way” because of the casting.

9. Richard Dreyfuss in Jaws

Playing Hooper in Jaws turned Richard Dreyfuss’s career upside down, but the actor initially refused to take the role. “My first reaction was to say ’no thanks,’” the actor recalled. “Even Spielberg asked why, and I said, ’I’m lazy, and I’d rather watch it than shoot it.’”

However, he changed his mind after watching the previous movie he starred in and thought he was so terrible in it that he’d never land another job. So, to make up for it, Dreyfuss begged Spielberg to give him the role.

10. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence was such a big fan of The Hunger Games book trilogy that she was actually against the books getting adapted to the big screen. She went to the audition with the mindset of telling the director off and letting him know she thinks these books wouldn’t work as movies so that the adaptation wouldn’t ruin her favorite trilogy. However, the director agreed with her and said he’s a big fan too. He explained his plan to the young actress, and she not only made her peace with the adaptation, but she even starred in it as the main character.

Which of these stories surprised you the most?

The deep connection between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was further solidified during the filming of “Titanic.” DiCaprio’s comment on Winslet’s body, emphasizing the importance of her natural shape, profoundly influenced her perspective on body image. This conversation empowered Winslet to champion body positivity, a stance she’s maintained throughout her career.


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