20+ Cult Roles That Were Almost Played by Other Actors
Just like history, Hollywood doesn’t like hypothetical situations. However, after learning certain facts, it can be difficult to stop yourself from that “what-if” kind of thinking. For instance, how would The Matrix look if Neo’s role was written for Sandra Bullock? Or what would Dumbledore be like if he was played by Ian McKellen? Believe it or not, these things had a pretty high chance of becoming a reality.
Bright Side snuck behind the curtains of the film world and found out which actors were supposed to play classic, beloved roles but didn’t for some reason.
Creators were ready to rewrite Neo’s role from The Matrix for Sandra Bullock.
- Played by: Keanu Reeves
In one of his interviews, the producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said that in the early stages of producing The Matrix, Neo almost ended up becoming a woman. According to him, while trying to find the right celebrity, they considered Sandra Bullock for the main role and it was even offered to her. " We sent her the script to see if she was interested in it. And if she was interested in it, we would try to make the change," he added. However, Bullock wasn’t interested in taking part in the trilogy.
Uma Thurman turned down the offer to play Éowyn in The Lord of the Rings.
- Played by: Miranda Otto
During a late-night talk show, Uma Thurman, the star of many of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, confessed that she was offered the role of Éowyn in the on-screen version of The Lord of the Rings but turned the offer down. “I do consider it one of the worst decisions I ever made,” she added.
Scarlett Johansson had an audition for the role of Fantine in the Les Misérables movie.
- Played by: Anne Hathaway
The Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, wanted to play the role of Fantine in the movie adaptation of the musical based on the novel by Victor Hugo. She went to the audition, but got sick with laryngitis, which removed her from the list of candidates for the role. “And I think looking at the film now, there’s no possible way I ever could have topped that performance by Anne Hathaway,” the actress said. “It was perfect and I think fateful and meant to be. ”
Bradley Cooper dreamt of getting the role of The Green Lantern, but overdid it.
- Played by: Ryan Reynolds
The actor confessed that for some reason, he decided to speak with the voice of Batman at the audition, “I put a mask on and the director was like, ’Okay Bradley, be regular and talk.’ And I was like, ’Yeah, got it... [in a deep, gravelly Batman voice] listen, Sally, we’re going to have to take your family away if you don’t listen to me!’” So, it’s no surprise that it was Reynolds who eventually got the role.
Initially it was Tom Cruise who was supposed to be the main figure in the movie Salt.
- Played by: Angelina Jolie
The name of Cruise’s character was Edwin A. Salt. However, the actor turned the role down because he was already engaged in other projects. Later it was Angelina Jolie who got it and the script was changed for her character, Evelyn Salt.
Halle Berry could’ve played in Homeland, the main spy series of the decade.
- Played by: Claire Danes
Initially Showtime considered the Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry for the role of Carrie Mathison. However, eventually, they opted for the younger Claire Danes, who had just won a bunch of awards for her role in the movie Temple Grandin.
Riz Ahmed was considered for the role of Jamal Malik in Slumdog Millionaire.
- Played by: Dev Patel
The actor Dev Patel became popular thanks to the role of Jamal Malik in the movie Slumdog Millionaire. However, things could’ve gone differently if the role was played by Riz Ahmed, who was also a candidate for getting the lead role in the movie. Riz auditioned for this role before Patel and when he failed to get it, he decided to try to get the role of the main character’s older brother, but he failed to get that one either.
Christopher Plummer can’t recall the exact reason why he turned down the role of Gandalf in Lord of the Rings.
- Played by: Ian McKellen
Despite the fact that the actor was a big fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel series, he still turned down the role of Gandalf. On one talk show, Plummer confessed that he can’t recall why he made such a decision, but it seemed like the perspective of spending 3-4 years in New Zealand working on the same franchise was too radical a step for a person of his age. “I thought, there are other countries I’d also like to visit before I croak,” the actor added.
Benedict Cumberbatch could have gotten the lead role in the True Blood TV series.
- Played by: Stephen Moyer
True fans of True Blood already know that the actor Stephen Moyer, who played Bill, married his colleague on the series — Anna Paquin, whose character in the series was his love interest. Initially, it was Benedict Cumberbatch who auditioned for this role.
Jennifer Lawrence could have become the “Easy A.”
- Played by: Emma Stone
The comedy Easy A, that brought Emma Stone fame, could’ve starred the different, and no less talented actress, Jennifer Lawrence. She confessed that she had auditioned for this role and really wanted it. It was good that things eventually turned out the way they did.
Tom Hanks’s hectic schedule prevented him from playing the lead role in Jerry Maguire.
- Played by: Tom Cruise
Just imagine Tom Hanks shouting, “Show me the money!” You can actually visualize it. The director of the movie, Cameron Crowe, wrote the script imagining Hanks in the main role, however, by the time shooting had started, too much time had passed and the actor aged out of the role.
Angelina Jolie eventually failed to embody the image of a research astronaut in the movie Gravity.
- Played by: Sandra Bullock
Initially, it was Jolie who was supposed to play the main role in Alfonso Cuarón’s movie Gravity. But the actress refused to be in the movie, thanks to which Sandra Bullock, who got nominated for an Oscar for her acting, landed the role.
Matthew Broderick turned down the role of Walter White in Breaking Bad.
- Played by: Bryan Cranston
The creator of the TV series, Vince Gilligan, wanted Bryan Cranston to play a chemistry teacher who decided to break bad. However, the management of the AMC TV channel, in their turn, wanted a famous celebrity to star in the series. Matthew Broderick, famous for his role in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, was one of the candidates, but the actor turned the offer down.
Scott Eastwood refused to be in Fifty Shades of Grey because of the nude scenes.
- Played by: Jamie Dornan
In one of his interviews, Scott Eastwood explained his reason for turning down the role of Christian Grey, “They had asked me to come in and read and test for it. But they had no script. I won’t do a movie where there is no script. I am not going to get locked in.” The actor also added that the movie creators wanted full-frontal nudity in some scenes. “There were some things about it that were not for me,” he added.
Paul Giamatti could’ve become one of the main characters in The Office series.
- Played by: Steve Carell
Today, it’s hard to imagine someone else other than Steve Carell in the role of Michael Scott. However, Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC, recommended Paul Giamatti for this role. The actor turned down the offer and it went to Carell.
Goldie Hawn talked her daughter, Kate Hudson, out of starring in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.
- Played by: Julia Stiles
A real expert on romantic comedies, Kate Hudson was supposed to play the role of Kat Stratford in the cult youth movie 10 Things I Hate About You. However, her mother, actress Goldie Hawn, didn’t like the script and she persuaded her daughter to refuse to take part in the project.
Cate Blanchett was supposed to play a role in the psychological drama Closer.
- Played by: Julia Roberts
Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts wasn’t the first actress on director Mike Nicholls’ list for the role of Anna Cameron in the movie, Closer. Cate Blanchett was originally considered for this role, but she had just had a baby at that time.
Dwayne Johnson auditioned for the role of Jack Reacher in the movie of the same name.
- Played by: Tom Cruise
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has proven many times that his participation in an action movie is the key to its success at the global box office. However, in 2011, when the shooting of the detective thriller Jack Reacher began, the movie creators opted for the different, and no less famous actor, Tom Cruise. “Yup, luv the character. ’Bout 10 years ago I went after the role, but Cruise got it. Was great motivation for me to always stay hungry,” Dwayne once wrote on his Twitter page.
Elizabeth Banks could’ve become the girlfriend of the first Spider-Man, if not for her age.
- Played by: Kirsten Dunst
Elizabeth Banks wanted to get the role of Spider-Man’s girlfriend in the screen version which was filmed in 2002. “I screen-tested for the role of Mary-Jane Watson in the first Spider-Man movie, opposite Tobey Maguire. Tobey and I are basically the same age and I was told that I was too old to play her,” the actress once shared in an interview. But in the end, the producers chose to give the role of Mary-Jane to a younger actress, Kirsten Dunst, who was around 8 years younger than Banks.
Millie Bobby Brown was dreaming of playing X-23 in the movie Logan.
- Played by: Dafne Keen
There is no doubt that Millie Bobby Brown, who got famous thanks to her role as Eleven in the series Stranger Things, would’ve been perfect for the role of the mutant X-23. However, she didn’t get a chance to play this role herself despite “the best audition of her life” as the actress claims.
Cher was considered for the role of Morticia Addams in the movie about the scary family.
- Played by: Anjelica Huston
Cher didn’t officially turn down the role of Morticia Addams and the cinema studio insisted on her participation in the project. But the movie’s director, Barry Sonnenfeld, wanted the cast of the movie to be balanced and not built around one celebrity.
Ian McKellen was offered the chance to become Dumbledore in the story about a wizard boy.
- Played by: Michael Gambon
When Richard Harris, who played the role of Dumbledore in the first 2 movies about Harry Potter, died in 2002, the role was first offered to Ian McKellen. But he turned it down because “I couldn’t take over this part from an actor who I knew didn’t approve of me.” Harris once said about McKellen, that he “is technically brilliant, but passionless.” In the end, the role went to Michael Gambon.
In which cases, in your opinion, would a different candidate for the role have looked better than the actual actor who played it?
Tom Cruise, renowned for his roles in blockbuster movies, faced a challenging childhood, taking on the mantle of responsibility at a tender age. Born in New York in 1962, Cruise’s early life was marked by frequent relocations due to his father’s unstable career. Diagnosed with dyslexia at seven, he attended 14 different schools. At 11, after his mother left his father, Cruise began working various jobs to support his family, especially after his mother’s health deteriorated. Despite the hardships, Cruise’s bond with his mother remained unbreakable, with her encouragement playing a pivotal role in his pursuit of acting.