Bright Side

15 Actors Who Were Suddenly Replaced by Other Stars


In Hollywood, anything is possible since thousands of people audition for each role. Imagine how our favorite movies and TV series would have been if another actor had gotten one of the leading roles. For example, try to picture Matthew McConaughey flying with Kate Winslet on the stern of the Titanic.

We know this might be hard to believe, but there are well-known actors who turned down huge roles just before filming started and others who were replaced all of a sudden. At Bright Side, we are here to shed some light on all those what-if situations.

1. Penny, The Big Bang Theory

It’s hard to imagine any other “Penny” by Leonard’s side in the popular TV series The Big Bang Theory. But during the first original pilot of the show that was actually never aired, there was no Penny, but Katie, an aggressive girl next door played by Canadian actress Amanda Walsh.

Kaley Cuoco didn’t get the role of Katie the first time because she was too young, but a year later the casting team called her to audition once again for the new role of Penny and she was definitely a good fit.

2. Rajesh, The Big Bang Theory

There’s no doubt that The Big Bang Theory would be really dull without the funny character of the sad and romantic Rajesh. However, on the unaired pilot of the show, the character of Rajesh was actually Gilda, a woman scientist played by comedian, writer, and director Iris Bahr. Her character was supposed to have had a crush on Leonard.

Even though the fans of the show admit that they would love to watch how the series would have turned out with Gilda’s character, who was very funny in the pilot, the producers decided to add 2 more guys to the group instead of her.

3. Brenda, Beverly Hills, 90210

If you are a 90s lover, you’ve probably watched Beverly Hills, 90210 more than once. After the fourth season was shot, the character of Brenda was suddenly gone. She was “replaced” with another mean girl by the name of Valerie.

The truth is that the production team desperately wanted to get rid of actress Shannen Doherty who played Brenda, because of her attitude toward the cast and crew. Instead of replacing the actress in the same role, the creators decided to replace Brenda as a whole with Tiffani Thiessen, who played Valerie Malone.

4. Allie, The Notebook

It’s hard to imagine a greater on-screen couple than Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams in The Notebook. It seems, though, that the creators had a different choice in mind for the role of Allie Hamilton: Britney Spears.

As Gosling said in an interview, “...but when Adams came to audition everything changed and she got the role immediately.” We would be curious to see Spears’ screen test with Gosling.

5. Charlie Harper, Two and a Half Men

Two and a Half Men was one of the most popular American TV series. When it first aired, the role of Charlie Harper was played by Charlie Sheen for 8 seasons, when suddenly in 2011 the actor got fired and replaced by Ashton Kutcher. Even Kutcher was surprised when this happened, as he admitted in an interview.

Warner Bros was furious with Sheen’s immoral behavior, on and outside of the show, and decided to cut him off. His role was replaced by Walden Schmidt, a suicidal billionaire and the replacement wasn’t a huge success, but the series ran for 4 more years.

6. Carol, Friends

Friends is probably the most popular TV show of all time. If you’re a fan, you’ll remember that Anita Barone who first played Ross’ ex-wife Carol Willick was suddenly replaced by another actress.

In fact, it was the actor who decided to leave the show because, as she stated, she was looking for a more permanent role and not just a few appearances in random episodes. The producers replaced her by Jane Sibbett.

7. Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln

Steven Spielberg was sure about who he wanted to play Lincoln in his famous movie and had given the role to Liam Neeson 10 years prior. Unfortunately, when the time came for Neeson to start rolling, as he said in an interview, he felt that his passion was gone and he wasn’t suitable for the role anymore.

Daniel Day-Lewis was a perfect fit, as it was proven later, since not only was he good at it, but he even won an Oscar for it.

8. Gandalf, Lord of The Rings

It’s a fact that we cannot imagine anyone playing a better Gandalf than Sir Ian McKellen did in Lord of The Rings. However, the creator’s original choice was Sean Connery. As Connery explained in an interview later on, “I never understood it. I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it.”

Ian McKellen says that even though he knows that Connery was about to get the role, he’s happy the creator made the riskier choice to hire him. And we are too.

9. Jack, Titanic

It’s doubtful that someone could portray a better Jack and Rose than Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. But as Winslet revealed in an interview decades later on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Matthew McConaughey was Paramount’s first choice and that’s who she did script reading with.

Later, when James Cameron saw Leonardo DiCaprio, he insisted that the part go to him. The chemistry between the 2 actors was undeniable and we will never stop loving them as the on-screen couple in Titanic.

10. Clarice, The Silence of The Lambs

At first, the role of Clarice Starling in the famous movie The Silence of The Lambs was given to Meg Ryan. The great actress was about to play beside Antony Hopkins, but after she gave it some thought and read and re-read the script she was concerned about the darkness of it.

The director, Jonathan Demme, then replaced her with Jodie Foster, who was later replaced with Julianne Moore. Foster won her second Oscar for this role.

11. Evelyn, The Mummy

Rachel Weisz is the perfect Evelyn in the first 2 The Mummy movies. However, when the third movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, was about to be filmed producers decided to suddenly recast and finally replace Weisz with the equally talented and beautiful Maria Bello.

Even though neither of the actress nor the creators ever confirmed this, rumor has it that Weisz left because she had disagreements regarding the script.

12. Tommen Baratheon, Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones creators seemed to have a bit of a problem with the role of Tommen, Cersei’s son. The actor who introduced us to the role of Tommen Baratheon was Callum Wharry. However, after season 2, the creators of the show decided to replace the young actor with Dean Charles-Chapman and to not continue with Callum, because he would fit better into the description of the young king.

13. James Rhodey Rhodes, Iron Man

There aren’t many movie lovers left that have never seen Iron Man. If you’ve seen it you’ll probably recall Terrence Howard, who played Iron Man’s friend James Rhodey Rhodes, being replaced by Don Cheadle in the sequel of the movie.

During an interview, Terrence revealed that there was a money conflict and that this was why they decided to recast his role.

14. Lilly, Modern Family

When Mitch and Cam adopted a lovely child, all Modern Family fans were in love with this cutie pie who was actually played by both twin sisters, Ella & Jaden Hiller.

However, as Lily grew up the creators decided to recast for the role and Aubrey Anderson-Emmons walked in. The new little actress was so young that barely anyone noticed the difference. Aubrey has stolen our hearts ever since with her huge personality.

15. Hulk, The Avengers

When The Avengers was about to be filmed, Marvel decided to leave out the actor who played Bruce Banner, Edward Norton, who played The Incredible Hulk. The producers decided to replace him with Mark Ruffalo who was also cast for the role in the first Hulk movie.

As the official Marvel statement says they needed “an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.”

We love how things have turned out for our beloved movie characters. Are you curious to see the screen tests from the people who were originally cast? Which movie or series would you like to see with an alternative leading actor? Share your thoughts in the comments.