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What 14 Iconic Movies Would Look Like With the Original Casting

Film production is a tricky business, where plans can be ruined in the blink of an eye. Today we’re used to seeing Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow and we could hardly imagine Hugh Jackman taking the lead. However, he was the first choice of the scriptwriter for Pirates of the Caribbean.

At Bright Side, we started our own investigation to figure out which other famous roles were initially created for different actors or actresses. Here, we tried to imagine what our favorite films would look like if the main character was portrayed by another actor or actress.

1. Emma Watson as Cinderella

Emma Watson has had enough remarkable characters in her career. Little did we know that Cinderella could’ve become a part of her portfolio along with Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Although Lily James eventually landed the role, Watson was among the main candidates but turned down the job because Cinderella wasn’t enough of a role model in her eyes.

2. Anne Hathaway as Alice in Wonderland

Although Anne Hathaway actually starred in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland as the White Queen it wasn’t the part she claimed initially. Anne was offered the chance to play Alice herself, but she refused to, saying that she had had enough of portraying good-looking princesses (referring to her famous character Mia from The Princess Diaries).

3. Leonardo DiCaprio as Max from Hocus Pocus

Back in the 1990s, Leonardo DiCaprio was just starting his career. The role of Max in Disney’s fantasy movie, Hocus Pocus, could’ve become his big break, but he preferred to go for the adapted drama, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, despite the much bigger financial reward that Disney offered.

It looks like it was the right choice because that part brought him his first Oscar nomination. However, Omri Katz, who portrayed Max, ultimately decided to quit acting in 2002.

4. Hugh Jackman as Captain Jack Sparrow

The writer of original script, Stuart Beattie, confessed that he was creating Captain Sparrow’s character with Hugh Jackman in mind (hence the JACK in Captain Jack Sparrow). However, back in 2003 the X-Men star wasn’t famous enough for the role, so the Disney crew opted for Depp. The choice turned out to be successful: thanks to Johnny Depp a movie that was supposed to only be one film, became a franchise.

5. Ian McKellen as Professor Dumbledore

Ian McKellen was approached for the role of Professor Dumbledore after Richard Harris, who originally portrayed Hogwarts’ headmaster in the first 2 films of the Harry Potter franchise, passed away in 2002.

However, McKellen turned down the offer, saying that Harris had been very critical of him as an actor. According to the Lord of the Rings star, he just couldn’t take over the part from a colleague who disapproved of him.

6. John Travolta as Forrest Gump

The role that made Tom Hanks a major star was initially offered to John Travolta, who was at the peak of his popularity back then. Travolta turned down the part, though, to appear in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. Remarkably enough, after this film Travolta’s career started to go down, whereas Hanks received his second Oscar as Best Actor for this performance.

7. Matt Damon as Avatar

In a recent interview, Matt Damon surprised fans with a shocking revelation: James Cameron, the creator of Avatar, wanted him to star in his science fiction blockbuster. Not only did the director offer him the role, but he also proposed 10% of the film’s profits, which, according to the box office, would now estimate to be around $274 million.

In the end, the then-unknown Sam Worthington landed the role, and Damon’s only regret is that he missed the opportunity to work with James Cameron.

8. Dana Delaney as Carrie Bradshaw

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, but at the time of the project’s launch, Dana Delany was considered for the part. The actress, however, refused the role.

9. Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone

Jack Nicholson has portrayed plenty of remarkable characters in his life and Michael Corleone could have been one of them. But it didn’t work out because of the actor’s own superstitions. As he revealed many years later, he refused the role because back then he believed that characters of certain nationalities should only be played by actors of that nationality. It’s good for Nicholson that his views have changed.

10. Will Smith as Neo

It’s hard to believe but Will Smith could’ve been the one reflecting thousands of bullets and flying over the Matrix. However, he turned down the role to take part in the Wild Wild West movie and admitted sometime afterward that it was the right decision. Back then he couldn’t appreciate the concept of The Matrix and was absolutely sure he would have messed it up.

11. Mel Gibson as Maximus

Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the gladiator, Maximus, brought him his first (and only) Oscar. However, he was close to missing the chance, as the role was initially offered to Mel Gibson. Gibson declined it though since he felt he wasn’t the appropriate age for the part.

12. Shiloh Jolie-Pitt as Aurora

After being cast for Maleficent, Angelina Jolie offered the role of Aurora to her daughter, Shiloh. But according to the actress, she wasn’t interested in the opportunity at all and found the whole idea hilarious. In the end, the role went to Elle Fanning.

13. Al Pacino as Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman

Before Richard Gere enchanted the whole world as Edward Lewis, the role was considered for Al Pacino. The Italian actor read the script and even did a final reading with Julia Roberts, but in the end refused to take the part.

Creators claim that it would have been a totally different movie if Al Pacino had landed the role after all.

14. Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey

Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey made Jamie Dornan a super-star. Little did we know that the role was first offered to Charlie Hunnam. Unfortunately, because of scheduling conflicts Hunnam had to back out. He still describes it as a heart-breaking experience but back then he already had arrangements with his friend Guillermo del Toro and couldn’t break his promise.

Which of these probable choices would have been better than the final cast? Who else do you think could’ve been good for these parts? Share your opinions in the comments.

Please note: This article was updated in March 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.
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