Have you ever stopped and wondered how different your favorite movies and TV series would be if the producers had cast someone else in that role that actor plays so well? As it turns out, over the course of entertainment history, there have been several now-famous actors who read for parts they didn’t end up getting, either because the casting directors went with someone else or they turned the job down (to much regret, in some cases). Here are 10 actors you may know who auditioned for high-profile roles you also may know, but it didn’t end up working out.
1. Renée Zellweger, 13 Going on 30
(Photo Credit: Gawker)
Although Jennifer Garner memorably played the 13-turned-30-year-old Jenna Rink in the hit 2004 rom-com, it turns out that Renée Zellweger, who had her career-defining role as the title character in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), was originally considered the frontrunner for Jenna. Personally, I don’t know how I’d feel about any other actress than Garner in that iconic “Thriller” dance floor scene, but one could see how they were initially thinking Zellweger, if you take Bridget Jones into consideration. Rumor has it that Hilary Swank and Gwyneth Paltrow were also in the running for Jenna Rink during casting.
2. Amy Schumer, Girls
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Before Lena Dunham and HBO execs settled on Zosia Mamet for the cute and quirky Shoshannah for their comedy-drama series Girls, actress and stand-up comic Amy Schumer also read for the part. In an edition of Dunham’s email newsletter Lenny Letter last year (a newsletter I can personally recommend; great special-interest stories for feminists and women in general), she revealed that she met now-friend Schumer when she came in to audition for Shoshannah on her HBO pilot. Dunham said that everyone in the room was “stunned by the detail and skill of her improv” and “the wild talent radiating off her,” but they decided that she ultimately wasn’t right for the part (something I’d have to agree with wholeheartedly; I can’t see Schumer as the innocent and often geeky Shoshannah in any universe). But, Schumer did end up guest starring in an episode of the series’ second season. Dunham also added that after Schumer left the room, “the vibe was very ‘Someone give that lady a show, STAT!'” It seems that nobody would have to wait too long for that to come true: a mere year later, Schumer received her own sketch comedy series on Comedy Central that would launch her into more mainstream popularity, Inside Amy Schumer.
3. Gwen Stefani, Mr. and Mrs. Smith
(Photo Credit: Vogue)
Yes, it’s true: it turns out that the role played by Angelina Jolie in the 2005 romantic-spy-thriller, the one that is said to have brought her and future hubby Brad Pitt together (and put an end to his 5-year marriage to Jennifer Aniston), almost went to No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani. The Hollaback Girl revealed on Howard Stern’s SiriusXM radio show that she received several callbacks and really thought it was going to work out, but added that the casting process for this particular film was “very competitive” and she did still want to focus on music. Before long, the role went to Madame Jolie and Bradgelina was happening. One might say that if Stefani had gotten the gig, Brad and Angie might never have happened…
4. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon, Clueless
(Photo Credits: IMDb and InStyle)
It turns out that the iconic role that made Alicia Silverstone’s career in the ’90s teen comedy flick was not originally intended for her. The producers had offered the role of Cher Horowitz to future Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Sarah Michelle Gellar, but she was forced to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts with her daytime gig as Kendall Hart on All My Children (for which she scored a Daytime Emmy in 1995). Interesting to think where both Gellar and Silverstone would be today if things had worked out the way the casting directors wanted them to. But the fun facts don’t end there: before Silverstone was cast, the producers also considered Reese Witherspoon, who was virtually unknown at the time. “This girl’s amazing. She’s going to be huge,” said screenwriter and director Amy Heckerling. “I saw some movie where she had a southern accent. Maybe it was on TV, a movie of the week. But I did see some scenes of hers and went: Wow. She’s amazing. But Alicia is Cher.”
5. Chloe Grace Moretz, The Hunger Games
(Photo Credit: E! Online)
Unfortunately, it’s true: the Hugo and If I Stay star was originally the frontrunner for Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies, which later went to Jennifer Lawrence and established her as one of Hollywood’s most prominent and bankable young ladies. It’s said that Hailee Steinfeld, Emily Browning and Emma Roberts also auditioned for Katniss to no avail: the producers soon became dead set on Lawrence. They weren’t wrong; she was the saving grace of that entire franchise.
6. Jennifer Love Hewitt, The Wedding Planner
(Photo Credit: Zimbio)
Before Jennifer Lopez landed the lead role in the 2001 rom-com that would later allow her to become the first woman with a number-one film and number-one album in the same week (her second studio album J.Lo was released simultaneously with her date flick co-starring Matthew McConaughey), the producers initially had their eyes on former teen star Jennifer Love Hewitt. However, the former Party of Five and future Ghost Whisperer actress backed out of the project when she received other job offers. I guess she wasn’t all that interested in playing the anal retentive wedding planner who falls in love with one of her clients.
7. Scarlett Johansson, My Week with Marilyn
(Photo Credit: Fashion Mio)
While the role of Marilyn Monroe later went to Michelle Williams, causing her to have to bulk up to a size 14 (talk about dedication), the role of the unforgettable ’50s starlet was originally offered to Scarlett Johansson, but she turned it down for unknown reasons. I’d have to say that was a wise decision, given that Williams did fabulous and remarkable things with Marilyn that made her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress well deserved (definitely recommend My Week with Marilyn if you’ve never seen it; very much worth the watch.)
8. Tom Selleck, Raiders of the Lost Ark
(Photo Credit: NBC News)
After what was described as a “very convincing” screen test, Tom Selleck was forced to decline when Steven Spielberg and his people offered him the role of Indiana Jones in the first of a series of well-loved action movies. Right after he read for Indy, Selleck received what would later become one of his best remembered roles; the lead role on the ’80s crime drama series Magnum, P.I., which quickly led to several conflicts with filming and production of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones went to Harrison Ford instead, but one can see what they saw in Selleck and it would have been fun to see where that would have led him. In the same vein, where would Harrison Ford be today without Indiana Jones?
9. Josh Hutcherson, The Amazing Spider-Man
(Photo Credit: Zimbio)
When casting began for the then-latest Spider-Man movie in 2010, Josh Hutcherson’s name was among many on a list of young male stars in the running to land Peter Parker. He received several callbacks and performed an elaborate screen test (available for viewing on YouTube) that led him deeper into the process and made him one of the frontrunners, but Marvel decided that they were going to go with Andrew Garfield (*whispers* thank GOD! He’s my favorite Spider-Man *heart eyes*). However, Hutcherson being turned down for Spider-Man was made somewhat better as, not too long after, he received one of the lead roles in The Hunger Games as Peeta Mellark. Another quick fun fact: it seems that ’90s heartthrob Freddie Prinze, Jr. was initially considered for the lead gig in Marvel’s 2002 Spider-Man movie, but he lost the role to Tobey Maguire (I’m sending a HUGE glare to whoever made that decision…)
10. Nicolas Cage, The Breakfast Club
(Photo Credit: Zimbio)
Back in the mid-80s, when he was a budding young star with a few film credits already under his belt, Nicolas Cage was considered for the role of rebel John Bender in the iconic John Hughes teen flick. But it turns out that young Nicolas was quite demanding with salary requirements and ultimately they couldn’t afford him, causing the producers to start looking elsewhere. John Cusack was then cast as Bender, but Hughes was dissatisfied with what he was seeing and fought for Judd Nelson to play the unmistakable high school bad boy. Things would work out eventually for Cusack, though: just a few years later, he landed the lead in Cameron Crowe’s Say Anything (1989), which made him an instant teen idol.
Were you surprised by any of these entries? Do you know of any other actors who didn’t get the now-famous part? Sound off in the comments!