50 ‘Could Haves’ – Movie Roles That Were Intended for Different Actors

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1Django Unchained

Django Unchained

The role of Django in Django Unchained was originally written for Will Smith, who turned it down due to him feeling he wouldn’t be the lead actor.

2. Tim Curry, a lifelong Scooby-Doo fan, was offered the villain role in the 2002 Scooby-Doo movie, but he turned it down after learning the film would include Scrappy-Doo, a character he disliked.

3. Actor River Phoenix died right before he was about to film his role as the interviewer in Interview with the Vampire. His part was recast with Christian Slater, who donated his earnings to Earth Save and Earth Trust, two of Phoenix’s favorite charities.

4. Mel Brooks approached John Wayne for a role in Blazing Saddles, which eventually went to Gene Wilder. Wayne declined, as he thought the dialogue was “too dirty” for his family-friendly image.

5. The role of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs was turned down by Sean Connery, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and others. Silence of the Lambs would go on to be the 3rd film in history to win all “Big 5” Academy Awards and upon release in 1991 on VHS, became the most rented film in the United States.

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6The Thin Red Line

The Thin Red Line

Several actors had their roles shrunk or completely cut out of the film “The Thin Red Line” in post-production. Adrian Brody went from the lead to only two lines of dialog, 3 hours of narration by Billy Bob Thornton was never used, and Mickey Rourke can only be found in the DVD extras.

7. Stephanie Meyer had imagined Henry Cavill for the role of Edward while she was writing Twilight, but he was deemed too old by the time movie production began.

8. Eddie Murphy was initially assigned to have a major role in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. However, the script was heavily rewritten from comic relief to love interest and that part eventually went to Catherine Hicks as a whale scientist.

9. Mark Hamill auditioned for the role of Mozart in the movie adaptation of 'Amadeus' after playing the role on Broadway, but was rejected after a studio executive said, “I don't want Luke Skywalker in this film.”

10. Catherine Zeta-Jones was initially offered the lead role in Chicago, but she turned it down in favor of playing Velma in the same movie, just so she could sing “All That Jazz.”

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11Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire

Reba McEntire was offered the role of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” in James Cameron's Titanic, but she turned it down due to filming being delayed beyond the 3 months she set aside to film it and she was worried about the people on her payroll not being able to work.

12. Beyoncé assumed she would automatically get the title role of Princess Tiana, Disney’s first black princess, in the 2009 film “The Princess and the Frog,” so she refused to audition. The role went to Anika Noni Rose, who had co-starred with Beyoncé in the 2006 film Dreamgirls.

13. Dave Chappelle was offered the role of Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue in Forrest Gump but he turned it down because he thought the character was demeaning and the movie would bomb.

14. Mark Ruffalo won his role in Shutter Island by sending a fan letter to Martin Scorsese in which he told him how much he’d love to work with him. Ruffalo’s future co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Josh Brolin were being considered for the role.

15. Anthony Michael Hall was the first choice to play the lead role of Private Joker in “Full Metal Jacket.” Hall spent eight months preparing for the role but could not reach an agreement with Stanley Kubrick regarding monetary compensation, and was replaced by Matthew Modine.

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16Neo from Matrix

Neo from Matrix

Keanu Reeves was the last choice for the role of “Neo” from The Matrix. Brad Pitt was first to accept before declining. Leonardo DiCaprio later accepted before declining. Others considered were Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, Sandra Bullock, Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner, David Duchovny, and Tom Cruise.

17. The actor who played George McFly in Back to the Future rejected the role for Part II of the series because of the script. Jeffery Weissman was hired and using a face mold made in the first movie and prosthetics, they were able to recreate the original actor’s likeness resulting in a lawsuit against the company.

18. Harold Ramis was set to direct “Galaxy’s Quest”, with Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, or Alec Baldwin in the lead roles. Neither actors were available, and later Ramis left the project after DreamWorks favored Tim Allen in the lead instead. Ramis later said he was impressed with Allen’s performance in the film.

19. Matthew McConaughey originally auditioned with Kate Winslet for ‘Titanic’ (1997) and was confident he got the role of Jack, but Leonardo DiCaprio interviewed next and James Cameron said every woman in the building showed up for the meeting so he thought, “maybe I should cast this guy.”

20. The lead role in “Edward Scissorhands” was originally offered to Tom Cruise, but he wanted a happier ending and declined. Before the role was given to Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Gary Oldman, Jim Carrey, John Cusack, William Hurt, Robert Downy Jr., and Michael Jackson had all been offered and/or considered.

21Beverly Hills Cop

Beverly Hills Cop

Sylvester Stallone wanted to make Beverly Hills Cop a less comedic and more action-oriented film, which the studio rejected as being far too expensive so they went ahead with Eddie Murphy in the titular role. Stallone heavily revised the screenplay and made Cobra (1986).

22. Kevin Costner’s first big break in Hollywood was ‘The Big Chill’ and he ended up getting cut out of the movie in the final cut.

23. Pierce Brosnan could have played James Bond earlier in ‘The Living Daylights’ but had to return to Remington Steele because it got popular due to Brosnan’s offer to play James Bond. Timothy Dalton was given the role instead.

24. John Candy turned down the role for “Honey I shrunk the Kids” because he felt his good friend, Rick Moranis, was better suited for it.

25. The role of Captain Jack Sparrow for the Pirates of Caribbean franchise was initially offered to Jim Carrey, but he turned it down for Bruce Almighty.

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