23 Actors Who Nearly Landed The Role Of Their Lifetime

Some movie or TV roles become so iconic, that the actors who play them are forever remembered for portraying that particular character. This is actually a double-edged sword: while landing such roles may help an actor rise to stardom, it’s also a problem if they’re always associated with a certain character instead of being known by their own name. Many actors and actresses were very close to getting the role of their lifetime, but for some reason or another, destiny had other plans for them. So here’s a list of 24 Hollywood stars who nearly landed life-changing roles in famous films! Are you ready?

Photo: Courtesy of Geeky

#23. Al Pacino Almost Starred In Star Wars

We can imagine no other than Harrison Ford in the role of Hans Solo in the Star Wars franchise, but did you know Al Pacino almost got the part? Actually, director George Lucas first offered the role of Hans to Pacino, but he rejected it, allegedly because he didn’t get the point of the story.

Photo: Courtesy of Fandango

Let’s not forget that nobody expected the first Star Wars film to be such a massive hit. Besides, Pacino was already a famous star by then, especially after his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, so it’s not like he needed to make a name for himself.

#22. David Schwimmer Almost Starred In Men In Black

It’s hard to picture David Schwimmer in any other role other than Ross in Friendsand the truth is he never managed to make a name of himself in the movie business. Maybe he could’ve had his big break if he had accepted to co-star with Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black. But why did he ever turn down that role?

Photo: Courtesy of IMDb

Believe it or not, Schwimmer refused to play a secret agent because he had already been offered a part in the rom-com The Pallbearer. Although the latter film included big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, it tanked the box office, while Men in Black became one of the highest-grossing films of the year. Now we know who Will Smith has to thank!

#21. Julia Roberts Almost Starred In The Blind Side

Let’s be honest, if a movie stars Julia Roberts, then it’s bound to be a success! By 2005, Roberts was one of the highest-paid actresses in the world, but the casting directors of The Blind Side offered her the lead role despite being on a tight budget.

Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair

Naturally, Roberts said no, and the part was eventually given to Sandra Bullock. It pretty much worked out for the best, as Bullock went on to win her first and only Academy Award for Best Actress.

#20. Freddie Prinze Jr. Almost Starred In Spider-Man

Many famous actors have taken on the role of Spider-Man, and Freddie Prize Jr. was nearly made it to the list. While he was initially considered for the role, director Sam Raimi changed his mind and went for Tobey Maguire instead.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Luck wasn’t on Freddie’s side, as playing Spider-Man could’ve been the big break he’s always longed for. As to Maguire, it’s safe to say he landed the role of his lifetime. Lucky him!

#19. Thom Evans Almost Starred In Fifty Shades Of Grey

Thom Evans is a former rugby player who has recently pursued a career in modeling, but guess what? He’s also been flirting with the idea of launching his career as an actor too.

Photo: Courtesy of British GQ

Even though he hasn’t had his big break yet, he almost had it a few years ago when he auditioned for the role of Christian Grey in the erotic romance film Fifty Shades of Grey. He wasn’t the only A-list star to compete with Jamie Dornan for the role, though. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnan is another Hollywood heartthrob who auditioned for the role.

#18. Tom Hanks Almost Starred In Jerry Maguire

Over two decades have passed since Jerry Maguire hit the theaters, and it will always be remembered as one of Tom Cruise’s most groundbreaking roles. But did you know the studio had another name in mind for the role of Jerry Maguire other than Cruise?

Photo: Courtesy of Cine3

Apparently, Tom Hanks was the casting directors’ first pick and they even loved him when he read them a few scenes. However, in the end, Hanks chose to put all his energies on That Thing You Do!, a film which he directed, wrote and starred in.

#17. Tom Cruise Almost Starred In Iron Man

Tom Cruise definitely got his big break with Tobey Maguire, but do you know which other Hollywood blockbuster he nearly starred in? Iron Man! Yeah, believe it or not, the Hollywood legend almost landed a lead role in one of Marvel’s all-time favorites.

Photo: Courtesy of Vanity Fair

Apparently, he took a step backward because he felt the script wasn’t interesting enough. I wonder what he had in mind for a superhero film. Was he expecting more action? I guess we’ll never know!

#16. Jim Carrey Almost Starred In Pirates Of The Caribbean

Even though Jim Carrey is mostly famous for his comedy roles, he’s also starred in his fair share of dramas, including hits like Truman Show or Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. He’s such a volatile actor, that I can easily picture him in the role of Captain Jack Sparrow. Can you?

Photo: Courtesy of Metro 95.1

While Carrey was cast for the role of Sparrow, he didn’t get the part, which as we all know went to the Oscar-nominated actor Johnny Depp. It appears to be he couldn’t manage acting and talking like a drunk pirate while at the same time being sexy. We still love you, Jim!

#15. Matt Bomer Almost Starred In Man Of Steel

Actor and heartthrob Matt Bomer rose to fame after starring in the comedy-drama Magic Mike XXL, where he played a sexy male stripper. One year later, in 2013, he was earmarked for the role of Superman in Man of Steel.

Photo: Courtesy of Wikipedia

He even read some lines with his almost co-star Amy Adams, and it all seemed to be working out until Henry Cavill showed up and stood in the way. Did you know late actor Paul Walker also auditioned?

#14. Jennifer Hudson Almost Starred In Precious

Jennifer Hudson rose to fame after reaching the finals of American Idol, but she went on to pursue a career in Hollywood. She won her first and only Academy Award after her brilliant performance in Dreamgirls in 2007.

Photo: Courtesy of IMDb

Maybe she could’ve won her second Oscar had she agreed to play the role of Precious. Apparently, director Lee Daniels offered her the part, but for some reason, she turned it down. It worked out for the best, at least for Gabourey Sidibe, who landed the role of her lifetime and received her first Academy Award nomination.

#13. Valerie Bertinelli Almost Starred In Footloose

Valerie Bertinelli is one of the most famous TV actresses of the 80s, especially for playing Barbara Cooper Royer in the comedy show One Day at a Time. But here’s something you probably didn’t know about…

Photo: Courtesy of TV Insider

In 1984, she auditioned for the lead role in the famous musical Footloose, but luck wasn’t on her side, as the part went to Lori Singer. I just can’t picture her as Kevin Bacon’s girlfriend!

#12. Mindy Kaling Almost Starred In Bridesmaids

Mindy Kaling will always be remembered for playing Kelly Kapoor in the famous sitcom The Office and went on to star in her own show, The Mindy Project. But one year before the release of her show, she auditioned for the Oscar-winning comedy film, Bridesmaids.

Photo: Courtesy of

Kaling thought she stood a chance, so she practiced her lines by heart and fell in love with the whole cast. Naturally, she was heartbroken when she found the casting directors had gone for Maya Rudolph instead.

#11. Nicholas Cage Almost Starred In The Breakfast Club

Nicholas Cage is widely known for starring in action or mystery films, some of doubtful quality. But back in his teenage days, he auditioned for the role of Judd Nelson in the classic teen comedy film The Breakfast Club.

Photo: Courtesy of El País

The casting directors chose John Bender instead, and the reason behind this is that they just couldn’t afford Cage’s salary demands. John Cusack and John Hughes were also considered for the role. Crazy, right?

#10. Jack Nicholson Almost Starred In The Godfather

Al Pacino sure did a brilliant job portraying Vito Corleone in the first installment of The Godfather franchise. If not, he wouldn’t have won an Academy Award, would he? However, don’t you think Jack Nicholson would’ve nailed it too?

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Apparently, the Academy Award-winning actor was Francis Ford Coppola’s first pick, but he turned down the role. Allegedly, Nicholson thought that Italian roles should better be played by Italians. I bet he regrets his political correctness!

#9. Reese Witherspoon Almost Starred In Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon will always be remembered for her Academy Award-winning performance in Walk the Line and her signature role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. But here’s something you probably never knew: she almost co-starred with Ben Affleck in the hit thriller film Gone Girl.

Photo: Courtesy of Vanidades

Although she was interested in playing Amy Dunne, director David Fincher felt she wasn’t quite right for the part. While Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt were also considered for the role, Fincher went for Rosamund Pike instead.

#8. Matthew McConaughey Almost Starred In Titanic

When Titanic comes to mind, we can’t help but recall Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Jack, in what was possibly one of the most iconic roles of his acting career. It’s crazy to think that Matthew McConaughey also auditioned for Jack, isn’t it?

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It’s hard to imagine any other than DiCaprio in that role, but don’t you think McConaughey would’ve nailed it? Can you guess which other Hollywood A-lister almost landed a role in Titanic?

#7. Gwyneth Paltrow Almost Starred In Titanic

Even though Kate Winslet has starred in countless blockbuster films – including her Oscar-winning performance in The Reader – she will always be remembered as the young woman who played Rose in the heart-wrenching drama epic Titanic.

Photo: Courtesy of Buzzfeed

However, getting picked for the role of Rose was no piece of cake, as she had to compete with no other than Gwyneth Paltrow. Wouldn’t it be cool to make the same movie twice but with different actresses, just to see which one nails it the most?

#6. Jennifer Lawrence Almost Starred In Twilight

Jennifer Lawrence had her big break with the 2010 mystery-drama Winter’s Bonewhich earned her her first Academy Award nomination. When she auditioned for the role of Bella in the first Twilight film, she still wasn’t the A-list star she is today.

Photo: Courtesy of La Opinión

It’s a shame she didn’t get the part, although to be fair, it’s hard picturing her falling for vampires. It worked out for the best, as Lawrence soon became one of the highest-grossing actresses in the world, especially after winning her first Oscar in 2013.

#5. John Travolta Almost Starred In Forrest Gump

Is there any doubt that Forrest Gump was Tom Hank‘s most legendary role ever? So much so, that there’s no way we can picture any other actor in that role. Not even John Travolta!

Photo: Courtesy of La Silla Rota

It appears to be that director Robert Zemeckis first offered the part to the Grease star, but he declined the offer. It worked out for the best, as Hanks went on to win an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his performance.

#4. Britney Spears Almost Starred In The Notebook

Britney Spears auditioning for The Notebook? Say whatttt??? As crazy as it sounds, rumor had it that the iconic pop singer would play the role of Allie Calhoun in this heart-wrenching drama film. She wasn’t the only star considered for the role, though.

Photo: Courtesy of Fox News

Apparently, Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Biel were also among the candidates, although Rachel McAdams was the chosen one. She was the perfect match for heartthrob Ryan Reynolds, and they totally won over our hearts.

#3. Jennifer Connelly Almost Starred In Heathers

Winona Ryder has had a prominent acting career which includes two Academy Award nominations, although her lastest success has been that of Joyce Byers in the sci-fi series Stranger Things. 

Photo: Courtesy of Fandom

However, Ryder rose to fame back in her teenage days, especially after landing a lead role in the 1988 comedy-crime film Heathers. We’ll never forget her brilliant portrayal of Heather, but what people don’t know is that the role was written for Jenniffer Connelly.

#2. Maggie Siff Almost Starred In Mad Men

Maggie Siff is one of the greatest TV actresses out there and she’s most famous for her role as Dr. Tara Knowles in the crime-drama series Sons of Anarchy. However, she almost played one of the greatest lead characters on TV in this last decade.

Photo: Courtesy of Bolsomania

Of course, we’re talking about the one and only Peggy Olson from Mad Men. She’s the strongest character in the show and we can’t help but love her, and it appears to be that the show’s creators insisted on Siff taking the role. She never accepted, which is why they gave the part to Elisabeth Moss (who nailed it, by the way).

#1. Ian McKellen Almost Starred In Lord Of The Rings

Lord of the Rings is possibly the most successful trilogy in film history, and Ian McKellen stole the spotlight as Gandalf. But did you know he almost played the greatest wizard of all time?

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We’re obviously talking about Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter, who else? When Richard Harris passed away after the release of the second Harry Potter film, producers tried to convince McKellen of taking the role. He turned it down, allegedly because late actor Harris had once commented on his acting skills, so he felt he wouldn’t approve of such a casting decision if he were still alive.

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    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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