Many of the most well-loved and legendary film characters are inextricable from the actors who played them, so much so that it’s often impossible to imagine any other performer in the role.
Even remakes of cinematic classics have a difficult time filling the shoes of the original cast members, not because the actors in the newer version are untalented, but because it’s hard not to compare them to the originators of the roles. Is the quintessential couple in Sabrina Julia Ormond opposite Harrison Ford from 1995, or is it Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in the original 1954 version? Could Timothée Chalamet’s Willy Wonka truly fill out the purple jacket and top hat as well as Gene Wilder did?
Finding the right actor to breathe life into a role is a true challenge—one that can mean accolades and a revered place in movie history or being forgotten in the endless shuffle of Hollywood. Not only does casting mean finding the perfect actor to play a part, but navigating the morass of shoot schedules, contract conflicts, and disagreements between directors and studios as well.
Oftentimes, the actors who ended up in career-defining roles were not the first—or even the second—choices of the directors, yet they were lucky enough to be available at the right time with no major issues from other big names attached to the project. Once a movie has launched and released, however, the best actors for the roles have made it hard to imagine anyone else in their place. Could there be any Pretty Woman other than Julia Roberts? Would The Matrix be the same without Keanu Reeves?
These pivotal casting decisions affect not only film history, but also the real lives of the actors, shaping their career trajectories and even, on occasion, introducing them to future romantic partners. Stacker compiled a list of 25 iconic movie roles that almost went to other famous actors—and the stories behind these choices—using film databases and news reports.
WHAT IF: 25 Iconic Movie Roles That Almost Went to Other Actors
Gallery Credit: Stacker
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