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10 Celebs Who Almost Weren’t Cast as Your Favorite Characters

by JC
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Getting cast in a box office hit or a series fan favorite is a massive boost to a celebrity’s resume, which makes it crucial for actors and actresses to star in the right productions. If an artist is cast in a chart-topping movie or show, they’ll have no problem finding new ventures in the future! Unfortunately, many factors, such as flubbed auditions or hesitancies, can hinder someone from auditioning for a role.

These barriers have almost robbed us of some of our favorite movie and TV show characters, and we’re thankful that fate intervened to bring us all the iconic roles that exist in media. So, don’t change your channel as we go over 10 celebs who almost weren’t cast in your favorite movie roles!

Related: 10 Actors Who Turned Down Movie Roles and Regretted It

10 Al Pacino as Michael Corleone

Michael Corleone in 10 Minutes

Visualizing the iconic movie The Godfather is almost impossible without Al Pacino playing Michael Corleone. However, a few close calls almost robbed viewers of Pacino’s portrayal. When Pacino first auditioned for The Godfather, he kept messing up his lines. Additionally, Pacino was not well-received by the producer, Robert Evans, who was wary of Pacino’s height of 5’6″ (1.7 m).

Unfortunately, the complications did not end there. As the production progressed, Coppola did not like Pacino’s acting as “playing the role too meek and mild.” Luckily, Marlon Brando saw past Pacino’s acting approach, advocating for Coppola to keep Pacino on. And, as fate would have it, Pacino transformed his character “from a naive young man to a vicious mob boss. From that point, the movie became a smash-hit mob film sensation that is still quoted today![1]

9 Hugh Jackman as Wolverine

Wolverine Fight Scenes And All Best Scenes.

Without Hugh Jackman portraying Wolverine, we might have seen a completely different trajectory for the X-Men franchise (plus, we would have missed out on those glorious sideburns)! However, Jackman cut it pretty close when auditioning for the role. A CBR article covers X-Men screenwriter David Hayter’s experience when casting for the role of Wolverine, saying, “The first time Hugh Jackman read, he didn’t get cast. He was great, but he was the nicest guy in the world, and he was very tall and super handsome, so we didn’t think he was Wolverine.”

Instead of Hugh Jackman, actor Dougray Scott was initially cast as Wolverine. However, this didn’t come to fruition due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident, causing Scott to lose 150 pounds. Thus, Hugh Jackman was able to cement his role as Wolverine and became a fan favorite who continued to return throughout the X-Men series in major roles or cameos![2]


8 Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman

Best Of Acting : Aaron Paul ( Breaking Bad as Jesse Pinkman)

The TV show Breaking Bad is one of the most well-renowned television dramas in the United States, and it wouldn’t have gained its fame without its main two stars, Bryan Cranston as Walter White and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman. It’s crazy to think that Aaron Paul was close to not being offered the role! In an interview with Medium, Paul stated, “Even after tested, no one wanted me,” but luckily, series creator Vince Gilligan put his foot down, saying that he would not do the show unless Aaron Paul was cast as Jesse Pinkman.

As Aaron Paul put it, Vince Gilligan “gave me a chance when, quite frankly, no one else would.” And we’re lucky that Vince Gilligan had this intuition because audiences cannot picture anyone else as Jesse Pinkman. Furthermore, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the random, hilarious sightings of Cranston and Paul at Costcos nationwide handing out tequila samples!.[3]

7 Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Best of Katniss in the Arena | The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games franchise took America by storm when the first movie was released in 2012, launching Jennifer Lawrence from indie movies into stardom. Her red-carpet interviews and charming clumsiness gained Lawrence a loyal fanbase and widespread recognition—but would you believe she almost turned down the role?

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Jennifer Lawrence explains that she “almost didn’t agree to do Hunger Games because she was worried about the immense fandom that could come with it.” The actress was more interested in starring in indie films and having a more laid-back celebrity status instead. However, upon changing her mind and accepting the role, Lawrence did not lose her down-to-earth attitude after her stunning performance in the franchise![4]

9 Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Daniel Radcliffe on Playing Harry Potter | Wizarding World

When people think of Harry Potter, it’s hard not to picture Daniel Radcliffe immediately. However, Radcliffe’s parents almost halted the franchise’s magic due to the franchise’s high volume of films. Being only eleven years old, Radcliffe’s parents were concerned about how the workload would impact his childhood. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Radcliffe told the interviewer, “At the time, the deal was to sign on for—I think—six films, all to be done in L.A., and my mum and dad simply said, ‘That’s too much disruption to his life. That’s not gonna happen.’”

Fortunately, Radcliffe’s parents had a change of heart after receiving a revised deal. Thus, Radcliffe was given the go-ahead to audition and brought Harry Potter’s iconic role to theaters worldwide, with the franchise becoming a smash-hit global sensation![5]

5 Chris Hemsworth as Thor

With his muscular, rugged demeanor, most assume that Chris Hemsworth was a shoo-in for the role of Thor. Surprisingly, Chris was almost usurped for the role by his brother, Liam Hemsworth. In a W Magazine interview, Chris reminisced on his audition process for the Marvel franchise, recalling that after his audition, Chris heard nothing except that his brother was getting called back to audition.

It’s no surprise that Chris became disheartened after hearing that his younger sibling was called back to audition while he was hearing radio silence. However, months later, after hearing that none of the people in the mix were cast as Thor, Hemsworth’s manager reached out to the Thor production team, and things were back in motion!

Hemsworth described his second audition as being very different from his initial audition, saying, “I came in kind of with a little, I guess, motivation and maybe frustration that my little brother had gotten further than me. It’s a little family, sibling rivalry sort of kicked up in me.” After that audition, Hemsworth had affirmed himself as perfect for the role in Thor, and the film proceeded quickly from that point on. Hemsworth’s experience shows that sibling rivalry can go a long way, even for A-list celebrities![6]

4 Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson

leonardo dicaprio as jack dawson | titanic | logoless scene pack

Titanic, the captivating movie based on real-life events, launched Leonardo DiCaprio into ultra-stardom. However, DiCaprio’s demeanor during his audition almost sunk his chances of playing Jack Dawson. A Variety interview with Titanic’s filmmaker, James Cameron, details the young actor’s audition process. In his initial screen test, Cameron recalls that DiCaprio was under the impression that he was only there to meet his co-star, Kate Winslet.

Cameron told the story from his perspective: “He said, ‘You mean, I’m reading?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t read.’ I shook his hand and said, ‘Thanks for coming by.’” Despite DiCaprio’s charm and acting prowess, Cameron was prepared to disregard DiCaprio for the role, telling him, “So, you’re going to read, or you’re not getting the part.” As reluctant as DiCaprio was, the actor agreed to read. James Cameron described the process, saying, “So he comes in, and he’s like every ounce of his entire being is just so negative—right up until I said, ‘Action.’ Then he turned into Jack… Dark clouds had opened up, and a ray of sun came down and lit up Jack. I’m like, ‘All right. He’s the guy.’”

James Cameron’s premonition turned out to be correct. Still, Leonardo DiCaprio’s close call to missing out on starring in Titanic proves that no matter how good of an actor someone is, they can’t count on their previous credits to land them a role![7]

3 Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp

The Sound Of Music(1965) – “My Favorite Things”

Actress Julie Andrews has collected a wide array of credits throughout her successful career, but one of her most titular roles was the role of Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music. However, in her autobiography titled Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews revealed that she almost abstained from starring in the iconic role.

Before The Sound of Music, Andrews had experience with being cast in a nanny role, as she had starred in Mary Poppins shortly before. Thus, she was concerned about being typecast as a nanny if she were to take on The Sound of Music as well, stating, “It would be my second nanny role, almost on the heels of the first.” However, after encouragement from her friends and colleagues, Andrews accepted the role of Maria, blessing countless viewers with Maria’s sunny disposition and beautiful voice.[8]

2 Chris Evans as Captain America

best of steve rogers

Would you believe it if we said that Chris Evans’s mom is why audiences can enjoy Chris Evans as Captain America? Well, believe it! Before starring in the Marvel franchise, Chris Evans enjoyed his time starring in smaller, irreverent movies. Despite his smaller-scale roles on screen, Chris Evans was offered the role of Captain America—no audition needed.

In an Esquire interview, Lisa Evans, Chris Evans’s mom, revealed that Chris initially turned down Marvel’s mouthwatering offer, fearing becoming too famous. Esquire details her experience, stating, “‘His biggest fear was losing his anonymity,’ Lisa recalls. ‘He said, ‘I have a career now where I can do work I really like. I can walk my dog. Nobody bothers me. Nobody wants to talk to me. I can go wherever I want. And the idea of losing that is terrifying to me.’”

Luckily, Evans’s mother convinced him to take the part, telling him the role would only enable his acting career, not harm it. So we have Chris Evans’s mom to thank for giving us the ability to view Chris Evans in his iconic role of Captain America![9]

1 Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Elle Woods being iconic for almost 5mins | Legally Blonde

The infamous portrayal of Harvard lawyer Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, with her iconic brains and beauty, has Reese Witherspoon to thank. However, prior to Legally Blonde, Witherspoon starred in Election, a dark comedy where she played a compulsive overachiever, and unfortunately, she played her role too well.

According to an Entertainment Tonight interview, Reese Witherspoon stated, “‘They thought I was a shrew,’ she says of studio execs. ‘My manager finally called and said, ‘You’ve got to go meet with the studio head because he will not approve you. He thinks you really are your character from Election and that you’re repellent.’”

Luckily, Witherspoon trusted her acting chops and entered her audition fully in character as Elle Woods, convincing the executives that she was exactly like the character. Witherspoon reflected, “I remember a room full of men who were asking me questions about being a co-ed and being in a sorority…even though I had dropped out of college four years earlier and I have never been inside a sorority house.” Therefore, Witherspoon was cast in the role, blessing us with the iconic quote: “What, like it’s hard?”[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

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