Let’s be honest; most of us have our favorite characters by now. So what if we told you that some of the most iconic characters were meant to be played by someone else?
When you think of the most beloved character of all time, who comes to mind? Perhaps it’s someone who’s appeared in our lives in the last few years? Maybe you think of someone who has been around for as long as we can remember? Whatever the case, some of the most iconic characters of all time have earned a special place in the history books. Many think of superheroes as some of the top characters, with Superman often ranking near the top of the list. Clark Kent has been brought to life by a host of actors over the years, meaning there’s someone for most people.
James Bond is another who has earned the title of being one of the most iconic characters in the world. 007 has often been the topic of debate as people try to argue out who is the best actor behind the secret agent after all this time. While we might never have an answer, it turns out that some of our favorite characters were actually meant to be played by someone else. That’s right; there was a time that someone else could have been the face of the ones we’ve grown to love after all these years.
Kate Micucci almost had a much larger part in Raising Hope
‘Raising Hope’ is one of the newer sitcoms on the market, but it wasn’t long before it earned a special place in many of our hearts. Kate Micucci does appear in the series. However, she was supposed to have a much larger part in the show as producers hoped Kate could play one of the family’s cousins.
Remember the time they had a cousin living in their house? Although they were brought to life by Skylar Stone, this wasn’t Kate’s only shot at appearing in the series. The actress ultimately settled on the recurring part of Shelly, the babysitter, who appeared a host of times throughout the series. It seems still working with the cast was enough to mean there was no bad blood.
Claire Danes was offered the part of Rose in Titanic
Starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the romantic drama ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was enough to catapult Claire Danes and her co-star to stardom. However, one of them ran with it more than the other. Claire told Dax Shepard that she wasn’t ready to act alongside the star again just yet, even though she was asked to play the part of Rose in the drama ‘Titanic.’
The actress added that the pair shared the same manager and her part in the movie could have been hers at the drop of a hat. Sadly, it seemed that Claire didn’t want the fame that Leonardo had somehow achieved overnight and thought it was best to skip out on the movie. Amazingly, Claire has no regrets about turning down the role.
Gwyneth Paltrow was one of the final ones in line to play Rose in Titanic
Landing the part in ‘Titanic’ saw Kate Winslet become an overnight star. After all, the movie was the highest-grossing film of all time at the box office for several years as people couldn’t get enough of it all. The story of Rose and Jack will forever go down as one of Hollywood’s greatest moments, and it was all thanks to Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate.
However, the actress almost missed out on the part yet again – and it was all thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow. The star told Howard Stern that the story has been twisted as she didn’t directly turn it down. Apparently, Gwyneth was one of the final two up for the part, but the team ultimately chose Kate for the role.
Lindsay Lohan’s age was a problem for playing Jade in the Hangover
Sadly, Lindsay Lohan has earned quite the reputation in Hollywood for being a difficult person on set and is something that’s followed her around ever since. Most people knew that the comedy ‘The Hangover’ was always going to be a success as it featured some of the most talented – and hilarious – actors of the time and brought something new to the table.
Amazingly, it wasn’t Lindsay’s behavior that saw her walk away from the movie; it was her age. Director Todd Phillips wanted to set the record straight as he says LiLo never rejected the part; he just merely thought the then 20-year-old star was too immature for the tone they were trying to set, so the part of Jade was handed to Heather Graham.
Jaleel White almost played Ruby on The Cosby Show
Did you know that Rudy from the sitcom ‘The Cosby Show’ was originally written for a boy? That’s right; there were supposed to be two sons in the family, and the part was meant to be brought to life by none other than Jaleel White. The producers lined up the young star and supposedly had everything in place before they decided to open up the auditions to girls and see what happened.
That’s when Keshia Knight Pulliam walked onto the set and changed everything. As well as adding more dynamics to the show, Keisha also helped start an incredible career for herself. As if that wasn’t enough, some fear that Jaeleel might not have become Steve Urkel if he landed a part in ‘The Cosby Show.’
SATC wanted Sandra Bernhard to play Miranda in the show
Sometimes, things have a way of working out for the best. That might have been the case for Sandra Bernhard and the role that could have been in the comedy-drama series ‘SATC.’ It turns out the producers always wanted Sandra to play the role of Miranda in the show, but the actress had other ideas.
Her wit and talents meant she could have brought the lawyer to life with ease. Plus, some think that Sandra’s input might have added some charm to the character in the first few seasons. Sadly, the show wasn’t an instant hit in Sandra’s mind, and they didn’t have the bucks to make up her mind. The star didn’t want to move to NYC and ultimately turned down ‘SATC.’
Russell Crowe could have made millions of dollars as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings
The fantasy ‘The Lord of the Rings’ franchise has gone down as one of the most popular of all time. Of course, many of us know Aragorn as none other than Viggo Mortensen, but did you know the character was once set to be played by none other than Russell Crowe? That’s right; the actor opened up about it all to Howard Stern.
Apparently, Russell was offered 10% of the movie’s profit, meaning he could have walked away with around $100 million as a result. That doesn’t mean Russell regrets turning down the part. He told the host that he felt the director was forced to talk to him at the time as Russell Crowe was a household name and “everybody wanted me in everything.”
Kate Winslet rejected Shakespeare In Love to work on independent movies
It turns out that even though Kate Winslet has beaten some major names to roles in the past, the actress has also been on the receiving end of missing out on some characters. That was the case for Kate when she hoped to appear in the period comedy-drama movie ‘Shakespeare in Love.’ The producers were keen to get the new star signed up for the part of Viola de Lesseps, but she had other ideas.
Apparently, Kate rejected the role because she wanted to work on more independent films following the success of ‘Titanic’ from the previous year. Although it seems Kate doesn’t have any regrets, Gwyneth Paltrow – the actress who eventually got the part – did win an Oscar for her impressive performance.
Johnny Depp was the director’s choice in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Although the movie came out in 1986, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t love the comedy movie ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ After all, the star of the film lived a dream that many of us wanted to make come true and went about it in the most hilarious way. Matthew Broderick’s most prominent role still comes from playing the title character, but he wasn’t the director’s first choice.
It’s said John Hughes actually wanted to sign Johnny Depp up as the leading role. Sadly, the actor was busy with other projects, and scheduling conflicts meant they could never make it work. In the end, the part was handed to Matthew, who played it so well that it’s tough to imagine anyone else on our screens.
Lisa Kudrow almost became the queen of sitcoms with a part in Frazier, too
There is something about Lisa Kudrow that leaves many always wanting more. The actress is best known for her time in the sitcom ‘Friends,’ but that’s not all she’s achieved over the years. Believe it or not, but Lisa could have once been a part of the sitcom ‘Frazier,’ too. Here, the actress was supposed to play the part of Roz Doyle and even appeared at several screen readings.
That was until the creator of the show realized that things weren’t quite right. Lisa is known for her peppy and upbeat personality, something that didn’t quite gel with the star of the show, actor Kelsey Grammer. Lisa was out, and it was time for Peri Gilpin to take her place instead.
Dana Delany could have played Carrie Bradshaw instead of Sarah Jessica Parker
There are iconic characters, and then there’s Carrie Bradshaw from the comedy-drama ‘SATC.’ The fashion-loving star of the show has gone down as one of the most memorable of all time, and her chemistry with her friends – and relationship with Mr. Big – kept people coming back for years. Apparently, writer and show creator Darren Star is friends with Dana Delany and thought she would be the best fit for the lead character.
Sadly, Dana had other ideas as she had already appeared in unsuccessful love-filled movies and worried the show could be yet another venture to add to the list. Ultimately, Sarah Jessica Parker was cast as Carrie and made the part her own in ways that no one ever imagined.
Emilia Clark publicly rejected a part in the 50 Shades of Grey franchise
It didn’t take long for the team working on the romantic ‘50 Shades of Grey’ to realize they had a problem: they needed to find someone who was willing to get pretty up close and personal with their co-star. After all, the stories follow the wild ride of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, and it looked as though Emilia Clark was the only woman for the role.
At least, that’s what several people thought as the actress wrapped up her time on the drama series ‘Game of Thrones.’ Emilia was known to have some open scenes in the show, and she knew that signing up to the movie could have seen her typecast as one character for the rest of her career.
Julia Roberts agreed to play Viola de Lesseps, but things fell apart
There was something about ‘Shakespeare In Love’ and wanting every actress other than Gwyneth Paltrow to play the part of Viola in the movie. It turns out the producers also hoped that Julia Roberts would sign up for the leading role. Julia was one of the hottest names at the time, a title she’s held onto for many years, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Gwyneth Paltrow told Variety that Julia actually agreed to the role for a long time, and the movie was almost good to go before things fell apart and it never happened. Eventually, after a few changes behind the scenes, they offered the part to Gwyneth, and the rest is history. Things turned out alright for Paltrow in the end!
Al Pacino was the first one on the list to play Han Solo
It looked as though getting a part in ‘Star Wars’ was easy pickings if you were one of the top actors in Hollywood at the time. Apparently, the studios were keen to get just about anyone to play the part of Han Solo, including Al Pacino. Yes, the former movie mob boss could have taken to space if he liked, as the actor told the Telegraph the role was “mine for the taking.”
Sadly, Al Pacino didn’t understand the script and thought it was all a bit too “out there.” Although Harrison Ford ultimately played Han Solo, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, and Jack Nicholson were all considered for the role first. Maybe Pacino did appear in a version in a galaxy far, far away?
Louie Anderson was Cousin Lou in the original Perfect Strangers
Sitcoms have often landed a special place in our hearts. ‘Perfect Strangers’ is no exception as the highly successful show ran for eight seasons until 1993. The show followed Larry and Balki as the two distant cousins learn to live alongside one another. Still, the chemistry could have been very different if Louie Anderson got the part of Cousin Larry instead.
The comedian was first cast as the leading role, known as Cousin Lou at the time, and appeared in a pilot before he was swapped out for Mark Linn-Baker. Little is known about the pilot, so no one really knows how different the show could have been, but we do know Louie was snapped dressed and ready for the part.
Dana Delany could have played Bree Van de Kamp in Desperate Housewives
Dana Delany is a talented actress who has appeared in a host of productions throughout her career. In the end, she landed a spot in the drama series’ Desperate Housewives.’ However, she almost had a much larger part than she imagined. That’s right; Dana was approached about playing Bree Van de Kamp, aka one of the show’s leading faces.
However, Dana was just wrapping up her work on the canceled soap opera ‘Pasadena,’ and it seemed she didn’t want something so major. Thankfully, Dana still had a place in the series as she landed the part of Catherine Mayfair, giving her a chance to delve into a character with several layers. Of course, the part of Bree went to Marcia Cross.
Justin Timberlake was in line to play Elton John since 2001
To play a musician, you must become a musician, right? Thankfully, Justin Timberlake had all the training he would have needed to play Elton John in the biographical movie ‘Rocket Man’ as he’s a talented singer with a hefty acting career to his name. However, things weren’t meant to be. Elton’s husband, David Furnish, worked as the producer on the movie and always had Justin in mind.
In fact, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he wanted Justin to play Elton from the moment he saw the singer in his 2001 music video for ‘The Train Don’t Stop There Anymore.’ Unfortunately, things didn’t work out between David, Elton, and Justin, as the three never crossed paths at the right time.
Christina Applegate was first asked to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde
It’s hard to imagine a world where anyone other than Reese Witherspoon plays Elle Woods. Believe it or not, but that was almost the case as Christina Applegate was first in line to take the starring role of the comedy movie ‘Legally Blonde.’ The film has given us plenty of iconic moments and is still one of Hollywood’s highly praised pieces, so what happened?
It all started because Christina had just finished working on the sitcom ‘Married… with Children.’ The actress admitted that she was worried about taking too many “dumb blonde” roles as she felt it would see her typecast for the rest of her career. Although she mildly regrets missing out on the moment, Christina believes it was Reese’s role all along.
Anne Hathaway chose to walk away from Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence is a name that’s been on many people’s lips in the last few years as the actress continued to prove time and time again that she’s a real force to be reckoned with. However, she almost didn’t get to walk away with an Oscar thanks to her performance in the comedy-drama ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ as she wasn’t the first pick.
That actually went to Anne Hathaway. It turns out that Anne was keen to take part, but she ultimately left the movie, stating there were “creative differences” with director David O. Russell. Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad for Anne as the actress walked away with her very own Oscar the same year after her time in the musical drama ‘Les Misérables.’
Rachel Dratch played Jenna in the first pilot of 30 Rock
If there is one thing that many actors have learned, it’s that pilots don’t always mean you’re going to keep your spot in the show. After all, the pilot episode is all about learning what works – and who might need their marching orders. The sitcom ‘30 Rock’ is yet another that went through plenty of rewrites before settling on a final version, but there was one thing to do: test the waters.
Rachel Dratch was initially supposed to be a major part of the show as the ‘Saturday Night Live’ star was cast as Jenna DeCarlo in the series. That was until the show started to rethink Jenna’s role and decided to transform the character into Jenna Maroney, played by Jane Krakowski.
Calista Flockhart was the first choice for Susan Mayer in Desperate Housewives
The drama ‘Desperate Housewives’ might have focused on the leading women in the show, but there were plenty of amazing supporting characters along the way. That didn’t stop many from falling in love with the leading ladies, including Susan Mayer, played by Teri Hatcher. The actress already had plenty of roles under her belt, including a part alongside 007.
What more could the show want? That seemed to be the case as the show ultimately chose Teri over their first choice, Calista Flockhart. Thankfully, Calista already had a successful run as the leading face of the legal comedy-drama ‘Ally McBeal.’ Perhaps it was her time as the female lawyer left the producers wondering if she could bring another major character to life?
Meryl Streep was devastated to lose Patsy Cline to Jessica Lange
Even being nominated for 19 Oscars hasn’t guaranteed Meryl Streep every acting job she wants to get her hands on. That was proven in 1985 when Meryl was desperate to play the lead in the musical drama ‘Sweet Dreams.’ The film told the life of one of the actress’ favorite country singers, Patsy Cline, and she was even good friends with the director, Karel Reisz.
Meryl thought she had everything she needed to play Patsy, but it wasn’t meant to be. The actress ultimately lost the part to Jessica Lange, but she had a plan. Merely was working on another movie at the time, so she told Karel the least he could do was let her stay in his house – which he did.
Jack Nicholson rejected the part of Michael in The Godfather
We’ll give you a moment to name a more iconic movie than the crime movie ‘The Godfather.’ Stuck? You’re not alone. The movie will forever be one of the greatest the world has ever seen, but it could have been very different if Jack Nicholson took the part of mob boss Michael Corleone. That’s right; the star was offered the part long before Al Pacino was even an option.
However, Jack didn’t think he was the right fit. Apparently, he was at a stage in his acting career when he believed Italians should be the ones playing Italians, no one else. However, Jack later reflected that he knows he could have brought Michael to life, even though Al Pacino played the part to perfection.
Molly Ringwald doesn’t remember rejecting the part of Vivian in Pretty Woman
Molly Ringwald rose to fame in the 1980s thanks to her time as a coming-of-age actress who appeared in a host of movies throughout the decade. It looked as though she had a chance to break away from her previous roles when she was asked to appear in the intriguingly named ‘$3,000,’ a movie later known as ‘Pretty Woman.’
Of course, many of us now know it as the incredible hit that helped to turn Julia Roberts into even more of a household name. Amazingly, Molly says that she can’t remember specifically turning down the role of Vivian in the film. However, she knows that Julia is “what makes that movie.” Thankfully, things seemed to work out in the end.
Thomas Jane was always on the producers’ minds for Don in Mad Men
Let’s get one thing straight: Jon Hamm is the one and only Don Draper. The actor appeared in almost 100 episodes of the period drama ‘Mad Men’ and walked away with a host of awards for his effort. Believe it or not, but Jon was pretty unknown before he landed the role of Don as he’d only appeared in a handful of shows with a few leading roles along the way.
Sadly, that was the problem. Apparently, the ‘Mad Men’ producers weren’t keen on taking a chance on someone so inexperienced, leaving them looking for someone a little more experienced. That’s where Thomas Jane was supposed to step in as the team pinned their hopes on the star signing up to the show.
Rob Lowe almost played McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy before he turned down the part
The medical drama show ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has gone down as one of the most successful of all time. There’s something about watching surgeons fight for someone’s life and learning about the weird and wonderful ailments in the world that has kept people on the edge of their seats for many years. Of course, that’s all before you get to the character drama part of it all.
McDreamy has gone down as an all-time favorite, with Patrick Dempsey the one lucky enough to bring the neurosurgeon to life. However, the part was once offered to Rob Lowe as the show thought he would be the perfect fit for the part. That was until Rob decided to focus his attention on the short-lived drama show ‘Dr. Vegas.’
Joe Alwyn almost appeared in the beloved movie Love Actually
It might not have been a huge part to play, but Sam from the rom-com ‘Love Actually’ is a character from one of the most beloved movies of all time. The role went to Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who has continued to work on his successful acting career ever since.
That’s not before actor Joe Alwyn was brought in for the part as he opened up about the experience during an interview on ‘Live with Kelly and Ryan.’ Here, Joe explained that he got to skip school to go to the audition and appeared at plenty of workshops in the hopes of getting the part. Although he got to meet Hugh Grant, Joe never secured the part and was forced to walk away.
John Travolta was supposed to be the face of Forrest Gump
It turns out John Travolta and Tom Hanks were going to cross paths plenty of times throughout 1994, and it all started with ‘Forrest Gump.’ The movie was unlike anything many had ever seen at the time, and it gave Tom a chance to prove his talents even more than before. The actor was already a huge star. Starring as the title character did nothing but boost his career.
However, the part was actually first offered to John Travolta, who rejected the role – and lived to regret the decision. Thankfully, things took a better turn when John was cast in ‘Pulp Fiction’ the same year. The best bit? Both actors were up for the Best Actor award at the Oscars, but only one could succeed – and it was Tom.
Rumer Willis was the network’s choice to play Serena van der Woodsen
The teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’ turned stars like Blake Lively into Hollywood superstars. It wasn’t long before the actress landed a host of further movie roles and moved on to some pretty prominent projects. However, it all started on the small screen. So what if Blake never landed the role of Serena van der Woodsen and didn’t get her chance to shine?
That was almost the case as the casting director David Rapaport revealed the network wanted Rumer Willis to be the star of the series. Although Rumer probably would have nailed the starring part, many can’t imagine a world where Blake isn’t the New York it-girl followed by drama that many of us came to love over the years.
Jeff Yagher got to play Tommy Hanson first in 21 Jump Street
Throughout the years, Jeff Yagher has appeared as a host of familiar faces. However, the actor’s most prominent role is still from his early days as Kyle Bates in the sci-fi series ‘V.’ It looked as though Jeff was supposed to have another claim to fame as the actor was up for the part of Tommy Hanson in the police procedural series ‘21 Jump Street.’
He even played the character in the pilot episode, but the part ultimately went to Johnny Depp instead. Apparently, Johnny was worried about signing up for a TV show, so they offered Tommy to someone else. That was until Johnny decided it was time to make his mark on the small screen and signed up to play Tommy after all.
Nicole Kidman missed out on Notting Hill thanks to Julia Roberts
Nicole Kidman has appeared in a whole host of successful movies and TV shows throughout her career. It might be easy to think that she has her pick of them all, right? Well, it turns out that things aren’t always that easy, even if you are one of Hollywood’s best. Nicole ultimately ended up starring alongside actor Hugh Grant in the thriller show ‘The Undoing.’
However, the actress always thought she was set to get the part of Anna Scott in the rom-com ‘Notting Hill.’ The best bit? Nicole also hoped she would appear alongside Hugh in the rom-com ‘Love Actually,’ but it seemed their paths were never set to cross. In the end, the part of Anna was handed to Julia Roberts instead.
Alden Ehrenreich would have played Dan Humphrey if he were taller
The teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’ has hooked many of us over the years. Have no fear; there are no spoilers here, but we can talk about how Penn Badgley was first introduced to the world as none other than Dan Humphrey on the show. Dan was always a leading figure on the show, and it helped pave a successful career for Penn, especially with his latest drama ‘You’ in the works.
So what if he never got the part? That would have been the case if director David Rapaport had his way. He told Entertainment Tonight that he was desperate to welcome Alden Ehrenreich to the show and thought he would make the perfect Dan, but producers thought he was too short next to Blake Lively.
Miles Teller was let go from La La Land due to scheduling conflicts
It’s easy to think of the Oscars when thinking about the romantic musical ‘La La Land.’ However, the film was also a huge hit away from the mistake at the awards ceremony and gave people a chance to see Ryan Gosling in a whole new light. It turns out Miles Teller was always the one who was supposed to play Sebastian in the film, but the studio decided things were too much and moved on without him.
Apparently, Miles was working on the war comedy ‘War Dogs’ at the same time and considered walking away from the project to focus on ‘La La Land.’ Sadly, that choice was taken out of his hands when Miles was let go, something he will never forget.
Emma Watson almost played Mia in La La Land
It turns out that ‘La La Land’ had plenty of changes throughout the six years it took to make. For one, the stars of it all weren’t supposed to be played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. That’s right; Emma Watson was actually cast in the female leading role opposite Miles Teller, which could have led to a very different movie.
No one really knows why Emma Watson was given the chop, but it’s a role she never got to see through to the end. However, that didn’t mean things were all bad for the actress. Emma finally got her chance to find work away from the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise as she was cast as Belle in the live-action remake of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’
Riff Regan played Willow in the pilot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The drama series ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ followed the life of Buffy Summers, brought to life by Sarah Michelle Geller, as she took down the bad guys and tried to protect the ones she loved. While many of us were wrapped up in the way Sarah brought the title character to life, others were captivated by the supporting roles throughout the series.
Willow Rosenberg is one on the list as the character went from a sweet girl to an evil super witch with none other than Alyson Hannigan at the helm. Amazingly, Riff Regan was once up for the part, and it looked as though she was set to take it all the way as the actress played Willow in the pilot.