Top 10 Alternate Casting Choices in Film
Script written by Aaron Cameron. You know them, you love them, and you couldn’t imagine movies without them – but you should try. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 alternate casting choices in film. For this list, we’re taking a look at actors who were at one point considered for iconic movie roles that later went to other people. In most of these cases, had the original actors been cast it would’ve made for a very different movie… Special thanks to our users Deathmatch1959, Andrew A. Dennison, Chance Ellison and aldqbigsquare for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.com/suggest
Top 10 Alternate Casting Choices in Film
You know them, you love them, and you couldn’t imagine things without them – but you should try. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 alternate casting choices in film.
For this list, we’re taking a look at actors who were at one point considered for iconic movie roles that later went to other people. In most of these cases, had the original actors been cast it would’ve made for a very different movie…
#10: Burt Reynolds as James Bond
When Sean Connery walked away from the James Bond series after five films, producers scrambled to find someone to fill his big, bespoke shoes. Burt Reynolds was approached, but turned the role down by saying an American couldn’t play the quintessentially British secret agent; producers hired unknown Australian George Lazenby instead. When the Aussie quit after one film, another Yank was tapped: West, Adam West. But Batman declined the part for the same reason as Reynolds, allowing Connery to resume the role.
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969)
#9: Sylvester Stallone as Axel Foley
Initially, plastic surgery aficionado Mickey Rourke was attached to star in this action-comedy; but when his holding contract expired producers asked Rocky himself. Sly thought it would be a pretty good film, except for all that damned comedy. So he rewrote the script as an action flick, but this caused budget problems, since comedy (unlike action) is cheap. Stallone was then allowed to leave and take his reworked script with him, allowing Eddie Murphy to step in. Oh, and Stallone’s script? It’s called “Cobra.”
“Beverly Hills Cop” (1984)
#8: Sean Connery as Gandalf the Grey
Armed with both a beard and a happenin’ accent, Connery has everything it takes to be a killer Gandalf. However, the former Bond turned down the role for a very simple reason: he didn’t understand the script. Although that move made him the only person brave enough to admit not getting the whole Hobbit thing, it was pricey decision as the films were hugely successful and led to another trilogy. We can’t be sure if Ian McKellen gets the story, but he sure seems okay with it.
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)
#7: John Travolta as Forrest Gump
Travolta passed on this iconic rom-com-dram despite being a top pick for the part, and despite having been in a string of duds. Sure, “Pulp Fiction” restored his career that same year; but it’s just one of the many classic roles the actor didn’t accept. Other Travolta pass-overs include “American Gigolo,” “Chicago,” and “Apollo 13.” As for “Gump,” Chevy Chase and Bill Murray also turned it down before Tom Hanks took the role. Weirder still is Gump author Winston Groom’s pick: John Goodman.
“Forrest Gump” (1994)
#6: Will Smith as Neo
This flick’s about to get real. Real jiggy. Yes, before Keanu Reeves whoa’d his way into “The Matrix,” the Fresh Prince himself was offered the lead in this mind-bender. Smith has no regrets about passing on Neo, citing Reeves’ bullet time awesomeness in the film. While there are rumors that Ewan McGregor also turned down the iconic role, he denies this, speculating if there were truth to the rumor it’d be his agent’s fault. His agent, “Failie McBalldropper,” was not available for comment.
“The Matrix” (1999)
#5: Christopher Walken as Han Solo
Walken was a leading contender for this iconic role, as were Nick Nolte and Al Pacino. Also considered at various points were Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, James Caan, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell, James Woods, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Steve Martin, and anyone who wasn’t Harrison Ford. George Lucas had previously used and liked Ford in “American Graffiti” but wanted new faces for his space opera. Although Lucas denied Ford an audition, he did hire him to read Solo’s part during audition sessions before giving in and just casting him.
“Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977)
#4: Nicolas Cage as Superman
There was a lot of buzz around this Kevin Smith-penned script in 1996. Things started off well with beefy pay-or-play contacts issued for both director Tim Burton and Nic Cage as the would-be Clark Kent. Kevin Spacey meanwhile was tapped to play Lex Luthor, and Tim Allen and Jim Carrey were each in the running for Brainiac. A 1998 release date was set to tie in with Supe’s 60th anniversary; but by April of that year production was halted after $30-million was spent on the non-film.
“Superman Lives” (not produced)
#3: Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly
Unlike most alternate casting choices in our list, Stoltz actually spent several weeks filming “Back to the Future.” However, a month into production director Robert Zemeckis and Stoltz himself decided the actor wasn’t quite right for the part and producers finally secured their first pick, Michael J. Fox. Fox then had to balance night shooting of the film with daytime shooting of his sitcom “Family Ties.” However, a tiny smidgen of Stoltz’s McFly does remain in the film – he drives the DeLorean away from the Libyans. Yeah, we can’t tell it’s him either.
“Back to the Future” (1985)
#2: O.J. Simpson as The Terminator
Along with eventual futuristic cyborg Arnold Schwarzenegger, O.J. Simpson was a studio top pick for the title role in “The Terminator.” Simpson’s sweet dreams of robot stardom were dashed by director James Cameron, who felt the former running back was just too darn nice to play a cold-blooded killer. Juice was then best known for his football days and the occasional TV commercial. It would be many years before the shocking event that made him a household name: his supporting role in “The Naked Gun” series.
“The Terminator” (1984)
Before we cast our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Robin Williams as Jack Torrance “The Shining” (1980)
- Tom Cruise as Tony Stark “Iron Man” (2008)
- Matthew McConaughey as Jack Dawson “Titanic” (1997)
- Jennifer Lawrence as Bella Swan “Twilight” (2008)
- Jim Carrey as Jack Sparrow “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)
#1: Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones
Dun-dun-da-da, dun-dun-da-da-wah? As with “Star Wars,” George Lucas was hesitant to re-use Harrison Ford and opted for the somewhat fresher face of Tom Selleck. Although Selleck was interested and even screen-tested for the role, he couldn’t accept it due to his commitment to the then-unaired “Magnum, P.I.” Lucas buckled again and cast Ford just three weeks before production began. Ironically, Selleck could’ve accepted both parts had he of known “Magnum” would be delayed for over six months because of a writers’ strike.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)
Do you agree with our list? What stars would you have preferred to see in your favorite roles? For more brain-melting Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.