Cast Aside: Actors Who Almost Had the Part

It's hard to imagine these actors were nearly cast in these iconic roles.

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In this photo provided by Tri-Star Pictures, Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone are shown in the film "Basic Instinct," 1992. (AP Photo/Tri-Star Pictures)
Who could forget "Basic Instinct"? Sharon Stone was on fire as a murder suspect having an affair with the police detective investigating her, played by Michael Douglas.
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Kelly McGillis, who steamed up the screen in "Top Gun" in 1986, was considered for the role of Catherine Tramell in 1992's "Basic Instinct." Kelly Lynch and Mariel Hemingway were also considered for the role that ended up launching Sharon Stone's career.
The cast of "Seinfeld" came to be inseparable from their characters. Michael Richards as Kramer, Jason Alexander as George Costanza, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine Benes and Jerry Seinfeld as -- who else? -- Jerry Seinfeld.
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Jason Alexander threw fits as only George Costanza could. But several other actors were considered for the role before Alexander landed it, including Danny DeVito, Nathan Lane and David Alan Grier.
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Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey will be forever known as dance instructor Johnny Castle and good girl-turned-bad Baby Houseman.
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Val Kilmer was considered for the role of Johnny. Dude looks pretty bummed that he didn't get the part. Nobody puts Swayze in a corner!
New Line Cinema
EMPTY_CAPTION"Lord of the Rings" was already in production when Viggo Mortensen was brought in at the last minute. Mortensen was hesitant to take the role, but his son was such a big fan of Tolkien's that he persuaded his father to go to New Zealand.
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In fact, a few days into shooting, Stuart Townsend, the original Strider/Aragorn, was replaced when Peter Jackson decided he needed an older actor to play the part. Enter Viggo Mortensen, the only possible king.
Jack Nicholson played Jack Torrance in Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining." The film follows a family snowed-in in a remote hotel. Winter has never been so scary.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Heeeere's Johnny!" would have taken on an entirely different timbre had it been uttered by Robin Williams, who was considered for the role along with Robert DeNiro. In fact, the line might never have existed because it was improvised by Nicholson.
Touchstone Pictures
The pairing of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in "Pretty Woman" seemed like a match made in heaven. However they almost never were ...
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Roberts' fellow redhead Molly Ringwald was initially offered the role of Vivian Ward, but she turned it down.
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Al Pacino and Christopher Reeve were both considered for the part of Edward Lewis, which went to Gere.
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Meet the Bluths. Here's the cast of "Arrested Development," including a baby-faced Michael Cera. Can you imagine anyone else playing these parts? Well...
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The role of n'er-do-well magician G.O.B. -- an acronym for George Oscar Bluth II-- almost went to Rainn Wilson instead of Will Arnett. It's a good thing it didn't. Who would have played Dwight Schrute on "The Office"?!
Joey, Pheobe, Ross, Monica, Rachel and Chandler. It's hard to imagine any other actors in their roles. "Friends" made the careers of its stars, who were relatively unknown at the time.
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Tea Leoni was cast as Rachel Green before Jennifer Aniston got the role. Aniston devoted 10 years of her life to the role; she played the emotional shopaholic from September 1994 to May 2004.
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Jon Cryer and Jon Favreau both turned down the role of Chandler Bing before it went to Matthew Perry. Bet they're regretting that!
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Courtney Cox was offered the role of Rachel, but turned it down because she wanted to play Monica Geller instead. But before Cox became Monica, both Janeane Garofalo and Jamie Gertz were asked to play the neat freak chef.
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What would the Harry Potter movies be without the droll and intimidating Severus Snape? On the far right is the man who brought him alive, Alan Rickman.
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But the role of Hogwarts' mysterious Potions professor was originally offered to Tim Roth, who would later show off his villain chops in the 2008 version of "The Incredible Hulk."
Before he shrunk the kids, Canadian goofball Rick Moranis played nerdy "keymaster" Louis Tully in "Ghostbusters." Here he is in May 1994, sans slime. But Moranis wasn't the first choice to play Sigourney Weaver's grating neighbor...
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... it was originally meant to be...John Candy?! Writers/stars Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis originally envisioned Candy as Tully, albeit a much different Tully than Moranis' scrawny accountant.
Orion Pictures
Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were perfectly paired in "Silence of the Lambs" as a psychopathic cannibal and the young FBI agent sent to solicit his help.
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But the role nearly went to Michelle Pfeiffer, who turned it down because she thought the film was too violent. Jodie Foster won a Golden Globe and Oscar for her performance as Clarice Starling.
Paramount Pictures
EMPTY_CAPTION"I'm gonna make him an offer he won't refuse." Thus spake Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's Academy Award winning film "The Godfather."
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Ernest Borgnine, Orson Welles and George C. Scott were all considered for the part of Don Vito Corleone. Marlon Brando won an Academy Award for his performance.
EMPTY_CAPTION"I hate snakes." Harrison Ford played Indiana Jones, the hard boiled archaeologist, in a role that spanned decades.
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Magnum P.I. was almost Indiana Jones. During casting for "Raiders of the Lost Ark," Steven Spielberg wanted Harrison Ford to play the lead. But writer/producer George Lucas was pushing for the No. 2 choice: Tom Selleck.
Twentieth Century-Fox
From the hair to the accent, it's hard to imagine anyone but Nicholas Cage playing the role of H.I. McDunnough, the loveable thief and kidnapper in "Raising Arizona."
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But it almost happened. Kevin Costner (!!) turned the part down before it went to Nicolas Cage.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me." "The Graduate" released in 1967, was Dustin Hoffman's first major role. He played recent college graduate Ben Braddock, who has an affair with his boss's wife and falls in love with their daughter.
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Dustin Hoffman's performance earned him a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. But the role was originally offered to Charles Grodin. Warren Beatty and Robert Redford were also considered for the role.
Mark Wahlberg played up-and-coming porn star Eddie Adams, aka Dirk Diggler, in Paul Thomas Anderson's epic film about the porn industry in 1970s California.
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But Leonardo DiCaprio was first fingered for the part. In fact, it was reportedly DiCaprio who turned the filmmakers on to Mark Wahlberg.
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The casting process for "The Sting" had nearly as many turns as the film's storyline. Robert Redford ultimately played the part of Johnny Hooker, a con man out for revenge.
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But the role was originally offered to Robert Redford, who turned it down. The role was then offered to Jack Nicholson, who also turned it down. And then Redford changed his mind. Let's hope the casting director opted for a flat rate.
Columbia Pictures
In "Misery," Kathy Bates plays Annie Wilkes, a psychopathic fan of novelist Paul Sheldon. When she rescues him from a car wreck, she ends up terrorizing him.
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Although Bette Midler and Anjelica Huston both have incredible acting chops, it's hard to imagine them pulling off, "He didn't get out of the COCKADOODIE CAR!" Both turned down the part and Kathy Bates ended up getting an Oscar for her performance.
Columbia Pictures
Although Morgan Freeman's character in "The Shawshank Redemption" was based on an Irish character, Freeman was always a contender for the part. The role of Andy Dufresne, however, did not always belong to Tim Robbins.
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Kevin Costner turned the role down, as did Tom Hanks. It's hard to imagine either of them having the same chemistry with Morgan Freeman as Tim Robbins did. "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy."
The Wachowski brothers' "The Matrix" brought Keanu Reeves' film career back from the dead. Although the film was a tremendous hit, Reeves was not always considered The One.
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Ewan McGregor didn't stray too far when he turned down the role of Neo to appear as Obi-Wan Kenobe in "Star Wars." Nicolas Cage also turned the role down.
Paramount Pictures
What do you do when you find yourself stuck in a town where rock and roll and dancing are illegal? Why, you cut loose, of course. "Footloose," that is. And Ren McCormack is the only guy who can pull it off.
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But Ren could have been played by Tom Cruise or Rob Lowe. Both were considered for the part before Kevin Bacon landed it.
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Jack Nicholson played the irrepressible McMurphy in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." In 1975 the film won an astounding five Academy Awards.
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Jack Nicholson brought home one of those statuettes for his memorable turn as McMurphy. It's hard to imagine any other actor in the part, including James Caan, who was first offered the role.
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In 1985, the world was introduced to Marty McFly, a time traveling teen who had to make his parents fall in love. Fox was already known for his role as Alex P. Keaton on "Family Ties," but this role thrust him into a career on the big screen.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Back to the Future" was several weeks into filming when the filmmakers decided to replace Eric Stoltz with Michael J. Fox.
EMPTY_CAPTION"I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next." It's actually not a far stretch to picture the original pick for the role of Maximus in "Gladiator."
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Despite an affinity for playing warriors with a cause, fellow Aussie Mel Gibson turned the part down. And the road was paved for Russell Crowe to win an Oscar.
EMPTY_CAPTION"Searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie." Cher Horowitz, played by Alicia Silverstone, was a modern day Emma in "Clueless."
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It's hard to imagine butt-kicking Buffy as the clueless Cher, but the role that launched Silverstone to stardom was initially offered to Sarah Michelle Gellar.
EMPTY_CAPTION"I'm king of the world!" Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as Jack and Rose stole attention from those fancy special effects. The duo made "Titanic" a love story that captivated the world.
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Matthew McConaughey was the studio's first choice to play Jack Dawson. But director James Cameron fought to get his way and hired Leonardo DiCaprio.
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Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen and Tom Berenger starred in Oliver Stone's "Platoon." The film won an Academy Award for Best Picture and a Best Director award for Stone.
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Charlie Sheen's breakout role as a serious actor was as Private Chris Taylor. Try picturing Keanu Reeves in the role instead. Whoa. Both Reeves and Kyle MacLachlan were offered the part and turned it down.
Ridley Scott's "Thelma & Louise" was a bear to cast. The movie featured two strong female leads with some controversial violence. And the chemistry had to be just right. Before settling on Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, the bosses considered a few other pairs.
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Cher turned down the role of Thelma, which was ultimately played by Geena Davis. Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathleen Turner and Debra Winger also all passed. Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her performance.
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As was Susan Sarandon. But Sarandon's part of Louise could have gone to Jodie Foster, Melanie Griffith, Kelly McGillis, Kim Basinger, Catherine O'Hara or -- our personal favorite -- Diane Keaton.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Shakespeare in Love" was the little movie that could. With an incredibly long development cycle, casting got underway and was tabled years before the film was finally made.
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The role of Viola De Lesseps was offered to Julia Roberts in the film's early stages, six years before it was eventually made. Gwyneth Paltrow played the role and won an Oscar and Golden Globe for her performance.
Twentieth Century Fox
Michelle Pfeiffer simply smoldered in the role of Susie Diamond in "The Fabulous Baker Boys."
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Brooke Shields turned the escort-turned-singer role down, as did Madonna and Debra Winger. Michelle Pfeiffer won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for her performance.
Paramount Pictures
EMPTY_CAPTION"My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.' " And when it came to the title role of "Forrest Gump," we almost got someone very different from Tom Hanks.
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Filmmakers had first gone in a completely different direction. John Travolta turned down the role that earned Tom Hanks an Oscar and Golden Globe.
Watching Harrison Ford shut up a talkative protocol droid in "Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back" makes you think, "No one else could pull this off" right?
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Maybe not. Nick Nolte came very close to stepping into Han Solo's trademark vest for the original "Star Wars." Maybe they thought the "48 Hrs" star's guttural line delivery would be too confusing next to Chewbacca's?
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Before he was the-muscleman-formerly-known-as-The-Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was launched to super-stardom playing The Terminator. You'll never guess who else was considered for the role.
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The studio suggested that director James Cameron try O.J. Simpson for the role of The Terminator. One of the producers said in a 2001 documentary that Cameron hadn't thought that Simpson would be believable as a killer. We are not even touching that one.
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Robert Downey Jr. played billionaire industrialist Tony Stark in "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" in 2008 and 2010. "Iron Man 3" is due in 2013.
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Tom Cruise was in the running to play the comic book hero but he passed because he thought the script looked weak. Nonetheless, Robert Downey Jr. looks pretty smug about landing the role.
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Sean Connery and Ursula Andress cavorted on the beach together in 1963 film "Dr. No," the first James Bond movie.
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EMPTY_CAPTION"Bond, James Bond" could have been Cary Grant. Did you know his birth name was Archibald Alexander Leach? Doesn't have quite the same ring to it. He would have been an old Bond, too. He was 59 when "Dr. No" premiered.
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Alanis Morissette (far right) played God in the Kevin Smith comedy "Dogma," but she wasn't cast by divine providence.
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In fact, Smith originally wanted Emma Thompson to come down from on high. However, she turned it down in favor of giving birth to her daughter, Gaia Romilly.
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