Johnny Depp as Edward Scissor Hands, Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. There are some actors who just seemed destined to play certain roles. They embody the character so perfectly that it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else in the role. Despite that, there are many instances where that seemingly perfect casting decision was the result of the first, second, or third choice actors refusing the role. Here are a few iconic roles that were originally intended for other actors.
Silence of the Lambs
Everyone knows that Anthony Hopkins was phenomenal as Hannibal Lecter. I don’t think his role would have been nearly as good if he didn’t have Jodie Foster’s Clarice to play off of however. It was Michelle Pfeiffer who was offered the role first. When she, and many other A-list actresses, turned down the role, we were left with the perfect onscreen chemistry of Hopkins and Foster.
“I’ll be back” and “hasta la vista baby” are two of the most quoted movie lines of all time. They loose a bit of their charm when you picture Sylvester Stallone slurring them in his mumbled drawl. It doesn’t quite fit does it? Though Schwarzenegger only got the role when Sly turned it down, I think we can agree that Arnie was the better choice in the end.
Speaking of Schwarzenegger, he (and pretty much every other male A-lister in Hollywood) was offered the role of John McClane in Die Hard. I can’t imagine anyone but Bruce Willis Yippee Ki Yay-ing while he blasted away terrorists. Schwarzenegger couldn't even fit through the air vents and Burt Reynolds, another choice, would have been laughable. Without Bruce my favorite Christmas movie would have been ruined!
The Shawshank Redemption
In what was likely the worst career choice of his life, Kevin Costner turned down the lead role in Oscar nominated “The Shawshank Redemption”. What did he turn it down for? At the time the most expensive film ever made, the critically maligned box office bust Waterworld. His loss was Tim Robbins’ gain however as Robbins stepped into the legendary role of Andy Dufresne.
Perhaps the most iconic character on the list, Indiana Jones was originally supposed to sport a big bushy mustache! Or at least that’s all I can assume upon hearing the role was initially offered to Tom Selleck. We can thank all that is good in the world that there was a scheduling conflict with Magnum P.I. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Selleck is a great guy; he’s just not Indiana Jones. No one but Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones!
A-List actors get sent a ton of scripts and there are undoubtedly many examples of actors dodging a bullet and avoiding bad roles. As the list above shows however, there are a few great bullets they shouldn’t have dodged. Do these actors regret passing up these roles? Who knows?
All we can say for certain is that it would be decidedly strange to see anyone else play these parts!