A major factor of any movie or TV show's success are the actors who bring the story to life. But before the perfect person to fill the role is found and viewers see the final product, there are plenty of other stars vying for the part behind the scenes. Films like "The Notebook" and "The Breakfast Club" came close to casting completely different celebs in the lead role — and things definitely wouldn't have gone as expected! Find out which movies and shows could have turned out very differently...
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Melanie Lynskey recalls declining her initial audition for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. During an interview with Shut Up Evan: The Newsletter the actress shared, "It was kind of a visa issue, but not really, I also was not sure about doing television at that time. It was very early in my career. I had a very old-school agent who was like, 'TV? That's for has-beens!'" After an actress named Riff Regan played Willow in the original pilot, a decision was made to recast her. While Lynskey eventually agreed to audition, she lost the role to Alyson Hannigan. "All was [cast] as it should have been," she said, calling Hannigan "absolutely wonderful" in the role.
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Tom Hanks' wife Rita Wilson says he turned down "When Harry Met Sally." On Bruce Bozzi's "Table for Two" podcast, Wilson opened up on Hanks' behalf saying, "People probably don’t know this, but Tom was offered ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ and he turned it down because he was going through a divorce, and he was very happy to be not married, and so he could not understand that a person going through a divorce would have anything other than just like, 'I'm so happy.' But I loved that script."
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In an interview with Andy Cohen, Gloria Estefan reveals that director Oliver Stone had offered her Evita before direction was given to Alan Parker. "They were taking a lot of liberties with the script, and I'm Latina and I didn't want t o go down that route." Parker went on to ask Madonna to play the part.
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Maya Rudolph revealed in an interview with THR that she was approached to star in "Killing Eve", in the role played by Sandra Oh, but turned it down because of the time she'd have to spend away from her family, “There was no way I was about to move to Europe for months. Like, how?”
Everett / Getty
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Brian Cox opened up that he was offered the role of "Weatherby Swann," which was eventually offered to Jonathan Pryce on "Pirates of The Caribbean." The famous actor states, “It would have been a money-spinner, but of all the parts in that film it was the most thankless, plus I would have ended up doing it for film after film and missed out on all the other nice things I’ve done," In which he talks about in his upcoming memoir, "Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat."
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Brian Cox almost ruled the 7 Kingdoms! It was revealed that before Mark Addy took the role of Robert Baratheon, it was offered to Brian Cox and he explains why he turned it down. He states from his upcoming memoir "Pulling a Rabbit Out of a Hat", “I’m often asked if I was offered a role in "Game of Thrones," reason being that every other bugger was, and the answer is, yes, I was supposed to be a king called Robert Baratheon, who apparently died when he was gored by a boar in the first season.” - Brian Cox
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Queen of the Damned director Michael Rymer told Vulture said he met with Cher over playing Akaska, but wanted a person of color in the role, which ultimately went to Aaliyah. Wes Bentley passed on Lestat, while producers met with Ryan Reynolds and Heath Ledger -- who the studio didn't feel was "big enough" -- before casting Stuart Townsend. Producers also met with Tara Reid, Jordana Brewster, Shannyn Sossamon and Michelle Williams for Jesse, though they didn't believe Williams was "good-looking enough" for the part and was "unfairly dismissed for being too much of a 'TV teen'" at the time. Marguerite Moreau landed the role.
At the height of her career, Britney Spears auditioned for the leading role in “The Notebook” and almost got the part! Casting director Matthew Barry once said it was a “close call” between Britney and Rachel McAdams. Britney even did a screen test with her former “Mickey Mouse Club” co-star Ryan Gosling.
"We met with a lot of actresses, and they were all very good. I did [screen test with Britney], yeah. I hadn't seen her really since she was about 12 — we were both 12 — so she's grown up, but she was really good, actually. She did a really nice job...she did an excellent job, actually. That was cool,” Ryan told Entertainment Tonight.
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Taylor Momsen was one of the final three actresses in the running for the role of Hannah Montana, which ultimately went to Miley Cyrus. Looking back, Taylor says she’s glad she didn’t get the part as the show probably wouldn’t have worked as well.
“Honestly, if I’d have ended up as Hannah Montana, I don’t know if the show would have gone as well. I probably would have told them all to go f--- themselves by the time I hit 11. And I don’t know how that would have gone down. It’s great for Miley, but I really like where I am right now and I feel really fortunate to be able to really be myself,” Taylor told Express.
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When it was announced that “Harry Potter” would be turned into a feature film, Robin Williams wanted to play the role of Hagrid so much that he called up director Chris Columbus. While he was considered, he had to be turned down because there was a strict “British only” rule for the actors in the film. Eventually the role went to Robbie Coltrane.
“Robin [Williams] had called [Chris Columbus] because he really wanted to be in the movie, but it was a British-only edict, and once he said no to Robin, he wasn’t going to say yes to anybody else, that’s for sure. It couldn’t be,” casting director Janet Hirshenson told HuffPost.
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Charlize Theron was originally set to play the role of Roxie Hart but she lost out on the part when a new director came on board. She was let go from the project and the role instead went to Renée Zellweger.
"There was another director attached and he brought me on. And then that director got fired and this new director got brought on, and he didn't want to make the movie with me,” Charlize told Howard Stern.
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The role of Annette Hargrove in “Cruel Intentions” almost went to Katie Holmes but director Roger Kumble wanted someone more experienced. In the end, he was introduced to leading man Ryan Phillippe’s then-girlfriend Reese Witherspoon who was soon given the job.
"We got into disagreements over who was going to play Annette [Hargrove]. The studio wanted Katie Holmes, who was just starting to do Dawson's Creek…but this was early Katie, and I thought we needed someone with a little more strength of character,” Roger told Cosmopolitan.
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Production of the movie “La La Land” took quite a few years and during the casting process several different actresses were in the running for leading lady Mia Dolan. While the role ultimately went to Emma Stone, the part almost belonged to Emma Watson.
"The casting of this movie during the six years it took to get made went through lots of permutations, and it's true there was a moment where Emma Watson and Miles Teller were doing it," La La Land director Damien Chazelle told Uproxx.
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Back in 1999, Nicole Kidman was up for the role of Anna Scott in “Notting Hill.” The actress says she really wanted the job but unfortunately wasn’t well known enough at the time to get the part, which was instead given to Julia Roberts.
“I really wanted the role that Julia Roberts played in ‘Notting Hill.’ Yeah, I did but I wasn't well known enough, and I wasn't talented enough,” Nicole Marie Claire.
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Chris Hemworth was close to landing the lead in “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” but it ended up going to Channing Tatum. At the time, Chris was struggling with money and his failures to land roles had him questioning his acting career.
“I got very close to ‘G.I. Joe.’ At the time I was upset. I was running out of money. But if I played [that] character, I wouldn’t have been able to play Thor,” Chris told Variety.
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The role of Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate” went to Dustin Hoffman, but originally Robert Redford really wanted the part. Director Mike Nichols says that Robert campaigned for the role but he had to turn him down.
“I said, ‘You can’t play it. You can never play a loser.’ And Redford said, ‘What do you mean? Of course I can play a loser.’ And I said, ‘O.K., have you ever struck out with a girl?’ and he said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he wasn’t joking,” Mike told Vanity Fair.
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Before Mandy Moore landed the role of Jamie Sullivan in “A Walk to Remember,” fellow pop star Jessica Simpson was in the running for the part. While leading man Shane West didn’t say her by name, he admitted he didn’t think she was right for the role.
“There was someone else – who I’m not going to say right now — whose name was batted around for Mandy’s role. I remember I wasn’t keen on that idea and thankfully it didn’t happen,” Shane told Entertainment Weekly.
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Before “The Breakfast Club” began production, there was concern that the cast didn’t include enough star power. Nicolas Cage was considered for a part but casting director Jackie Burch didn’t feel like he had the “innate coolness” that the role needed. The job was ultimately given to Judd Nelson.
“They were talking about Nicolas Cage, and I just felt like Judd was the perfect last ingredient,” Jackie told HuffPost.
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Selma Blair was almost cast as the lead role in “Dawson’s Creek” until creator Kevin Williamson received a last-minute audition tape from Katie Holmes, filmed in the basement of her parent’s home.
“I really loved Selma until, of course, I got the infamous videotape from the basement of the Holmes family in Toledo, Ohio. And when that video showed up, it changed my whole life,” Kevin told Entertainment Weekly.
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Lindsay Lohan was in the running to take on the role of Jade in “The Hangover.” Director Todd Phillips says Lindsay loved the script but unfortunately she ended up being a little too young for the film. Instead, the role went to Heather Graham.
"Honestly, it felt like she ended up being too young for what we were talking about. People love to attack her for everything, like: 'Ha, she didn't see how great ‘The Hangover’ was going to be. She turned it down.' She didn't turn it down. She loved the script, actually. It really was an age thing,” Todd told The Hollywood Reporter.
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Before Leonardo DiCaprio landed the role of Jack Dawson in “Titanic,” Matthew McConaughey was up for the part. He says he was proud of his audition and even got to read lines alongside Kate Winslet but unfortunately, wasn’t the right fit.
"I wanted that. I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn't get it. I never got offered that,” Matthew said on The Hollywood Reporter's "Awards Chatter" podcast.