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There must be no bigger disappointment for an actor than not being cast for a film that went on to be a worldwide success. Some movies become instant classics, with fans quoting their lines incessantly and adoring the film’s cast, but would the films below have been a hit if a different actor played the lead?
Read on to find out which role could have made the movies better or worse, and which role was “the one that got away” for other actors who auditioned for the part.
1. Tom Cruise as Tony Stark, Iron Man
The Iron Man role may seem like it was made specifically for Robert Downey Jr. but it was really Tom Cruise who was initially said to star in and produce the film. The actor ironically didn’t think the script was strong enough, but the franchise went on to make billions of dollars at the box office without Cruise—proving Downey to be the perfect casting choice.
2. Liam Aiken as Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Daniel Radcliffe will be known as “the boy who lived” for the rest of his career but Liam Aiken, mostly recognizable for his role in Stepmom with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon, was initially given the role as Harry. The producers wanted a British actor for the role so the American Actor lost the life changing part the next day. At the time Aiken fit the part with his sweet demeanor, and unfortunately he hasn’t landed any roles in any films as big as the Harry Potter series since.
3. Jennifer Lawrence as Bella Swan, Twilight
Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for the coveted part of Bella, but Kristen Stewart was cast instead. Bella is described as plain Jane in the Stephanie Meyer books, and Lawrence’s striking appearance didn’t fit the bill. She later said she was glad she didn’t get the role because of the crazy media attention Stewart received after the movie’s premiere. Lawrence went on to become heroine Katniss Everdeen in another ultra successful trilogy, The Hunger Games, and catapulted her into her own bigger-than-life fame.
4. Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal as Jake Sully, Avatar
Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal were the studio’s first choice to play Jake Sully, but James Cameron wanted an unknown actor because it would give the character authenticity. James Cameron decided to cast the unknown Australian actor Sam Worthington in the lead role. Worthington was living in his car at the time of the casting, to then became the lead in what became the highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide.
5. Carey Mulligan as Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Carey Mulligan auditioned to play Lisbeth Salander three times but failed to land the lead role, which eventually went to Rooney Mara. The producers and director had a specific view in mind for the role, as the character was described in thorough detail in the Stieg Larsson novels. Heartbreaking and embarrassing as that might be, Mulligan later beat out top actors like Amanda Seyfried, Rachel McAdams, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, etc. for the role of Daisy Buchanan in the 2013 version of The Great Gatsby.
6. Britney Spears as Allie Calhoun, The Notebook
Now a romantic classic, (right?!) The Notebook provided us with one of the most beautiful love stories of our time. And it was the real life love and chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams as Noah and Allie that captured millions of hearts everywhere. There was a rumor that Britney Spears along with Jessica Biel and Reese Witherspoon were all considered for the role of Allie. Rachel McAdams undoubtedly stole the show, and the decision is clear when you watch her audition tape.
7. Ryan Gosling as Batman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
After Christian Bale turned down a reported $50 million to continue to play the role of Batman in the upcoming movie, several actors were considered for the part. Ryan Gosling and Joe Manganiello were among the ones speculated to be the next Batman but ultimately Ben Affleck was cast. Denzel Washington and Idris Elba were considered for Lex Luthor and later, Joaquin Phoenix turned down the role before it went to Jesse Eisenberg.
8. Mindy Kaling as Lillian, Bridesmaids
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are a dynamic duo in Bridesmaids, so could we really picture Mindy Kaling staring as Lillian? The mostly-female cast was full of hilarious actors, so Kaling would have easily fit right in with the rest but perhaps the film would have lost its touch without the magic between Wiig and Rudolph. When Kaling revealed that she had been up for a role in the 2011 comedy, she shared that practicing the character thoroughly and not landing the part was a real heartbreaker. We would imagine it’s even more heartbreaking now since the film is the highest grossing R-rated female comedy of all time in the domestic box office.
9. Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic
The humble and now iconic role of Rose Dawson in the record-breaking film Titanic was almost given to Gwyneth Paltrow, but Kate Winslet proved to be a better choice. Winslet even managed to make spitting endearing and also, without that decision, the beautiful friendship between her and DiCaprio that we know today would not exist. The studios also wanted Matthew McConaughey to play Jack Dawson, but James Cameron insisted on Leonardo DiCaprio. Thankfully!