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21 Actors Who Almost Got Cast As Iconic Movie Characters

1. Tom Hanks as Jerry Maguire in Jerry Maguire

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Writer-director Cameron Crowe wrote the part with Hanks in mind — but by the time he finished the script, Hanks was not only a bit too old for the role, he was also focused on directing That Thing You Do!

2. Anne Hathaway as Alison Scott in Knocked Up

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Universal Pictures


Hathaway was initially offered the role but later turned it down because of the explicit birth-scene…which FTR was done with prosthetics.

3. Katie Holmes as Annette Hargrove in Cruel Intentions

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Columbia Pictures


Holmes was the studio’s first choice for the part, but the film’s writer/director, Roger Kumble, thought she wasn’t right for the role and instead took Reese Witherspoon to dinner to convince her to sign on.

4. Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Spider-Man

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20th Century Fox


DiCaprio was an early candidate for the role (that eventually went to his BFF Tobey Maguire), but turned it down because he didn’t feel like taking the part.

5. Tom Cruise as Tony Stark/Iron Man in Iron Man

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Cruise was originally approached for the role of Tony Stark, but he eventually lost in interest in the film ‘cause it took too long to bring to the big screen.

6. Angela Bassett as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball

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Lions Gate Films


The Oscar-nominated Bassett was offered the role, but she turned it down because it was a “stereotype about black women and sexuality.” Halle Berry would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role.

7. Matt Damon as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight

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Warner Bros. Pictures


Damon was up for the role but had to turn it down because of scheduling.

8. Helen Mirren as Ms. Weiss in Precious

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Lions Gate


The film’s director Lee Daniels originally gave the part to Mirren, who ended up having to turn it down because of scheduling. Daniels then offered it to Mariah Carey, who not only got rave reviews for her performance, but also helped him bring in investors.

9. Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Casino Royale

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Sony/ MGM


Jackman turned down the chance to play the iconic character because of timing, he was about to start filming X-Men 2. He has said would be open to playing the role if it was offered to him again.

10. Angelina Jolie as Alex Munday in Charlies Angel’s.

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Columbia Pictures


Jolie was offered the part — it was even reported at the time that she was a shoo-in — but reportedly declined the role because she was not a fan of the original series.

11. Reese Witherspoon as Sidney Prescott in Scream

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Witherspoon was the producer’s first choice for the role, but she turned it down.

12. Denzel Washington as Detective David Mills in Seven

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New Line Cinema


Washington was the first choice for the role, he turned it down because he felt it was too much. He has since said he regrets that decision.

13. Johnny Depp as Ferris Bueller in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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Depp said he was offered the iconic role, but was forced to turn it down because of scheduling.

14. Ian McKellen as Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter

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Warner Bros.


Following Richard Harris’s (who played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films) death, McKellen was offered the role. He reportedly turned it down because he had already played a wizard, Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings films.

15. Gwen Stefani as Jane Smith in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

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20th Century Fox


Stefani was very strongly considered for the role, getting far along into the audition process. Ultimately the role was offered to Angelina Jolie, while Stefani went back to focusing on her music.

16. Harrison Ford as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park

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Universal Pictures


Steven Spielberg offered the role to Ford first, who turned him down — which is kind of iconic.

17. Kirsten Dunst as Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries

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Dunst was one of many actresses who passed on the role before it was given to then relatively unknown actress, Anne Hathaway.

18. Mindy Kaling as Lillian Donovan in Bridesmaids

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Universal Pictures


Kaling was up for the role that eventually went to Maya Rudolph, she admitted that losing out on the role was a “heartbreaker.”

19. Macaulay Culkin as Jack Dawson in Titanic



Culkin, who was arguably a bigger name than Leonardo DiCaprio at the time of the film’s release, was one of many actors considered for the now classic role.

20. Christina Applegate as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

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Applegate turned down the role because — after playing Kelly Bundy on Married…With Children — she was afraid of being type cast as just a ditzy blonde. She has said that while it was stupid to turn down the role, Reese did a much better job than she ever could have with it.

21. Jim Carrey as Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story

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Disney Pixar


Carrey was one of the top choices to voice the classic character, reportedly Pixar did not have to budget offer him the role.