Even More Actors Who Almost Got The Big Role
When I’m working on other posts like Christmas or Horror movie trivia, I always seem to come across more trivia about actors who missed out on a role in a major film for one reason or another. Believe me, I never thought we’d be up to five of these posts, but here are even more actors who almost got the big role.
Cheech and Chong in ‘Stripes’
The buddy army film was originally conceived as another Cheech and Chong film, but that fell through when Cheech and Chong’s manager, without their knowledge, requested a 25% profit share in Ivan Reitman’s next five films, which Reitman refused. Most of the pot humor was then cut for the rewrite, with only a few of the jokes being transferred over to the character of “Elmo” played by Judge Reinhold.
Frank Sinatra in ‘Die Hard’
The movie ‘Die Hard’ was based off the book Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to the book called The Detective, which was made into a 1968 film starring Frank Sinatra. There was a clause in Sinatra’s contract for 'The Detective' that said he would have the right to reprise his role if a sequel were made, forcing the studio to offer him the lead role first even though he was 73 years old.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, and Harrison Ford as John McClane in 'Die Hard'
After it was decided to steer ‘Die Hard’ away from being a true sequel to ‘The Detective’, it was then reimagined as a follow-up to the movie ‘Commando’ with Schwarzenegger reprising his role is John Matrix. When Arnold declined the film, it was then rewritten to be a stand alone action film, and Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, and Harrison Ford were lead contenders for the role. Bruce Willis ended up being an odd choice for the role of John McClane as he was only known for his television series ‘Moonlighting’ and not for action films. ‘Die Hard’ ended up being an amazing success and redirected Bruce Willis’ career towards the action hero trope.
Sam Kinison as The Ghost of Christmas Past in ‘Scrooged’
Sam Kinison was originally set for the role but it was ultimately given to David Johansen due to his friendship with Bill Murray. Kinison would later go on the Howard Stern show and blame ‘Scrooged’ co-star Bobcat Goldthwait, with whom he’d had a long-standing feud.
Steve Austin as John Triton in ‘The Marine’
According to Vince McMahon and Steve Austin, the WWE’s first major film, ‘The Marine’, was written specifically for Austin. However, they were unable to come to terms on a contract and Austin left the project. The lead role was then given to rising star John Cena with the intention of increasing his popularity. Austin would return to WWE films years later in ‘The Condemned’.
Will Smith as Joe in 'Oldboy'
When Steven Spielberg was slated for the director’s chair for the film ‘Oldboy’, Will Smith was set to play the role of Joe, a man seeking answers and revenge after being imprisoned for 20 years with no reason given. Spielberg intended for the film to be based on the Manga and not the Korean film, but rights disputes over the graphic novel prevented the film from getting out of pre-production. It’s a good thing that Will Smith didn’t get the role of Joe because of his habit of casting his own children as his character’s children, which would have meant (SPOILER) that his love interest might have been played by his daughter Willow.
Tim Roth as Professor Snape in ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone'
When J.K. Rowling’s epic wizard tale was being made into a theatrical adaptation, Tim Roth was offered the role of Potions Master Professor Snape. However, Roth was also offered the role of General Thade in Tim Burton’s remake of ‘Planet of the Apes’, choosing that role over the role of Snape. Unfortunately for Roth, ‘Planet of the Apes’ was a failure that spawned no sequels, and Alan Rickman went on to play the role of Snape in eight films.
Mark Wahlberg, Alan Arkin, Danny Glover, Luke Wilson, and Owen Wilson in ‘Ocean’s Eleven’
Matt Damon’s role of Linus was originally written for Mark Wahlberg, who left the production for unknown reasons. Alan Arkin was given the role of the aging con man Saul, but left the film for was has been called “personal reasons”. Danny Glover was to play Frank Catton (played by Bernie Mac), and Luke and Owen Wilson were set for the roles of the brothers Virgil and Turk (played by Casey Affleck and Scott Caan), but all three men dropped out to be in ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’.
Owen Wilson as Rick Peck in ‘Tropic Thunder’
Owen Wilson was cast in the role of Tugg Speedman’s agent Rick Peck, but his attempted suicide caused him to give up the role, eventually going to Matthew McConaughey.
Hugh Grant as Gilderoy Lockhart in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’
The actor many readers envisioned when reading about Gilderoy Lockhart, the globe-trotting wizard with a charming smile that all the witches loved, Hugh Grant was an obvious choice for the role when the film adaptation came around. He accepted the part, but had to drop out at the last minute due to scheduling conflicts with prior commitments. The role ended up going to Kenneth Branagh.
Billy Crystal as Buzz Lightyear in ‘Toy Story’
Billy Crystal was first approached for the role of Buzz Lightyear, but turned it down. After seeing the film, Crystal said it was the worst mistake of his career. When ‘Toy Story’ director John Lasseter heard that, he called Crystal directly to offer him the role of Mike Wazowski in ‘Monsters, Inc.’ Crystal’s wife answered the phone and told her husband that John Lasseter wanted to speak to him. Crystal picked up the phone and immediately said, “Yes.”