22 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Almost Played Your Favorite Characters

During casting for our favorite movies and TV shows, lots of names get tossed around before final decisions are made. Some would totally surprise you (could you imagine an Olsen twin wearing Blair Waldorf’s iconic headbands? How about Angelina Jolie in Cher Horowitz’s plaid skirts and knee high tights?!) and some make perfect sense! Here are the celebrities who *almost* played our favorite TV and movie characters.

1
Britney Spears as Allie Calhoun (The Notebook)
The Notebook, Rachel McAdams, Britney Spears
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection/Splash News
We all know Rachel McAdams ended up starring in the iconic Nicholas Sparks love story, but everyone's favorite real-life Southern belle almost starred alongside her Mickey Mouse Club costar Ryan Gosling! Britney even screen tested for the part with Ryan, and sung her praises. Even Rachel said Britney would've been great. She certainly has the Southern sweetness in spades!
2
Nicolas Cage as John Bender (The Breakfast Club)
The Breakfast, Club, Judd Nelson, Nicolas Cage
Universal via Everett Collection/Getty Images
This one makes complete sense! Although Judd Nelson played the brooding high school bad boy we all loved to hate in the '80s classic, one actor that was considered for the part was Nicolas Cage. It's easy to see the similarities, for sure!
3
Ashley Olsen as Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
Gossip Girl, Leighton Meester, Ashley Olsen
The CW/WENN
It's impossible to imagine anyone rocking Blair's iconic headbands as well as Leighton Meester did, but it's true: a casting director for the show recently revealed that network execs pitched Ashley Olsen for the part. She's famously quit acting to run a huge fashion empire with her sister Mary-Kate, so perhaps this was for the better.
article continues below ad
4
Rumer Willis as Serena van der Woodsen (Gossip Girl)
Gossip Girl, Blake Lively, Rumer Willis
The CW/WENN
The same casting director revealed that while Blake Lively ended up being the solid front runner despite her "sunny California" persona, the network also considered Demi Moore and Bruce Willis's daughter for the part. Crazy!
5
Thomas Jane as Don Draper (Mad Men)
Mad Men, Jon Hamm, Thomas Jane
AMC/WENN
Jon Hamm revealed that he never thought he'd get the part because he was such a newbie in the acting world, and it seems Thomas was the original front runner for the role, but producers were told he "did not do television." He later starred in HBO's Hung for three seasons.
6
Jennifer Lawrence as Bella Swan (Twilight)
Twilight, Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence
Summit Entertainment/WENN
Yep, at just 17-years-old, J. Law auditioned for the role that skyrocketed Kristen Stewart to mega-fame, and Jennifer admitted she was "relieved" she lost the part after seeing how much media attention the role got Kristen. But she spoke too soon, because her career was merely on the brink of the same kind of fame that Kristen got, and now she's one of the most sought-after young actresses in Hollywood. It's all good!
article continues below ad
7
Leonardo DiCaprio as Max Dennison (Hocus Pocus)
Hocus Pocus, Omri Katz, Leonardo DiCaprio
Buena Vista Pictures/Getty Images
It's rumored that a young Leonardo DiCaprio was offered a ton of money to play the part of Max in the Halloween classic, but turned it down to star in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Things turned out well for Leo, though: that role won him critical praise and award nominations, and he's now had a completely impressive career trajectory.
8
Angelina Jolie as Cher Horowitz (Clueless)
Clueless, Alicia Silverstone, Angelina Jolie
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/Getty Images
Turns out Angelina's agent pitched her for the beloved Valley Girl role that won everyone's hearts, but Angelina was in good company: Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tiffani Thiessen, and Keri Russell were all considered for the part. As if!
9
Johnny Depp as Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection/Getty Images
Matthew Broderick ended up being the righteous dude to fill Ferris's shoes, but did you know what other Hollywood heavy hitters were considered for the part? Bueller... Bueller? None other than Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey, and Tom Cruise! Amazing.
article continues below ad
10
Molly Ringwald as Vivian Ward (Pretty Woman)
Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts, Molly Ringwald
Buena Vista Pictures/Getty Images
After a slew of hits like The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, and Sixteen Candles, it's no surprise that Molly was offered scripts left and right. She passed on Pretty Woman, which ended up being one of Julia's most famous roles ever, but Molly has no regrets, later saying: "Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that."
11
Tim Roth as Severus Snape (Harry Potter)
Harry Potter, Alan Rickman, Tim Roth
Warner Bros. via Everett Collection/Getty Images
In the beloved role made famous by the late Alan Rickman, actor Tim Roth says he passed up on it to take Planet of the Apes instead, but says he would have made his version of Snape "a very different guy." Hmmmm..
12
Katie Holmes as Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Katie Holmes
The WB/Getty Images
It's nearly impossible to imagine anyone but Sarah Michelle Gellar fitting in Buffy's kick-butt boots, but it's true: she beat out both Katie and actress Selma Blair for the part. Though both ladies did go on to star in their own WB shows (Dawson’s Creek and Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane) so we imagine they weren't too upset in the end.
article continues below ad
13
David Boreanaz as Bruce Wayne (Batman Begins)
Batman Begins, Christian Bale, David Boreanaz
Warner Bros/Splash News
He was most famous for his role as Buffy's brooding, eternal love Angel, but he was also apparently the first choice to play the Caped Crusader in the franchise reboot. Instead, Christian Bale suited up for the part.
14
Al Pacino as Hans Solo (Star Wars)
Star Wars, Harrison Ford, Al Pacino
20th Century Fox/Getty Images
Both Harrison Ford and Al Pacino are considered two of the best actors of our time, so it's not a huge loss for Al that he turned down the role that defined Harrison's career, but it's true: Al recently admitted that the role was his "for the taking" but he simply "didn't understand the script." Oh well!
15
Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)
Titanic, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow
20th Century Fox via Everett Collection/WENN
It was long rumored that director James Cameron really wanted Gwyneth for the legendary film, but she turned it down, and later said she had no regrets, and that every decision she made was "part of something greater." I guess her heart will go on after all...
article continues below ad
16
Jim Carrey as Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Depp, Jim Carrey
Walt Disney Studios/WENN
Yo ho, yo ho, it was almost a pirate's life for Jim, along with fellow actors Michael Keaton and Christopher Walken. All three were considered to play the swashbuckler, but the part was ultimately given to Johnny Depp. Hey, not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.
17
Jane Krakowski as Rachel Green (Friends)
Friends, Jennifer Aniston, Jane Krakowski
NBC/Getty Images
Jane revealed that she auditioned for the role of Rachel but "didn't go very far." Other actresses considered included Elizabeth Berkley of Saved by the Bell fame, and Tea Leoni! Who knew?!
18
Ashton Kutcher as Patrick Verona (10 Things I Hate About You)
10 Things I Hate About You, Heath Ledger, Ashton Kutcher
Touchstone Pictures/Getty Images
Back when Ashton was a male model from Iowa with a burgeoning acting career, he auditioned to play the quintessential high school bad boy with a heart of gold that introduced American audiences to the late Heath Ledger.
article continues below ad
19
Christina Applegate as Elle Woods (Legally Blonde)
Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Applegate
MGM via Everett Collection/WENN
Although Reese Witherspoon charmed the heck out of everyone as her portrayal of Elle Woods, it was actually Christina who turned the role down first! Of her decision, she said: "The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished Married... With Children, and it was a blonde who in that first script didn't win it but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don't remember. I got scared of kind of repeating myself. ... What a stupid move that was, right?"Aw!
20
Rob Lowe as Derek Shepherd (Grey's Anatomy)
Grey's Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey, Rob Lowe
ABC/WENN
Be still our hearts! Before Patrick Dempsey put on his white coat to play McDreamy, casting directors really wanted fellow heartthrob Rob Lowe for the part, but he was already committed to another doctor show called Dr. Vegas. That show barely made it through one season before being cancelled, and Rob recounts the experience in his memoir, saying: "Year after year after year, all of ABC’s new dramas flopped. CBS was on a hot streak that continues to this day. Although Grey’s was a much better script, I chose Dr. Vegas. The odds were just too stacked." Yikes.
21
Carey Mulligan as Lisbeth Salander (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Rooney Mara, Carey Mulligan
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection/WENN
Lots of A-list actresses vied for the part ultimately won by relative newcomer Rooney Mara, including Carey, Scarlett Johansson, and Natalie Portman. Can you picture it?!
article continues below ad
22
James Franco as Michael Kelso (That '70s Show)
That '70s Show, Ashton Kutcher, James Franco
FOX/NBC via Getty Images
James Franco revealed that he auditioned for the goofy stoner role on the same day as Ashton, and I can totally imagine him in the part. James's career didn't suffer too badly, though, as he's gone on to star in many successful projects.

MORE FOR YOU:

SIMILAR ARTICLES