Not all things go as planned and movies are no exception. Scheduling conflicts, contractual obligations, or general unforeseen circumstances may force an actor to drop out of a film and a replacement must quickly be found. Sometimes a change in the cast can help guarantee the success of a film or lead to a breakthrough in the career of an actor. Although it’s never easy to tell who is going to be perfect for a particular role, things happen to work out from time to time and we end up with unforgettable movie icons.
1. Jamie Foxx as Django
Quentin Tarantino originally offered the part of Django to Will Smith who turned it down because he didn’t consider it to be the lead role. He believed that Christoph Waltz had the true lead as Dr. King Shultz because he was the one who ultimately kills the villain.
To be fair, Smith has experience as a gunslinger in the old west so it is likely he would have made a fine Django as well.
2. Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas first gave the lead role to Tom Selleck who also landed the role of private investigator Thomas Magnum in the TV series Magnum, P.I. However, CBS would not release him from the show so he had to turn the role of Indiana Jones down.
Although Lucas did not want to cast Harrison Ford because he had already worked with him in the Star Wars films, Ford eventually landed the lead role less than a month before shooting began.
3. Mike Myers as Shrek
Chris Farley was the original voice actor for the cantankerous ogre but unfortunately passed away before the film could be finished. Apparently, Farley’s version of Shrek was a teenage ogre who didn’t want to go into the family business of scaring people. Instead, he wanted to help people and someday maybe even become a knight. However, the plot was rewritten once Mike Myers was brought on board and the rest is history.
4. Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman
Director Mary Harron had Christian Bale as her first choice for the lead role in American Psycho but Lionsgate did not believe he was famous enough. Leonardo DiCaprio was cast instead but Harron believed DiCaprio was too boyish for the part because of his reputation as a teen heartthrob from Romeo + Juliet and Titanic. DiCaprio eventually backed out of the role to work on another film called The Beach and Bale was cast as the narcissistic killer instead.
Though, DiCaprio has shown a crazier side in his recent performance in The Wolf of Wall Street so maybe he wouldn’t have been a bad choice after all.
5. Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly
Although Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future, he was unable to take the role because he was already committed to the TV show Family Ties. The show was missing another star already with Meredith Baxter on maternity leave so Fox was not allowed to take time off to film. Eric Stoltz was brought on to play the part but his performance was deemed too dramatic and humorless after four weeks of filming.
Once Baxter returned from pregnancy to Family Ties, Fox’s schedule opened up and he was recast as Marty McFly. Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg added $3 million to the $14 million budget in order to reshoot the film with Fox.
6. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine
Dougray Scott was the first choice to play the part of Logan in the first X-Men film. However, he left the adamantium claws behind to play the villain in Mission: Impossible II and was replaced by a relatively unknown Australian actor named Hugh Jackman.
Seven X-Men films later and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Wolverine.
7. Viggo Mortenson as Aragorn
Stuart Townsend was originally cast as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings films until he was replaced because Director Peter Jackson realized he needed someone a bit older. Unfortunately, Townsend was let go the day before filming began and was not paid for the two months he spent preparing for the role.
This is probably how he felt after going through all of that and returning home empty handed…
8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Adam Lerner
James McAvoy was originally going to play the lead role in 50/50 but left the film because he did not want to miss the birth of his first child, Brendan. As such, he was replaced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt but it would’ve been interesting to see McAvoy shave his head as well…
Fortunately we don’t have to use our imagination because he’s already shaved his head in preparation for his role as Professor Charles Xavier in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse.