10 Hollywood Hits That Almost Had Ridiculous Casting Choices
Can you picture Harry Potter’s Hagrid as anyone other than the wonderfully plump Robbie Coltrane? Or Iron man as someone other than the cheeky Robert Downy Jr? Of course not; these actors were perfect for their roles and helped to earn millions for their respective franchises – which is why it’s all the more scary to see what might have been.
Both of these iconic roles, and many others, were very nearly given to other actors that would have completely ruined them along with the treasured memories of a generation. Be warned, some of these near miss casting choices are absolutely bewildering and may lead you to wonder what the hell they were thinking. I mean, I can forgive a casting director for keeping their options open, but when you see which role they nearly gave to Macaulay Culkin, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I’ve gathered 10 Hollywood hits that were almost ruined by mystifying casting choices, try and get through them all with a straight face.
#10 – Star Wars (Al Pacino as Han solo)
The Godfather star as the lovable space dwelling rouge Han solo? Nope. Sorry, but nope. Al Pacino is a great man and an even better actor but I’ll eat my lightsaber before I admit anyone would make a better Han Solo than Harrison Ford. According to Pacino he was offered the role on a plate by George Lucas, but having been given the script he found the plot confusing: “I remember not understanding (the script) when I read it,” he told MTV at the Toronto Film Festival.
Well I for one thank my lucky stars that Pacino couldn’t work out the intricate politics of the Galactic alliance or the inner working of the force; the original Star Wars trilogy may not have been the masterpiece we all know and love without Harrison Ford at the helm of the Millennium Falcon.
#9 – Terminator (O.J Simpson as the Terminator)
Oh dear. Where do we start with this one? This particular casting choice has got to be the most horrifying near miss in Hollywood history; James Cameron must breathe a sigh of relief every day. O.J Simpson was perilously close to being cast as everyone’s favourite robot killing machine, so much so that the casting team only offered eventual terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger the part of Kyle Reece; the soldier who comes back in time to save Sarah Connor.
In a super ironic twist, the reason they decided not to cast O.J. was because he was ‘too nice’ for the part. We should remember that before his 1994 trial O.J. was a seen as a funny, innocent and likeable guy; James Cameron has recently joked that they may have reconsidered after he killed his wife. Queue awkward laughter.
#8 – Harry Potter (Robin Williams as Hagrid)
Robin Williams will always remain one of my favourite actors and his untimely death is a tremendous loss the entertainment world, but I think even he would agree that he wasn’t the smartest choice for the dopey and lovable Hagrid.
Williams proved he can rock the huge beard look pretty successfully in films like Jumanji, but I doubt he could have got to grips with Hagrid’s rather unique accent that Robbie Coltrane mastered so eloquently.
Williams was interested in a few roles in the Harry Potter franchise but his dreams of appearing in the wizarding world were dashed with JK Rowling insisted that almost all the actors be British. “There were a couple of parts I would have wanted to play, but there was a ban on American actors,” Williams told the New York Post.
For some reason I can’t get the thought of a Hagrid that acts exactly like the Genie in Aladdin; maybe it would have been amazing?
#7 – Men in Black (David Schwimmer as Agent J)
I really, really don’t know what they were thinking with this one. Agent J, the effortlessly cool, sophisticated and charming secret agent from the MIB movies played by the awkward and geeky David Schwimmer? No, I don’t see it either.
I love Friends as much as the next guy, but finding new ways to impress Rachel is a far cry from protecting Earth from mutant cockroach aliens; I just don’t think he would have had it in him. Agent J is a confident, cocky, know it all and Schwimmer is just, not.
What’s even crazier is that the only reason we ended up with Will Smith playing the role is because Schwimmer turned it down! The people in charge never saw how stupid their casting choice was, but thankfully Schwimmer did and the right person was cast in the end.
#6 – The Matrix (Sean Connery as Morpheus)
Morpheus is now such an iconic character it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the role, but the casting team for the Matrix movies were so keen for Sean Connery to take the role that they offered it to him twice!
Something tells me the Matrix would have had a very different vibe with Connery playing Morpheus. Try reading this famous Morpheus quote: “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it”. Now read it in the voice of Sean Connery; not quite the same is it?
Connery turned down this role and a part in Lord of the Rings because he didn’t understand the scripts; he regretted both decisions and went on to star in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In this case the third time was not the charm.
#5 – Superman Lives (Nicholas Cage as Superman)
To be fair this isn’t a Hollywood Hit because the movie was never actually made, but still, the thought of Nicholas Cage appearing as Superman is too funny to not include on this list.
Superman Lives was to be a Tim Burton project centred on the physiological trauma Superman faces as he speculates whether he is an alien or just crazy; the whole plot is a bit mad and very Tim Burton. They got as far as fitting Cage out in a skin tight Superman Costume, footage of which has recently come to light. Cage has also revealed his strong feelings towards the project and as a former comic book fan it was a dream role for him; “I knew I was going to go towards something quite unique and different than anything you’ve seen with Superman,” Cage revealed in a 2013 interview with Empire.
Ultimately the project failed to get off the ground and Cage Walked. It’s a shame, maybe playing the nicest superhero around would have helped Cage avoid becoming the joke he is today; personally I would have loved to seen lazer beams coming out of those crazy eyes.
#4 – Iron Man (Tom Cruise as Iron Man)
Tom Cruise as Iron Man seemed like the perfect fit for the casting directors when the film was first being discussed. Iron Man was Marvels first self-funded film and they really needed a hit, and Tom Cruise was well known to bring in the big box office money, so the people at the top wanted him as the lead role.
Tom Cruise is also known for, well, being a bit arrogant. When he read the script and discovered that Iron man was behind a mask for most of the movie he demanded that his face be visible at all times. Whilst Marvel wanted a hit they weren’t prepared to completely change the main character to suit the ego of Tom Cruise. Director Jon Favreau was forced to admit he was no longer considering Cruise after the rumours intensified “I swear I’m not interested in Tom Cruise. Honest!” he said in an online interview way back in 2006.
Common sense prevailed in the end when the much more humble Robert Downey Jr. was given the role; now we have a perfect combination of funny, smart and likable personality that makes Iron Man my favourite superhero!
#3 – Avatar (Matt Damon as Jake Sully)
I’m sure most of the actors on this list regret not getting the part, but surely none more than Matt Damon? It’s bad enough when someone else is picked over you, but when it’s for a part in the most successful film of all time it’s gotta sting that little bit more.
Damon was James Cameron’s first choice to play the leading man in his other worldly epic, but scheduling conflicts meant he couldn’t commit to the movie straight away and the Avatar team were not willing to work around him.
Matt spoke to playboy magazine and revealed that James Cameron said ‘Look, I’m offering it to you, but if you say no, the movie doesn’t need you’, To which Matt replied ‘Oh God, not only do I have to say no because of scheduling, but he’s going to make a star out of some guy who’s going to start taking jobs from me later.’” Oh the hard life of a mega famous actor.
Would Avatar still be the box office behemoth with Damon in the lead role? Probably, but I think Matt was too famous for the part, the relatively unknown at the time Sam Worthington blended into that crazy, blue world much better.
#2 – Mr and Mrs Smith (Johnny Depp and Nicole Kidman as Mr and Mrs Smith)
That’s right; the movie that gave birth to Brangelina was almost cast without Brad or Angelina! The perfect Hollywood power couple hit it off when they were both cast in Mr and Mrs Smith and they’ve been a ridiculously good looking couple ever since.
It’s frightening to think of anyone in their place but the makers of Mr and Mrs Smith originally asked Nichole Kidman and Johnny Depp to play the leading characters. I can’t imagine the chemistry working as well between these two and they certainly wouldn’t have ended up marrying in real life!
Depp pulled out of the production early on and Kidman was dropped when Brad threatened to leave due to the lack of chemistry between the two. Mr Pitt came running back when it was announced that Jolie has been cast; I wonder why.
#1 – Titanic (Macaulay Culkin as Jack)
I mentioned this one at the start and for good reason; this must be the most ridiculous casting choice I’ve ever heard. I mean, were they being serious? The Home Alone kid running around with Kate Winslet on a sinking boat; sounds more like a comedy than a romantic tragedy. Just thinking about the steamy car scene is making me cringe.
Culkin was considered for the part along with literally dozens of actors before they settled with Leonardo Dicaprio. I’m fairly sure that as soon as James Cameron saw Culkins name on the list he had someone fired and started again. Whatever happened I’m just someone came to their senses and realised how RIDICULOUS the movie would have been with Culkin as the lead. Hollywood hasn’t been kind to Culkin since, with virtually no appearances in any notable movie and a failed comedy band.