Movie Roles Passed on by Actors

Celebrities, Fail, Film

We all know that with very few exceptions, the guy that ends up being cast in a movie role isn’t the only guy being looked at for the role. However, some rolls are so iconic, so associated with an actor that it’s hard to imagine somebody else having ever been considered for the role. Here are seven famous roles and the actors that almost got the part.

Marty McFly

It’s the role that launched Michael J. Fox’s movie career, and it’s the role that he almost didn’t get. While he would go on to film two more Back to the Future movies, the part almost went to…

Eric Stoltz. Not only did the part almost go to him, it did go to him at first. They even began filming the movie with Stoltz until was replaced by Fox (the original choice but for his inability to get out of Family Ties), when Robert Zemeckis and Spielberg decided that he just wasn’t right for the part. Some of the scenes that Stoltz filmed can be seen on the 25th Anniversary release from 2010.

Han Solo

He may have shot first, but Harrison Ford was not the only actor up for the role of Han Solo in the first Star Wars movie. Part of the reason he got the role was due to being brought in to help actors reading for other parts, but it wasn’t a role that he was initially considered for.

Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss, John Travolta, Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell, Sylvester Stallone, Al Pacino, and Christopher Walken were all considered for the role of Han Solo. Can you imagine any of them sitting next to Chewbacca in the Falcon while helping Luke defeat the Empire? Yeah…me either.


Forgetting about the second two movies, the first Matrix movie was ground breaking and helped Keanu Reeves get a lot of movie roles that he probably didn’t deserve. Keanu Reeves wasn’t the first actor that the Wachowski brothers offered the role to though. No, that distinction goes to…Will Smith. No seriously. And the best part of it all…he turned down the role so that he could film Wild Wild West. Ok, to be fair it’s not like Will Smith’s career has really been hurt by not taking the role, but c’mon…Wild Wild West?

Indiana Jones

Sure, he was Han Solo first, but this was the movie franchise that Harrison Ford carried all by himself, and that helped him make archaeology cool. However, he almost didn’t get the part as there was somebody else that was originally offered, and wanted, the part.

Tom “The Mustache” Selleck accepted the role of Indiana Jones, but Magnum P.I. wouldn’t let him have the time off to go film the movie, so they went with Harrison Ford instead since George Lucas was familiar with him from Star Wars. What’s even worse for Selleck is that a Writer’s Guild strike ended up pushing back filming of Magnum so that he could have filmed Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Jack Torrance

It certainly wasn’t Jack Nicholson’s first movie, but it certainly gave him one of the lines he’s most known for – “Here’s Johnny!” But the actor that almost got to say that line wasn’t Jack but…

Robin Williams. Sure, today we know that Robin Williams can be a serious actor that has even played mentally unstable characters, but back in those days he was the funny guy and so the role wasn’t exactly considered right for him.

Vivian Ward

It’s the movie that really launched Julia Roberts’ career, setting her on the path to worldwide fame. However, she wasn’t the only red head being considered for the role. The other auburn locked lady was…

Molly Ringwald. Disney, who owns Touchstone Pictures that was distributing the film, liked Ringwald better, probably due to her time in the Brat Pack. However, she turned down the role since she was uncomfortable with playing a prostitute (insert acting joke here), and the role eventually went to Julia Roberts, who won a Golden Globe for the role.

Forrest Gump

Everybody loves Forrest Gump, it’s a touching story and deserves every one of the awards it received. Tom Hanks is brilliant in the role and it is easily one of the defining parts of his career. But it almost wasn’t his part. The actor that was the first choice to play the part of Forrest was none other than…

John Travolta. To this day Travolta admits that passing on the role was a mistake, but I think we can all agree that it’s better that it went to Hanks and his Everyman way of acting than Danny Zuko

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