Many movie stars have their signature roles that propelled them into stardom, however, there are some cases where those now famous stars almost didn’t score that certain, now iconic gig.

Professor Lang of Turning Down The Suck has posted this list of 7 famous roles that nearly went to different actors.

Sean Connery instead of Ian McKellan as Gandolf in “Lord Of The Rings”.

“It’s hard to imagine anybody other than Ian McKellan in the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, but supposedly, Connery was given first dibs at it. He turned it down of course, apparently because he didn’t understand the script. Rumor has it that he was also offered roles in X-Men and The Matrix, and turned those down too. Determined to not miss out another sweet fantasy gig, Connery readily signed on to play Allan Quartermain in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Shortly after, he decided to retire. Can’t imagine why.”

Robert Downey Jr. instead of Daniel Craig in “Cowboys & Aliens”:

“Robert Downey Jr., Hollywood’s latest bad boy outcast turned golden boy cash cow was originally scheduled to play cowboy Jake Lonergan in Jon Favreau’s Sci-Fi Western opus Cowboys and Aliens. Due to scheduling conflicts, he had to drop out and make room for blonde James Bond Daniel Craig.”

John Travolta instead of Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump”:

“It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else playing the diminutively brained titular character in this Robert Zemeckis classic, as it’s become such an iconic role in Tom Hanks’ career. However, he wasn’t the producers first choice to play Forrest; the role was originally offered to John Travolta who turned it down for unspecified reasons and admits that he regrets it now. While John Travolta has a lot of things to regret in his long and storied career (I don’t think I have to get in specifics here), I’m not sure this is one of them. Sure, he may have missed out on the Academy Award that Hanks received for his portrayal, but he also made Pulp Fiction that year.”

Stephen Baldwin instead of Keanu Reeves in “Speed”

“Apparently, Stephen Baldwin was director Jan De Bont’s first choice for the role of heroic, bus-saving everyman Jack Traven. His complaint was that the character seemed too “John McClane-ish,” (the protagonist of the Die Hard films). No worries, though; Baldwin would go on to star in The Usual Suspects that year, cementing his place as one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors…until he followed that with the Pauly Shore “classic” BioDome, and a supporting role in a Flintstone’s sequel that nobody asked for or saw. He hasn’t been seen since, and is presumed depressed and jobless.”

Bill Murray instead of Michael Keaton as Batman

“The original plan for Tim Burton’s 1989 film about the Batman, was to have it more campy, and more in tone with the 1960-s TV series for some reason. With that in mind, who better to take up the Dark Knight’s cowl from incumbent Caped Crusader Adam West, than funnyman Bill Murray? According to Tim Burton, it was Michael Keaton – a choice that confused the studio, who wanted him to hire a more bankable star. Luckily Burton stuck with his instincts, and Keaton nailed it – remaining arguably the best iteration of the character to appear onscreen.”

O.J. Simpson instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator”

“The Juice was the studios original choice to play the Terminator, but director James Cameron felt that he wouldn’t be believable as a stone-cold killer…”

Nicholas Cage instead of Mickey Rourke in “The Wrestler”

Nicolas Cage comes out on top of this list for doing something uncharacteristically noble…and something quite characteristically stupid. Such is the paradox that is Nicolas Cage.

First, the good. Nic and his hair were originally in negotiations to take the lead role in Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar nominated The Wrestler. Despite Cage actively pursuing the role, Aronofsky had his heart set on a washed up Mickey Rourke for the role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson. Cage, showing far greater insight than anyone who’s seen The Wicker Man ever thought he was capable of, agreed with Aronofsky, and politely stepped down. The role became Mickey’s comeback, and even garnered him an Oscar nomination. Not to be outdone, Nicolas Cage took the lead role in Bangkok Dangerous that year, which was also…a movie.

Now for the bad. Like Connery, Cage also turned down a lead role in The Lord of the Rings. Viggo Mortensen would go on to play warrior-king (or something) Aragorn and solidify his career because of it; Cage reportedly dropped out do to “family issues.”

But at least he managed to get two National Treasures under his belt.”


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