I am a fairly loyal person in general, and when I fall in love with a character in a movie, I am pretty dead set on the fact that the part was written specifically for them. Which is why I tend to get a little anxious when people start talking about so-and-so turning down a role in a movie that I know and love. I’d rather live in a world where Jennifer Grey was always supposed to play Baby in Dirty Dancing and Meg Ryan was always supposed to play Annie in Sleepless in Seattle. Most of the time, if you try to tell me something different, I will cover my ears and try my best not to hear you. So, when it was revealed on the 15th anniversary of Coyote Ugly that Jessica Simpson almost starred in Coyote Ugly in the role that made Piper Perabo a total icon, I had to take a few deep breaths.
This is because’s hard to imagine the characters you’ve fallen in love with throughout cinematic history being played by someone else. But the reality is, for most films, there was usually always someone else who almost got the part. In the case of these famous movies and even more famous stars, it might be hard to imagine anyone else in these pivotal roles. It’s a total rabbit hole of what ifs that it turns out is really fun to travel down.
1. Charlize Theron
Theron almost played the role of Nomi in Showgirls, the director told the New York Daily News exclusively. And, considering what this film notoriously did for Elizabeth Berkley’s career, it’s probably a good thing that she wasn’t ultimately chosen.
2. Cameron Diaz
This casting was so far along that Diaz already had the part. She was set to play Sonya in Mortal Kombat, Bridgette Wilson told People, but had to pull out when she injured her hand during fight training.
3. Tim Roth
This one would have been a game changer. According to Pop Sugar, Tim Roth was the top contender for the role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, not Alan Rickman.
4. Carey Mulligan
Can you imagine Carey Mulligan playing Lisbeth Salander? Well apparently the casting directors of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could. The actress, according to Indiewire, was in the running to score the gritty lead in the film.
5. Al Pacino
Holster your light sabers for this news. Al Pacino almost played Han Solo, not the then rookie actor Harrison Ford. He told MTV exclusively that he turned down the role because the script was too confusing.
6. Cara Delevingne
Before she was an actress/model/socialite, Delevingne told the New Zealand Herald that she tried out for the role of Alice in Alice in Wonderland.
7. Jon Hamm
This would have gone down in history. The only reason Jon Hamm didn’t take on the role of Nick Dunne in Gone Girl was because he couldn’t work it out with his Mad Men schedule. And as satisfied as I am with Affleck’s performance in that piece, Don Draper as a husband bordering on the edge of homicide sounds like an awesome role for him to play. Someone make that happen, please!
8. Britney Spears
The Crossroads star and singer of our dreams almost won our hearts in a whole new way by playing Allie Calhoun in The Notebook. However, Rachel McAdams won over the casting directors and scored the part.
9. Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence almost made another super famous book series her own. According an interview she did with The Guardian in 2012, the star reportedly auditioned to play Bella Swan in the Twilight series. I personally do not want to think about a world in which Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison have never met.
10. Anne Hathaway
According to Us Weekly, Hathaway was reportedly set to star in Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany — but, when she dropped out of the film, Jennifer Lawrence took her place.
11. Angelina Jolie
A ton of actresses were apparently considered to play Ryan Stone in Gravity, but one of the biggest names was Angeline Jolie herself. The movie’s director told The Hollywood Reporter exclusively that the actress had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Jolie in an action movie (I miss you, Lara Croft!), and I for one wouldn’t have been sad to see her kicking ass in outer space.
12. Hailee Steinfeld
According to Hollywood.com, the Pitch Perfect star and pop crooner almost played Katniss in The Hunger Games. I love Steinfeld, but I mean… can you even imagine anyone other than Lawrence saving Panem from the Capitol? I cannot.
13. Mindy Kaling
The funny lady and actress is still bitter about this one. Kaling talked to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live! about how badly she wanted the part of Lillian in Bridesmaids. “I practiced it so much and I was so into it, and I love that whole cast. That one was a heartbreaker.”
Aww, Mindy! Cheer up! Just look at these other amazing actors and how close they almost came to the roles of a lifetime. In a lot of ways, it ended up being a good thing that they didn’t — it led to other roles, and bigger and better things for both parties.