Russell Crowe: Morpheus, Wolverine, and Aragorn
Yes, Crowe could have been all those iconic characters on screen. Morpheus was finally played by Laurence Fishburn; Wolverine was the breakthrough role for Hugh Jackman; and the same goes for Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn on Lord of the Rings.
That’s not all: Crowe turned down all of those roles. The one in The Matrix to do The Insider and Gladiator; X-Men to star in A beautiful mind (he even suggested fellow Aussie Jackman for the role!), and Aragorn because he was “too greedy”: he thought that 10 percent of the franchise’s profits wasn’t fair (he wanted an upfront fee). He probably didn’t think it would be as big a film as it turned out to be.
Al Pacino: Han Solo
Can you imagine anyone but Harrison Ford playing Solo? Now, can you imagine Al Pacino?
Pacino turned down this iconic role in the Star Wars films because the script was “confusing”.
Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Burt Reynolds, and James Caan were also considered for the part.
Bill Murray/Charlie Sheen: Batman
When Burton’s Batman (1989) was in development, some people still had Adam West’s comedy series in mind so, expecting a comedy, some of Hollywood’s top comedians were considered for the main role, such as Murray and Sheen.
When a “darker” approach was decided, very different actors were considered to play the Dark Knight, including Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Tom Selleck, Harrison Ford, and Dennis Quaid.
Danny Glover: (Black) Raiden
It’s one of the most beloved characters in Mortal Kombat history, and he could have been black (!)
Danny Glover almost played a black version of the famous God of Thunder in the movie adaptation of the iconic video game, released in 1995.
Yeah, Christopher Lambert didn’t look like Raiden either so…
Lisa Kudrow: Roz (Frasier)
Lisa Kudrow will forever be famous for playing Phoebe Buffay on Friends, but do you know how she got the role? It was thanks to being fired from another successful sitcom!
She had originally been cast as Roz Doyle, Frasier’s colleague and friend, who ended up being played by Peri Gilpin. Kudrow has stated that it was one of the best things that ever happened to her.
Kurt Cobain: Lance (Pulp Fiction)
A music genius and the most relevant artist of the grunge movement, Kurt Cobain could have starred in one of the most legendary films of the ’90s: Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
Cobain would have played Lance, the role that eventually went to Eric Stoltz.
Leo DiCaprio: Anakin Skywalker
Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the first Hollywood stars considered to play the role of an adult Darth Vader, Anakin Skywalker, in the Star Wars prequels. However, after a meeting with director George Lucas, the actor admitted that he didn’t feel he was the right fit.
Michael Keaton: Jack (Lost)
Michael Keaton could have starred on one of the most important shows of the past decade: Lost.
Did you know that Jack was going to die in the very first episode, making Kate the “leader” on the island? That’s why Keaton first said yes to J.J. Abrams, but when writers decided to keep Jack alive and make him a series regular, he turned the part down, saying that “an hour show every week” was too much.
Michael Jackson: Spiderman/Doctor Who
Michael Jackson tried to buy Marvel to play Spider-Man. Period.
The “King of Pop” was a comic book fan and he loved Marvel and Spidey. MJ even worked with Stan Lee Media and tried to buy Marvel Comics in the ’90s, just so he could play him.
He also almost played one of the most iconic British characters of all time: “the” Doctor.
According to the book Now on the Big Screen, Paramount Pictures considered making a Doctor Who film starring Michael Jackson… and their second choice was Bill Cosby!
Schwarzenegger/Kurt Russell: Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon producer Dino De Laurentiis originally wanted Kurt Russell for the main role, but the actor, already a star, apparently turned it down because the character was “too one-dimensional”. Sam J. Jones also beat a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose thick accent made him lose the part!