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Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Iconic Roles and the Actors That Almost Played Them

Gettyimages | Paramount Pictures
By Brian Hurwitz

All it takes is one role to catapult an unknown actor into the stratosphere of superstardom. No matter where they started, every A-Lister became a household name because of a single part in a single movie that made the world stand up and take notice. Yet for every one of these roles, there are numerous stories about the actors that almost booked them. However, for one reason or another, they worked on other projects while someone else turned in a performance for the ages. While there are far too many to detail in full, here are a few of the more amazing and mind-boggling of them.

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Tom Selleck
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Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most enduring and beloved action/adventure films of all time. While Harrison Ford had already forced audiences to take notice of his talents years earlier when he played Han Solo, taking on the part of Indiana Jones turned Ford into a megastar. Initially, however, George Lucas, the film's producer, resisted the idea of casting Ford and instead offered the part to Tom Selleck. Yet when Selleck could not get out of his contract for his hit show, Magnum P.I,, Ford got the role.

Giphy | Star Wars

As for Han Solo, Lucas and the producers had an incredibly difficult time deciding who to cast in what would become one of the most memorable roles of the 20th century. Amongst those in consideration were Sylvester Stallone, Nick Nolte and Kurt Russell. Keanu Reeves was unforgettable as Neo in the action blockbuster The Matrix, yet he was actually the fourth actor offered the part. Before him, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio were all given the chance to be The One, yet it was Reeves who ultimately jumped at the opportunity.


Julia Roberts was on everybody's A-List after her turn in Pretty Woman opposite the already established Richard Gere. But originally, producers wanted the parts to be played by Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer. And while Pacino missed out on that role, he landed the coveted part of Michael Corleone decades earlier. In doing so, he beat out such rising talent as Jack Nicholson, Christoper Walken and Burt Reynolds. And as hard as it is to imagine anyone else but Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet playing ill-fated lovers Jack and Rose in Titanic, many others famous names auditioned for the roles such as Johnny Depp and Madonna and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Emma Stone
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Emma Stone won an Oscar for her turn in LaLa Land, yet producers almost cast Emma Watson in the part. Jennifer Aniston became a cultural and entertainment icon for playing Rachel Green on Friends, however it was nearly played by Saved By The Bell's Tiffani Thiessen. After years of playing a dumb blonde on Married... With Children, Christina Applegate was hesitant to play another and passed on the chance to be Elle Woods. Instead, the part went to Reese Witherspoon. And Gwyneth Paltrow won audience's hearts and an Oscar for her part in Shakespeare In Love, but was only offered the role once Kate Winslet passed.

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