Cary Grant as 'James Bond' (1962)
When the makers of the first James Bond film went in search of the ultimate Bond they asked the suavest man in the world to play the part. No, not Sean Connery - Hollywood legend Cary Grant. Grant ultimately turned down the role because he didn't want to be tied up with a commitment to keep playing the James Bond character in a franchise and producers ultimately went in search of other actors. While these days many consider Connery to be the ultimate Bond at the time of his casting not everyone was thrilled, Bond creator Ian Fleming went on record to say "He's not exactly what I had in mind."
Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in 'Back to the Future' (1985)
Poor old Eric Stoltz, he got the role of Marty McFly in what would go on to be one of the biggest film franchises of the 80s and 90s but after five weeks of shooting with him director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg made the tough decision to fire him and start from scratch. Apparently it wasn't felt that Stoltz had the comic ability to carry off the role. Michael J. Fox was originally the first choice for the part, but couldn't get time off from his hit TV series 'Family Ties' to shoot the film. Ultimately after firing Stoltz Spielberg brokered a deal that allowed Michael J. Fox shoot his TV series and 'Back to the Future' at the same time. Next time you see a re-run of 'Back to the Future' spare a thought for Eric Stoltz, who very almost played the now famous role.
Nicolas Cage as Superman in 'Superman Lives' (c. 1996)
Apparently Nicolas Cage was still considered to be box office gold back in the mid to late nineties because he was signed to play Superman in a blockbuster Warner Bros. film version of the classic comic book hero. The studio signed Tim Burton, who had had huge success with bringing Batman back to the big screen, to re-imagine the film franchise for the MTV generation. The film languished in development hell, with $30 million being spent without a single frame ever being shot. Super-producer Jon Peters wanted the film to be more in the vein of 'Star Wars' and it was felt that he lost sight of what the character was really about. Peters' script demands included a gay robot sidekick for the villain, a polar bear fight and a 'space-dog' that could be marketed as a soft toy.
Britney Spears as Allie Calhoun in ‘The Notebook’
‘The Notebook’ has become one of those classic rom-coms you flick on whenever you need something to swoon at, but could you imagine Ryan Gosling declaring his undying love to… Britney Spears?! The pop princess was among the contenders for the role of Allie, along with Jessica Biel and Reese Witherspoon. Thankfully, the part eventually went to Rachel McAdams.
Getty Images/New Line Cinema
Nicolas Cage as John Bender in ‘The Breakfast Club’
The original candidate for John Bender was Emilio Estevez, but John Hughes could not find an actor for Andrew Clark so Estevez switched roles. Bender eventually went to Judd Nelson after considering Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. The reasoning behind not going with Cage? He cost too much.
Getty Images/Universal Studios
Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose DeWitt Bukater in ‘Titanic’
Could you imagine Rose as anyone other than Kate Winslet? Gwyneth Paltrow was in the running, but Kate Winslet eventually won out, and we’re so relieved, because Kate and Leo just look so darn good together. Their connection transfers off-screen too – DiCaprio gave Winslet away when she married her third husband in 2012.
Getty Images/20th Century Fox
Carey Mulligan as Lisbeth Salander in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’
Cute-as-pie actress Carey Mulligan auditioned for the role of Lisbeth Salander three times but the filmmakers eventually chose Rooney Mara. However, everything seems to have worked out for her – she went on to star alongside heartthrob Ryan Gosling in ‘Drive’ and is now in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ with Luhrmann’s Romeo, Leonardo DiCaprio and Joel Edgerton.
Getty Images/Columbia Pictures
Ashton Kutcher as Patrick Verona in ’10 Things I Hate About You’
Could you imagine a younger Ashton Kutcher as sexy bad boy Patrick Verona in the 1999 film adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’? What about Josh Hartnett? Nah, we didn’t think so. Nobody could have charmed Julia Stiles more than our very own Heath Ledger, in what was to become one of the actor’s most famous and loved roles.
Getty Images/Buena Vista Pictures
Jennifer Lawrence as Bella Swan in ‘Twilight’
Believe it or not, before she became known as Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence once auditioned to play Bella Swan. Michelle Trachtenberg and Sara Paxton were also potentials. Could you imagine RPattz and JLaw being a couple?
Getty Images/Summit Entertainment
Eddie Furlong as 'Spider-Man' (1992)
What if legendary director James Cameron had made 'Spider-Man' in 1992 starring Eddie Furlong? Eddie was still a hot property, riding the crest of the 'Terminator 2' wave, and superhero films were enjoying a renaissance with the return to the big screen of 'Batman'. Arnold Schwarzenegger was even hotly tipped to be cast as Doctor Octopus. Sadly the production company couldn't come up with the money to make this film a reality, but some of the original script and storyboards still exist out there in cyberspace.
Annette Bening as Catwoman in 'Batman Returns' (1992)
Michelle Pfeiffer is so inextricably linked with the role of Catwoman in Tim Burton's 'Batman' that its hard to imagine anyone else playing the role. Strangely enough though, Annette Bening was reportedly Burton's first choice to play the part. Unfortunately for Burton Bening became pregnant before filming was due to start and ending up bowing out of the role. I don't know about you, but we just can't imagine Bening bringing as much feline ferocity to the role as Miss Pfeiffer.
Warner Bros/Getty Images
Leonardo DiCaprio as Dirk Diggler in 'Boogie Nights' (1997)
Boogie Nights was the film that really made Mark Wahlberg's career as a serious actor, with many eyebrows raised when he was originally cast in the role. But before the part was offered to Marky Mark Hollywood heavy hitter Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role. In the years since the film came out Leo has gone on record to say how disappointed he was to have rejected such a great role, saying recently "My biggest regret is 'Boogie Nights'." Lucky for Mark!
Daryl Hannah as Vivian Ward in 'Pretty Woman' (1990) Would 'Pretty Woman' have become the cultural phenomenon that is has without Julia Roberts in the lead role? It's a question worth asking because before Roberts signed on Daryl Hannah was offered the role of Vivian, the prostitute with a heart of gold. The film would propel the 21-year-old Julia Roberts to superstardom, ultimately making her one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. As for Hannah she says she has never regretted turning down the part, "One of the things I'm most proud of is refusing to take Julia's role. Every time I see it I like it less and less." Huh? We think Hannah might have a case of sour grapes, after all these days while Julia is the Queen of Hollywood, Daryl is best remembered for playing a mermaid in 1984's 'Splash'.
Frank Sinatra as Harry Callahan in 'Dirty Harry'
'Dirty Harry' is probably the most iconic role of Clint Eastwood's career but it wasn't even a role intended for him originally. When the first ads appeared in the trade press it was actually billed as a film starring Frank Sinatra in the title role. Luckily for Eastwood Sinatra pulled out because a hand injury meant he couldn't hold a gun.
Warner Bros/ Getty
Kurt Russell as Han Solo in 'Star Wars' (1977)
Han Solo was one of those roles connected to a lot of people before it ever landed in Harrison Ford's lap, including Nick Nolte and Christopher Walken. A close second to Harrison was Kurt Russell. We can see that his scruffy charms could have worked well in the Han Solo role but perhaps his acting skills weren't quite up to the task. Russell's original 'Star Wars' audition tapes still exist out there on the internet, and probably have most fans counting their lucky stars that the producers went with Ford.... WEIRD FACT: The last words that Walt Disney ever wrote before he died are rumoured to have been KURT RUSSELL.
Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' (1981)
Thank goodness Kurt Russell didn't steal Harrison's part as Han Solo in 'Star Wars' because it was this performance that impressed Indiana Jones producers enough to offer him the lead part. But not before they had originally offered the role to none other than 80s TV star and moustache fan Tom Selleck. Sadly for Selleck he was committed to his TV show 'Magnum P.I.' and couldn't take them time out to shoot 'Raiders' which is when Steven Spielberg thought of Harrison Ford. Unluckily for Selleck, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' would go on to be nominated for 9 Academy Awards and become one of the highest grossing films of the 80s. Harrison Ford would become a bona fide movie legend, and poor Tom Selleck would languish in TV land.
Will Smith as Neo in 'The Matrix' (1999)
It is impossible to think about 'The Matrix' trilogy without associating it with Keanu Reeves, who would take the lead role in the epic film franchise. However Will Smith was initially offered the role, but reportedly turned it down because he had doubts about how ambitious the film was in terms of visual effects - still a relatively young field back in the 90s. Instead, in a move that would have anyone questioning their judgment, Will Smith signed on for 'Wild Wild West' which sunk largely without a trace while 'The Matrix' would go on to make a fortune.
Columbia Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures
Kate Beckinsale as Three-breasted prostitute in 'Total Recall' (2012)
Kate Beckinsale has said that she very nearly ended up in the role of the mutant three-breasted hooker in 'Total Recall'. A scheduling conflict ultimately meant that Kate couldn't do the part originally intended for her and found herself cast in the part of Doug Quaid's (Colin Farrell) wife Lori. Ultimately her original part went to Kaitlyn Leeb, who since debuting her costume at Comic-Con has become a viral search term on the internet. Maybe the kind of attention that Beckinsale could do without, probably not the role that she would like to ultimately be remembered for!
Sissy Spacek as Princess Leia in 'Star Wars' (1977)
The legend goes that Brian de Palma and George Lucas held joint auditions for the films 'Carrie' and 'Star Wars' and initially they cast the two most promising actresses, Carrie Fisher and Sissy Spacek, in the two female roles they had - only Lucas took Spacek as Leia and Fisher was to play psychotic prom queen Carrie. As history will record, ultimately Spacek would play Carrie, and both directors would go on to make iconic films within their own genres.