Laura Kadner
Updated June 27, 2014

There are certain film roles so iconic, it’s hard to believe there was ever another actor even considered for those parts. But show business is a fickle beast. Sometimes after the struggle of auditions, the trial of screen tests, and even after the film goes into production, things can change. Like the star of the film. Most of the time this is for the best and yet we can’t help but wonder what could’ve been. Here are a few of Hollywood’s most memorable recasting decisions:

Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford is the perfect man and the perfect actor to play Indiana. I literally cannot even imagine another man in the role. I try and my mind just rejects the very sacrilegious thought. But once upon a time Tom Selleck was supposed to be the infamous Dr. Jones and he even did a screen test. He was offered the role but CBS wouldn’t let him out of his contract for Magnum P.I., and the rest is history.

Back to the Future

This was a major recast, as much of the movie had already been shot with Eric Stoltz in the role made famous by Michael J. Fox. Stoltz made a very different Marty McFly and producers thought he just couldn’t bring that magic to the time traveling table. Though the footage above doesn’t allow for any of Stoltz’s dialogue, you could tell this would be a very different movie without the Fox.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Oh, how Hollywood history was made with the casting of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in the title roles of this film. But originally Mrs. Smith was supposed to be portrayed by Nicole Kidman. Imagine how things might’ve been different had Jolie never replaced her.

The Lord of the Rings

Everyone knows and loves Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in this epic trilogy. What everybody might not know is that the role originally belonged to Stuart Townsend. Townsend trained and prepared for the part for two months, only to be replaced by Mortensen at the last minute when director Peter Jackson decided Townsend wasn’t old enough. Apparently, Jackson also offered the role to Daniel Day-Lewis multiple times, which is hilarious.


Sean Young was originally set to play Vicki Vale in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman spectacular. She ended up breaking her arm when she fell from a horse while filming a scene. Kim Basinger was brought in to replace her. And the horseback riding scene of disaster? It was didn’t even make it into the final version of the film.

The Matrix

Keanu Reeves portrayed The One but it turns out he wasn’t the only one offered the starring role in this sci-fi trilogy. It was first offered to Will Smith and then passed along to Ewan McGregor. There were about four or five on the list of would-be Neos before the role made its way to Keanu.

Romeo + Juliet

Claire wasn’t always the Juliet to Leo’s Romeo. Hard to believe, but apparently the role was offered to Natalie Portman. And though their age difference was inappropriate (Natalie would’ve been 13 to Leo’s 21), in the clip above where Natalie explains why she passed on the role, she still seems a touch disappointed. Everyone went on to have awesome careers, so no harm no foul!

Star Wars

We conclude as we began, with my man Harrison. Again and unbelievably he wasn’t the first choice for Han Solo. How this is possible is insanity since he is perfect. He is Han. But the role was offered up to Al Pacino. Thank god he passed and it was because, of all reasons, that he “didn’t understand the script.” Ya got stars and ya got wars, Al. That’s basically it.