19 Actors Who Almost Played Your Favorite Characters

Your favorite films, in an alternate universe.

It's hard to separate actors from the iconic characters they've played. Can anyone really look at Daniel Radcliffe and not see a wizard? Or think of Jaleel White and not picture Steve Urkel? Our favorite screen characters are defined by the actors who brought them to life, so it's hard to picture them being played by someone else. 

And yet, they very well could have been.

Here are 19 of your favorite film and TV characters who were almost played by totally different actors. It's kind of shocking to imagine how this would've changed the characters we've se grown to love. 

Scroll down and you'll see what we mean.


1. Sean Connery was almost Gandalf.

Despite a huge salary offer, Connery turned it down because he apparently didn't understand the part.

2. Jack Nicholson was considered for Michael Corleone.

Nicholson reportedly turned down the role because he felt his ethnicity didn't make him the best fit. "I knew The Godfather was going to be a great film, but at that time I believed Indians should play roles written for Indians and Italians should do the same," he later said.

3. Gwyneth Paltrow was almost Titanic's Rose DeWitt Bukater.

James Cameron originally had his eyes set on Gwyneth Paltrow, but ended up getting Kate Winslet instead.

4. Julia Roberts was almost Catherine Tramell from Basic Instinct.

Something tells us the film's most famous scene would have gone a little differently if Roberts had taken the role.

5. David Schwimmer could have been Agent J in Men In Black.

We wouldn't mind seeing Ross--we mean David Schwimmer--play Agent J, though it would probably make for a very different film.

6. Bill Murray almost brooded as Batman.

Something tells us 1989 Batman would have had a bit less edge in this role.

7. Will Smith almost entered the Matrix as Neo.

In an interview with Wired, Smith explained, "You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn't see it. I watched Keanu's performance - and very rarely do I say this - but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don't try and perform every moment."

8. Tom Selleck could have been Indiana Jones.

Because of his role in Magnum P.I. at the time, Selleck didn't get to do any boulder running.

9. Robin Williams almost took a whack at playing Jack Torrance in The Shining.

Apparently Stanley Kubrick decided Robin Williams was "too psychotic" to match his vision for the character.

10. O.J. Simpson was almost The Terminator.

Producers were concerned Simpson was too pleasant and likable to properly play a heartless killer.

11. Jim Carrey turned down Captain Jack Sparrow.

Carrey was already slated to star in Bruce Almighty and couldn't schedule filming for the two movies around each other.

12. John Travolta was in the running to be Forrest Gump.

Travolta hasn't specified why he turned it down, but did admit he regretted it.

13. Al Pacino almost starred as Hans Solo.

Pacino said despite being offered a huge sum of money, he just didn't understand the script.

14. Jennifer Lawrence almost sparkled at Bella Swan in Twilight.

Lawrence said she's glad she didn't get the role since she wouldn't have wanted to endure the media attention Stewart has had to face.

15. Jodie Foster was almost Catwoman...

Foster turned down the role to act in Little Man Tate.

16. ...And Michelle Pfeiffer was almost Clarice in Silence of the Lambs.

Pfeiffer reportedly felt the role was too violent.

17. Marlon Brando was almost compelled to be the priest in The Exorcist

The studio originally wanted Brando to play the role of Father Lankester, but the director stopped them because he was concerned it would become "a Brando movie."

18. Danny DeVito was almost George Constanza on Seinfeld

Steve Buschemi and Chris Rock were also considered for the roles

19. Rosie O'Donnell almost signed on as Elaine Benes.

O'Donnell instead pursued her morning talk show.

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