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MATT LEBLANC: PHIL DUNPHY ON MODERN FAMILY
Before Ty Burrell landed the part of the Dunphy family patriarch on Modern Family, showrunners had another funny man in mind: LeBlanc, who they offered the part to first. However, he turned it down — not because he didn't think the show would be a hit, but because he didn't think he could tackle the character. "I remember reading it thinking, this is a really good script, [but] I’m not the guy for this," the Friends actor told USA Today. "I’d be doing the project an injustice to take this. I know what I can do, I know what I can’t do. Plus, I’m having too much fun laying on the couch.”
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CHARLIZE THERON: ROXIE HART, CHICAGO
"I've definitely wanted stuff that I didn't get. For awhile I was attached to Chicago. I really wanted that — I was a dancer for most of my life, and there was a real nostalgia — the idea of making that movie for me. I got kicked off it. The directed kicked me off it. I was really bummed about it," Theron told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM radio show of losing out on the lead role in the 2002 film. "I think because I had it I was like, 'Oh I'm going to make this movie,' and then I was kicked off it."
She added: "There was another director attached and he brought me on. And then that director got fired and this new director got brought on and he didn't want to make the movie with me. I was going to play the Renée Zellweger role — which by the way, she did an amazing job. So yeah, I'm fully envious of what she did … I've seen that movie a lot. I really like the movie, I think everybody's great in that film. I fantasize to be in that movie. I think it just would have been different."
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CONNIE BRITTON: OLIVIA POPE, SCANDAL
Of filling the role of D.C. crisis manager Olivia Pope, casting director Linda Lowy revealed network executives originally envisioned Scandal's leading lady as a white woman. "The network was reading us their top choices, and it was Connie [Britton] and all white women," said Lowy. "I panicked. Somebody finally piped up, 'We're going to have to redo this list.' " Kerry Washington was ultimately cast, making her the first black woman to topline a drama in 37 years.
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EMMA WATSON: MIA, LA LA LAND
"The casting of this movie during the six years it took to get made went through lots of permutations, and it's true there was a moment where Emma Watson and Miles Teller were doing it," La La Land director Damien Chazelle told Uproxx. While the part of Mia ultimately went to Emma Stone, Watson ended up landing the leading role in Disney's live-action film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Not too bad, eh?
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MILES TELLER: SEBASTIAN, LA LA LAND
Teller has been open about missing out on the movie-musical role made famous by Ryan Gosling. He told Esquire that he almost gave up the film War Dogs with Jonah Hill due to scheduling conflicts with La La Land when he unexpectedly found out the film was moving forward without him. "I got a call from my agent, saying, 'Hey, I just got a call from Lionsgate. Damien told them that he no longer thinks you're creatively right for the project. He's moving on without you,' " the actor recalled. Despite the change of plans, Teller remains optimistic, as he told Vanity Fair: "I'm a pretty strong believer that everything happens for a reason."
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RUMER WILLIS: SERENA VAN DER WOODSEN, GOSSIP GIRL
The CW's casting director David Rapaport revealed that the network was gunning for Rumer Willisa to play the star role of Serena van der Woodsen, the Manhattan it-girl for whom drama follows wherever she goes. Blake Lively ended up nailing the role – and, to be quite honest, we can't imagine golden girl Serena as anyone else. Rapaport was pleased with how it all turned out, too: "These lesser-known girls really captured the essence of the show and carried it for six years."
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CHRISTINA APPLEGATE: ELLE WOODS, LEGALLY BLONDE
The Vacation star recently told ETOnline that the script for the 2001 hit about sorority girl turned lawyer Elle Woods initially came her way but she was leery about taking on another "dumb blonde" role since her TV series Married … with Children had just wrapped. "I got scared of kind of repeating myself," she said. "What a stupid move that was, right?" Still, Applegate is happy with the way things turned out. "Reese deserved that. She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that's her life. That's her path."
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ANNE HATHAWAY: TIFFANY, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Jennifer Lawrence won critical acclaim (and a Best Actress Oscar) for 2012's Silver Linings Playbook, but Hathaway was actually movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's first choice to play the role of Tiffany, he revealed in an interview last year. Though Hathaway turned down the part due to "creative differences" with director David O. Russell, she also went on to win an Oscar that year, for Best Supporting Actress in Les Misérables.
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MOLLY RINGWALD: VIVIAN, PRETTY WOMAN
Famous throughout the '80s for coming-of-age, high school movies, Ringwald had the opportunity to break out of her mold when she was handed the script for $3,000 – or what would later be known as Pretty Woman. "I don't specifically remember turning it down," she now says. "The script was okay but I gotta say, Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that."
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JACK NICHOLSON: MICHAEL CORLEONE, THE GODFATHER
There are few films more iconic than 1972's The Godfather, in part because of Al Pacino's turn as mob boss Michael Corleone. But Nicholson actually turned down the role because he didn't feel he was the right fit. "Back then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians," the actor, who would go on to play hit man Charley Partanna in 1985's Prizzi's Honor, told MovieLine. "There were a lot of actors who could have played Michael, myself included, but Al Pacino was Michael Corleone."
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JOHN TRAVOLTA: FORREST, FORREST GUMP
Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get. In this case it was Tom Hanks instead of Travolta in the titular role of the 1994 hit. While Travolta reportedly has said that passing on Gump was a big mistake, he went on to make a splash at the box office that same year with Pulp Fiction and even competed against Hanks for the Best Actor Oscar. Ultimately, Hanks took home the gold.
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LINDSAY LOHAN: JADE, THE HANGOVER
LiLo may have a rep of being difficult to work with (hey, there's a whole New York Times piece on the subject), but it wasn't her behavior that kept her from landing 2009's The Hangover. "Honestly, it felt like she ended up being too young for what we were talking about," said director Todd Phillips, who met with then-20-year-old Lohan for the role that eventually went to Heather Graham. "People love to attack her for everything, like: 'Ha, she didn't see how great The Hangover was going to be. She turned it down.' She didn't turn it down. She loved the script, actually. It really was an age thing."
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JOHNNY DEPP: FERRIS, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF
Decades after the film's 1986 debut, Matthew Broderick is still synonymous with the role of pro hooky player Bueller. But believe it or not, it could have been Depp twisting-and-shouting through the streets of Chicago. The future 21 Jump Street star was John Hughes's first choice for the title role, but he had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts. Depp later conceded during an Inside the Actors Studio interview that Broderick did a "great job" in the film.
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GWYNETH PALTROW: ROSE, TITANIC
The 1997 blockbuster made Kate Winslet a superstar, but Paltrow came close to being cast as Rose, the posh passenger who fell for Leonardo DiCaprio's rakish Jack aboard the doomed voyage. "I know that the story is that I turned it down," Paltrow told Howard Stern. "I think I was really in contention for it – I was one of the last two." Regardless, Paltrow isn't bitter. "I look back at the choices I've made and think, 'Why the hell did I say yes to that? And no to that?' And you know, you look at the big picture and think: There's a universal lesson here. What good is it to hold onto roles?"
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KATE WINSLET: VIOLA, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE
Paltrow may have lost Titanic to Winslet, but she took the role of Viola de Lesseps from her when the Brit beauty turned down 1998's Shakespeare in Love. Winslet reportedly rejected the part because she wanted to concentrate on making independent movies, and Paltrow ultimately won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance.
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AL PACINO: HAN SOLO, STAR WARS
Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, R2D2 … Pacino? It almost happened! The actor was offered the part of Han Solo in the 1977 space vehicle but passed on it because he felt it was too "out there." "It was mine for the taking," he has said. "But I didn't understand the script." Though the role eventually went to Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray were also considered.
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SANDRA BULLOCK: MAGGIE, MILLION DOLLAR BABY
Despite reports to the contrary, PEOPLE's World's Most Beautiful didn't turn down Hilary Swank's Academy Award-winning role in the 2004 Clint Eastwood film. "I couldn't get it made. We tried and tried and tried," Bullock has said. Unfortunately, by the time Baby got off the ground, Bullock was filming Miss Congeniality 2. But Bullock remains congenial about the whole experience, saying, "When things like that happen, that's the way they are supposed to be."
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