50 Actors Who Nearly Played Iconic Roles

What might have been

Tom Cruise could have been... Iron Man (Iron Man)

The Part: The Marvel Universe could have looked very different indeed had the numerous discussions held between Kevin Feige and Tom Cruise resulted in the toothy A-lister playing billionaire Tony Stark.

How They Would've Played It:
If it’s possible, try and imagine Tony Stark as even more smug…

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Downey also brings a good amount of smug to the table, but it’s offset by humour in spades. His comic timing is perfect.

Sean Connery could have been... Gandalf (The Lord Of The Rings)

The Part: The wise old wizard at the heart of the Lord Of The Rings saga, and now also The Hobbit .

How They Would’ve Played It: “Good morning Mishter Bagginsh. We leave at sunshet.” Etc. etc.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It:
Sir Ian McKellen’s dulcet tones are now inseparable from the character. “You shall not PASH!” wouldn’t have worked quite so well.

Jack Nicholson could have been... Michael Corleone (The Godfather)

The Part: The beloved son of Don Vito Corleone could have been played by none other than Jack Nicholson, who eventually dropped out, claiming he didn’t feel the role was right for him.

How They Would’ve Played It:
We could certainly have bought Nicholson as a murderous Mafioso, although he might have been a bit more flamboyant than Al Pacino.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: We agree with Nicholson’s verdict. While the role wasn’t quite right for him, it was absolutely perfect for Pacino.

Molly Ringwald could have been... Vivian Ward (Pretty Woman)

The Part: Tart with a heart Vivian falls in love with a wealthy punter who basically remodels her entire personality. That’s romance, kids!

How They Would’ve Played It: It’s a strange one to imagine, but Ringwald is a much tougher customer than Roberts. Her Vivian would certainly have had more edge.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Like it or not, Vivian’s primary characteristic is her sweet nature, and that sits better with Miss Roberts than it does Miss Ringwald.

Gwyneth Paltrow could have been... Rose DeWitt Bukater (Titanic)

The Part: One half of Titanic ’s doomed love story, it was a role that won Kate Winslet an Oscar nomination.

How They Would’ve Played It: With a similar dose of tremulous emotion, but possibly a tad more steel.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Winslet and DiCaprio’s chemistry was impeccable. We wouldn’t want to tinker with it, thank you very much.

Tom Cruise could have been... Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

The Part: A teenage slacker extraordinaire, Ferris is the role that made Matthew Broderick a star.

How They Would’ve Played It: Remember Risky Business ? Like that, basically.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Cruise’s toothy charm probably would have worked, but Broderick is extremely likeable, serving up warmth and cool in equal measure.

Alec Baldwin could have been... Richard Kimble (The Fugitive)

The Part: Having already missed out on continuing as Jack Ryan to Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin was also offered the lead in The Fugitive , only to turn it down!

How They Would’ve Played It:
Casting Baldwin opposite Tommy Lee Jones would have produced a right old snarl-off. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Before becoming something of a comedy icon, Baldwin’s characters weren’t half as likeable as they are now. Ford was the primo leading man back then for a reason.

Warren Beatty could have been... Gordon Gekko (Wall Street)

The Part: Notoriously choosy in his roles, Beatty passed on the role of slippery corporate shitheel Gordon Gekko, allowing Michael Douglas to steal in and make the role his own.

How They Would’ve Played It: In Beatty’s hands, its possible that Gekko could have come across as even less likeable than Douglas’ incarnation.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: While Beatty does brash and bluff very well, nobody could be oilier than Douglas is here.

Sean Connery could have been... Morpheus (The Matrix)

The Part: Connery was also wanted as the wise old sage of The Matrix , but he passed up on that one as well. Ah well…

How They Would’ve Played It:
Probably with a little less cool than Laurence Fishburne, but with a few more enigmatic tics thrown in for good measure.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: Connery famously “didn’t get” either LOTR or The Matrix . Which makes you think it was probably for the best, really…

Julia Roberts could have been... Catherine Trammell (Basic Instinct)

The Part: Sharon Stone’s leg-crossing femme fatale. Handy with an ice pick.

How They Would’ve Played It:
Instead of being an ice-cold uber-bitch, Roberts’ Trammell would have been a twee girl next door with a terrible secret.

Why We're Glad They Didn't Get It: There’s no way in hell that scene would have made it into the final cut!