25 original casting choices that would have totally changed movies

First port of (casting) call

At the centre of this weeks cinema-redefining, action blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road rides Tom Hardy. Carrying on the role of Max Rockatansky decades after Mel Gibson riotously made the part his, you might not know that the late Heath Ledger was one of director George Millers initial choices to lead the long-awaited sequel.

And Max isnt the only role to undergo some major casting changes. Theres a ton of major performances by A-listers and newbies alike that were originally planned with other actors in mind. Its impossible to imagine anyone other than Arnie delivering the Terminators iconic line Ill be back. Or another actress chained to Jabbas side in the Star Wars saga. But the Austrian Oak and Carrie Fisher are but two in a long list of A-listers who were nearly bypassed in favour of someone else. Read on for a glimpse at what could have been...

Axel Foley - Beverly Hills Cop (1984)

The original choice: 80s action beefcake Sylvester Stallone topped early shortlists for the role of Californian cop Axel Foley. Initial drafts of the script toned down the fast-talkin quips the character would later adopt in favour of a more action-centric approach. Presumably so Sly could flex his biceps at criminals to scare them away.

Who they went with: Once Stallone dropped out to pursue more manly projects, the script was re-written to punch up the comedy for stand-up star Eddie Murphy.

Donnie - Donnie Darko (2001)

The original choice: An accepted part of casting - thats been going on since the Romans - is filling the roles of teens and early twentysomethings with actors at least a decade older. One of those instances nearly occurred in Richard Kellys groundbreaking sci-fi drama Donnie Darko, as Swingers star Vince Vaughn was in the crosshairs for the titular role.

Who they went with: Then-newcomer Jake Gyllenhaal nabbed the part, whose obscurity lent the character some much-needed mystery. Still, couldve been so money with Vince....

Allie Hamilton - The Notebook (2004)

The original choice:After the frankly dire Crossroads, Britney Spears was determined to stake her claim as a convincing romantic lead. Try as she might, she didnt score the part of Ryan Goslings love interest/argue partner in the most popular Nicholas Sparks adaptation to date.

Who they went with: Rachel McAdams. Its not a surprise if youve seen her audition tape.

Marty McFly - Back To The Future (1985)

The original choice: Doc Browns partner-in-chrono-crime was originally played by Pulp Fictions Eric Stoltz. Five weeks into the shoot, director Robert Zemeckis and executive producer Steven Spielberg both arrived at the same conclusion: Stoltz was good, but hit the wrong comedic tone they had intended.

Who they went with: Now synonymous with the role, its impossible to imagine anyone other than Michael J. Fox tackling the part.

Maverick - Top Gun (1986)

The original choice: In the midst of a winning streak during the 80s, Matthew Modine was the studios prime contender for the part of cocky pilot Maverick in Tony Scotts aeronautic blockbuster.

Who they went with: After Modine passed - ouch - Tom Cruise, whose career soared afterwards, accepted the role. The rest is history.

Harvey Two Face Dent - Batman Forever (1995)

The original choice:The first Mad Max himself, Mel Gibson, was up for the role of scarred attorney Harvey Dent in the third Batman outing. The Aussie stepped down as the part would have interfered with his shooting commitments on Braveheart. Oh, what could have been...

Who they went with: After Gibson passed, the part went to Tommy Lee Jones whose animated performance still couldnt save Joel Schumachers comic book dud.

Wolverine - X-Men (2001)

The original choice: A decision that would have given his career a much-needed boost, Dougray Scott was in Foxs crosshairs to play the metallic-clawed mutant for Bryan Singers first X-Men outing. His commitment to Mission: Impossible 2 put the kibosh on his accepting the part as shooting went over schedule, the studio had to recast the part.

Who they went with: Up-and-comer Hugh Jackman, who went on to transform his physique on multiple occasions to play the rugged mutant, and is still going strong. Hes set to shoot Wolverine 3 shortly.

Candyman - Candyman (1992)

The original choice: Producers on the Clive Barker adaptation had Eddie Murphy in their sights for the role of the beekeeper with a hooked hand, hoping that the actors career slump would have him jump at the chance. Alas, he turned it down.

Who they went with: The filmmakers ultimately gave the part to Tony Todd, who cut his genre teeth on the 1990 remake of Night Of The Living Dead.

Sam Wheat - Ghost (1990)

The original choice: After arriving in Hollywood Paul Hogan struck a sweet deal with Paramount who offered him one of two choices; a part in the Jerry Zucker-directed romantic drama or a comedy about a thief-turned-celestial being, Almost An Angel. He chose the latter.

Who they went with: Dirty Dancer Patrick Swayze, whose chemistry with Demi Moore scored huge with audiences. Bit difficult to imagine Hogan conjuring up that same romance.

Gem Seddon

Gem Seddon is GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter, working to keep all of you updated on all of the latest and greatest movies and shows on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Outside of entertainment journalism, Gem can frequently be found writing about the alternative health and wellness industry, and obsessing over all things Aliens and Terminator on Twitter.