That Time Will Smith Almost Became Neo
Just about every movie you can think of once had someone else cast in the lead role, only to have the part go to someone else who became a household name. Like Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones, or Meryl Streep as Ripley in Alien.
Having a little more fun with Photoshop, here are five more actors who almost got the iconic roles that went to others.
Reese Witherspoon as Cher in Clueless
A bunch of actresses were considered for the part of Cher Horowitz in Clueless, including Alicia Witt, Angelina Jolie, Tiffani Thiessen, and Keri Russell, but Reese Witherspoon came really close to getting the part. Writer and Director Amy Heckerling actually met with Witherspoon at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles, but she had her heart set on Alicia Silverstone, and eventually cast her in the role.
Will Smith as Neo
Filed under “Big Career Blunder” is Will Smith’s decision to do “Wild Wild West” instead of taking the role of Neo in the Matrix. Smith was a huge star at the time, and the role was apparently offered to him, but he turned it down. To his credit, when asked about it in an interview with Wired in 2004, Smith said “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.”
Keanu Reeves was cast in the role instead, and The Matrix became the biggest science fiction movie of the 90s.
Al Pacino as Han Solo
Al Pacino was nearly cast as Han Solo in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. Pacino was reportedly offered the role, so why did he turn it down? “It was mine for the taking but I didn’t understand the script,” he said in 2015.
Tom Cruise as Iron Man
Tom Cruise reportedly met with Kevin Feige several times about taking the role of Tony Stark… Iron Man. It’s hard to even imagine Cruise in the role of fast-talking, wise cracking Tony Stark, as made famous by Robert Downey Jr., who is largely considered the perfect casting choice for the role.
Hugh Jackman as James Bond
After Pierce Brosnan retired from the role of James Bond, producers reportedly approached Hugh Jackman about assuming the role, but the Aussie actor turned it down because he was preparing to reprise his role as Wolverine in an X-Men movie. He has said, however, that if approached again, he would consider it.
Troy Larson is a father, author, and photographer originally from Minot, North Dakota, now residing in Fargo.