MATTHEW MODINE ALMOST STARRED IN TOP GUN
Scoott Baio, reality TV star and veteran of Happy Days and Joni Loves Chacci, recently admitted that he turned down the role that made Tom Cruise a star: Maverick in Top Gun (1986) –. That’s a bit like admitting to refusing shares in Google. Matthew Modine also turned it down to star in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket.
ERIC STOLTZ WAS ALMOST MARTY McFLY
Eric Stoltz was cast in the lead role in Back to the Future (1985) and had even been filming (six weeks, by some reports) before he was replaced at great expense. Michael J Fox is a more easy-going presence onscreen, which helps explain why the film generated a ton of money and two sequels. Michelle Pfeiffer was an also-ran for Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs (1991), and it’s not unrealistic to imagine this talented actress nabbing the Oscar instead of Jodie Foster. More interesting is that Gene Hackman opted out of playing Hannibal, leading to a career resurgence and signature performance for Anthony Hopkins.
TOM HANKS WAS ALMOST JERRY MAGUIRE
NICK NOLTE WAS ALMOST HAN SOLO
GENE HACKMAN WAS ALMOST HANNIBAL
Clint Eastwood, James Garner and, most curiously, Dustin Hoffman all turned down what would become Sylvester Stallone’s second most-famous role in First Blood (1982).
EMMA THOMPSON ALMOST STARRED IN BASIC INSTINCT
Sharon Stone’s bravura performance in Basic Instinct (1992) landed her a role in pop culture history. The sexually explicit role was refused by 16 actresses including Emma Thompson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Greta Scacchi and Mensa member Geena Davis.
DUSTIN HOFFMAN WAS ALMOST RAMBO
Jennifer Lopez is one of the few movie stars whose films got worse after she hit the big time. She, Marisa Tomei and Bridget Fonda all missed out on Renée Zelwegger’s star-making turn in Jerry Maguire (1996). Tom Cruise got possibly the best role of his career after Tom Hanks refused it.
Christopher Walken famously auditioned for Harrison Ford’s first big break, as Han Solo in Star WArs (1977). Nick Nolte (who could have been fabulous), Kurt Russell and Sylvester Stallone were among the dozens of others considered by George Lucas.
ARNIE ALMOST STARRED IN DIE HARD OJ WAS ALMOST THE TERMINATOR
Pierce Brosnan was invited to pick up Roger Moore’s Walther PPK in The Living Daylights in the mid-1980s, but was contractually compromised by his hit TV show, Remington Steele, and 007 was handed over to Timothy Dalton for two films. The Bond that Brosnan finally delivered in GoldenEye (1995) was darker than many predicted – perhaps a result of his years in straight-to-video wilderness. (A tantalisingly brief glimpse of Sam Neill’s audition for The Living Daylights is doing the rounds online. He had potential.) It boggles the mind that in 1988 TV actor Bruce Willis was fifth choice for the role of a blue-collar cop in one of the best action movies of all time. More boggling still, is why (in descending order) Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Burt Reynolds and Richard Gere turned it down, considering it would have been a highlight in any of their patchy careers. OJ Simpson was one of the better-known names up for the part of the mechanical monster in the 1984 hit. Legend has it producers thought he wouldn’t be taken seriously as a killer, but this might be too beautifully ironic to be true. Lance Henrickson (best known as Ash in Aliens) was very close to playing the lead before Arnold Schwarzenegger
SAM NEILL WAS ALMOST BOND TOM SELLECK WAS ALMOST INDIANA JONES
Tom Selleck was wooed to play the archaeologist in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), but TV commitments put paid to that. Considering Selleck’s old-fashioned good looks, breezy comic timing, and how well he’s aged, it’s very believable that the Indy franchise would have been just as successful with him.