Would have been the same if Elizabeth Olsen had been cast in the now-iconic role of Daenerys Targaryen instead of Emilia Clarke? We’ll never know. But we do know that Clarke has been one of the key cast members who has made the show the cultural phenomenon it has become over the past eight mesmerising seasons.
So perhaps it was for the best that Elizabeth Olsen’s audition for the role of the Mother of Dragons was, as she recently revealed to Vulture, one of her worst — it just wasn’t meant to be. The actress told the publication that 10 years ago she read for the role of Daenerys and it did not go well. “I auditioned for Khaleesi. It was the most awkward audition I’d ever had.”
The actress says she read a monologue from the first season where the character is “making this speech to thousands of people about she’s their queen. They didn’t know if they wanted a British accent or not. So, [I] did it in both. It was terrible. Anytime someone says, ‘Bad audition story.’ That’s one I remember.”
Image credits: Elizabeth Olsen (left) Getty Images, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (right) Foxtel
In a recent roundtable interview with Michelle Williams, Patricia Arquette, Christine Baranski, Danai Gurira and Niecy Nash for , ’s Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke, revealed she was almost cast as s Anastasia Steele.
When asked to name “one of the things you famously did not want to do”, Clarke admitted that while “Sam [Taylor-Johnson, the director] is a magician” and she “thought her vision was beautiful”, she turned down the role of Steele for a very particular reason.
“The last time that I was naked on camera on  was a long time ago, and yet it is the only question that I ever get asked because I am a woman,” she told the publication. “And it’s annoying as hell and I’m sick and tired of it because I did it for the character — I didn’t do it so some guy could check out my tits, for God’s sake. So, that coming up, I was like, ‘I can’t.’”
“I did a minimal amount and I’m pigeonholed for life,” she continued. “So me saying yes to that, where the entire thing is about sensuality and sex and being naked and all of that stuff, I was just like, ‘No way am I going to voluntarily walk into that situation and then never be able to look someone in the eye and be like, ‘No, you can’t keep asking me this question.’”
Dakota Johnson ended up assuming the character and has played Steele for all three of the film’s installments.
Image credits: Getty Images
If casting had taken a different path, Cole Sprouse wouldn’t have been Jughead in . It’s almost unimaginable now, because Sprouse seems like he was born for that role, but there was a time during the casting process that the role of Jughead could have gone to breakout star Chance Perdomo.
22-year-old Perdomo—who plays Sabrina’s lovable rogue warlock cousin Ambrose Spellman in —dropped this casting bomb to saying “One of my first auditions actually was for . Did some self-tapes and I got quite a few rounds and I had no idea how close I got. They kept me in mind and I had no idea until later, Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa, creator of both and ] was like, ‘Brother, do you know how close you got?… It was almost you.’”
Despite missing out on the iconic role of Jughead, Perdomo went onto land the role of Ambrose Spellman in which left him with no hard feelings towards Sprouse.
“I’m not even mad. I grew up watching Cole Sprouse and his brother [Dylan Sprouse], and to have come close and lose it to one of the people I used to watch, it’s good,” Perdomo told .
Cult 1999 teen rom-com a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s could have looked very different with Kate Hudson playing opposite Heath Ledger.
In a recent interview with , casting director Marcia Ross revealed the actress was a leading contender for the role of Kat Stratford that eventually went to Julia Stiles.
The film put many of the cast on the Hollywood map including Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and became one of the most popular movies that year. Even now, 20 years later, it still consistently makes it into the top rom-com movies of all time lists.
According to Ross, although she “loved” Kate Hudson for the role, Hudson’s mum, actress Goldie Hawn, was the reason Hudson didn’t play Kat. Per the interview, Ross says “Her mom [Goldie Hawn] didn’t like the script for her, so she passed.”
Ross dropped further casting bombshell news saying she also loved Katie Holmes, but the actress was about to be offered and they couldn’t make a decision fast enough before she signed onto the teen drama show.
Josh Hartnett and Eliza Dushku were also, according to Ross, screen-tested together for the leads that eventually went to Heath Ledger and Stiles, with Ross saying it came down to chemistry. “Julia [Stiles] and Heath [Ledger] just had the best chemistry.
It’s Tinseltown legend that had the timing worked out, Emma Stone’s Oscar-winning role as Mia in La La Land would have gone to Beauty and the Beast’s Emma Watson. Which seems unimaginable now after watching the chemistry between La La Land’s leads, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
According to an interview Watson gave in 2017, she had already committed to Beauty and the Beast and said “scheduling conflict-wise, it [La La Land] just didn’t work out.” But boy did it work out for Stone.
Who is now—in a way—repaying Watson’s favour by reportedly stepping out of a great role due to scheduling issues, leaving the role clear for Watson, who is in talks for it.
The role in question is Meg March in Greta Gerwig’s all-star Little Women adaptation. Variety reports Stone was attached to the project in the role of Meg, but she is unable to play the role as she’ll be on the promotional trail for her upcoming film, The Favourite. Watson was apparently next in line and talks are happening for the Harry Potter star to join the cast which is rumoured to include Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet.
Image credits: Getty Images
It seems two other stars could have been born, if things had gone a different route. Revealing that she and Will Smith almost did their own version of, Jennifer Lopez told it just never ended up happening. “Will and I talked about it and talked about developing the script. It just never took off. Projects are like that.”
The iconic role of Jack in Titanic nearly went to Matthew McConaughey.
In an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Kate Winslet admitted she actually auditioned alongside McConaughey. “I auditioned with Matthew, isn’t that weird?” Winslet told Colbert. “Never said that in public before. I auditioned with Matthew, which was completely fantastic. It just wouldn’t have been the whole, Jack and Rose, Kate and Leo thing.”
In a separate interview on ’s podcast, McConaughey revealed how much he wanted the role at the time. “I wanted that. I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Had a good audition. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn’t get it. I never got offered that.”
Now of course, we can’t imagine Titanic without Leonardo DiCaprio.
Image credit: Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow revealed on her
podcast that she nearly played the role of Annie Porter in the 1994 film
. The movie is credited to propelling Sandra Bullock to fame, as she was the actress who ended up landing the coveted role. Recently, comedian Ellen Degeneres admitted that the producer of the film told her they wrote the script with Degeneres in mind for the role!
Katie Holmes was up for the role of Annette in Cruel Intentions, which ended up going to up-and-comer Reese Witherspoon.
The studio wanted Holmes for the role; Dawson’s Creek had just started on television. Screenwriter/director Roger Kumble instead wanted Vinessa Shaw, thinking that Annette needed to be played by someone “with a little more strength of character.”
Eventually, in Kumble’s words: “And then, literally, I was hanging out with Ryan [Philippe] one night and I was like, ‘What about your girlfriend?’” Witherspoon of course agreed to the role, but only once the character was written: “She wanted to strengthen the character, and she was right. And she and I got together, and we gave Annette more bite so she wasn’t a doormat. And I’m very grateful to her for that.”
Director and writer Amy Heckerling had her heart set on Alicia Silverstone, but the Fox studios insisted that she meet with other young actresses, including Alicia Witt, Keri Russell and Tiffany Thiessen.
She was also scheduled to meet Gwyneth Paltrow: “Then they go, ‘You’ve got to see the girl in [Flesh and Bone].’ I never got to see her. I guess she was off on other things. That turned out to be Gwyneth Paltrow,” Heckerling told Vanity Fair.
Angelina Jolie was also suggested for the role of Cher. Says Carrie Frazier, the then casting director of the film who worked on its initial stages: “But she was too knowing for what was needed for Clueless. Angelina never came in [to audition] for the project. I was just looking at her tape. I remember an agent pitching her, and I’m going, “No, no, no, this is exactly the opposite of what I need for this.”
Frazier also suggested Reese Witherspoon to Heckerling. “But I did see some scenes of her and went: Wow. She’s amazing. But Alicia is Cher,” says Heckerling.
Ben Affleck and Zach Braff were also considered for the role of Josh, which ended up going to Paul Rudd and Sarah Michelle Gellar was offered the part of Amber, but they couldn’t come to an agreement with the television series she was on at the time,
All My Children.
Jennifer Lawrence originally auditioned for Twilight’s Bella Swan but the role went to Kristen Stewart.
Molly Ringwald was the first choice for Pretty Woman. When she turned it down, Julia Roberts was cast. But Julia Roberts passed up on The Blind Side, which won her replacement Sandra Bullock an Academy Award.
Neither Sandra Bullock nor George Clooney was the first option for Gravity. The original leads were Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr. When Jolie passed it up, it went to Natalie Portman before Bullock.
It was meant to be for Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow. Jim Carrey turned down the lead role in Pirates of the Caribbean because filming clashed with Bruce Almighty.
Nicole Kidman pulled out of Mr and Mrs Smith and Brad Pitt reportedly demanded Angelina Jolie to replace her. And to think we may never have had Brangelina.
Gwyneth Paltrow was James Cameron’s original choice for Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic. Until he found Kate Winslet. A year after Titanic’s release, Paltrow starred in Shakespeare in Love, for which she won an Oscar, but her role was initially offered to Winslet.
Lindsay Lohan declined the role of Jade, the stripper, in The Hangover, because she thought the film ‘had no potential’. Heather Graham scored the part instead. Lohan also almost played Regina George in Mean Girls but it was recast with Lohan as Cady Heron and Rachel McAdams as George. Amanda Seyfried also auditioned for the role of Regina George.
What’s more, McAdams won the part of Allie in The Notebook over Jessica Biel, Reese Witherspoon and Britney Spears, who all auditioned. Yes, we’re thankful it turned out the way it did too. Lohan and Cara Delevingne both picketed for the lead role in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, which went to Vogue cover model Mia Wasikowska.
Hilary Swank was first attached to Dallas Buyers Club until Jennifer Garner was hired. Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling had both considered the role that scored Matthew McConaughey an Oscar nomination. Swank was more lucky when she scored the lead in Million Dollar Baby after Sandra Bullock left when production was delayed. The title role earned her her second Best Actress Oscar.
Before Rooney Mara landed the role of Lisbeth Salander, Natalie Portman, Ellen Page, Carey Mulligan and Scarlett Johansson auditioned to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Director David Fincher said Johansson was brilliant but ‘the thing with Scarlett is, you can’t wait for her to take her clothes off’.
While Mulligan won the coveted role of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, competition was stiff; it reportedly included Blake Lively (who was in a relationship with Leonardo DiCaprio during the audition process), Keira Knightley, Michelle Williams, Abbie Cornish, Amanda Seyfried, Natalie Portman, Rebecca Hall and Johansson – the latter turned it down for We Bought A Zoo.
Anne Hathaway won the part of Alison Scott in Knocked Up but abandoned the project due to creative differences. Apparently, Christina Aguilera refused the second offer because she wanted to focus on her music. Then came along the perfectly-suited Katherine Heigl.
Will Smith snubbed both Neo in The Matrix and Django in Django Unchained, roles that ultimately went to Keanu Reeves and Jamie Foxx, respectively.
Helen Mirren pulled out of Precious so Mariah Carey stepped in just days before filming.
Toni Collette declined the role of Bridget Jones because she was performing on Broadway and Renee Zellweger was cast after a two-year search.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote envisaged Marilyn Monroe as Holly Golightly for the screen adaptation but she turned down the part because her acting coach said playing a call-girl was not good for her image. Her replacement Audrey Hepburn won multiple acting nominations.
Although now we can hardly distinguish Sarah Jessica Parker from her character in Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw was first offered to Dana Delany, who turned it down.