Stars Big Roles Lost

Mel Gibson is reportedly fuming over his cameo in The Hangover sequel now going to Liam Neeson. But as Scarlett Johansson, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep have all learned, that's the way it goes in the business. See the parts these stars and more lost out on!

Lester Cohen / Getty Images; Trago / Getty Images

Lester Cohen / Getty Images; Trago / Getty Images

Mel Gibson vs. Liam Neeson for The Hangover Part II

Loser: Mel Gibson
Winner: Liam Neeson

Galling as it may be to be offered a job only to have it withdrawn, if you were hoping said job was going redeem your image as a rage-filled misogynist, you probably should react as calmly as possible. Nevertheless, Mel Gibson was "furious" that his cameo as a Bangkok tattoo artist in The Hangover Part II was rescinded after his casting led the movie's cast and crew to protest, according to recent reports. The franchise's star Zach Galifianakis is believed to have led the opposition since shortly before Gibson was nixed, he said on an episode of Scott Aukerman's "Comedy Death-Ray" that he was "in a deep protest right now with a movie I'm working on, up in arms about something." Irish-born actor Liam Neeson will now take on the part, proving that sometimes, nice guys do finish first.

Steve Granitz / Getty Images; Everett Collection

Demi Moore vs. Jennifer Beals for Flashdance

Loser: Demi Moore
Winner: Jennifer Beals

After playing musical chairs in order to find a director for Flashdance—David Cronenberg ( The Fly) turned down the film and Brian De Palma was set to direct but dropped out to do Scarface—the film's producers conducted a nationwide search to cast their lead. The 1983 film follows the story of Alex Owens, a beautiful Pittsburgh woman who works as both a welder and an exotic dancer, but yearns to attend ballet school. The search was narrowed down to three finalists: Jennifer Beals, Demi Moore, and unknown actress Leslie Wing. Since the filmmakers couldn't decide who to choose, rumor has it they asked the movie's male crew members who they would rather sleep with, and the rest, as Jennifer Beals would tell you, is cut-off sweatshirt and bra removal history.

Antonio Calanni / AP Photo; Everett Collection

Matthew McConaughey vs. Leonardo DiCaprio for Titanic

Loser: Matthew McConaughey
Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio

Studio executives for the 1997 blockbuster favored How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days star McConaughey to play drifter and artist Jack Dawson. But director James Cameron wanted DiCaprio, who had just helped make Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet a hit. "At the time, I thought it would suck more than it did," McConaughey told the Independent of his colossal mistake with Titanic. "I had a hundred options after A Time to Kill, but then my stock went down. But if I didn't understand that, then I'm in the wrong business. Besides, it made me work harder."

Peter Kramer / AP Photo; Everett Collection

Sandra Bullock vs. Julia Roberts for Runaway Bride

Loser: Sandra Bullock
Winner: Julia Roberts

Sandra Bullock lost out to Julia Roberts for the lead in the 1999 romantic comedy Runaway Bride about Maggie Carpenter, a woman who compulsively leaves her fiancés at the altar. That is, of course, until she falls for Richard Gere, who plays a reporter writing a story about her. Coincidentally, Bullock wound up running from her former husband, Jesse James, after picking up her Oscar for her role in The Blind Side, a part that Roberts turned down. Looks like things worked out for the best.

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John Cusack vs. Judd Nelson for The Breakfast Club

Winner: Judd Nelson
Loser: John Cusack

Late 1980s filmmaker John Hughes initially cast John Cusack (who'd had a minor role in Sixteen Candles a year prior) as John Bender, the "criminal" in the band of detained high-school archetypes in 1985's The Breakfast Club. But Hughes changed his mind at the last minute, worrying that Cusack was better suited to romantic melodramatics—holding a boombox outside his ex's bedroom in Say Anything—than he was to telling everyone to eat his shorts in the epic teen detention tale. Hughes swapped Cusack out for Brat Pack badass Judd Nelson after cameras began rolling.

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Meryl Streep vs. Madonna for Evita

Winner: Madonna
Loser: Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep just about landed the title role of Evita in the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical. She sent a tape of herself to Oliver Stone and Lloyd Webber, who both loved it, and a date to start filming was set, according to The New York Times. But then, riots erupted in Argentina, production was postponed, budgets escalated, and in 1989, the plug was pulled. When the project started up again in 1996, it had a new director (Alan Parker) and a new Evita, pop star Madonna. How did Streep feel about losing out? According to The New York Times, she said of Madonna, "I could rip her throat out. I can sing better than she can, if that counts for anything." She now denies her remarks, but did recently have her time in the musical spotlight with the 2008 film adaptation of Mamma Mia!

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Michael Cera vs. Haley Joel Osment for The Sixth Sense

Loser: Michael Cera
Winner: Haley Joel Osment

Arrested Development's George Michael almost saw dead people. In 1999, a then young, unknown Canadian actor by the name of Michael Cera auditioned for director M. Night Shyamalan for the role of Cole Sear, a young, social outcast who sees the ghosts of those with unfinished business among the living. Although Haley Joel Osment would eventually become one of the youngest Oscar nominees ever for his performance—in the Best Supporting Actor category—he's since been on quite a journey, first leaving Hollywood for college at New York University, then getting into some drug-related legal troubles. Cera, on the other hand, is heading big-budget Hollywood productions, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Superbad. That being said, Cera didn't exactly blow Shyamalan away with his audition. "I auditioned for The Sixth Sense, which I didn't know was about seeing dead people," Cera later admitted to Esquire. "[I read] the scene with the penny. Bruce Willis is saying, ‘I can't be your doctor anymore,' and Haley Joel Osment starts crying and slides the penny over to him. It's a very emotional scene. And I did not do it that way. I did it upbeat. I said ‘Some magic's real' very optimistically."

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Charlize Theron vs. Elizabeth Berkley for Showgirls

Loser: Charlize Theron
Winner: Elizabeth Berkley

Charlize Theron dodged a career bullet. The Oscar-winning Monster actress, then a young model, once auditioned for the role of Nomi Malone, a young, aspiring actress who goes to Vegas only to become involved in the backstabbing world of Vegas showgirls, in the 1995 raunchy NC-17 film, Showgirls. "It was the second audition I ever went to," Theron later told "From what I hear, they really liked me. I think the talks fell through with the actress that ended up doing it [ Saved By the Bell's Elizabeth Berkley], and so they reopened it up and started casting it again, and that's when I came in. And then they somehow sorted out that deal." And Berkley was seemingly on the losing end. The actress later told Access Hollywood, "When the film came out, it kind of felt like I was the kid on the playground where all the bullies were just relentless and wouldn't stop."

Jorge Herrera / AP Photo; Everett Collection

Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Ewan McGregor for Moulin Rouge!

Loser: Jake Gyllenhaal
Winner: Ewan McGregor

Without Moulin Rouge!, Brokeback Mountain may have looked very different. A slew of young Hollywood actors vied for the role of Christian—a poet who falls for a fetching courtesan (Nicole Kidman)—in director Baz Luhrmann's stylish 2001 musical. Eventually, it came down to three actors. "There was me and Heath [Ledger] and Ewan [McGregor] as the last three for that role," Gyllenhaal later told "Heath and I started to know each other just by name, because I never saw his face—Baz never let us see each other. We'd be ushered into a room and locked in, and the other would go out and audition with someone and then ushered back in, so I heard him by name for a long time. When we were both not cast we became friends out of jealousy. From there we knew each other on and off, different times we'd see each other." McGregor didn't earn an Oscar nod for the Luhrmann picture, but when Gyllenhaal and Ledger famously reconnected on-screen for Brokeback Mountain in 2005, they both received Academy Award recognition.

Goodrich / AP Photo; Everett Collection

Robert Redford vs. Dustin Hoffman for The Graduate

Loser: Robert Redford
Winner: Dustin Hoffman

Mike Nichols' 1967 picture of fish-out-of-water college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) who gets seduced by the wife of his father's business partner, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), was almost an entirely different film. The blond and beautiful Robert Redford, who Nichols had earlier cast in the Broadway production of Barefoot in the Park, had initially tested for the role of Braddock. The director recounted a conversation the two had following the test over a game of pool at a recent event at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 2009, The Huffington Post reported. Nichols recalled telling Redford: "You could never play a loser in a million years… I'm looking at you. You cannot possibly play a loser." After the actor reportedly adamantly refuted Nichols' claim, the director asked, "All right, have you ever struck out with a woman?" To which, Redford allegedly replied, "What do you mean?" And with that, Redford learned what it was like to strike out.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo; Everett Collection

Scarlett Johansson vs. Lindsay Lohan for The Parent Trap

Loser: Scarlett Johansson
Winner: Lindsay Lohan

After earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination at the tender age of 11 with the 1996 low-budget indie drama Manny & Lo, Scarlett Johansson set her sights on bigger Hollywood parts. She auditioned for the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, where she would have played a set of twin daughters—in a double role—who conspire to bring their biological parents (Dennis Quaid and the late Natasha Richardson) back together. Director Nancy Meyers instead went with Lindsay Lohan and Johansson went on to earn the role of a traumatized teen in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer. Johansson came dangerously close to falling into the Disney child star curse, but is now a bankable Hollywood actress. Lohan's history, on the other hand, has been well-documented.

Getty Images; Everett Collection

James Caan vs. Al Pacino for The Godfather

Winner: Al Pacino
Loser: James Caan

There was almost as much backroom intrigue in casting The Godfather as there was in the film itself. Director Francis Ford Coppola was set on then-unknown actor Al Pacino playing the mob movie's star Michael Corleone. But Robert Evans and other executives thought Pacino was too short to play the don-to-be. "A runt will not play Michael," Evans told Coppola. In addition to Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman, James Caan (who stood at an average 5'9") was among those auditioning for the Oscar-nominated role. In Evans' 1994 memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture, he describes a tense negotiation process involving door-slamming and remarks, such as, "This ain't Mutt and Jeff. This kid Pacino's five five, and that's in heels." Eventually, Coppola and his pick, Pacino, won out; but Caan was not left behind—he was cast as Michael's older brother Sonny and earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance as well.