There have been so many iconic roles throughout film history. And these roles are so associated with a particular actor or actress, that we can’t imagine anyone else playing their part. But, we very nearly could have had someone completely different playing our beloved characters. It’s sometimes hard to imagine a different actor slipping into the shoes of an iconic role, but it’s often much closer than we realize.
You might be surprised by how many of your favorite roles were actually almost given to another star. Movie history could have been so different if the casting directors had just decided to go a different way with things. Sometimes a star passes on a role because they don’t like the script, sometimes it’s due to scheduling conflicts, and other times, the studio interferes. Here are some actors who almost lost their iconic parts to other people.
Al Pacino – Han Solo
Nobody else could play Han Solo but Harrison Ford. Period. That’s why the Han Solo origin story is going to suck. It’s the role that made Ford a household name, that inspired the role of Mal Reynolds, and had geeks all across the world calling their friends “Scruffy looking nerf herders!” But, it could all have been so different, because the original choice for Solo was Al Pacino. Yes, THE Al Pacino. Now, no disrespect to Al, one of the finest actors of all time, but we just can’t see it. We love you, Harrison!
Molly Ringwald – Vivian Ward
It’s fair to say that Julia Roberts’ most iconic role is probably still Vivian Ward from 1990’s Pretty Woman. The movie would catapult Roberts into the mainstream, and see her become the world’s highest-paid actress around a decade later. But, Roberts nearly didn’t get her most famous part, because another actress was considered. Teen idol Molly Ringwald was originally considered for the part but turned it down because she felt uncomfortable with the role. We’re sure Molly would have been great, but we can’t imagine anyone but Julia in the film.
Michael Madsen – Vincent Vega
Pulp Fiction proved to be a career resurgence for John Travolta, who scooped an Oscar nod and became one of the most bankable stars in the world once again. But, the part in Tarantino’s masterpiece almost never went to him. Tarantino had originally intended for Michael Madsen to play the part – Madsen had played Vincent’s twin Vic Vega in Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs. Madsen turned down the role to do Wyatt Earp and later described the decision as the worst of his career.
Pamela Anderson – Dana Scully
There’s no dispute that Gillian Anderson epitomises everything we love about Dana Scully. She’s smart, sassy, resourceful, logical, oh, and she is pretty darn gorgeous too! But, did you know the part almost went to everyone’s favorite Baywatch babe, Pamela Anderson?! In fact, according to Anderson (the redheaded one) the producers were looking for someone taller, leggier, and bustier. Well, Pammy would have fit that perfectly, but she would also have been all wrong for Scully. They made the right choice in the end.
Imagine if these four parts had gone to somebody else! We would have had completely different icons to look up to. Even just looking at these four, we sometimes shudder and think “How was this person even in contention?!” Some alternatives might well have worked very well, but, in general, iconic parts are made as iconic by the actors that play them, as they are by the role themselves.