Famous Actors Who Were Supposed to Be Cast in Famous Roles


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Many imagine what it would be like if their favorite actor was not cast in a certain role. For example, freshman Catie Wren stated, “One of my favorite movies is Harry Potter. I think that if the role of Harry Potter was played by Emma Watson, a girl, the movie would have taken a completely different turn.” If the lead actor/actress is replaced, the tone of a movie can take a drastic turn or have a completely different platform. Some actors were almost replaced by fellow stars, even in the some of the most top-grossing films.

A prime example of a famous actor who declined a famous role is Will Smith, who was supposed to be in The Matrix. Smith was to be cast as the protagonist, Neo, until he realized he was unsure about taking on the role. The Matrix is a science-fiction action movie about a computer hacker who realizes his harsh reality and role in the war going on when rebels confront him to use his computer skills for their cause. Smith told Wired (Wired.com), “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.” When Smith declined the role, Reeves accepted. Reeves grossed well over $200 million from the late ’90s science-fiction movie. Smith later starred in movies such as Aladdin, The Pursuit of Happiness, and Suicide Squad. The Matrix has recently reached its twentieth anniversary, and it grossed $463 million dollars in theaters.

Another famous actor who was supposed to be cast in a famous role was Jack Nicholson in The Godfather. Nicholson was originally given the role of Michael Corleone. The Godfather is a ’70s crime movie about an aging crime lord and founder of the mafia whose “empire” goes to his son upon his death. In 1972 Hollywood, movie directors concluded The Godfather was a risky film idea, which is why directors needed an “established” actor to portray the main character of Michael Corleone in the movie. Nicholson declined the role in the famous film due to The Godfather being a new and different film idea of its time and because of the salary for the role. After Nicholson rejected the role, the directors went on to recruit actors such as Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, and Ryan O’Neal. All these actors declined the role of Michael Corleone, so it was given to Al Pacino. Ben Svartz, a freshman, commented, “The Godfather is a good movie. I don’t think that the role of Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, would be affected if it was played by Jack Nicholson. Many actors can fit the same part of a movie.” The Godfather went on to be one of the most well-known movies of time, and it grossed over $133 million dollars. Due to The Godfather’s success , two other films were made: The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III. Altogether, these films grossed over $240 million dollars. Even though Nicholson was not cast as Corleone, the original film still grossed over $100 million dollars and is one of the most well-known movies to date.

Freshman Mimi Berkowitz said, “One movie that I think would have a different perspective with a different main character is Avengers: Endgame. If Spiderman was played by Brooklyn Beckham, the movie would have had a more comical tone.” Even though actors like Smith and Nicholson declined roles, the movies still grossed millions of dollars and are known globally.