TOSome of the most famous roles in Hollywood history were the result of an arduous process, punctuated by ill-fated auditions and last-minute changes.
But the fact that an actor was not the first choice for a role does not mean that he cannot appropriate it. Tom Hanks wasn’t first in line to play Forrest Gump, but it’s impossible to imagine anyone else starring in the 1994 classic.
Sometimes being second (or third or fourth) choice for a role can even be the first step on the road to Oscar glory.
From Hanks to Lady Gaga, here are 12 actors and actresses who weren’t first-choice for their iconic roles, but won Academy Awards for their work:
Lady Gaga in A Star is Born
A Star is Born, The 2018 remake of the musical romantic drama starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper was in development for years before the project finally got off the ground, so it makes sense that it went through several changes.
Beyoncé was originally supposed to play the female lead in the latest iteration, with Clint Eastwood directing, but that film was delayed and never materialized. In the end, Gaga played Ally Maine and earned a Best Actress nomination for her role and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for ‘Shallow’.
Sandra Bullock in The Blindside
According Los Angeles TimesJulia Roberts received the script for the 2006 sports drama The Blindsidebut “expressed no interest.”
However, Bullock accepted the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy and won the Oscar for Best Actress at the 2010 ceremony.
Russell Crowe in Gladiator
Mel Gibson was reportedly the first choice to play Maximus in the 2000 classic, Gladiator of Ridley Scott, as noted that year New York Times.
Of course, the role ultimately went to Russell Crowe, who took home the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2001.
Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump
John Travolta was reportedly considered to play Forrest Gump in the movie of the same name, but turned down the role. Asked in 2007 by MTV if he regretted turning down famous roles, including this one, Travolta replied, “No, because if I didn’t do something Tom Hanks did, then I did something else that was just as interesting or just as funny… But I feel good.” with some that I left because other careers were created”.
In this case, Hanks won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1995 and defeated Travolta, who was nominated in the same category for his role as Vincent Vega in pulp fiction.
Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball
In 2002, Halle Berry became the first black woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball.
Angela Bassett, nominated for Best Actress at the 1993 Oscars for her portrayal of Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with Ithe told Newsweek that year he was offered the role from Monster’s Ballbut turned it down because she didn’t feel comfortable with the character.
Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea
Matt Damon was a producer on Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan, but was initially supposed to star as well.
A series of other commitments forced him out of the role and, as noted The Hollywood ReporterDamon recruited Casey Affleck, an old friend of his, for the role of Lee Chandler.
The gamble paid off: Affleck took home the Best Actor Oscar for his work in the tragedy.
Emma Stone on La La Land
It’s hard to imagine anyone else alongside Ryan Gosling on the poster for La La Landbut another Emma was first groomed to star in the musical comedy/drama/romantic.
While the project was in its infancy, Emma Watson was a possible choice for the role of Mia Dolan. She later explained that she couldn’t commit to La La Land after accepting the role of Bella in the remake from Beauty and the Beast
“It’s one of those frustrating things where you name projects early on as a way to build anticipation or excitement for something to come before a deal is actually agreed or done,” Watson told SiriusXM. .
Stone’s role as Dolan ended up earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress at the 2017 ceremony.
Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love
Gwyneth Paltrow won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role as Viola de Lesseps in Shakespeare in Lovebut his involvement wasn’t always in the cards.
As Paltrow herself told Variety in 2019, “Julia Roberts was going to do it for a long time, and then that version fell apart. It ended up at Miramax, and I was the first person they offered it to.” But Paltrow, who was going through a “terrible breakup,” “didn’t even read” the script. The role was reportedly offered to Kate Winslet, who turned it down.
In the end, Paltrow read the script, fell in love with the role, and the rest is history.
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
Anne Hathaway was originally supposed to star in Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany Maxwell, according to comments made in 2014 by Harvey Weinstein, the film’s producer.
Hathaway left the project, and Lawrence eventually replaced her, resulting in her Best Actress win at the 2013 ceremony.
Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment
Burt Reynolds turned down the role of Garrett Breedlove in the 1983 comedy-drama, a decision he quite regrets.
“I regret that mostly because it was a real acting role,” Reynolds told Business Insider in 2016. “I wish I had done it and looking back, it was a very stupid decision, but it was a period of many stupid decisions. It must have been my stupidest period.”
Perhaps adding to his regrets is the fact that Nicholson won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1984 for his work on the film.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis won one of his three (yes, three!) Oscars for best actor for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s 2012 biopic of the US president.
But according to Liam Neeson, Spielberg also approached him for the part and seriously considered it, but turned it down in a “very overwhelming moment.”
It was during a reading, he told GQ in 2014, who thought to himself, “I’m not supposed to be here. This was already. My expiration date has passed. I don’t want to act this Lincoln. I can’t be him.”
“Daniel Day is an old friend, and I think maybe Daniel was the first to reach out; I don’t know the history of that,” added Neeson, “but I was excited to have Daniel play him, and when I saw the movie, I thought, ‘He’s f*cking Abraham Lincoln. This is perfect'”.
Jodie Foster on The Silence of the Lambs
Well, hello, Clarice. According to director Jonathan Demme himself, the classic thriller psychological almost had a different lead for FBI trainee Clarice Starling.
As Demme told the Austin Film Festival, he once thought that Jodie Foster, who was a fan of the Thomas Harris novel on which the film is based, would not have been believable in that role.
According to Demme, the script went through Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan and Laura Dern, before they finally convinced him to cast Foster as Starling. Of course, the choice paid off: Foster delivered an iconic performance and won her second Best Actress Oscar for her role.