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15 Casting Near-Misses That Could Have Ruined Careers

15 Casting Near-Misses That Could Have Ruined Careers

Hollywood is a town built on flukes. Get hired for a role, and you can become an overnight sensation. Get it wrong and your career can end in an instant. But some of the most interesting Hollywood tales are the “what-might-have-beens” – the stories of when one minor twist of fate might have entirely changed the trajectory of somebody’s stardom.

Many of today’s A-list names – among them Margot Robbie, Timothée Chalamet, and Zendaya – ended up at the top of Hollywood based on talent and perseverance. But they also benefited from sheer good fortune, with busted auditions or scheduling conflicts just some of the reasons they didn’t end up starring in potentially career-derailing parts.

Saoirse Ronan in Josh Trank’s disastrous 2015 Fantastic Four reboot? It could have happened! We’ve already explored the roles that ruined careers, here are 15 roles that could have ruined careers if not for the guiding hand of Lady Luck.

In 2022, Timothée Chalamet revealed that Leonardo DiCaprio once offered him two pieces of advice: “No hard drugs and no superhero movies.” Pre-DiCaprio chat, he did get close to the role of Peter Parker in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, screen-testing for a part that eventually went to Tom Holland. While Holland’s career hasn’t suffered outside of the MCU, he’s been contractually tied to a franchise for much of his twenties, whereas Chalamet has had the freedom to bounce from auteur to auteur.

Margot Robbie is undoubtedly smart in navigating Hollywood, evident from her choice to produce blockbuster hits like Barbie and Saltburn and gravitating towards filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson. However, she dodged several career traps early on. Following her breakout in The Wolf of Wall Street, she turned down roles in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the doomed 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, and was aggressively pursued for Ghost in the Shell. Instead, Robbie chose to play Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, a decision that spared her from the Ghost in the Shell fiasco and its associated whitewashing controversy.

Despite her fame, Zendaya has been selectively choosy about film roles. In 2016, she was the frontrunner for the lead role in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel but had to opt out due to scheduling conflicts. Rosa Salazar eventually took the part. While the film garnered a passionate fanbase, it likely would not have provided Zendaya the same career momentum as her actual choices.

Showgirls was meant to be a star-making vehicle but instead became infamous for its poor reception. Charlize Theron auditioned for the lead role of Nomi Malone but didn’t get it as she wasn’t well-known enough at the time. Paul Verhoeven, the director, later mentioned that Theron should be grateful she didn’t get the part, avoiding what he termed would have been a “miserable 20 years.”

Haley Lu Richardson’s career could have taken a different turn if she had landed the role of Batgirl in a major DC Comics movie. Leslie Grace was cast instead, and the movie, although completed, was shelved for tax purposes. Richardson later commented on the ordeal, empathizing with those who worked on the project.

Kim Basinger dodged a bullet by pulling out of Boxing Helena, a film about a surgeon who amputates his lover to keep her from leaving. She paid a hefty fine for breaching a verbal agreement but later starred in LA Confidential and won an Oscar. Meanwhile, Boxing Helena, starring Sherilyn Fenn, was critically panned and financially disastrous.

The role of Genghis Khan in The Conqueror was initially meant for Marlon Brando. He declined due to misgivings, and John Wayne took over, resulting in one of the worst films ever made. The movie was also plagued with radiation issues, with many cast and crew members later developing cancer, adding tragic weight to the already panned project.

When she was 14, Natalie Portman turned down the role of Dolores Haze in Lolita, a decision influenced by her discomfort with the nudity required. Portman later discussed how being sexualized as a child influenced her approach to her career, favoring roles that respected her boundaries.

Joaquin Phoenix had extensive talks with Marvel regarding the role of Doctor Strange but ultimately didn’t join the MCU. This decision indirectly led him to star in Joker in 2019, which won him an Oscar in 2020.

Jada Pinkett Smith got her part in The Nutty Professor after turning down roles in other Eddie Murphy films, likely including Beverly Hills Cop III, which became a flop. The Nutty Professor’s success cemented her status as a bankable star.

Rachel McAdams narrowly missed being cast as the Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four. Instead, she starred in more successful movies like Mean Girls and The Notebook, avoiding the troubled Marvel franchise.

Similarly, Saoirse Ronan auditioned for the 2015 reboot of Fantastic Four but was beaten out by Kate Mara. This allowed Ronan to pursue roles that better suited her, like in Brooklyn and Lady Bird.

Bradley Cooper almost starred in Green Lantern, a role that went to Ryan Reynolds and nearly derailed his career. Cooper’s disastrous audition helped him avoid a bad film choice and gave Reynolds a chance to meet his wife, Blake Lively, on set.

Anne Hathaway was involved in the early stages of Cats but wisely dropped out, avoiding the infamous film.

Matthew McConaughey turned down a role in Speed 2 for a part in Contact, a smaller but acclaimed film. Speed 2 flopped, and McConaughey’s career continued to flourish.

Source: Newsbreak