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Actors Who Auditioned To Play The Hero And Ended Up As The Villain

Updated April 6, 2021 21.1k votes 3.2k voters 212.1k views12 items

List RulesVote up the aspiring heroes who made way better villains.

When an actor is cast as a beloved (or at least likable) character in a celebrated movie, it becomes hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Even harder to wrap one’s mind around is the idea of the villain in that movie playing that part. But fate nearly pulled a switcheroo just like that multiple times. From superhero movies to prison comedies, these are the times the people we think of as the bad guys and gals nearly got the job as the hero.

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  • Photo: Thor / Paramount Pictures

    It’s hard to imagine anyone else but Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder in Marvel’s Thor and Avengers franchises. And it’s even harder to think of the guy who played his nemesis, Loki, wielding the mighty Mjolnir. Yet Tom Hiddleston did nearly get the part, and you can see his (somewhat odd but impressive) audition tape on YouTube. He never actually tried out for the role of Loki, but impressed the filmmakers enough to be hired as the God of Mischief.

    Bearing no ill will over the decision, Hiddleston spoke well of Hemsworth on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: “I think we can all agree that they cast the right actor.”

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  • Photo: The Dark Knight / Warner Bros.

    The late actor who gave us the greatest portrayal of a DCU supervillain nearly got the job as its coolest superhero (George Clooney’s tenure as the dark nipple knight notwithstanding).

    Heath Ledger was actually Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan's first choice to play Batman before Christian Bale was ever considered. Luckily, both agreed that Ledger wouldn’t really work as Bruce Wayne, so he was instead given the opportunity to win an Academy Award playing the Joker.

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  • Photo: Game of Thrones / HBO

    Most characters on Game of Thrones don’t tend to enjoy much longevity, as Westeros is a treacherous and backstabby place. However, Kit Harrington managed to prolong his character Jon Snow’s demise until Season 5, and then got resurrected so that he could see things to the bitter end.

    As the evil Ramsay Bolton only made it to Season 6 before being eaten by his own dogs, Iwan Rheon, the actor who played him but who Time reported also read for the part of Snow, may have wished he had landed the part of the hero instead.

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  • Photo: Guardians of the Galaxy / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Lee Pace was pretty much unrecognizable under all that makeup in Guardians of the Galaxy. But before he became the fearsome Kree known as Ronan the Accuser, he was among those on the short list who were summoned before director James Gunn to see if they would make a serviceable Star-Lord.

    As we all know now, Chris Pratt was deemed more serviceable than any of them, although Pace apparently did well enough for Gunn to issue him the Cosmi-Rod war-hammer and have him start accusing.

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