Every actor knows the pain of auditioning. It's a constant cycle of hope, fear, and inevitable rejection for even the most talented of stars. However, for some actors, there reaches a point where auditions are no longer necessary and we can hardly imagine anyone turning them down for a part. There are some roles that we so closely associate with an actor (James Bond, Indiana Jones, Iron Man) that they're now iconic, and it's nearly impossible to picture anyone else in the role.
On the flip side, though, it may shock you that some actors who didn't get iconic roles went on to be big stars. These are examples of actors who didn't get the part. While normally the footage from auditions or screen tests are hidden from the public (sometimes for good reason) there are a few gems to be found online. Here are some screen tests from actors almost...but not quite...cast in major Hollywood roles.
This is an interesting case of things working out for everyone involved. Cillian Murphy is well known in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy for his portrayal as the Scarecrow, however, that particular notoriety wasn't his goal. It may surprise some that before Christian Bale donned the cowl, it was Cillian Murphy who auditioned to be the Bruce Wayne himself. After Nolan saw 28 Days Later, Murphy was able to score a meeting and eventual audition for Batman Begins. As Murphy has put it:
"In fact, I did an awkward audition in the Batsuit. I think he saw something interesting in that screen test somehow, though, because he said, 'Hey, would you be interested in playing this other part?'"
Everything worked out though, as Murphy not only got a great role as a villain, he was put in all three of films and several of Nolan's other films (Inception and Dunkirk).
Birthplace: Douglas, County Cork, Republic of Ireland
Brad Pitt is possibly THE most recognizable actor in America. Yet back in 1991, the fresh-faced actor was unable to land a role in Backdraft. The role ended up going to Billy Baldwin instead. Pitt shouldn't be embarrassed though, considering Robert Downey, Jr. was also turned down for the role. Seems like they both did all right for themselves.
Birthplace: Shawnee, Oklahoma, United States of America
American Pie star Chris Klein decided to take a shot at a role in the film adaptation of Mama Mia! Unfortunately for Klein, the audition tape leaked and was met with a heavy dose of internet humiliation. Klein admitted it wasn't the best tape:
"I took a chance — I can't sing! I don't know why I was in there. But I took a chance! It's a musical — let's see if I can give it a shot. And, you know, the way that they put it out there, it gets taken out of context and all that kind of thing. It was really a dreadful audition."
The role went to Dominic Cooper.
Birthplace: USA, Hinsdale, Illinois
Jurassic Park is a film so iconic it's hard to imagine the roles played by anyone else. However, Gwyneth Paltrow actually auditioned for the role that ended up going to Laura Dern. Chances are it was that Paltrow was just too young for the part.
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America