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Screen Test Footage Of Actors Who Didn’t Get Iconic Roles

Updated June 23, 2019 1.2k votes 207 voters 19.6k views14 items

List RulesVote up the actors you wished you could've seen in those roles.

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. 

  • Cillian Murphy As Bruce Wayne In Batman Begins
    Video: YouTube

    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).

    • Age: 39
    • Birthplace: Douglas, County Cork, Republic of Ireland
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  • Kurt Russell As Han Solo In Star Wars
    Video: YouTube

    Back in 1977, Star Wars was released. But no one knew just how mammoth the mega-hit would become, least of all Hollywood actor Kurt Russell. Russell was in the running for both Luke Skywalker as well as Han Solo. The competition was closing in and Russell was one of the finalists for film, however the actor was offered a role in an ABC western series. He asked creator George Lucas if he was going to be cast and the role was still up in the air. Russell made a choice claiming "  got to go to work, so I did the western. Clearly, made the right choice." That last part was a joke by the way, but The Thing/Big Trouble In Little China/Escape from New York/Guardians of the Galaxy 2/Hateful Eight star has done just fine for himself, after all.

    • Age: 69
    • Birthplace: USA, Massachusetts, Springfield
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  • Scarlett Johansson As Judy In Jumanji
    Video: YouTube

    Jumanji was an instant classic when it came out in 1995. It also marked a big moment in the career of young Kirsten Dunst. However, Hollywood now A-lister Scarlett Johansson had auditioned for the role as well. The role went to Dunst, but don't feel bad for Johansson; being the highest grossing actor of 2016 is a decent enough trade-off.

    • Age: 31
    • Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States of America
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  • Tom Selleck As Indiana Jones In Raiders Of The Lost Ark
    Video: YouTube

    In 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark hit screens and audiences were introduced to arguably the greatest film character of all time. While we all associate the iconic role with Harrison Ford, he actually wasn't the first choice for the film. In fact, creator George Lucas didn't want him, saying, "Oh, Steven. He's been in two of my movies. I don't want him to be my Bobby De Niro." Spielberg and Lucas landed on Tom Selleck for the role, feeling he was perfect for the hero. However, Selleck had shot a pilot for the series Magnum P.I. and was unable to get out of the contract. "[Spielberg and Lucas] held the offer out for about a month," Selleck told David Letterman. "The more they held out the offer and talked to the network the more the network said no...so I had to kind of move on." The series was a hit for Selleck but Harrison Ford ended up donning Indy's hat...and the rest is legendary.

    • Age: 75
    • Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
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