James Bond (Dr. No)
James Bond is, quite frankly, the guy most guys wish they could be. He’s super cool, ultra suave, and a complete badass with fancy cars and beautiful women in every port. He was most famously portrayed by Sir Sean Connery, and remains one of the most coveted roles in Hollywood whenever it happens to become open. Of course at the time when Dr. No was being cast, producers were looking for that suave, cool guy and very nearly settled on the actor who pretty much epitomized those traits: Cary Grant. If you look in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Cary Grant, after all. Actually, don’t take our word on that, we haven’t fact checked that part. Anyway, Grant nearly stepped into 007’s tuxedo but alas was already just a little too old to play the role.
Michael Corleone (The Godfather)
The 1970’s were a great time to be Al Pacino, thanks primarily to his breakout role in The Godfather as Michael Corleone, the war hero son of a mob boss who is forced to take control of the family “business” after his father dies. It really was the role that made Pacino’s career, making it even more fortunate for him that originally, he wasn’t even close to the first choice. So who almost got the role instead? Well there were several actors in line, but Jack Nicholson was thought by many to be the favorite. It’s fun to think about how much different Michael Corleone would have been had he been portrayed by Nicholson, with his crazy eyes and menacing grin.
Indiana Jones (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who prefer Han Solo, and those who prefer Indiana Jones. That’s an easy way to judge people in large part because both roles were played by Harrison Ford, though that nearly wasn’t the case (we’ll get to Solo in a minute). As it turns out, the role of Indiana Jones was originally all set to go to Tom Selleck, the mustachioed star of Magnum PI. In fact, a screen test of Selleck wearing the famous fedora is readily available. So what happened? His day job as Magnum. He just couldn’t make the schedule work with his contractual obligations for his TV series, and was forced to abandon the role of Indy.
Han Solo (Star Wars)
Apparently, Harrison Ford loves to latch onto iconic characters other actors either have to abandon or turn down. Of course we have to credit Ford for being perfect for the role of not only Indiana Jones, but also Han Solo, the dashing rogue in the Star Wars trilogy. Originally, however, the role nearly went to none other than Christopher Walken. Walken has sort of become a caricature at this point in his career, but people forget just how good he is. After all, this guy won an Oscar for Deerhunter in 1978, a year after he nearly hit the big screen piloting the Millenium Falcon. It’s moot to think about at this point, but how different would Han Solo have been had he been portrayed by the intense, slightly unhinged Walken?
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