Roles in Hollywood everyone went after

Some characters are destined to steal the show. But when it comes time to cast roles, crazy things can happen, and it's impossible to predict who will end up in front of the cameras when they start rolling. It may be hard to imagine, but some of your favorite movies and TV shows almost featured someone else entirely in the leading role. Here's a list of roles everyone in Hollywood wanted to play.

Young Han Solo in 'Star Wars' spinoff

Casting the original Han Solo was nearly as tough as making the kessel run in 12 parsecs, so when Lucasfilm and Disney announced they'd be expanding the Star Wars universe with a full slate of standalone films including a "young Han Solo" prequel directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, every twentysomething male actor in the galaxy lined up to audition. Among the big names: Whiplash's Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort from The Fault in Our Stars, Neighbors star Zac Efron, and Brooklyn's Emory Cohen. Sources claim over 2,500 actors either met with casting or submitted tapes before Hail, Caesar! breakout Alden Ehrenreich was ultimately cast in the hotly anticipated film, which will fly into theaters in 2018. Just don't get cocky, kid.

Wonder Woman

Hollywood has tried and failed for decades to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen. Along the way, quite a few of the film industry's biggest stars have expressed interest in donning the iconic bracelets including Sandra Bullock, Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, former Bond Girl Olga Kurylenko, and even Katie Holmes—who's no stranger to the DC Comics universe. When Warner Bros. finally decided to cast Wonder Woman for Batman v Superman, the casting description read: "tall, brunette, athletic and exotic." Israeli actress Gal Gadot won the role—and a shot at solo stardom with Wonder Woman, which hits theaters June 2.

Scarlett O'Hara in 'Gone with the Wind'

It may very well be the most famous casting search of all time. In an effort to build anticipation for the 1939 big screen adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's epic novel while he waited for the screenplay to be finished, Gone with the Wind producer David O. Selznick decided to make his hunt for spunky heroine Scarlett O'Hara a national obsession, with fans writing impassioned letters on behalf of their favorite actresses and a whistle-stop tour of the South looking for unknown talent. MGM spent two years trying to cast the role, seeing 1,400 actresses and testing the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Paulette Goddard, and Joan Crawford. Filming had already begun on the burning of Atlanta scene when relatively unknown British actress Vivien Leigh was cast just days before principal photography was set to begin, ending a search nearly as melodramatic as Scarlett herself.

James Bond

Betting on who will become the next 007 has become a national pasttime for bookies in the U.K. Six actors have portrayed the world's most famous spy on the big screen, but every time the role is vacated, a new crop of hot British actors hopes to fill Bond's perfectly-tailored suits. Among those over the years who've wanted their martinis shaken and not stirred: Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth, and Clive Owen. Current Bond Daniel Craig has been hesitant to confirm his participation in another film after the success (and stress) of four films in the role. Until he does, a few favorite candidates have emerged as his possible successor: Luther's Idris Elba, Thor baddie Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy, and Homeland's Damien Lewis. Even X-Files star Gillian Anderson wants to put her spin on the role. Who will be the next with a license to kill? Only time will tell.

Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

When it came time to cast the big-screen adaptation of erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, fans of the series as well as author E.L. James had plenty of opinions regarding who should play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele. Fans campaigned especially hard for Matt Bomer, Alexis Bledel, and Ian Somerhalder, among others. James was partial to Shailene Woodley, who passed because of her commitment to Divergent. Other names entered seriously into the mix: Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard, Cara Delevingne, and Oscar nominee Felicity Jones. Sons of Anarchy's Charlie Hunnam was originally cast as Grey opposite Dakota Johnson before dropping out and being replaced by Irish actor Jamie Dornan. Guess Hunnam got too tied up to play the BDSM-loving Lothario.

Harry Potter

To cast the Boy Who Lived, Warner Bros. put out an open call on the internet for Harry Potter lookalikes, and over 40,000 kids sent in audition materials in hopes of being chosen. Author J.K. Rowling's one stipulation was the cast be British, eliminating Sorcerer's Stone director Chris Columbus' initial first choice: Stepmom's Liam Aiken. But plenty of other young American actors expressed interest, including the Sixth Sense's Haley Joel Osment and Jonathan Lipnicki of Jerry Maguire fame. Though he wound up as Draco, Tom Felton even initially auditioned for both Harry and Ron. Of course, now it's impossible to imagine anyone but Daniel Radcliffe as the boy wizard.

Clarice Starling in 'Silence of the Lambs'

Hannibal Lecter may have said "Hello" to a very different Clarice in the Silence of the Lambs had late director Jonathan Demme had his way. Though Jodie Foster campaigned heavily to get the role, she wasn't anywhere on Demme's shortlist. Michelle Pfeiffer was the first choice, having just worked with Demme on Married to the Mob, but she was uncomfortable with the subject matter and ultimately passed. Meg Ryan was also considered thanks to her popularity coming off a string of hits, but she too passed, apparently "offended" Demme even thought of her for such a gruesome project. Laura Dern gave such an impressive audition, Demme said she was "it," but studios weren't comfortable with the still rather unknown actress carrying such a big project, so he gave the role to Foster—who went on to win an Oscar.

Rey in 'The Force Awakens'

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm decided to make a third Star Wars trilogy and needed a brand new heroine to anchor it. Director J.J. Abrams and the casting team launched an extensive search for the right person to play Rey, the mysterious Jakku orphan at the heart of The Force Awakens. Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan auditioned, apparently having a blast "pretending to take out a lightsaber." Elizabeth Olsen and Shailene Woodley were rumored to have auditioned for the part as well, but Abrams was dead set on casting a fresh face. Newcomer Daisy Ridley nabbed the role after five auditions, including one tearful screen test that blew Abrams away. The Force is strong with that one.

Katniss Everdeen in 'The Hunger Games'

After the massive success of the Hunger Games book trilogy, there was no shortage of actresses looking to score the highly coveted lead role of Katniss Everdeen. Emily Browning, best known for her role in Sucker Punch and The Uninvited, was a top contender for the part. Saoirse Ronan, who starred in Hanna with Cate Blanchett, was also a strong choice with her background in hand-to-hand combat and penchant for athletic roles. Shailene Woodley was also in the running for the role of Katniss, but eventually focused her energy on winning the lead role of Tris in the Divergent series. Also on the list were Abigial Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine and Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit. Of course, Katniss went to Jennifer Lawrence, and it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role.

Amy Dunne in 'Gone Girl'

Anyone who read Gone Girl knows the casting for the character of Amy Dunne had to be perfect. This highly sought after part was actively pursued by Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron, and Olivia Wilde. Portman, the Oscar-winning actress best known for her turn in Black Swan, would have brought a multi-layered performance, while Charlize Theron's stunningly disturbed turn as Mary Ann Lomax in The Devil's Advocate with Keanu Reeves proved she could have nabbed this role alongside Ben Affleck. Finally, Olivia Wilde, no stranger to carrying a film as the deranged Zoe in The Lazarus Effect, had the looks and the chops for the role of Amy. It ultimately went to Rosamund Pike, who was spot on.

Vivian Ward in 'Pretty Woman'

For awhile, it seemed like every actress in Hollywood was clamoring to play the hooker with a heart of gold in what many consider to be Gary Marshall's masterpiece. Meg Ryan was initially offered the part opposite Richard Gere, but had to decline the offer as she had scheduling conflicts. A string of other actresses nearly took the opportunity to play Vivian but had concerns with the subject matter, including Michelle Pfeiffer and Daryl Hannah. Julia Roberts ultimately landed the career-making part.

Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather'

Believe it or not, Paramount Pictures' first choice for the compelling Godfather franchise was not Al Pacino. It's hard not to picture him in the leading role, but at one point Jack Nicholson was wanted to play Michael Corleone. Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty also expressed interest in playing the role and made it far along in the casting process. Meanwhile, director Francis Ford Coppola nearly pulled out of the project as he fought Paramount executives over casting Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone.

Batman in Tim Burton's 'Batman'

As far as Batman movies go, Tim Burton's first Batman flick is legendary. In the '80s, every leading man in Hollywood actively sought an audition to be a part of what was undoubtedly going to be a hit franchise with a stellar paycheck. Can you imagine your favorite Scrooge as Batman? That's right: Bill Murray was reportedly considered for the batsuit. Mel Gibson was rumored too, as were Charlie Sheen and Alec Baldwin. After all that, Michael Keaton was the lucky guy who eventually donned the cape and cowl.

Ferris Bueller in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'

John Hughes reportedly wrote Ferris Bueller's Day Off with Matthew Broderick in mind, but other actors had to be considered. Johnny Depp was initially offered the role but ultimately turned it down. Jim Carrey was also rumored to be in the mix, but after conducting his studio-mandated search, Hughes returned to Broderick, the guy he'd wanted for the part all along—and in hindsight, it's pretty obvious he had the right idea.

Dr. Evil in 'Austin Powers'

Who doesn't get a kick out of this super '60s-themed spy comedy? Up until a scheduling conflict with the production of Liar, Liar, comedy superstar Jim Carrey was set to play Dr. Evil in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Stuck for an actor to fill the crucial role, star and creator Mike Myers decided to don the bald cap and play Austin Powers' nemesis himself.

Rachel on 'Friends'

Easily one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, Friends catapulted every actor involved to fame, most notably Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel Green. Many young hopefuls auditioned for the role that would eventually inspire one of the most imitated hairstyles of all time, and at first, the producers expressed strong interest in actress Tea Leoni. Aniston passed on an opportunity at Saturday Night Live to sign on for the sitcom, and the rest was Must See TV history.

Aragorn in 'The Lord of the Rings'

The quest to find the the perfect actor to play the future King of Gondor was almost as long as Frodo and Sam's journey to Mordor. When Peter Jackson and his team set out to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings for the silver screen, they launched an exhaustive worldwide casting search that included quite a few of Hollywood's heaviest hitters—many of whom were eyed for the role of Aragorn.

Nicolas Cage turned it down, telling Newsweek he couldn't "be away from home for three years." Three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis also famously said no, citing fears of boredom. Russell Crowe considered joining the Fellowship, but budget constraints caused him to pull out. 27 year-old actor Stuart Townsend was finally cast and trained for over two months, but was replaced with Viggo Mortensen just before filming began, as Jackson felt Townsend was too young for the role.

Young Lara Croft in 'Tomb Raider'

Origin stories are all the rage these days, so it's not surprising that MGM, Warner Bros., and GK Films decided to reboot the Tomb Raider film franchise nearly 15 years after Angelina Jolie last donned the popular video game heroine's infamous hot pants. According to director Roar Uthaug, this new film incarnation will feature Lara Croft as a "young woman who hasn't yet found her way and her place in the world."

Not long after the project was announced, a host of Hollywood's hottest young female talent lined up to try to snag the part, including Saoirse Ronan and Emilia Clarke. Star Wars heroine Daisy Ridley was in serious talks at one point, but ultimately, the producers went with Oscar winner Alicia Vikander, who signed on for the March 2018 release.

Christian and Satine in 'Moulin Rouge'

It's hard to imagine anyone but Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman as the ill-fated lovers in Baz Luhrmann's hypnotic movie musical Moulin Rouge, but the visionary Aussie director saw tons of actors during a lengthy audition process. Luhrmann was particularly impressed by Jake Gyllenhaal, telling MTV the actor has a "great voice, tremendous voice." Interestingly, it was during these auditions when Gyllenhaal met his future Brokeback Mountain costar Heath Ledger, who was also being considered.

Ledger even went so far as reading scenes with Nicole Kidman, but Luhrmann went with McGregor when they changed Christian's age, making Ledger too young. Though Kidman wound up as Satine, Hole frontwoman Courtney Love also auditioned for the consumptive courtesan. Luhrmann found her "beguiling," and though she wasn't cast, Love helped him obtain the rights to her late husband Kurt Cobain's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" for the film.

Cole Sear in 'The Sixth Sense'

M. Night Shyamalan's critically-acclaimed breakthrough horror film The Sixth Sense made Haley Joel Osment a star and landed him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination at the ripe old age of 11. Cole Sear, the little boy who can communicate with the dead, was a plum role, and lots of Hollywood's youngest actors were eager to see dead people in the 1999 flick.

Liam Aiken, the star of Stepmom and later A Series of Unfortunate Events, auditioned for Shyamalan. He wanted the role badly, but his mother declined due to his age (he was only eight at the time) and the dark subject matter. While he's mostly now known as a comedic actor, Michael Cera also auditioned to play the sensitive, troubled Cole. In an interview with Esquire, Cera recalled not knowing the character sees dead people and instead playing the serious, emotional audition scene "very optimistically." Needless to say, Cera's shot at the role was dead too.