Failed Auditions That Cost Actors A Major Role

Acting isn't for the fainthearted. Not only are the eyes of the world on performers when they appear on TV shows and films, but actors also go through a lot to be in that situation in the first place. Since there are more actors than roles, auditions are part and parcel of the industry as a process of elimination. That said, it can be grueling for anyone to stand there in front of a group of casting directors and filmmakers — palms sweaty, knees weak, and arms heavy — hoping they nail the right tone and delivery of the character on the first try.

As only one person can be cast, most actors will be rejected many times over their career. Sometimes, they may interpret the part differently than what the director envisions, or they may not fully understand the nuances of what's often left unsaid on the page. The point is, even the biggest movie stars in the world have failed auditions in their careers. Simultaneously, it's also another reminder of how a temporary setback doesn't define one's future, since these stars ended up doing fine for themselves in the long run.

Joe Manganiello for Man of Steel

The DC film universe has been in a perpetual state of uncertainty, course correcting, and general chaos since its inception. However, it did get one thing right: it's overall casting. In fact, many fans are still bummed they won't get to see more of Joe Manganiello as Deathstroke after his brief cameo in "Justice League." He was meant to be the main villain of the canceled Ben Affleck's "Batman" film, but Slade Wilson was thrown out with the baby's bath water when Matt Reeves took the Caped Crusader in a different direction with "The Batman."

Manganiello's stint in the DC Extended Universe could have looked much different had he received the original role he auditioned for. Speaking on MTV's "Happy Sad Confused" podcast (via Uproxx), Manganiello confirmed a longtime rumor that he had auditioned to play Superman in "Man of Steel." The actor explained how he met with director Zack Snyder, the casting team, and the producers. "Then they called the 'True Blood' costume shop for my measurements to build my suit," he said, "and that's what caused — That's when it stopped."

Reportedly, HBO wasn't willing to adjust Manganiello's "True Blood" schedule to allow him to play Superman, so his dream was axed there and then. Manganiello admitted how disappointed he was by the whole ordeal, and he wasn't able to watch "Man of Steel" for a few years due to this.

Lucy Hale for Fifty Shades of Grey

After E. L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey" novels dominated the sales charts and captured the pop culture zeitgeist, the time came for the salacious book series to be turned into a blockbuster movie. Of course, with all the raunchiness mentioned in the story, the roles of Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele would require high levels of nudity and boldness from the actors selected for the parts. Even so, there were many performers who were ready to strip down for the next big Hollywood franchise.

"Pretty Little Liars" star Lucy Hale disclosed to Associated Press that she auditioned for the part of Anastasia. "It wasn't actual scenes from the movie, but it was a very sexually forward monologue," she said of her audition. "And I didn't really even know what I was saying in the audition." While the role of Anastasia went to Dakota Johnson, Hale appreciated the auditioning experience as it forced her to step out of her comfort zone and challenge herself as a performer.

John Krasinski for Captain America: The First Avenger

At times, being an actor is similar to any other job in the sense that if someone is too good at something, they will never get promoted. That's the reality John Krasinski lived for many years, as his turn as Jim Halpert in "The Office" may have turned him into a household name but also typecast him in the eyes of many. No matter what Krasinski tried to do, he was always seen as Jim.

Nonetheless, he still took a shot at auditioning for the part of Steve Rogers for "Captain America: The First Avenger," as he revealed on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." At first, Krasinski joked that he stepped away after Chris Hemsworth walked in, showing off his incredible physique and flexing his muscles.

On a serious note, the actor revealed that he had the opportunity to try on the Captain America suit and gave the best performance he could, but ultimately, the filmmakers decided to go with Chris Evans instead. Krasinski would eventually join the MCU when he appeared as Reed Richards in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

Robert Pattinson for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Robert Pattinson doesn't seem to lose many roles. There's even a longstanding joke that if he and Henry Cavill audition for the same part, Pattinson will come out on top. Especially considering how Pattinson reportedly beat Cavill to the roles of Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" and Edward Cullen in "Twilight." Yet, there is one film that decided against pouring some RPatz magic into its production, choosing a certain MCU actor instead.

In "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," Scott needs to battle seven of Ramona's exes in his quest to be with her. One of them is Lucas Lee, who oozes coolness and a jock attitude. In a Vanity Fair retrospective of the 2010 film, director Edgar Wright mentioned how Pattinson auditioned for the part of Lucas, which eventually went to Chris Evans.

"I remember it vividly," Wright said. "He did a much more intense read of it as well. Obviously, Robert is an incredible actor and someone who I'd love to work with now. But it was a very different take from what Chris did."

Jake Gyllenhaal for The Lord of the Rings

It's nice to see Jake Gyllenhaal receive the praise he deserves nowadays. For too long, he was seen as the almost man in Hollywood. Despite being widely regarded as one of the most talented actors of his generation, he missed out on pivotal roles because of timing or other factors outside of his control. A big one was Spider-Man. When Tobey Maguire and Sony did a dance about whether he would be back as Peter Parker for "Spider-Man 2," Gyllenhaal had been in the running to replace Maguire if the actor vacated the web. He was also linked with the role of Batman in the past, with the same outcome as before.

Yet, there was an audition that Gyllenhaal lost, and it was probably for the better. Appearing on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," the actor spoke about the time in which he auditioned to be the hobbit Frodo in "The Lord of the Rings."

In a hilarious recount of his audition, Gyllenhaal explained how he arrived without much knowledge of what he was supposed to do — including the accent for the character. The read required the actor to take out the One Ring and react to it. However, he didn't do much and spoke in his regular voice. Reportedly, director Peter Jackson told him to get new agents after the audition ended.

Emma Stone for Alice in Wonderland

In 2010, Emma Stone was riding the ascension train. She might not have been the A-list, award-winning actor she is now, but she had been attracting all the right attention thanks to her performances in "Zombieland," "The Rocker," and "Superbad." Despite all of the positive buzz, she didn't receive a role in a film she wanted to be a part of — "Alice in Wonderland."

In an interview with Variety, Stone and Timothée Chalamet discussed some of the setbacks they had experienced in their careers. When Chalamet revealed he didn't get a role in "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children," Stone opened up about also missing out on a Tim Burton movie. "Tim Burton's a crusher," she said. "Oh, my God, when I auditioned for 'Alice in Wonderland,' and not getting a Tim Burton movie is really devastating."

While Stone didn't specify which part she auditioned for, it's likely it was for the lead character, Alice — a role that ultimately went to Mia Wasikowska. 

Lewis Tan for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel's "Iron Fist" show didn't exactly electrify viewers. There were many criticisms made about the storyline and the distinct lack of fight training demonstrated by the lead star Finn Jones. When the series dropped, though, there was one major highlight — Lewis Tan's turn as Zhou Cheng. After witnessing his performance, many fans believed Tan should have been cast as Danny Rand instead of Jones, especially considering Tan had auditioned for the part of Rand too.

The goodwill put Tan on the radar of Marvel Studios, though. Considering how small the role of Cheng was, he could have easily been cast as another character in a later project. The opportunity arrived when he auditioned for the title role in "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings."

Speaking to ET, Tan revealed his disappointment when he found out he didn't get the part. "I just lost a crazy job — a really, really high-caliber level job — and I heard that news on a plane to Japan and I was, like, devastated." It didn't turn out too bad for Tan, however, as one door closed so another could open and welcome him as the lead character Cole Young in the 2021 "Mortal Kombat" film.

Elizabeth Olsen for Game of Thrones

It's difficult to imagine anyone else but Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. She made that role her own in "Game of Thrones," proving to be the right person to be the Mother of Dragons and smite anyone who messed with her. As with any other production, though, there were other actors considered in the auditioning process. One of them was "WandaVision" star Elizabeth Olsen.

Olsen revealed she auditioned for the role while speaking to Vulture. "When I first started working, I just auditioned for everything, because I like auditioning," she said. "And I auditioned for Khaleesi. I forgot that. It was the most awkward audition I'd ever had."

Olsen elaborated on the process, saying she read from a scene that appeared toward the end of "Game of Thrones" Season 1. At the time, there was uncertainty about the direction for Daenerys' accent, so Olsen performed both American and British versions for the audition. In her mind, it was totally terrible, but it hasn't stopped her from becoming a fan of the show — even if she failed to be cast in it.

Idris Elba for Beauty and the Beast

The live-action film of "Beauty and the Beast" features a star-studded cast. One of the standouts in the movie is Luke Evans, who brings the boastful Gaston to life. Whether it's through song, dance, or fisticuffs, Evans cements himself as the pitch-perfect antagonist here.

Before Evans received the call for the part, though, another popular British actor was in the mix. Idris Elba revealed in an interview with Jess Cagle that he personally phoned up the filmmakers for the chance to audition (via Entertainment Weekly). "I honestly love musicals," he said. "I auditioned for 'Beauty and the Beast.' I really did, for Gaston. I called and said, 'Listen, I want in!' So somewhere they have a tape of me singing."

While it is easy to imagine DCI John Luther slaying a beast (in figurative terms), it's a tough sell to think of him singing about it. Jokes aside, Elba is a musician when he isn't chasing down thugs on the crime drama, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that he would love to take a crack at a musical, too.

Michael B. Jordan for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

For many, "Star Wars" is the holy grail of cinema. Everyone wants to be a part of the universe in some shape or form, which is why so many famous actors cameo as Stormtroopers. One performer who wanted something a little more was Michael B. Jordan, who revealed he auditioned for the part of Finn in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which ultimately went to John Boyega.

Speaking on "Just for Variety with Marc Malkin" (via Slash Film), Jordan listed his "Star Wars" audition as the worst of his career. "I just couldn't wrap my brain around some of the sides," he said. "When you're reading for these high-level projects, there's never really any specificity in the sides. Everything is super gray and a secret. Reading it through, I just couldn't connect it. Definitely bombed that one, for sure ... I'm pretty sure I ran out of there."

In the end, 2015 was a mixed one for Jordan. While he punched his way into the collective consciousness as Adonis Creed in "Creed," although he also starred as Johnny Storm in the highly publicized dud "Fantastic Four." Perhaps a co-lead role in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" may have helped to soothe the nightmares from the backlash of the latter movie.

Scott Adkins for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The role of Batman is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Whenever there's a new Bat movie on the horizon, the rumors swirl around about who is in the mix for the part. More often than not, all the names mentioned have been in consideration at some point since the decision-makers cast a wide net to attract the most talent. Before Ben Affleck put on the cape and cowl for Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," martial artist and actor Scott Adkins stepped up for a chance to become Gotham's protector.

Footage of Adkins' audition tape leaked out to the public. In the clip, the British actor recites lines from "The Dark Knight Rises" while sporting a goatee — the iconic look of his character Yuri Boyka from the "Undisputed" film series.

Adkins may not have scored the role, but his audition had the fan base discussing the possibilities. While Adkins may not have been considered a serious candidate since he was a strictly B-movie actor at the time of casting, he certainly has the physique and martial arts prowess to bring Batman to life on the big screen. Plus, he also bears an uncanny resemblance to Affleck — something that is parodied in his film "Accident Man: Hitman's Holiday."

Timothée Chalamet for Spider-Man: Homecoming

While Timothée Chalamet may be everywhere nowadays and racking up big roles, he had his fair share of failed auditions when he was rising through the Hollywood ranks. Even so, he was knocking on all the right doors and being invited into the conversation.

At the 2018 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards (via The Hollywood Reporter), Chalamet was showered with praise for his performance in "Call Me by Your Name." While collecting his award, he opened up about how he had auditioned for "Spider-Man: Homecoming" a few years earlier.

"I read twice and I left sweating in a total panic," he explained. "I called my agent, Brian Swardstrom, and I said, 'Brian, I thought about this a lot and I have to go back and knock on that door and read again.'" In an attempt to sway him from doing so, Swardstrom recounted the infamous story of how Sean Young put on the Catwoman costume and appeared at the studio in an attempt to convince the decision-makers to give her the role. That decision backfired on Young and became a lesson of what not to do in showbiz. Ultimately, Chalamet didn't get the role, as it went to Tom Holland.

Robert De Niro for The Godfather

Scroll through LinkedIn and there will always be some thought leader saying, "When one door closes, another opens." While it might inspire more eye rolls than motivation, it is surprisingly true. Sometimes, the "no" right now is for something better down the line. Just ask Robert De Niro.

In the early 1970s, before De Niro and Martin Scorsese formed one of the best filmmaking partnerships of all time, the actor was cutting his teeth in Hollywood, trying to pick up gigs to show off his acting chops. A big project that had every actor's attention was Francis Ford Coppola's mobster drama "The Godfather." De Niro auditioned for the part of Sonny Corleone (and his audition tape has landed up online). Even though James Caan was cast as Sonny in the movie, De Niro was offered the role of Paulie Gatto; however, he asked to leave the production so he could work on "The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight" instead.

Coppola liked what he had seen from De Niro, though. So, when "The Godfather Part II" was all systems go, the director cast the actor in the role of the young Vito Corleone. It was also the part that secured a best supporting actor Oscar for De Niro.

Seth Rogen for The Office

Part of the reason for "The Office" being one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time is because of the cast. The chemistry is through the roof, and everyone complements each other's character. In fact, it's the kind of show that no one could imagine being rebooted without the original cast members' involvement. Yet, the series wasn't a lightning-in-a-bottle scenario where the right people presented themselves from the start and Bob's your uncle. There was a substantial casting process where many actors came in to read for the various parts on offer.

One of the more interesting auditions was Seth Rogen for the role of Dwight Schrute. Rogen's audition demonstrates a different approach to Dwight than what was portrayed by Rainn Wilson. Not taking anything away from Rogen's comedic sensibilities, as he is an accomplished actor and comedian in his own right; however, it's tough to imagine anyone else but Wilson as Dwight.

Judging by Rogen's audition, he would have been more of a passive-aggressive version of Dwight instead of Wilson's outright aggressive character that had manic tendencies. There's no disputing the producers and casting team made the correct choice here.

Scarlett Johansson for Jumanji

Scarlett Johansson is one of the most prominent actors in the world. She's equally adept at starring in blockbuster fare like the MCU as she is in Oscar-bait dramas such as "Marriage Story." What most people tend to forget about Johansson is that she has been acting since a young age. Some of her earlier roles include parts in 1994's "North" and 1997's "Home Alone 3."

However, she could have had a mega-blockbuster in her early filmography had events turned out differently. Johansson auditioned for the role of Judy Shepherd in Joe Johnston's "Jumanji." However, she lost out to fellow child star Kirsten Dunst, who was on a scorching-hot streak coming off "Interview with the Vampire" and "Little Women."

While it might have taken Johansson a little longer than Dunst to hit the A-list league in Hollywood, she eventually did so in the 2000s. Also, considering how "Jumanji" has experienced a soft reboot, there's always the possibility that Johansson could star in a future movie and experience a whacky adventure for herself.

Kurt Russell for Star Wars

Toward the end of the 1970s, Kurt Russell was transitioning from child star to adult actor. He sought out roles to take him to the next level of his career and show the world he had what it took to do this acting thing long term. A project that presented itself was this small movie called "Star Wars," which some people may have heard of.

For many years, a rumor drifted around that Russell had auditioned to be Han Solo, losing out the part to Harrison Ford. Decades later, the actor set the record straight, revealing he had actually auditioned for two parts, and there was a bit of uncertainty over which role he should play.

Speaking to, Russell explained how he read for the parts of Luke Skywalker and Solo, but he wasn't quite sure what he was auditioning for. That being said, he was on the shortlist for both roles, when he received an offer to do the western TV show "The Quest," so he tried to figure out where he stood. "I asked George [Lucas], 'Do you think you're gonna use me?'" Russell revealed. "He said, 'I don't know if I want to put you with him, or those two guys together.' I got to go to work, so I did the western." Russell joked that he made the right choice.

Josh Hutcherson for The Amazing Spider-Man

Who wouldn't want to be Spider-Man? When the opportunity to portray Marvel's Webslinger presented itself after Sony decided to reboot the series in the 2010s, every actor under the age of 30 begged their agent to get them an audition for "The Amazing Spider-Man." One actor determined to get the gig was "The Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson — and he was pretty close to landing the role, too.

After being shortlisted for the part, Hutcherson spoke to Entertainment Weekly about what it meant to him to even be in contention. "The fact that I'm on the list with some of the people that are on the list — I'm amazed that they're putting me on that 'short list,'" he said. "I think it's really cool to be considered by the media to be in the same category as all those other people that are being considered. It's really a privilege."

Ultimately, Andrew Garfield was cast as Spider-Man. That said, Hutcherson's screen test leaked onto the internet, showcasing his version of Peter Parker engaging in combat with a group of assailants. It's neat and exciting footage, proving he would have made an excellent choice for the part, too.

Bob Odenkirk for The Office

Bob Odenkirk is best known as shady lawyer Saul Goodman from "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul," but he started his career in TV comedy, writing and starring in shows like "Saturday Night Live" and "The Ben Stiller Show." Expectedly, when "The Office" was searching for actors to portray the lead role of Michael Scott, Odenkirk auditioned for the part and was taken extremely seriously as a candidate.

When the sitcom was presented to NBC, Odenkirk was actually presented as Michael; however, the producers still held hope their main pick, Steve Carell, would become available. As luck would have it — and bad news for Odenkirk — Carell's sitcom "Come to Papa" received the ax, and he was able to take the part of Michael.

It doesn't appear as if there were any sour grapes about how matters turned out, though, since Odenkirk did appear in "The Office" as Mark Franks — a riff on Michael's character — in the ninth season.

Gwyneth Paltrow for Jurassic Park

If an actor's dream isn't to be in a dinosaur film, they need to get their priorities checked. Even Laura Dern revealed it was Nicolas Cage who convinced her to speak to director Steven Spielberg about "Jurassic Park" because how could she not want to do a dino-mite movie like that?! Honestly, everyone needs a friend like Cage who keeps it real in their life, really.

Dern portrays the character of Dr. Ellie Sattler in "Jurassic Park," and it's a role she has revisited in several sequels thereafter. However, she wasn't the only actor approached for the role, as audition tapes have surfaced, showcasing the likes of Helen Hunt and Gwyneth Paltrow all reading for Ellie.

Paltrow may have thought she had a foot in the door, though, having worked with Spielberg a few years earlier as the younger version of Wendy Darling in "Hook." Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be, as Dern received the opportunity to scream bloody murder and run away from those pesky velociraptors in "Jurassic Park."

Brad Pitt for Backdraft

Ron Howard's "Backdraft" is a fire movie — in both senses of the term. Starring a superb cast including Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Robert De Niro, if it had any more star power, it would need its own constellation. However, it almost had another big-name actor in the form of Brad Pitt. In fact, if he had got the part, it would have likely kickstarted the launch of Brad Pitt's ascension to the upper echelons of Hollywood much sooner.

In the early 1990s, Pitt was building up steam with bit parts wherever he could, but he had the chance to sink his teeth into something meatier, as he auditioned for the role of Brian McCaffrey in "Backdraft." He wasn't the only notable name competing for the part either, as both Robert Downey Jr. and Keanu Reeves read for it too, as the audition tapes have revealed. In the end, Howard and his team went with Baldwin instead.

Jeremy Sisto for Titanic

"Clueless" didn't only announce the arrival of Alicia Silverstone as a star, but the teen comedy also introduced the world to Jeremy Sisto, who plays Elton in the movie. After the success of "Clueless," the young cast was in high demand and the opportunities started to roll in for them. While Silverstone was cast as Batgirl in Joel Schumacher's "Batman & Robin," Sisto received the opportunity to audition for the part of Jack Dawson in James Cameron's 1997 tearjerker "Titanic."

The role of Jack went to Leonardo DiCaprio in the end; however, footage of Sisto's screen test with Kate Winslet has since been released. The actor has also not been shy to discuss the experience when asked about it.

"[It's] one of my failures, yes — one of my good failures," he told "Live with Kelly and Ryan." "I test-screened for Leonardo's role. It was a big deal. It was like a full set, wardrobe, and makeup. It was very nerve-wracking — I was 19."