Rom-Com Queens Who Could've Looked Completely Different

Certain romantic comedies transcend their eras and cross the threshold into being considered timeless. Whether it's Audrey Hepburn's black Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and Givenchy dress in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" or Alicia Silverstone's trademark Valley girl verbiage in "Clueless," films such as these have a way of garnering heavy influence over popular culture and fashion as we know it. But have you ever considered that some of your favorite movie roles could have been cast completely differently?

Every day, actors turn down major movie roles for many reasons, and some of the most legendary roles in rom-com history were nearly taken by other actors. If modern popular culture has taught us anything over the years, it's that there are no small parts, just small actors. Because actors are skilled at creating their own unique approach to translating a character from the written word to the silver screen, the casting makes all the difference in the film's direction. Read on to discover some of your favorite rom-com queens who almost looked completely different.

Breakfast at Tiffany's - Marilyn Monroe

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" remains one of the most influential films of all time. Audrey Hepburn truly defined what chic elegance looked like in New York City with her most memorable role to date. Although her floor-length black dress and pearl-draped wardrobe have remained synonymous with this '60s classic, the film was meant to go in a completely different direction. This Oscar-winning film was adapted from a novella of the same name, written by Truman Capote. When developing the story, Capote wrote the character of Holly Golightly specifically for Marilyn Monroe — with his biographer claiming she was his "favorite creation."

The blonde bombshell was ultimately advised against accepting the role by her acting coach, Paula Strasberg, who didn't think Monroe should be accepting roles as a call-girl. "Crazy About Tiffany's" documentary director, Matthew Miele admitted that when Monroe declined, "it changed everything about the image." The story of the free-spirited party girl was actually meant to be much darker and more "authentic" than its rom-com adaptation. Capote spent years being very outspoken about his distaste for what he calls the "most miscast" film. While critics and viewers alike are still captivated by the finished outcome, Capote maintained that Paramount "double-crossed" him in every way with their casting decisions.

When Harry Met Sally... - Molly Ringwald

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Meg Ryan moaning in the middle of a New York City deli. But, the character of Sally Albright nearly went to another huge '80s star. "When Harry Met Sally..." follows the titular characters through over a decade of chance encounters while attempting to answer the everlasting question: "Can men and women ever just be friends?" There is no denying that Ryan and co-star Billy Crystal make a hilarious duo with undeniable on-screen chemistry in the film, but director Rob Reiner's first choice for the starring role was actually "The Breakfast Club" starlet Molly Ringwald.

During her heyday as an '80s breakout star, Ringwald appeared in a slew of John Hughes films, historically being recognized as his muse. Following the success of Ringwald's recent projects like "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty in Pink," Reiner had Ringwald in mind for the character of Sally. However, Crystal claimed in an interview with Variety that their search was over once they saw Meg Ryan. "It was like in a '40s movie when someone says, 'And then she walked in!'" Crystal explained. Interestingly enough, Tom Hanks was also considered to perform alongside Ringwald, before the casting choice of Crystal, who remains one of Rob Reiner's closest friends.

Pretty Woman - Molly Ringwald

Ringwald seemed to be a hot commodity in the '80s and '90s. The character of Sally Albright wasn't the only city girl that Ringwald was in the running to play. In a 2012 Reddit post by none other than the "Sixteen Candles" star herself, Ringwald explains that she was briefly considered to play the leading lady in the 1990 classic, "Pretty Woman." The actress claimed that an early draft of the movie was titled "$3,000," and that although the script was "okay," she said, "Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that."

The film was initially conceptualized as a "gritty art movie," before it was picked up by Disney and revamped as the romantic comedy we all know and love (via Variety). The ending was originally meant to be "dark" and "really heavy," with actors like Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in talks to be included. However, once Disney and director Garry Marshall stepped in, the movie was renamed and given a much happier ending.

Sleepless in Seattle - Julia Roberts

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks tugged at the world's heartstrings as they guided us through the complicated love story of a recent widower and a journalist who find each other despite it all. Many critics and viewers agree that "Sleepless in Seattle" remains to be one of the greatest films of its genre ever made. But did you know the film could have looked completely different? In September of 2014, Julia Roberts was featured on the cover of InStyle Magazine, and it was revealed that she nearly played Annie Reed in the beloved '90s rom-com, "Sleepless in Seattle."

"I'd been offered [the movie] but couldn't do it," Roberts explained (via Yahoo). "[Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that." It seems as though this is simply what was meant to be. Roberts continued by ensuring that she harbors no ill will for losing out on the rom-com role of a lifetime as she wouldn't exactly describe herself as "ambitious." She did, however, compare the film's success to that of her and Richard Gere's recent project, "Pretty Woman." "Sleepless in Seattle" managed to rake in enough to break the record for the highest opening for a romantic comedy at the time.

The Devil Wears Prada - Rachel McAdams

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Anne Hathaway starring as the lovable but lost fashion employee in the hit film "The Devil Wears Prada." However, the studio's first choice for the role was Rachel McAdams. McAdams was reaching new career heights following the immediate success of "Mean Girls" and "The Notebook," and Fox wanted her to be the face of their next film. In a 2021 Entertainment Weekly interview celebrating the film's 15th anniversary, director David Frankel revealed that although the studio was determined to cast McAdams in the role of the wannabe journalist, the actress was seemingly "determined not to do it." Fox allegedly offered her the part three different times, to no avail.

Surprisingly enough, Hathaway was the ninth actress up for consideration for the role, following behind stars like Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Kirsten Dunst, and Kate Hudson. However, Hathaway remained extremely persistent when vying for the role. Former Fox president Elizabeth Gabler recalled that Hathaway "never stopped campaigning [or] calling." She also described Hathaway as "completely aligned" with what they hoped the movie would become. It was ultimately fellow star, Meryl Streep, who had the final say in who played Andy. Frankel claims that following their meeting, Streep called the studio and gave the green light to cast her, stating that she thought they would work well together.

La La Land - Emma Watson

"La La Land" is a musical rom-com starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The film garnered widespread critical acclaim, particularly receiving praise for the leads' undeniable chemistry as well as its unique cinematography. However, the film almost looked entirely different. Writer and director Damien Chazelle sat down with Uproxx in 2016 and confirmed that "there was a moment where Emma Watson and Miles Teller were doing [the movie]." Watson pointed to her newly accepted role as Belle in Disney's live-action adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast" as her reasoning for being unable to perform in the role.

As the consummate professional that she is, Watson always avoids spreading herself too thin. In an interview for SiriusXM, the "Harry Potter" actress explained that with a movie like "Beauty and the Beast," you're either fully in, or you're out. She followed this by saying "I kinda gotta be all in," ultimately deciding to fully commit to the role of Belle with no distractions. Both "La La Land" and "Beauty and the Beast" received favorable reviews, so it's safe to say both actresses were pleased with their decisions.

Clueless - Sarah Michelle Gellar

In 1995, "Clueless" crafted a world full of colorful vocabulary and "courageous fashion efforts" that were responsible for the mainstream success of huge stars like Paul Rudd and the late great Brittany Murphy. But could there have been a world where Cher isn't Alicia Silverstone? As if! What you might not know is that Sarah Michelle Gellar was originally offered the role of the "virgin who can't drive" but was unable to accept due to scheduling conflicts. At the time, Gellar's main focus was her role in the daytime soap opera, "All My Children." Therefore, she had to miss out on the role of a lifetime.

Luckily, however, the years that followed for the actress were extremely lucrative, cementing Gellar as a '90s icon in her own right. She went on to star in hugely successful projects like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "I Know What You Did Last Summer," and "Cruel Intentions." As for Silverstone, she has Aerosmith to thank for nailing down the role. Yep, you read that right. "Clueless" writer and director, Amy Heckerling shared with Rolling Stone that she first discovered Silverstone as she was running on a treadmill, watching music videos on MTV. She said that when she saw the actress performing in the music video for "Cryin'," she went "cuckoo bananas" and could tell instantly that Silverstone would be a huge star. Heckerling famously said, "I want the Aerosmith girl," and the rest is history.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Nicole Kidman

The fact that there was almost a world without Brangelina is just too much to bear. In the early 2000s, Nicole Kidman was originally slated as the star of "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" alongside Brad Pitt. However, due to her commitment to her starring role in "Stepford Wives," Kidman was forced to drop out of the film. Following this casting misstep, Brad Pitt reportedly also left the project as they had not yet chosen his female counterpart. It wasn't until Angelina Jolie was approached for the film, that Pitt decided to join the project once again.

It's well known that the undeniable chemistry between the stars seeped into their real lives as well. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" is famously responsible for sparking a romance between Pitt and Jolie, later leading to marriage, six children, and an eventual very public divorce. When the movie began filming, Pitt was still romantically linked to his wife at the time, Jennifer Aniston. However, when reports began swirling about a separation between the "it couple," media pointed to Pitt and Jolie's on-set chemistry as the reason for the split — even going as far as having helicopters follow Pitt all the way to set just to get a glimpse of the new couple.

Legally Blonde - Christina Applegate

As we anxiously await the impending release of "Legally Blonde 3," people have been taking a glance back at the film franchise that has inspired so many other works of art. In 2001, Reese Witherspoon captivated viewers with her portrayal of the inspiring sorority girl-turned-law student, Elle Woods. But did you know that this classic role was practically taken by none other than Christina Applegate? Once the long-running Fox television series, "Married...with Children," had wrapped in 1997, Applegate recalled that the script for the next huge rom-com landed in her lap.

The "Dead To Me" star pointed to her fear of repeatedly accepting the same types of roles, following her long run as the show's the ditzy blonde Kelly Bundy. In 2015, Applegate shared with Entertainment Tonight that she's fully aware that her decision to turn down the role was a "stupid move" and that she "totally regrets it." However, the actress maintains that this was just simply written in the Hollywood stars. "Reese deserved that," she explained. "She did a much better job than I ever could, and so that's her life. That's her path."

Silver Linings Playbook - Anne Hathaway

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper wowed viewers in their roles as two troubled individuals in the Oscar-winning romantic dramedy, "Silver Linings Playbook." It's hard to imagine anyone other than Lawrence stepping into the character of the neurotic young widow, Tiffany Maxwell, and managing to breathe life into David O. Russell's screenplay in a better way. However, the first choice for the role was Anne Hathaway. In 2014, since-disgraced movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, sat down with Howard Stern and explained the casting process for the 2012 film.

Without going much into detail, Weinstein blamed Hathaway's decision to leave the project on "creative differences" with the director, describing his disappointment in losing the "marvelous" and "wonderful" actress. However, the former film producer says that the moment they saw Lawrence's tape, it was all over. "I said, 'How the hell are we going to replace Annie?' And then this amazing creature walked in who's a brilliant actress and so much fun." Not long after this, Hathaway went on to earn an Academy Award for her incredible role in "Les Misérables," while Lawrence earned an Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook," all in the very same year.

Knocked Up - Anne Hathaway

Judd Apatow has been cracking the code for the perfect raunchy comedy since the '90s, and his 2007 box office hit "Knocked Up" is no exception. Seth Rogan and Katherine Heigl cracked audiences up with their portrayal of the mismatched couple grappling with making a relationship work following an unexpected pregnancy. However, the role of Alison almost looked very different, with Anne Hathaway initially slated to star in the film. Back in 2007, Hathaway sat down with Marie Claire and revealed her reasoning for turning down the role, particularly singling out an explicit childbirth scene. Hathaway explained, "It was going to show a vagina — not mine, but somebody else's — and I didn't believe that it was necessary to the story."

A few years later, Hathaway went into further detail during an interview with Allure. "My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself, I didn't know how I was gonna feel on the other side of giving birth," she explained. "And by the way, I could pop a kid out and think, oh, well, I really should have done that movie." It was later discovered that Heigl had her own reservations about the film, specifically its inaccurate portrayal of women as "humorless" and "uptight" with men represented as "fun-loving." Nevertheless, "Knocked Up" helped Heigl maintain mainstream recognition for years to come.

Bridget Jones's Diary - Toni Collette

Renée Zellweger undoubtedly captivated audiences with her portrayal of the hilariously imperfect, uptight publishing employee who begins keeping a diary to chronicle the struggles of her 30s – ranging from men to body image issues to her career. Before the 2001 release of "Bridget Jones's Diary," Zellweger had already originated the character of the lovelorn coworker in her 1996 role in "Jerry Maguire" alongside Tom Cruise. It's hard to imagine anything other than Zellweger's brand of awkward humor in the role, but Australian actress Toni Collette turned down the part first.

Fresh off the overwhelming success of "The Sixth Sense," Collette was a hot commodity and was approached for the role of Bridget, but was busy on Broadway at the time. "I was doing 'The Wild Party' on Broadway when I was offered Bridget Jones's Diary," the "Hereditary" star explained in 2005. "But I couldn't do it because I didn't know how long [the show] was going to play." She later shared that she harbors no ill will and believes it was simply "meant to be." Collette was also slated to perform alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones in the film adaptation of "Chicago." Unfortunately, once the producers saw Zellweger's performance as Bridget Jones, she earned the role that would earn her the first of several Oscar nominations.