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Moulin Rouge Almost Had Two Very Different Leads

Ewan McGregor has had an extraordinary career. He broke out thanks to his phenomenal performance in 1996's "Trainspotting," and it wasn't long until he was booking a destination to a planet far, far away in the "Star Wars" universe. For "The Phantom Menace," he was cast as a young version of Obi-Wan Kenobi, which involved some big shoes to fill, seeing how he would follow in the footsteps of the original actor, Alec Guinness. It proved to be a match made in heaven, and the actor's gone on to appear in numerous high-profile roles in everything from "Black Hawk Down" to "Doctor Sleep."

Despite appearing in many different "Star Wars" projects, there are certain people out there who probably affiliate the actor with a different kind of role entirely. Namely, many still see him as Christian in 2001's "Moulin Rouge!" Previously, McGregor proved he could break people's hearts and make them believe in the ways of the Force. But with "Moulin Rouge!" he also proved he could sing. It was a fortunate break, especially seeing how the actor was up against some stiff competition for the role of Christian.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal were also up for the lead in Moulin Rouge

Christian is a young poet who falls in love with the star of the Moulin Rouge, Satine, in the film. He's romantic, creative, and extremely emotional, so it would take an actor of the highest caliber to portray him. Ewan McGregor did an outstanding job, and the movie proved he could be more than merely Obi-Wan Kenobi, but it's intriguing to think of what might have been. 

Director Baz Luhrmann, while promoting his most recent film "Elvis" on the "Happy, Sad, Confused" podcast, spoke about the process of getting Christian just right (via The Playlist). Through this, he revealed what other actors he had in mind when deciding who to cast for the part. Luhrmann explained, "When I think about Jake Gyllenhaal, for example, who was very close, very young for the role, but he can really sing. He's a really great musical artist."

But Gyllenhaal wasn't alone in the hunt to land the role of Christian. It turns out his future "Brokeback Mountain" co-star Heath Ledger was also considered. And while Luhrmann has the audition footage floating around there somewhere, don't expect to see it anytime soon. He went on to say, "I have that footage, you know, [but] I don't think I'll ever release it." Of course, neither actor absolutely needed the role. They both went on to have exemplary careers, and in Ledger's case, it was a career cut off far too soon.