Before Hollywood makes a movie, they’ve got to line up just the right actors for all the roles. Sometimes they think they’ve found somebody…but then change their minds. Here are some stars who landed a big gig, but then lost it for very odd reasons.
Elizabeth Banks has starred in a few major film franchises, such as the Pitch Perfect movies and The Hunger Games quadrilogy. She almost got her big break in the big budget 2002 Spider-Man movie. Banks was up for the role of Mary Jane Watson, the female lead and romantic interest of Peter Parker, a.k.a Spider-Man. She lost the role because, as producers told her, she was too old. At the time, Banks was 28—a year older than almost co-star Tobey Maguire.
Will Arnett has parallel careers as an actor and voice actor. Audiences can see his face in shows like Arrested Development and Flaked, and his voice can be heard in BoJack Horseman, The LEGO Batman Movie, and in ads for GMC trucks. His career as a commercial pitchman led Arnett to lose a role in a TV series. In 2008, NBC revived the ’80s action series Knight Rider. Arnett was publicly announced as the voice of talking car KITT. On the reboot, a Ford Mustang was set to be used as KITT. Since Ford was GMC’s competitor, Arnett had to drop out and was replaced by Val Kilmer.
Every movie studio in Hollywood wanted the chance to make the potentially lucrative film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s immensely successful Harry Potter books. That meant Rowling could ask for pretty much any contract stipulation she wanted. She awarded Warner Bros. studio the rights, who gave her the right of cast approval. Specifically, Rowling wanted the England-set movies about English witches and wizards to have a completely British cast. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone director Chris Columbus ignored that rule when he cast American child actor Liam Aiken as Harry Potter. Aiken was told he got the part—but then had to be turned away after Rowling nixed the decision.
Scottish actor Dougray Scott got his big break with a co-starring role in 2000’s Mission Impossible 2. He could have been launched into super-stardom with his follow-up role: Wolverine in the big-screen adaptation of the comic book X-Men. But production snafus dragged out Mission Impossible‘s shooting schedule so long that it bumped against filming for X-Men. Scott had no choice but to give up Wolverine. A little-known Australian actor named Hugh Jackman got the part—and a spot on the Hollywood A-list.