In the history of movies, some roles are so iconic, it’s difficult to imagine any other actor playing that role. That’s why it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around it when you find out who the director’s FIRST CHOICE for that role was… can you imagine anyone else in the role of Han Solo? Indiana Jones? Gandalf? Neo?
Here’s a roundup of the biggest mind-benders we’ve found. Trying to imagine it is like living in a parallel universe!
Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones
Look, Tom Selleck could have totally pulled off the title role in the Indiana Jones franchise. Selleck has great comedic timing, rugged good looks, and plenty of on-screen charisma. After all, he gave us all plenty of that in Magnum, P.I. Ironic, then, that it was the Magnum, P.I. role which prevented Selleck from taking this gargantuan big screen opportunity. The producers of Magnum flatly refused to grant Selleck a six-month release to shoot the first Indiana Jones movie, and the rest is history.
John Wayne as George Patton
George C. Scott’s Academy Award winning performance in this role was so powerful, it seems crazy that anyone else could even attempt to deliver that iconic opening speech. To a generation, George C. Scott is General Patton. So it’s bizarre to think that the first choice to play this complicated American hero was John Wayne, an actor who had starred in many, many wartime films but who lacked – in the words of General Patton’s own son – the “the requisite dignity” to portray his father. Wayne had reservations as well, saying he had already struck an American soldier on film in the movie Iwo Jima. That said, in one Wayne’s last interviews, he admitted regret for passing up the role.
John Travolta as Forrest Gump
When you consider John Travolta’s depiction of Vinnie Barbarino in the TV series Welcome Back Kotter, it’s not difficult to imagine him playing the intellectually challenged lead character in Forrest Gump. But Travolta turned down the role, opting instead to sign on to play hapless hitman Vincent Vega in the equally seminal film, Pulp Fiction. At that year’s Academy Awards, Pulp Fiction lost out to Forrest Gump for Best Picture, and Tom Hanks beat Travolta for the Best Actor statue, too. Luckily, Travolta wasn’t bummed in the least, as either role would have marked his return as a major star.