When a movie finally makes its way to the theater or our living room screen, it's nearly impossible to imagine it existing as any other version—especially when it contains classic moments or iconic characters. What would Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb be without Peter Sellers? Or, Sophie's Choice without Meryl Streep? Or, The Nutty Professor without Eddie Murphy?
The point is that rarely are these casting choices set in stone. Casting agents and directors typically pour over a multitude of auditions before they finally settle on their cast. There's no harsher reminder of this process than seeing an audition tape from an actor who didn't land the role.
For an illuminating glimpse into just how different some of your favorite movies could have looked with different famous faces, here are nine celebrities trying out for roles they ultimately didn't get.
1. Scarlett Johansson for Jumanji
Lost it to: Kirsten Dunst
Some may argue that this was not an "iconic" role in the conventional sense of the role, and to those people I reply, "have you even seen Jumanji?" That movie has it all, aside from a glaring lack of Scarlett Johansson. But, by this point, Kirsten Dunst had already established herself as a commendable child actress, so it's not surprising at all that the role went to her.
2. Kurt Russell for Star Wars
Lost it to: Harrison Ford
This goes without saying, but it's next to impossible to imagine anyone but Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo. Kurt Russell may be a fantastic actor, but casting directors made the right call on this one. He's just a little too genuine, too approachable to be the Han we know and love.
3. Robert De Niro for The Godfather
Lost it to: James Caan
Robert De Niro may be a master actor, but back when he was not even 30 years old, he lost the part of The Godfather's Sonny Corleone to James Caan. As you can see from the audition, while he may have done a passable job, he seems just a little too self-assured to be the smarmy, impulsive Sonny. It all works out in the end, though. De Niro was eventually cast as Vito Corleone in the movie's sequel, a role that won him an Academy Award.
4. Leonardo DiCaprio for The Outsiders
Lost it to: C. Thomas Howell
First of all, teeny tiny Leonardo DiCaprio could clearly act circles around most working actors today. But, he may have just been too young or clean-cut to play the role of an Outsider, and C. Thomas Howell ended up with the central role of Ponyboy.
5. Josh Hutcherson for The Amazing Spider-Man
Lost it to: Andrew Garfield
Can you imagine playing both Peeta Mellark and Peter Parker? Talk about being set for life. Unfortunately, Josh Hutcherson had to stick to just one major film franchise despite getting pretty far in the casting process. The role of Spidey ultimately went to Andrew Garfield (and will eventually go to someone else for his next iteration).
6. Cillian Murphy for Batman Begins
Lost it to: Christian Bale
Sadly, this clip isn't long enough to show us the full breadth of Cillian Murphy's audition, but what we do see is pretty remarkable. He may not have the imposing demeanor necessary to play both Bruce Wayne and Batman, but Christopher Nolan liked him so much that he eventually was cast as the villain Scarecrow.
7. Stockard Channing for Superman
Lost it to: Margot Kidder
If you ever wondered what an encounter between Clark Kent and Rizzo from Grease would look like, now you have your answer. It turns out that casting directors were looking for a certain "sweetness, whimsy, and a sense of humor" from Lois Lane, and this video makes it clear why Stockard Channing wasn't cast. While she was completely competent, she comes across as SO capable that Kent would never stand a chance with her!
8. Jeremy Sisto for Titanic
Lost it to: Leonardo DiCaprio
Jeremy Sisto may not be as much of a household name these days, but around the time of Clueless and White Squall (both of which predate Titanic), he was a major up-and-comer. It's almost jarring seeing Rose bat her eyelashes at an entirely different Jack Dawson, but it's even harder to keep your eyes on Sisto with Kate Winslet totally committed to the role.
9. Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Hunt for Jurassic Park
Lost it to: Laura Dern
In this clip, we see two Academy Award-winning actresses, Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Hunt, vying for the role of Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park. It's clear that Paltrow was in the early days of her career, but Hunt's bears an uncanny resemblance to Laura Dern's performance that ended up in the movie. Still, I don't think anyone could rival Dern's various Dino-reactions that we were lucky enough to see in the theatrical release.