Before Robert Downey Jr. put on his suit of nuts and bolts and became almost synonymous with the Iron Man that we know today, there was a void waiting to be filled. A casting call was put out and an onslaught of fantastic Hollywood actors rushed to claim Marvel's prime character spot.
Below are five actors who almost made it but ultimately failed to snap up the role of the most "lovable asshole" in the superhero world:
1. Tom Cruise
Back in the early '00s, Tom Cruise was a name that was very closely linked to Iron Man and apparently, the actor was even eager to get further involved in the production of a movie. However, it seems the script didn't tickle his fancy and he lost interest, saying:
"I don’t know. It just… they came to me at a certain point and… when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work."
2. Timothy Olyphant
Olyphant reportedly went to a bunch of castings and read for the role but the Tony Stark character had other plans. Instead, Tim went on to star in Hitman and in series Justified.
Speaking years later on Conan, he admitted:
"A wonderful actor, Robert Downey Jr. and I, we screen tested on the same day. And I'm still waiting to hear back. You know, those superhero movies are huge! That could be a real game changer."
Yeah, you missed out on earning $40 million per project, Tim. That's gotta hurt!
3. Nicholas Cage
Yep, ol' Nick was also in the line-up to don Tony Stark's powerful suit but sadly, despite his efforts, it didn't come to be. Instead, he went on to star in another Marvel project, Ghost Rider. Here was his wailing, and.admittedly very Nicholas Cage-esque, transformation:
4. Clive Owen
Iron Man's director Jon Favreau was also curious whether British actor Clive Owen would fit the character and seriously considered him for the role. Unfortunately, it didn't work out and Clive went on to showcase his wicked sense of humor in a brilliant slew of fantastic roles such as Shoot-Em-Up.
5. Sam Rockwell
Out of all of the potentials above, the man who impressed the director the most after our very own RDJ was definitely Sam Rockwell. He was invited to read for the role and really wowed the producers with what he delivered -- sadly, the character was rapidly snapped up by the only true Iron Man. Later, Favreau cast Rockwell in Iron Man 2, where he starred as Tony Stark's nemesis. Here he is doing his thing as salesman Justin Hammer:
Should RDJ's role have gone to someone else?