Will Smith As Neo!? Celebs Who Lost Out On Major Acting Roles That Made Someone Else Blow Up

February 27, 2014  |  
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What could have been? I know that’s what some of these big actors and actresses think when they pass on a role or are turned down for a role that turns out to be a huge hit for someone else. But when we hear about these losses or decisions, we’re thinking, WHAT!? Aaliyah was originally supposed to be in Honey!? Because being surprised by anything is always fun to us, here are 15 famous folks who tried to audition for a major role and were turned down, or turned down a major role that helped someone else blow up.


Gabrielle Union Auditioned To Be Olivia Pope On Scandal

At this point, we could never imagine anyone else in those designer jackets and caught up in messy love triangles, but Union revealed to the world that she originally auditioned for the role of Olivia Pope:

“There’s the whole group of us who auditioned for ‘Scandal’ that, not just fell in love with that project and Shonda (Rhimes), but the process, the level of respect that we were given even in the audition process and the world that Shonda created even for us trying. It was like, is there ever gonna be another situation for you like that?”

Guess there was another situation and opportunity available, because she now of course stars as Mary Jane Paul in BET’s Being Mary Jane, with her own equally messy love triangles.


Angela Bassett Was Supposed To Play Leticia In Monster’s Ball

It was the role that helped Halle Berry take home an Academy Award for Best Actress. However, Bassett was initially approached to play Leticia Musgrove, but turned it down because, “I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.”


Lance Gross Auditioned To Play Harrison On Scandal

He would have been an equally delicious Harrison, but could Lance Gross have played the role as good as Columbus Short does now? Gross says he was up for the role of Harrison on Scandal at one point. “I was up for the Scandal role. Yeah, it hurts. It hurts. But, you know he’s [Columbus Short] killing it. He was right for it.”


Halle Berry Auditioned To Play Robin In Waiting To Exhale

Now an Academy Award winner, Halle Berry had a hard time getting people to take her seriously as an actress back in the day. She originally auditioned for the role of Robin in Waiting To Exhale, as did actress Robin Givens (girl, bye), but Forest Whitaker decided to give the role to Lela Rochon, of course.


Will Smith Was Supposed To Play Neo In The Matrix

How crazy would that have been? Will says that now that he thinks back on it, and knows how good The Matrix turned out to be, it was best that he didn’t get the role of Neo:

“I would have absolutely messed up ‘The Matrix.’ At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be — whereas Keanu was.”

Smith turned down the role at the time to do Wild Wild West alongside Salma Hayek and Kevin Kline, which was…okay.

Tupac Shakur Was Supposed To Play Jody In Baby Boy

I’m sure you’ve heard this one. The role of Jody was originally written for Pac to play Jody in 1996. The rapper was also quite the gifted actor, and John Singleton had high hopes for the work Tupac could have done in the movie. Of course, he was killed that year, and the movie was put on hold. In the film, which came out in 2001, a huge painting of Tupac Shakur is displayed in Jody’s room, this time portrayed by Tyrese Gibson.


Samuel Jackson Was Approached To Be Morpheus In The Matrix

There’s another reason that some folks (aka, white folks) get Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburne confused. Jackson was originally supposed to play Morpheus in The Matrix according to the composer of the film. But let’s be honest, while Jackson would have probably been great, Fishburne killed it.


Fantasia Auditioned To Play Effie White In Dreamgirls

It was the role that landed Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award. But it was one that she had to battle for, auditioning up against fellow American Idol contestant (but winner) Fantasia Barrino, as well as Raven-Symone. Jamie Foxx actually had spoken out long before and said that he hoped Barrino would get the role, but that was before he actually heard Hudson sing the songs and play Effie White on camera.

Aaliyah Auditioned To Play Alex In Charlie’s Angels

Before her death in 2001, Aaliyah was working quite hard to get into film. She did Romeo Must Die and she nabbed the role of Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned. But she also wanted a role in Charlie’s Angels. She auditioned for the role of Alex Munday and was considered, but the studio behind the film thought she was just a little too young for the role, which inevitably went to Lucy Lui.

Image Source: WENN.com

Jada Pinkett Auditioned To Be Will Smith’s Girlfriend On Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

Jada Pinkett auditioned to play Will Smith’s girlfriend (it’s not clear if this was the role of Lisa, which went to Nia Long), but at 5′ and Will Smith at 6’2″, producers thought she was just too short visually to play alongside Smith. Of course, that didn’t stop these two from dating, getting married and eventually bringing a future actor/rapper and actress/singer into the world.


Julia Roberts Was Originally Approached To Play Leigh In The Blind Side

The folks at 20th Century Fox originally wanted Julia Roberts for the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side, but she turned it down. Bullock also reportedly tried to turn down the lead role more than once, because she had reservations about playing a devout Christian, but after meeting the real Leigh Anne Tuohy, she was on board…and on her way to an Oscar win.


Oprah Wanted The Role Of Mrs. Miller In Doubt

Let me tell you, Oprah wanted to play the role of Mrs. Miller in the critically acclaimed film Doubt so bad, she lobbied for the role directly to director John Patrick Shanley. She tried to audition, but as the story went, Shanley flat turned her down because he didn’t think she would be the appropriate choice. Of course, Viola Davis went on to have this role, and picked up her first Academy Award nomination for her work.


John Travolta Turned Down Forrest Gump

That’s right, John Travolta, not Tom Hanks, was the original pick for Forrest, Forrest Gump. He, of course, turned down the role and has said that it was one of the biggest mistakes he’s made in his career. But it’s not the only role he and Hanks have in common:

“I wouldn’t trade (my career) for anyone’s except Tom Hanks’, I don’t think.

Other than Forrest Gump and The Green Mile, which I was offered and should have done, and Splash was written for me, I still like my career better because of what I specifically contribute to it.”

You mad, bruh?


Denzel Was Offered Lead Roles In Se7en and Michael Clayton

Denzel was approached about playing David Mills in the David Fincher-directed film, Se7en. However, Washington felt the story, about finding a serial killer whose murders are in line with the seven deadly sins, was too dark. Brad Pitt would be picked after the fact. As for the lead role in Michael Clayton, which George Clooney won an Academy Award for, this is what happened: “With ‘Clayton,’ it was the best material I had read in a long time, but I was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong. It happens.”

Diahann Carroll Auditioned To Play Billie Holiday In Lady Sings The Blues

Diahann, as well as Cicely Tyson, were early contenders for the role of the late Billie Holiday, but the reality was always that Diana Ross had that role on lock. With Berry Gordy as part of production, and Ross kind of having him in the palm of her hand, he helped her snag that lead role. But she did so well, she picked up an Academy Award nomination for her work.

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