Skip To Content

    15 Rom-Coms That Almost Cast Other Actors In Their Leading Roles

    Can you imagine how different the world would be if Nicole Kidman or Gwen Stefani were in Mr. & Mrs. Smith?

    1. Toni Collette was offered the role of Bridget in Bridget Jones' Diary, but ultimately turned it down.

    Joe Scarnici / Getty Images, ©Miramax / Courtesy Everett Collection

    She doesn't have any regrets about it, saying that "it wasn't meant to be." The role ultimately went to Renée Zellweger.

    David M. Benett / Dave Benett / Getty Images, ©TriStar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The actor said she "couldn't do it" because she felt that Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks were perfect for the film. "I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town [in the 1990 film Pretty Woman], you know?"

    3. Speaking of Pretty Woman, there was a slew of actors considered for the character of Vivian Ward, including Molly Ringwald.

    John Lamparski / Getty Images, ©Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Molly was hesitant to play the role because of the subject matter. Initially, the script for the film was entitled $3,000 and was meant to be a darker, more serious exploration of sex work in 1980s Los Angeles. But, after extensive script revisions, it became the Cinderella-esque tale we all know it as. Meg Ryan, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Michelle Pfeiffer all turned down the role. 

    4. Ben Affleck was brought in by Clueless casting director Carrie Frazier, who thought he would be "fabulous" in the movie as Josh.

    Neilson Barnard / Getty Images, Elliot Marks / © Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The actor read for the role, and, while the movie is a classic as is, I would truly give everything to see him play Josh.

    5. Tom Hanks and Molly Ringwald were almost the leads for When Harry Met Sally.

    ©Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection, Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

    Director Rob Reiner was reluctant to cast Billy Crystal since they were best friends, he told The Howard Stern Show in 2016. Reiner’s first choice for the lead was Albert Brooks, who turned down the part because he believed it read too much like a Woody Allen film. Reiner then went to Tom, who said the movie was too "lightweight." Michael Keaton and Richard Dreyfuss were also considered before the role ultimately went to Billy. As for Meg Ryan's character, Molly was offered the part but couldn't fit it into her schedule.

    6. Enchanted could've starred basically anyone else other than Amy Adams.

    ©Buena Vista Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    7. 20th Century Fox offered Rachel McAdams the role in The Devil Wears Prada three times.

    Jason Merritt / Getty Images, ©20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Rachel McAdams was a hot commodity following the success of The Notebook, and even when director David Frankel began negotiating with Anne Hathaway, the studio was persistent in trying to get Rachel cast. But Anne was dedicated in her attempts to get the role — writing the words "hire me" in the garden of former Fox vice president Carla Hacken and enlisting the help of Meryl Streep.

    8. Nicolas Cage was almost Joel Barish in the classic anti-rom-com Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

    Luca Teuchmann / WireImage, ©Focus Films / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Before Jim Carrey was ultimately cast, Cage was the first choice for the lead, particularly after his performance in Adaptation, another mind-bending Charlie Kaufman flick.

    9. Emma Watson and Miles Teller could have been the leading duo in La La Land.

    Summit Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection, Taylor Hill / WireImage, Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

    Emma Watson eventually bowed out of the role due to scheduling conflicts with the live-action Beauty and the Beast. As for Miles...the situation is a bit more complicated: He was attached to the movie when he was abruptly informed that he was no longer considered "creatively right" for the role. There were also false reports that both Miles and Emma were "too demanding" and missed out on the parts. But Miles maintains he was loyal to the project and director Damien Chazelle, with whom he previously worked on Whiplash“When that movie was almost falling apart, I stayed attached to it and told directors that I really wanted to work with that I couldn’t jump ship from La La Land just because the project was in flux. I’ll go to my grave knowing that when push came to shove I expressed extreme loyalty to Damien and that movie. That’s sorta all I can say.” Whew.

    10. Nicole Kidman was set to play the lead in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, meaning that we could have potentially existed in a universe without Brangelina.

    Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Turner Image, ©20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The actor dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with The Stepford Wives. (Brad Pitt reportedly also dropped the project afterward. Once Angelina Jolie signed on, he came back to the film.) Gwen Stefani was also considered for the role, and the musician told Howard Stern in 2016 that she felt like she "almost" got the part, attending multiple auditions. "I wanted to do it, but I wanted to do music more.” 

    11. Ashton Kutcher and Josh Hartnett were originally considered for 10 Things I Hate About You.

    Bob Riha Jr / WireImage, Steve Jennings / Getty Images for TechCrunch, Jeff Spicer / Getty Images

    The late Heath Ledger became a bona fide heartthrob for portraying bad boy Patrick in this modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. But before he was cast, both Ashton and Josh, who were better known at the time, were considered for the role. And if it weren't for casting director Marcia Ross giving Heath a second chance on his audition, he may not have nabbed the role.

    12. Jennifer Lawrence originally auditioned for the role of Olive in Easy A.

    Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images, Screen Gems / ©Screen Gems/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Like it or not, this movie has solidified itself as a post-aughts classic, largely due to Emma Stone's hilarious and endearing performance. So, you'll be shocked to note that J. Law originally screened for the role, revealing during 2017's The Hollywood Reporter's annual actress roundtable (which included Stone) that she really wanted the part. Stone, who dropped out of Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch for the movie, joked, "You didn’t get it. You didn’t get it because you suck!" In response, J. Law retorted, "Outside!"

    13. Christina Applegate passed on playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

    John Shearer / Getty Images, Mgm / ©MGM/Courtesy Everett Collection

    That's right, folks, Christina could have been the one delivering the iconic "What, like it's hard?" line instead of Reese Witherspoon. For Christina, who says she doesn't regret passing on the opportunity, the role felt too much like her character in the sitcom Married...With Children. "I felt like it was too close to what I had just been doing and I was very interested in removing myself from that.” While Christina was sent the script, Charlize Theron, Gwyneth Paltrow, Alicia Silverstone, Katherine Heigl, Milla Jovovich, and Jennifer Love Hewitt were also considered for the role.

    14. Zooey Deschanel was cast in About Time but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.

    Mark Davis / Getty Images, Universal / ©Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

    It is undeniable that Zooey Deschanel had the industry in a chokehold when it came to starring in rom-coms, largely due to her success as the ubiquitous, quirky™️ Jess in New Girl. As a result, she was in talks to spend the first hiatus of the show filming for rom-com savant Richard Curtis alongside costar Domhnall Gleeson. However, she eventually decided to focus on her music instead. As a die-hard fan of both New Girl and About Time, this almost-casting is extremely personal to me. Please respect my privacy at this time.

    15. Marilyn Monroe turned down the chance to play Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, even though it was written for her.

    Baron / Getty Images, Courtesy Everett Collection

    Truman Capote, who wrote the novella the movie was loosely based on, wanted Marilyn to star in it, given that the two knew each other and he partially wrote the part of Holly for and about her. But Marilyn was talked out of taking the role by her adviser and acting coach Paula Strasberg, who discouraged her from playing a call girl. Of course, Audrey Hepburn ultimately would go on to play the role.

    Which of these were most surprising? Know of any we missed? Comment below!