Even though you might not be able to picture a frozen hellscape in which Harry Potter is not played by Daniel Radcliffe, the fact of that matter is that someone else almost did.
In fact, the same is true for plenty of popular movie and TV characters. What would “Pretty Woman” be without Julia Roberts? Who else could even legally play Han Solo other than Harrison Ford? These are the hard-hitting questions, friends, and I’m here to give you some answers.
Here are 25 beloved characters that were almost played by other actors.
1. Britney Spears was considered for the role of Allie Calhoun in “The Notebook.” Rachel McAdams got the gig instead.
2. Are you cringing at the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow almost played Rose DeWitt Bukater in “Titanic”? Same.
3. In that vein, Macaulay Culkin almost played Jack in “Titanic” instead of Leonardo DiCaprio.
4. Jim Carrey was close to playing Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” because why the hell not?
5. Can you picture Her Royal Majesty Queen of All Things Angelina Jolie as a valley girl? The casting director of “Clueless” entertained the idea.
Something tells me that Mrs. Jolie-Pitt is more than happy to have left Cher Horowitz off her resume.
6. Human-shaped dumpster fire Nicolas Cage almost snagged the role of John Bender in “The Breakfast Club.” Fortunately for all of humankind, he didn’t.
7. Instead of the late, great Alan Rickman, casting directors for the Harry Potter franchise almost went with Tim Roth (who for all I know could be a great actor but is also not Alan Rickman) to play Severus Snape.
8. Are you sitting down? Good. As it turns out, John Travolta was originally asked to play Forrest Gump over Tom Hanks, who absolutely nailed the performance in every way.
9. Blair Waldorf from “Gossip Girl” was almost played by Ashley Olsen instead of Leighton Meester.
10. Johnny Depp came close to playing Ferris Bueller, but then, ya know, didn’t.
11. Molly Ringwald is great and all, but Vivian Ward’s character was basically written for Julia Roberts. “Pretty Woman” would be nothing without Julia Roberts. NOTHING, you hear me?
12. Christina Applegate almost won the bend-and-snap-off against Reese Witherspoon to play Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde.”
13. Gabourey Sidibe’s iconic turn as Precious in the eponymous film almost never came to be, since fellow queen Jennifer Hudson was considered for the role.
14. Jennifer Lawrence almost played a significantly less irritating version of Bella Swan in “Twilight,” but casting directors ultimately decided on Kristen Stewart.
15. Because everything hurts and life is awful, I’m forcing you to come with me and confront the fact that some kid named Liam Aiken almost played Harry Potter. Misery loves company.
16. We all loved watching Maya Rudolph play Lillian in “Bridesmaids,” but I’m sure Mindy Kaling would’ve been just as funny if she’d been given the role after auditioning.
17. Mars was apparently in retrograde when Al Pacino was considered to play Han Solo. Fortunately, Harrison Ford rolled up and was all like, “Nah, man,” probably.
18. If you need me, I’ll be tracking down the person who almost cast Rob Lowe as Dr. McDreamy, otherwise known as Derek Shepherd, otherwise known as a character that should never be played by Rob Lowe under any circumstances, in “Grey’s Anatomy.”
19. Hugh Grant almost played Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” but lost out to Kenneth Branagh in the end.
20. An actor by the name of Thomas Jane fought in what I can only imagine was a slime-ball battle in his own mucus with fellow human slug Jon Hamm for the role of Don Draper in “Mad Men.” Ultimately, Hamm won.
21. In what would’ve been the cutest swap in history, Harry Potter’s gigantic friend Hagrid was almost played the late Robin Williams instead of Robbie Coltrane, who also happens to be awesome.
22. It’s hard to picture Mia Thermopolis without seeing Anne Hathaway’s face, but Cameron Diaz was the one who initially received an offer from those in charge of “The Princess Diaries.”
23. Will Smith turned down the lead role in “The Matrix,” at which point it was offered to Keanu Reeves.
24. Instead of yelling “INDYYYYYYY” at the sight of Harrison Ford, we could’ve been assaulting Tom Selleck’s ears had the scales tipped in his favor for the lead in “Indiana Jones.”
25. Jeremy Irons was close to overtaking Anthony Hopkins to play creep extraordinaire Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.”