10 Iconic Movie Villains (Almost Played By Someone Else)

The bad guys you love to hate and the alternative castings you'd have just hated.

david bowie joker

They're the best at being bad, the movie villains who are at least as memorable as the heroes that battle them. It takes a lot of elements working together, though, to make for a truly classic villain.

You can write the best tragic backstory with an in-depth reason for a grudge against the hero, but dress them up like a giant Muppet and you probably haven't got the next Lex Luthor.

So it is with getting the right actor. Casting is important, even with villains who otherwise have all the right ingredients for a memorable antagonist. Bad casting is where a chilling monster can turn into an irritating jerk. Get it right and Joaquin Phoenix is picking up a statuette on Oscars night. Get it wrong and Jared Leto is sending his co-stars dead rats.

Many movie fans never know how close their favourite villains came from tipping over from one to the other. Just look at these ten iconic screen villains who could have been very different had they gone to their first choice actors.

10. Eddie Redmayne As Kylo Ren

david bowie joker
Warner Bros.

One entry on the incredibly short list of things that most people can agree on about the enormously divisive Star Wars sequels is that Adam Driver was well cast as conflicted emo Vader fanboy Kylo Ren.

The guy from Girls was far from the only option under consideration for the role of the sometime Ben Solo, however. Virtually every young actor in Hollywood seems to have been up for one part or another in the new Star Wars trilogy.

One that we know got as far as auditioning for the black-masked mass murderer is Eddie Redmayne, an actor whose best known role is as an awkward animal-loving nice guy in JK Rowling's Fantastic Beasts series.

Redmayne later revealed that he had a "catastrophically bad" reading for Kylo. "With films that top secret, they don’t give you the actual lines. So they give you a scene from Pride and Prejudice, but then they tell you you’re auditioning for the baddie. If you’re me, you then put some ridiculous voice on," the Oscar-winning actor recalled, claiming to have blown it completely by doing a Vader breathing impression.

Honestly, from watching Redmayne's camp, shouty, scenery-chewing take on a space opera villain in Jupiter Ascending, it's hard not to be thankful that he lost out to Driver here, whatever else you might think about the choices that the Star Wars sequels made.

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