10 Movie Roles Obviously Designed For Other Actors

Some of the most iconic roles in cinema could have turned out very differently…

The Suicide Squad
Warner Bros./Instagram

It’s well known that the majority of films aren’t cast with the director or the studio’s first choices for the roles. The sheer number of bigger budget movies being made means that most will have to make do with a second or third choice instead.

Now imagine you’re the screenwriter, the lowest head on the totem pole of the people responsible for initiating the movie-making journey. The studio has the money and the contacts to organise and provision the trip; the director has the wheel and (at least nominally) decides the direction and the method and speed of travel. However, despite the writer mapping the way and applying directions that (at least nominally) will be used to decide every step that follows, they will typically have about as much influence over the route as whoever cleans the toilets at the rest stop.

Screenwriters may not get to choose who plays the parts they write, but they always have someone in mind – and sometimes you even get a situation where a part is written specifically for a specific actor to play, only for the usual round of Hollywood roulette to pass that part on to someone else.

Let’s dive in to look at some of the movie roles that, with a little background digging, we can clearly see were meant for other people.

10. Jerry Maguire, Jerry Maguire (1996) - Tom Hanks

The Suicide Squad
Warner Bros.

In recent years, Cameron Crowe has admitted that his first choice to play conflicted sports agent Jerry Maguire would have been Tom Hanks, not Tom Cruise. In fact, the role was specifically written with Hanks in mind.

However, at the time - a year before shooting was due to begin - Hanks was focused on developing his directorial debut, That Thing You Do!, and had to pass. The role ended up going to Cruise, who spent the next nine months developing the part with Crowe.

The result is iconic, and it might be hard now to imagine anyone else playing the role... except for the fact that Maguire's whole feel-good character arc is quintessentially 1990s Tom Hanks: the cynic with a soft heart, the good guy in a rough patch who just needs the right inspiration to come out on top.

Sandwiched between 1993's Sleepless In Seattle and 1998's You've Got Mail, Jerry Maguire is exactly the kind of movie that Hanks was making at that time.


Professional writer, punk werewolf and nesting place for starfish. Obsessed with squid, spirals and story. I publish short weird fiction online at desincarne.com, and tweet nonsense under the name Jack The Bodiless. You can follow me all you like, just don't touch my stuff.