10 Roles Written For Actors That Didn't Play Them

Jake Gyllenhaal in The Hangover?!

Warner Bros. Pictures

Oftentimes, a screenwriter will create a role for an actor they admire. It's a tailor-made part, playing to the actor's quirks or strengths.

Often, that screenwriter is the actor himself. When Sylvester Stallone scripted Rocky, studios optioned it quickly and started throwing out names of actors they saw in the titular role; from James Caan to Burt Reynolds to Robert Redford. They saw a big, recognizable name leading the sports epic. But a then-unproven Stallone was adamant he play the role himself.

Today, it's hard to imagine anyone else being The Italian Stallion - particularly a sandy red-haired Robert Redford. So Stallone ensured a small budget to avoid such studio interference and 44 years later, he's still playing the character.

But there are occasions where the actor doesn't feel the script, or the studio doesn't agree with the actor pursuing the role. The results vary - from awful to downright confusing decisions. Here are some actors who were in the runnning, but ultimately stepped down.

10. James Woods Was Supposed To Be In Reservoir Dogs

Miramax

Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut couldn't have existed without the cast he'd assembled. Michael Madsen's sociopathic bank robber, Harvey Keitel's criminal with a conscience and the bombastic Steve Buscemi spout out the writer's idiosyncratic dialogue like a second language, and he blends the gang of relative newcomers with old Hollywood relics at home in film noir.

Lawrence Tierney's old mob boss was straight out of the 1940s noir that had made him famous - a hulking presence of few words that menaced with a glance rather than a verbal threat (according to commentary on his guest appearance on The Simpsons, he was the only guest to actually frighten the producer's in the studio).

But one actor familiar with the gangster genre was on Tarantino' s wish list while casting: reportedly, he had sent the script to James Woods' agent. What role he had in mind for the actor has never been revealed, but it is largely assumed it was Tim Roth's ill-fated Mr. Orange. Whatever the role, Woods would have been at home.

Years later, Tarantino told Woods he had sent his agent the script - but his agent laughed it off and didn't even bother showing it to his client. Shortly afterward, Woods fired his agent.

Contributor
Contributor

Film nerd who studied with an MBA in Poet Laureate with a minor in Humility.