Casting a superhero for a comic book based movie or television show isn't a very easy task. Most of those projects audition a heap of actors to come up with the desired face for the role. For example, before Christopher Reeve was landed as Supe for 1978 flick Superman, no less than TWO HUNDRED actors were auditioned for the role!
During such auditions, obviously more than one actor succeeds in impressing the filmmakers. But that doesn't mean they can cast each of them for the superhero role. Sometimes the filmmakers are so desperate to not lose some actors that when they can't cast them for superhero roles, they offer them supervillain roles! And eventually, those actors perform that good in their antagonist roles that it feels like they were born to play that role!
That hasn't happened once or twice, but a number of times till date! Here is a list of actors who were initially considered for superhero roles but were later picked as supervillains. And we also have some somewhat opposite stories that will follow in this post - actors who were close to playing super-baddies but ultimately grabbed superhero roles!
Let's get started then with the list from the very next page!
Cillian Murphy - Batman To Scarecrow!
Cillian Murphy presented to us an epic portrayal of the DC supervillain Dr. Jonathan Crane, aka Scarecrow, in The Dark Knight Trilogy. Before playing the part, the Irish actor wasn't a very well-known face in Hollywood. Cillian was one of the many young actors who were asked to audition for the role of the superhero - the Batman.
The actor didn't see himself as a perfect fit for the role for his physique, but didn't want to lose the opportunity to connect with a big director like Christopher Nolan. He dressed up as both Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader for his screen-test. We don't have the footage but we can indeed offer you a couple of images of how he looked during the audition. Check them out below (via ComicBookMovie)!
The screen-test couldn't bring Cillian Murphy the role of the Dark Knight, but all it did was to impress Nolan enough to cast him for the role of Scarecrow. Later, in an interview, Nolan claimed that the Irish actor has "˜the most extraordinary eyes' and that he loved the actor "˜take his glasses off in close-ups'.
On the next page - an Iron Man baddie who was originally considered for the superhero role!
Sam Rockwell - Tony Stark To Justin Hammer!
Sam Rockwell has impressed us with his lead roles in movies like Joshua, Choke and Matchstick Men. He was also decently impressive as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2. You might not know but the actor was originally shortlisted for the role of Tony Stark before Robert Downey Jr. grabbed it. Here's what the director Jon Favreau said back in 2010 to LA Times about considering Sam for the role of the Marvel superhero:
"He was one of the actors I was looking at for Tony Stark. He represented a dark-horse idea for Tony Stark early on in the process. A very different take. Of course when I met with Robert there nobody else on my mind. There was some things Sam would bring to the role that would have been great."
Obviously, it is heard for anyone of us to imagine a face for Tony Stark other than RDJ. But the director claimed in the interview that Sam Rockwell would have succeeded to come up with "˜interesting and different things'.
On the next page - the most popular supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
Tom Hiddleston - Thor To Loki!
Tom Hiddleston's Loki is undoubtedly the most popular supervillain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is a true exception in the franchise where no baddie is as popular as a superhero. Even though Hiddleston has impressed us more than Chris Hemsworth has as Thor, he was originally a candidate for the superhero's role!
The English actor was one of the few alongside Hemsworth brothers (Chris and Liam), Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd and Charlie Hunnam to have been shortlisted for the role of the Norse God of Thunder. With just six weeks of time in hand, Hiddleston managed to build up a decently ripped body for the audition. Here's what Craig Kyle, executive producer of Thor movies, said about the actor's audition for the role of the Marvel superhero (via Yahoo Movies):
"At first Tom came in for Thor. He trained. He came in. He was ripped. He did a tremendous job, but he wasn't Thor."
You can easily assume what they found in him instead of Thor! Check out the video that bears audition footages of Tom Hiddleston which is one of the special features on the DVD/Blu-ray release of the first sequel - Thor: The Dark World!
On the next page - another villain from the MCU who auditioned for superhero role!
Lee Pace - Star-Lord To Ronan!
The Hobbit's Thranduil cast Lee Pace played the villainous Ronan the Accuser in the 2014 MCU flick Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronan might have not been a very striking ingredient of the unpredicted blockbuster but it was fun overall watching the character being portrayed by Pace. However, this wasn't the role the American actor was looking for!
Lee Pace had auditioned for the role of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, in the James Gunn venture! Before he auditioned for the character, he was not shy to express his excitement about looking forward to grab the superhero role. Here's what he said in an interview with MTV:
"I have been [reading up on Star-Lord]. You want to know what you're doing. The character is a lot of fun. I hope it works out"¦ I've got to audition. I've got to go get it. I actually love auditioning, so I'm happy to go meet them all and do it."
Even though we don't hate Lee Pace, we are still very happy that he didn't grab the role because Chris Pratt has already impressed us to a level that we don't want to look back.
James Franco - Spider-Man To New Goblin!
In Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy, James Franco played the role of Harry Osborn - the best buddy of Peter Parker who eventually turned into the villainous New Goblin. But this wasn't the role the actor was looking for - he originally auditioned for the role of the titular superhero! That's what he revealed to The Paly Voice back in 2007. The actor said:
"Well I first auditioned for the role of Peter Parker which went well and I went and did a test and the test is more extensive than a regular audition because it puts you on film. So they spent a lot of money on the sets and cranes which is unusual for an audition. So I went and did that and was waiting around, and biting my nails for six weeks."
James was definitely disappointed at not being picked for the role of Peter Parker but he did get called from the director. Raimi eventually offered him the role of the son of Willem Dafoe's Norman Osborn and none needed to audition for this one.
On the next page - A Kick-Ass contender who got himself the role of a bad-ass supervillain!
Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Kick-Ass To Red Mist!
Superbad star Christopher Mintz-Plasse played the role of Chris D'Amico, aka Red Mist, in the Kick-Ass movies. But he, too, auditioned for the role of the titular superhero of the film series. He lost the role to Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but he did manage to grab the role of Red Mist instead. And he has a quite humorous explanation of that! Here's what he said to Examiner back in 2010:
"Yeah, I read for the role of Kick-Ass, and he (Matthew Vaughn) hated it. He hated everything I did in the audition, but he gave me the role of Red Mist."
However, later that year, Mark Millar revealed that even though they had decided initially to alter the fate of this character from a friend to a foe of the superhero, they wanted it to be "˜a more minor character'. But they were so impressed with Mintz-Plasse that they decided to go for something big with him. Millar added (via ComicBookMovie):
"We couldn’t have got away with that with another actor. The minute we saw his performance, we were looking at each other and realised how good he was and what we could do with him in the future."
Heath Ledger - Batman To The Joker!
Heath Ledger played one of the most insanely popular comic book supervillains - The Joker - in Nolan's The Dark Knight. This role was so epic that that he posthumously received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. This was the first time an actor won an Oscar for acting in a superhero movie.
But interestingly, Heath Ledger was one of the actors Nolan had approached for the role of Bruce Wayne. Well, the director reached almost every young actor to discuss the role initially, but Ledger was one of the few who didn't hesitate to express their lack of interest! Here's what Nolan said about the meeting in 2012 (via MTV):
"He was quite gracious about it, but he said, ‘I would never take a part in a super hero film."
However, after the release of Batman Begins, the actor realized that a superhero film by Nolan is very different from what an average superhero flick is. That actually changed his mind in taking up the role of the Clown Prince of Crime even before the script was written!
On the next page - someone who turned down a superhero role over a supervillain role!
The Rock - Green Lantern To Black Adam!
Dwayne The Rock Johnson is set to play the Shazam-nemesis Black Adam in DC Extended Universe. He seems very excited with the role and calls his character an anti-hero instead of a supervillain. But according to rumors, the wrestler-turned-actor had passed on the role of a popular DC superhero to grab this one.
Veteran correspondent Umberto Gonzalez reported earlier this year via his Twitter account that The Rock was approached originally to play John Stewart, aka Green Lantern, but he declined to play the part. Instead, he decided to go for the role of Black Adam.
We don't know if this rumor is true or not but it might as well be! Because, even though at that moment we didn't assume more than one Green Lantern in DCEU, the name of the 2020 flick was later changed to Green Lantern Corps - which obviously opens up the possibility of having both Hal Jordan and John Stewart in the movie. Plus, there was a time when The Rock, himself, teased playing John Stewart!
On the next page – the somewhat opposite stories!
Almost Superhero, But Eventually Supervillain!
Now, we have some stories that are quite opposite of the previous - actors who were close to playing supervillains but eventually claimed superhero roles! The actors were going to talk about weren't close to playing supervillain roles in the same movie where they were cast as the superhero. But these are definitely out of the ordinary stories - so we felt like including them over here.
Gal Gadot - Faora To Wonder Woman!
This was revealed just a few days back! Gal Gadot, who is set to be introduced as Wonder Woman in next year's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, was originally approached for the role of a Man of Steel baddie! That's what she revealed in a recent interview (via Batman-News):
"When I was 4 months pregnant with (my daughter) Alma, I got an offer to play the villain character in Superman. If I wasn't pregnant I'd take the job, and there's no way they would take me now to be Wonder Woman."
The role she had to decline was presumably that of Faora, which was played by Antje Traue in the 2013 Zack Snyder flick.
Two MCU superhero casts who were close to play DC baddies!
Mark Ruffalo - Two-Face To Hulk!
Mark Ruffalo plays our very favorite Bruce Banner, aka Hulk, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hardly anyone has got problem with his incarnation of the character today. But he, once, was close to play a DC supervillain in The Dark Knight - Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face. Well, Nolan's Harvey wasn't a true villain - it was an ill-fated character which is a better set of word to coin. In an interview back in 2010, here's what Ruffalo said (via ComicBookMovie):
"I met for [‘The Dark Knight’], for Harvey Dent. I wouldn’t say it was a great film, It’s a pretty great film, but if it’s ‘The Godfather’ [versus] ‘The Dark Knight’ … there are few great films. They’re great because they’re great, you know?"
Robert Downey Jr. - Lex Luthor To Iron Man!
Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark has impressed us to such a level that we cannot imagine someone else as the face of the Marvel superhero. And you might as well recall his "˜F*CK DC' statement. So, RDJ in a DC movie role is a something real weird to imagine.
But even before he made that comment and even before he played Iron Man, he was close to play a DC supervillain! He couldn't play the character because the film was never made! He was cast as Lex Luthor in McG's abandoned Superman: Flyby! Here's what the director said about it (via SuperHeroHype):
"We had Robert Downey Jr. locked up to be Lex Luthor, which I think would have been extraordinary… While we've heard no shortage of superhero movie casting over the years, the idea of a then-low-key Downey Jr. as Lex Luthor is enough to make us wonder a whole score of what-if fantasies, particularly considering his own subsequent ascension to the top of the A-List following "˜Iron Man'."
Which of these ALMOSTs should have happened according to you? Do share via comments!