Actors Who Almost Got The Big Role – Horror Edition
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! It's time to play the "What if?" game again, this time looking at the actors who missed out on major horror movie roles, and one horror television role. While some roles like Michael Myers and Jason have been played by multiple actors as is, other characters are synonymous with a single actor, making it weird to think what it would be like with another actor in that part.
Director John Carpenter approached Christopher Lee for the role of Michael Myers’ doctor, Dr. Loomis, in the original Halloween. Lee turned down the role, but later admitted it to be one of his biggest professional mistakes. The role ended up going to Donald Pleasence who, like Christopher Lee, was well known for playing a James Bond villain.
Before Jackie Earle Haley was cast as Freddy in the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street, the film was originally planned to be a prequel, following a human Freddy Krueger as “The Springwood Slasher”, killing the children on Elm Street, and ending with his death by fire as described in the original film. While this human take on Freddy was still in the planning stages, Billy Bob Thornton was the lead contender for the role of Krueger.
Among the relatively young and fairly unknown cast of Scream, Drew Barrymore was the most recognizable star and was originally set to play the lead role of Sydney Prescott. However, after looking more into the script, Barrymore insisted that she play the role of Casey, the first victim, saying that if the audience saw a star of her recognition killed in the opening scene, they’d know anything could happen.
Castle star Nathan Fillion was revealed to be a contender for the role of Angel in the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fillion didn’t get far enough in the audition process to meet creator Joss Whedon, though they met years later when Fillion auditioned for and won the role of Captain Reynolds on Firefly. After the cancellation of Firefly, Whedon cast several of its stars in guest starring roles on his other shows, with Fillion finally appearing on Buffy in the final season as the demonic preacher Caleb.
While working on Dracula, Bela Lugosi was offered the role of the Monster in Universal’s next horror film, Frankenstein. Lugosi turned the role down because he didn’t like that the character had no dialogue. The part would go to Boris Karloff who played the Monster in three films, even having dialogue in the second one, The Bride of Frankenstein. Lugosi would play the role of Ygor in the third and forth Frankenstein films and finally taking over the part in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, but all of the Monster’s dialogue was cut in the final cut of the film.
Bones star David Boreanaz was originally offered the role of Matt in the video game adaptation Resident Evil. Boreanaz turned down the role to devote more time to his series Angel. The role of Matt would have led to Boreanaz possibly reappearing in the sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, as the mutated version of Matt, the Nemesis.
While in early stages of production, Heath Ledger was the lead contender for the role of the vampire Jerry in the remake of Fright Night. However, Ledger passed away before production could begin, leading to Colin Ferrell being cast instead. This marks the second time Colin Farrell took over a role intended for Ledger, being one of several actors to replace Ledger when he passed away during the making of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Following the success in their team-up for The Blues Brothers, Universal was reportedly intent on riding the success into their next John Landis film, An American Werewolf in London. Universal proposed for Aykroyd to play the role of David the Werewolf and Belushi as the decomposing friend Jack, but Landis refused the casting suggestions.
Director Francis Ford Coppola was keen on Johnny Depp taking the role of Jonathan Harker, teaming up with his former lover Winona Rider while Andy Garcia was approached to play Count Dracula in the 1992 Bram Stoker adaptation. The studio vetoed Johnny Depp as they felt he wasn’t as bankable of a star as Keanu Reeves, and Andy Garcia declined the role due to the gore.
When director Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola first met to discuss the movie adaptation of the comic book Hellboy, they decided to both say their choice for the title character at the same time, with both men saying “Ron Perlman”, whom del Toro had just directed in Blade II. However, the studio wanted a bigger name for the part and attempted to hire Vin Diesel, to which del Toro threatened to quit if Diesel was hired over Perlman.
After reading the book, Gene Hackman bought the rights to The Silence of the Lambs with the intention of playing the role of Dr. Lecter himself. But after watching a clip of himself from Mississippi Burning at the 61st Annual Academy Awards, Hackman was uncomfortable about accepting any more violent roles and withdrew his intent to play the part.