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Keira Knightley In 'The Dark Knight Rises'?: An A-Z Of Who Nearly Starred In The Movies Of 2012

by Oliver Lyttelton
December 7, 2012 3:23 PM
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"Django Unchained"
Though it was written for Will Smith, who ultimately couldn't commit, Quentin Tarantino considered Idris Elba, Chris Tucker, Terrence Howard, Michael K. Williams and Tyrese to play the title role in his Western before giving it to Jamie Foxx. Meanwhile, more than any other film this year, actors were actually cast in the film, only to end up falling out or having their roles cut from the script altogether. The most high profile was for sidekick villain Ace Woody; Kevin Costner was originally cast, dropped out, and was replaced by Kurt Russell, who walked off the set after falling out with Tarantino. The role ended up being amalgamated into Walton Goggins' part. Also announced for the film but nowhere to be found in the finished product: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sacha Baron Cohen, Gerard McRaney, Anthony LaPaglia, RZA and Rex Linn.

"Moon" director Duncan Jones was offered the script but had his own ideas for what a Judge Dredd movie would be and reluctantly passed.

"The Expendables 2"
Sylvester Stallone's old folks home for action stars nearly took in John Travolta, Donnie Yen, Nicolas Cage, Christian Slater, Christopher Lambert and Antonio Banderas -- but don't rule them out of future installments. Taylor Lautner was also rumored for the "young" part taken by Liam Hemsworth.

Kelly Reilly's role of the junkie love interest was a hotly sought-after one. Olivia Wilde and "Hell On Wheels" star Dominique McElligott were in the running for the part too.

"The Grey"
The lead role in this man vs. wolf survival movie was originally intended for Bradley Cooper. But his schedule intervened, and his "A-Team" co-star Liam Neeson stepped in instead.

Dennis Quaid was originally announced to play Gina Carano's father in Steven Soderbergh's actioner, but Bill Paxton replaced him when Quaid's schedule got too hectic.

When first mounted in 2007, this Anthony Hopkins-starring biopic was going to be directed by Ryan Murphy, the man behind "Glee" and "American Horror Story." So as it turns out, yes, "Hitchcock" could have been worse.

"The Hunger Games"
The lead part of Katniss Everdeen was one of the more sought-after ones in recent memory -- Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Emma Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Chloe Moretz, Jodelle Ferland, Lyndsy Fonseca, Emily Browning, Shailene Woodley and Kaya Scodelario all chased it before Jennifer Lawrence won out. For the male parts, Hunter Parrish, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, David Henri, Drew Roy, Robbie Amell and Alexander Ludwig (who got a bad guy role as a compensation) were in contention, while John C. Reilly was in early talks to play the part that Woody Harrelson ended up with.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
The only main cast member that dropped out from the Guillermo del Toro iteration of the project was Ron Perlman, who was seemingly likely to play dragon Smaug (though we know that del Toro looked at other possibilities for Bilbo at the time, including "The Hour" actor Joshua McGuire). But there were a few other actors mentioned along the way who never ended up involved. Brian Cox and Jack Thompson were both in the running to play dwarves, it seems, while British actor Rob Kazinsky actually started to film a role, before being forced to drop out for undisclosed reasons (he landed on his feet; he's in del Toro's "Pacific Rim.") Meanwhile, when the project first started casting up, Michael Fassbender and David Tennant were both seemingly courted for parts, while there was a long-running saga involving Saoirse Ronan, but it seems that she didn't end up in the film.

"Killing Them Softly"
Interestingly, Casey Affleck was actually the one who spilled the beans on the Andrew Dominik project, saying he was set to reunite with the director, presumably in the part that Scoot McNairy ended up taking. Somehow, it didn't end up happening. He may have been replaced by Sam Rockwell, but again, the actor fell out, opening the way to the relative newcomer. Meanwhile, Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin and Zoe Saldana were all rumored for parts at some stage, while Bella Heathcote and Garret Dillahunt actually shot small roles, but were cut out.

About a year before it actually got going, John Hillcoat's "Lawless" was gearing up under a different title, "The Wettest County," and, aside from Shia LaBeouf, a different cast. Ryan Gosling, Michael Shannon, Scarlett Johansson and Paul Dano were all initially involved, with Amy Adams coming in a little later, and then dropping out due to pregnancy. The money fell apart, and Hillcoat set the film up again with Megan Ellison, with Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan and Jessica Chastain stepping in.

"Les Miserables"
When word of Tom Hooper's "Les Misérables" initially emerged, there was some talk of the show's stage star Alfie Boe being pushed by producer Cameron Mackintosh for the lead, while Colin Firth, Laura Linney, Timothy Spall and Marion Cotillard were also said to be among those that the director had his eye on for various roles. One of the more solid potentials was Paul Bettany, who infamously turned down "The King's Speech," but auditioned to play Inspector Javert before being beaten out by his "A Beautiful Mind" co-star Russell Crowe. Meanwhile, the shortlist to play Eponine reportedly included Lea Michele, Evan Rachel Wood, Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift, the latter of whom went right down to the wire before newcomer Samantha Barks got the part.

"Life of Pi"
On his latest film, Ang Lee brought in one of his more regular collaborators, Tobey Maguire, to play The Author in the framing device. But after viewing a cut, he decided the presence of the "Spider-Man" actor was too distracting, and reshot the scenes with the lesser-known Rafe Spall.

Hardly a secret this one, but Liam Neeson was attached to Steven Spielberg's biopic for years, but in 2010, revealed he was now too old for the part (Lincoln died at 56). Enter Daniel Day-Lewis.

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More: Features, 2012: The Year In Review

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  • lorraine | December 17, 2012 9:26 AMReply

    Kindly use the full name of Robert Pattinson instead of R-patz? That is so 2009 and disrespectful to the actor. Thank you.

  • Mike | December 12, 2012 11:02 AMReply

    Imagine if Anne Hathaway could squeeze in in her schedule to play Silver Linings Playbook. We would probably see her as a double nominee come Oscar nomination day.

  • Logicmi | December 11, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    How is Scoot McNairy turning down Prometheus to do "Killing Them Softly" a smart career move? Prometheus was a huge hit and Killing Them Softly didn't do great at the BO and his middling reviews too.

  • Alan | December 20, 2012 10:42 PM

    McNairy will be appearing in the next films by David Michod, Steve McQueen, Jaume Collet-Serra and Lynn Shelton. Logan Marshall-Green will be lending his talents to a couple of James Franco-directed projects that no one will see. If a film is bad - or you are bad in it - sometimes (not always, but sometimes) it doesn't matter how much money it makes.

  • H | December 10, 2012 11:21 PMReply

    Very glad that Natalie Portman does not appear in Cloud Atlas. Imagine how would that awkward if that Neo Seoul sequence would have too many asian faces from white actors? Also Sonmi-451 is very complex character and I think that Doona Bae is excellent in that role.

  • Alan | December 20, 2012 11:18 PM

    Err, I thought that Portman would have been given a bigger part, like the one(s) that Berry took. The Playlist is just guessing.

  • jingmei | December 9, 2012 1:25 AMReply

    Bet if Keira Knightley played Catwoman, would attract more not only horny guys, but also female audiences who appreciate this hot and intelligent Brit actress. Welcome more such funny leak stuff! Especially including the damn awesome films such as Sound of My Voice. By the way, Sandra Bullock might be bit old to play Eastwood's daughter, not mention to hook up with Justin Timberlake. Silver Linings Playbook's final cast is good. Look forward to more works by Duncan Jones.

  • mass | December 10, 2012 9:02 PM

    Buh... what?

  • spassky | December 10, 2012 10:33 AM

    Um... what?

  • SFlare | December 8, 2012 2:20 AMReply

    Glad Knightley didn't get it. Too skinny and bony. Hathaway was excellent. Great film.

  • Josh Slater-Williams | December 7, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    I believe Ethan Hawke's cameo has been put back in for the 'director's cut' home release of 'Total Recall'.

  • DHE | December 7, 2012 4:45 PMReply

    I thought Sam Rockwell had Ben Mendelsohns role in Killing Them Softly. Also James McAvoy, and Ben Wishaw were considered to play Bilbo in The Hobbit.

  • Christian | December 7, 2012 4:02 PMReply

    Actually Christian Bale was also circling The Grey at one point before Liam Neeson.

  • John | December 7, 2012 3:58 PMReply

    Glad Hathaway was Selina Kyle, she did a fantastic job in a great movie.

  • Dryer | December 7, 2012 3:55 PMReply

    Would've loved to seen Knightly or Portmanteau as Catwoman but I don think either one would've improved the film just due Nolans bloated impractical script and direction

  • Alan | December 8, 2012 4:14 AM

    Take that Nolan: I decided to take an article about casting and highjack to bitch about you. I am a winner.

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