"Men In Black 3"
Almost as soon as it was announced, it was said that Sacha Baron Cohen was being courted to play the villain in "Men In Black 3," though he swiftly turned it down, it would seem. Others linked to the film included Sharlto Copley (we think for the part taken by Michael Stuhlbarg), and Gemma Arterton (in Alice Eve's role), while Alec Baldwin was actually cast in the film, but exited when the second half of the shoot was delayed, replaced as the head of the 1960s Men in Black by David Rasche (again, the role must have been cut down a good deal, as Rasche is hardly in the film).
A one-time Pedro Almodóvar project, "The Paperboy" first reared its head in the early part of 2011, with Lee Daniels trying to set the film up with Bradley Cooper and Alex Pettyfer in the lead roles, and Sofia Vergara also cast. It resurfaced a few months later with Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron on board instead, and Vergara soon departed in favor of Nicole Kidman, while Tobey Maguire, who was part of that second annoucement, dropped out, and was replaced by John Cusack.
Originally meant to be directed by Ridley Scott's son-in-law Carl Erik Rinsch (who's making his own troubled feature debut with "47 Ronin"), the film that became "Prometheus" was, for about five minutes, a potential Leonardo DiCaprio picture; there was talk that he might have tried to squeeze in a reteam with his "Body Of Lies" director before production on "The Great Gatsby" (as David, perhaps?), but it never came to pass. Still, a fair few stars were surfacing the project early. Michelle Yeoh was an early choice to play Vickers, while Natalie Portman, Gemma Arterton, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, Olivia Wilde and Anne Hathaway were all up for the lead eventually played by Noomi Rapace, along with Charlize Theron, who took the smaller Vickers part instead. Also courted at one stage, for the role of Charlie, were James Franco and Scoot McNairy, who took "Argo" and "Killing Them Softly" instead. Good move, Mr. McNairy.
For some time, Jeremy Renner was attached to play the cop in the Edgar Allan Poe-themed murder mystery. Bullet. Dodged. Ewan McGregor would have played Poe in that incarnation.
"Rise of the Guardians"
Leonardo DiCaprio's one of the few megastars never to have voiced a big CGI animation, but nearly broke that duck with DreamWorks' "Rise of the Guardians" this year. However, midway through production, he was replaced by Chris Pine.
Once Denzel Washington was on board, "Safe House" became another one of those projects that every eligible male in Hollywood was up for. Jake Gyllenhaal, Shia LaBeouf, Taylor Kitsch, Chris Pine, Sam Worthington, Garret Hedlund, Zac Efron, Channing Tatum, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hardy and James McAvoy were all considered, but beaten by Ryan Reynolds.
When he first set up "Savages," Oliver Stone met with Leonardo DiCaprio, James Franco and Garret Hedlund for the lead roles, while Jennifer Lawrence was actually in negotiations for the film, before proving how smart she is by pulling out for "The Hunger Games." Teresa Palmer and Abbie Cornish both tested to replace her before Blake Lively got the role.
Mickey Rourke was originally cast as the dog-loving gangster in Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths," but fell out with the helmer, publically calling him "a jerkoff." McDonagh returned the compliment by including a gravestone with Rourke's name on it.
"Silver Linings Playbook"
Something of a passion project, David O. Russell originally mounted the film with Vince Vaughn and Zooey Deschanel in the lead roles a few years back, but didn't get the greenlight from Harvey Weinstein. After the success of "The Fighter," he got it going again, but the cast wasn't necessarily going to be the one we saw. He was at one point meant to reteam with Mark Wahlberg on the project, while Anne Hathaway was initially linked to the female lead, but dropped out for "Les Misérables." Cooper came back on board (he'd been mentioned at the same time as Hathaway to begin with) and a number of actresses tested to replace Hathaway -- Elizabeth Banks, Kirsten Dunst, Blake Lively, Rooney Mara, Rachel McAdams, Andrea Riseborough and Olivia Wilde. But it was Jennifer Lawrence who won out.
While still stuck in limbo, Mendes was reported to want longtime theater collaborator Simon Russell Beale for a part in his Bond film -- perhaps the part taken by Ralph Fiennes? Rhys Ifans was also rumored for a role, though it was quickly shot down, while Asian actresses Tang Wei, Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing, Shu Qi and Josie Ho were said to be in the running for a part, presumably Bérénice Marlohe's.
The male half of the title for Universal's fairy tale movie caused one of the trickier casting hunts in recent memory. Tom Hardy was the first to be offered the part, before Johnny Depp, Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen, Hugh Jackman and Joel Edgerton all turned it down. Meanwhile, Angelina Jolie was courted early on for the evil queen, and Felicity Jones, Riley Keough, Bella Heathcote and Alicia Vikander all read for Snow White. Eddie Izzard and Stephen Graham were both cast as dwarves in the film as well, but dropped out due to other commitments.
"Sound of My Voice"
Director Zal Batmanglij revealed on Jeff Goldsmith's podcast that he and co-writer Brit Marling had nearly got the film set up a few years earlier, with two then-unknown actors in the lead roles: Andrew Garfield and Rooney Mara. Producers wouldn't finance them with those names attached, the two exploded over the next few years, and Batmanglij made the movie anyway.
For about five minutes at the end of last year, it looked like Fox might not be able to make a deal with Liam Neeson to return for a second "Taken." As such, Ralph Fiennes, Mickey Rourke, Ray Winstone, Sean Bean and Jason Isaacs were floated as replacements, before Neeson agreed to bring his particular set of skills back for the sequel.
Before Mark Wahlberg got involved, Seth Rogen was said to have been courted for the lead role in Seth MacFarlane's comedy, but having presumably seen some of the nastier "Family Guy" jokes about him, turned the film down. Adam Scott was also briefly in talks, to play the douchey boss role that Joel McHale ended up taking.
"This Means War"
Another film that quite rightly had trouble landing a lead, the one-time Chris Rock/Martin Lawrence project went through Seth Rogen, Bradley Cooper, Sam Worthington, Colin Farrell and Justin Timberlake before Tom Hardy sadly agreed to lie back and think of England in the spy "comedy."
Those two names again: Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender were originally in the running alongside Colin Farrell for the unnecessary remake, but found better things to do with their time. Kate Bosworth, Diane Kruger, Eva Mendes, Paula Patton and Eva Green were up for the female leads, while Ethan Hawke actually shot a brief cameo as the previous incarnation of Farrell's character, but it ended up on the cutting room floor.
"Trouble With the Curve"
Sandra Bullock was the original choice to play Clint's daughter in this comedy-drama, but opted for Paul Feig's "The Heat" instead. Amy Adams went up to bat in her place.
Yeah, that was a movie! That came out in 2012! Who knew, right? Warner Bros.' hastily-forgotten sequel optimistically set its sights high early on, attempting to land Javier Bardem and James Franco for the roles eventually played by Edgar Ramirez and Toby Kebbell. Meanwhile, Rosamund Pike "beat" Hayley Atwell, Clémence Poésy, Janet Montgomery, Georgina Haig and perpetual runner-up Dominique McElligott (someone give the poor girl a part one of these days, she's very good) to the female lead in the film.
"Zero Dark Thirty"
Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden film, after a false start stymied by the terrorist's actual death, came together relatively quickly. Joel Edgerton who would have led that version, still has a role, but a smaller one here. But there were still a few names that fell by the wayside. Rooney Mara was initially linked to the part that Jessica Chastain ended up taking, while Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Nina Arianda were all mentioned around the same time.