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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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Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
"The Master"
When first announced, Jeremy Renner was linked to the role that became Freddie Quell, but the film was delayed to fix script issues, and by the time it came back around, the actor was working on other projects. He wasn't the only actor who missed out in this earlier incarnation: Reese WItherspoon was reportedly offered the part that was eventually played by Amy Adams, while Amanda Seyfried, "True Blood" actress Deborah Ann Woll and even Emma Stone auditioned to play Lancaster Dodd's daughter (which presumably reduced dramatically in size by the time the film came to screens).

"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).

"The Paperboy"
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.

"The Raven"
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.

Safe House Ryan Reynolds
"Safe House"
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.

"Seven Psychopaths"
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.

Snow White And The Huntsman Chris Hemsworth
"Snow White and the Huntsman"
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.

"Taken 2"
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."

"Total Recall"
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.

Zero Dark Thirty
"Wrath of the Titans"
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.


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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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