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Cast the Runner-Up

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Say you're a struggling actor just on the verge of your big break. You're down to the final two for this coveted role, and you're sure you'll get it... but nope, sorry, the other actor got it instead. But all is not lost!

The casting people feel guilty for making you jump through so many hoops only to lose out on the role in question. So they offer a consolation prize; it's not a lead role, it's not a big role, but it's in the film and it's yours if you want it. You'd be surprised how many small parts or featured extras do go to the actor who just missed out on getting the lead role. A variation is if they get the role and their scenes end up cut — so they create another character to make up for it.

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If the actor is really lucky — and this happens in television more than you'd expect — their new role can get expanded and become a regular or at least recurring.

Compare Consolation Award.


Examples:

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    Anime 
  • Rie Kugimiya had auditioned for the main four Precures of DokiDoki! PreCure before becoming the infamous Sixth Ranger Cure Ace.
    • Saki Fujita had auditioned twice before becoming Cure Macaron.
    • Nana Mizuki attempted several times before becoming Cure Blossom.
    • Yoko Honda and Yukana auditioned for Cure White and Black but recieved the other way around, and the rest is history
    • Yuuko Sanpei auditioned for Cure Rouge but became Cure Dream.
    • Hitomi Yoshida auditioned for Yes and Smile (Cure Happy) before becoming the latter's ED singer.
    • Minami Takayama auditioned but instead was given the Dark Precure role.
    • Eimi Naruse auditioned for Cure Soleil but became Cure Star.
    • Misato Fukuen and Marina Inoue (the latter in her second time) auditioned for Cure Muse before becoming Cures Happy and March.
    • Haruka Tomatsu auditioned twice or thrice before becoming Cure Fortune.
    • Nao Tamura auditioned thrice before becoming Cure Macherie.
    • Konomi Kohara auditioned twice or thrice before receiving an audition for Cure Star, but became Cure Milky.
    • Mikako Komatsu auditioned five times before receiving auditions for Cures Soleil and Selene, the latter she recieved.
    • Mizuki, Fumie Mizusawa, Megumi Nakajima, and Yu Shimamura were suddenly given a different role than they auditioned for.

    Films — Animation 
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • In an early scene in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter looks at a World War II soldier walking through the train station for no apparent reason. This soldier is played by Jaxin Hall, the runner-up for the role of Peter.
  • Scream:
    • Kevin Patrick Walls nearly got the role of Billy that went to Skeet Ulrich. They gave him the smaller role of Casey's boyfriend Steve Orth to make up for it.
    • Drew Barrymore approached producers to play Sidney and was cast — but had to drop out due to other commitments. She was still very interested in the project and was given the smaller role of Casey. As a result, Barrymore inadvertently popularised the Dead Star Walking trope at the time.
    • David Arquette presumptuously turned down the role of Billy in favor for playing Dewey, which was originally written as a hunky, leading man part. He was also considered for Stu.
    • Matthew Lillard was also considered for Billy.
  • Miss Congeniality originally had a scene with the real Miss New Jersey relinquishing her crown to Gracie. The scene was cut and as an apology to Jennifer Gareis, they had her appear in the crowd at the pageant as Miss New York's girlfriend Tina.
  • Inverted for The Craft. Robin Tunney was auditioning for the supporting role of Bonnie, but producers liked her audition so much, they bumped her up to the lead role of Sarah.
  • In Annie, the children playing the other main orphans were runners-up for the part of Annie.
  • Harry Potter:
  • In the 1985 adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, Schuyler Grant was initially recommended for the main part (by her great-aunt Katharine Hepburn, who was sought for but declined the role of Marilla), and the director Kevan Sullivan wanted to cast her. However, it was ultimately decided that Anne shouldn't be played by an American actress, so the Canadian Megan Follows got the role, while Schuyler Grant played Anne's best friend Diana.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey was originally going to be a technical advisor, with Gunnery Sergeant Hartman being played by an actor. When the role was given to R. Lee Ermey instead, the actor who was going to play Hartman played the helicopter door gunner instead.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:

  • For Dublin Oldschool Emmett Kirwan joked to Seana Kerslake that she could have a part in the film if she wanted. When she said yes, the only part she could play was Jason's friend Lisa - which was already promised to Sarah Greene. So he created the character of Gemma, Jason's ex-girlfriend (who didn't exist in the play the film is based on).
  • The Terminator: James Cameron was originally going to cast Lance Henriksen, envisioning the character as someone who would blend into a crowd. Henriksen arrived to his audition with gold foil in his teeth and kicked down the door of the room. Impressed, Cameron had him appeared in character as the T-800 to fundraising events for the film. However, after interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger for the role of Kyle Reese, Cameron decided to change the role of the Terminator to a hulking behemoth. Henriksen was given the consolation prize of the fifth-billed role of Detective Vukovich, who gets gunned down by the Terminator. Don't cry for Henriksen, however, as Cameron would later cast him as a different android: Bishop in Aliens.
  • Andrew Garfield auditioned for Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network but he was deemed too emotional for the role — so he got cast as Eduardo Saverin instead.
  • Back to the Future: J.J. Cohen was originally cast as Biff Tannen. However, he didn't look so imposing against Eric Stoltz, the Trope Namer for The Other Marty, so Thomas F. Wilson was cast as Biff while Cohen was recast as Skinhead, one of Biff's Mooks. According to Bob Gale, had Michael J. Fox been cast as Marty from the beginning, Cohen would definitely have landed the role of Biff/Griff/Buford Tannen instead of Wilson.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Christopher Lee originally auditioned for the role of Gandalf, as the latter was his favorite character in the books. However, he immediately realized that Gandalf was a very physical role that he only might have been able to do 25 years ago and chose Saruman instead.
    • Dominic Monaghan originally auditioned for Frodo Baggins before being cast as Merry.
    • John Rhys-Davies auditioned for Denethor. He played two roles - Gimli and Treebeard.
    • Sylvester McCoy was considered for Bilbo Baggins. He would later play Radagast the Brown in The Hobbit.
    • Orlando Bloom originally tried out for Faramir, not Legolas. The producers ended up convincing him that he'd be better suited for Legolas.
    • Billy Connolly was considered for Gimli. He would later play Dain in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
    • John Callen (Oin) auditioned for the role of Radagast, and the voice of Smaug.
    • Adam Brown (Ori) originally auditioned for the role of Bilbo Baggins.
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy:
  • Star Wars:
    • Billy Dee Williams was among those conisdered for Han Solo. He would later play Lando Calrissian.
    • David Prowse (Darth Vader) and Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) were both offered each other's roles. Prowse didn't want to play a goodie, while Mayhew didn't want to play a baddie, so they switched.
    • George Lucas considered casting Peter Cushing as Obi-Wan Kenobi before casting him as Grand Moff Tarkin.
    • Christopher Lee turned down the role of Tarkin. He would later play Darth Tyranus/Count Dooku in the prequels.
    • Lucas originally wanted Orson Welles to voice Darth Vader, before deciding that his voice was too recognisable. He did narrate trailers for the film.
    • Kenny Baker (the little guy who was inside R2 making him shake) was supposed to play Wicket, but he fell sick for most of the production and that's when Warwick Davis stepped into the role.
    • Benicio del Toro was offered the role of Darth Maul, but turned it down when most of his dialogue was removed. He later played DJ in The Last Jedi.
    • Mark Lewis Jones auditioned for a part in Rogue One but did not obtain it. He was later offered the part of First Order captain Moden Canady for The Last Jedi.
  • Star Trek:
  • Producer Hal B. Wallis originally auditioned Edward G. Robinson for the supporting role of Otero in Little Caesar (played in the film by George E. Stone) before deciding he was perfect as Rico, which became his Star-Making Role.
  • Edward Woods was originally hired for the lead role of Tom Powers in The Public Enemy and James Cagney was hired to play Matt Doyle, his friend. However, once director William A. Wellman got to know both of them and saw Cagney in rehearsals, he realized that Cagney would be far more effective in the star role than Woods, so he switched them.
  • Buddy Ebsen was originally cast as The Scarecrow, and Ray Bolger was to play the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard of Oz. However, Bolger convinced the studio that his style of dancing was completely wrong for that character (just try to picture the Woodsman dancing like the Scarecrow), so Ebsen agreed to switch roles with him. In an unforeseen complication, however, Ebsen had an extreme allergic reaction to the aluminum dust used in the Tin Man's makeup, and was forced to quit the film, spending six weeks in hospital afterwards. Ebsen also noted in an interview on The Jerry Springer Show many years later that he almost had his testicles cut off by the metal suit! Audio of his performance of "If I Only a Heart" has survived, and in the final film his singing voice is heard instead of Jack Haley's during some reprises of "We're Off to See the Wizard".
  • Toshiro Mifune would have played Kyuzo in Seven Samurai when there were just six samurai, but when Kikuchiyo was created as a last-minute addition to the script, the part of Kyuzo went to Seiji Miyaguchi while Mifune was recast as Kikuchiyo.
  • Lawrence of Arabia:
    • Alec Guinness had a life-long interest in T.E. Lawrence, and had played him in a production of Terence Rattigan's play Ross on stage. Guinness wanted very much to play Lawrence, but David Lean and Sam Spiegel both told him he was too old. Laurence Olivier was the original choice for Prince Feisal, and Guinness was shifted to that role when Olivier turned it down.
    • Omar Sharif was originally cast as Lawrence's guide Tafas before being cast as Sharif Ali.
  • Omar Sharif was originally cast as Pasha in Doctor Zhivago with Peter O'Toole as Zhivago. When O'Toole declined, Sharif got the lead role.
  • Lee Van Cleef had never been in a film when he was offered the role of Deputy Harvey Pell in High Noon on the condition that he get a nose job. Van Cleef declined, so he was instead given the smaller role of Colby, the silent thug.
  • The Godfather:
    • Richard Conte and John Marley were among the many actors considered for Vito Corleone. Both ended up with smaller parts, as Barzini and Jack Woltz, respectively.
    • James Caan read for Michael and Sonny, and was provisionally cast as the former, with Carmine Caridi playing Sonny. When Pacino became Michael, Caan was cast as Sonny instead. As compensation, Caridi had a bit part in the first film (as an onlooker during Carlo's beating) and larger roles in the sequels, as Carmine Rosato in Part II and crime boss Albert Volpe in Part III. Besides Pacino, Keaton, Shire and Richard Bright, he was the only actor to appear in all three Godfathers.
    • Al Lettieri was another option for Sonny; he wound up playing Sollozzo instead.
    • Peter Donat was shortlisted with Robert Duvall for Tom Hagen. Appropriately, Donat was cast as Questadt, the Senate lawyer in Part II.
    • Robert De Niro audtioned for Sonny, as well as Michael and Paulie. He would later play the young Vito in The Godfather Part II.
    • Bridget Fonda auditioned for Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III before being cast as Grace Hamilton.
  • Angela Lansbury was offered the part of the Queen in The Three Musketeers (1948). Feeling she was too young at 23, she lobbied for Milady instead, but was turned down.
  • Charlton Heston was originally offered the role of Athos in The Three Musketeers (1973). He favoured the smaller, yet pivotal role of Cardinal Richeliu.
  • Charlie Sheen was offered the role of Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1993), but preferred Aramis.
  • American Graffiti:
    • Cindy Williams originally wanted to play Carol, and was even willing to have braces put on her teeth for better effect.
    • George Lucas offered Richard Dreyfuss one of two roles - Curt Henderson or Terry "the Toad" Fields. He chose Curt.
  • Harvey Keitel was originally offered the role of Charles in Taxi Driver. He chose the role of Sport, even though the character was black and only had three lines.
  • Robert De Niro was offered any of four parts in Mean Streets. Once Harvey Keitel came on-board, he convinced De Niro to take on the role of Johnny Boy.
  • Sigourney Weaver was originally cast as Lambert in Alien, while Veronica Cartwright was going to play Ripley. At the last minute, their roles were switched. Cartwright didn't find out until she went to a costume fitting.
  • John Cleese originally campaigned for the lead role in Monty Python's Life of Brian, eager to expand his range with his first sustained film role. The rest of the group favored Graham Chapman, and felt that Cleese would be missed if he didn't play several of the ensemble roles. Cleese soon agreed that Chapman was better suited, and stepped aside.
  • Joe Pesci originally auditioned for Max in Once Upon a Time in America, but Sergio Leone convinced him that he wouldn't be quite right for the role. As a favor to Pesci's friend Robert De Niro (the star of the film), Leone told Pesci that he could pick whichever of the available roles he wanted as his own instead. He chose the part of Frankie, which was considerably larger in the original script than it is in the finished movie.
  • Robert De Niro wanted to play the role of Jack in Brazil., but Terry Gilliam had already promised this to Michael Palin. De Niro still wanted to be in the movie, so he was cast as Tuttle instead.
  • Oliver Stone wanted to cast Johnny Depp in the lead role in Platoon, but the studio felt he was too young and he got a smaller part. Ironically, Sheen is three years younger than Depp.
  • The Breakfast Club:
    • Ally Sheedy and Molly Ringwald actually auditioned for the others' roles.
    • Emilio Estevez was originally cast as Bender, but when no suitable actor was found for the part of Andy, he agreed to take that part instead, and they cast Judd Nelson as Bender.
  • Pulp Fiction:
    • Tim Roth was considered for Vincent Vega before being cast as Ringo. Bruce Willis was briefly interested before being cast as Butch Coolidge.
    • Samuel L. Jackson was considered for Marcellus Wallace, Lance, Captain Koons and Winston Wolf before being cast as Jules Winnifield.
    • Uma Thurman was considered for Hunny Bunny before being cast as Mia Wallace.
    • Rosanna Arquette was considered for Mia before being cast as Jody.
    • Christopher Walken was considered for Winston Woolf before being cast as Captain Koons.
    • Eric Stoltz was considered for Ringo before being cast as Lance.
    • Quentin Tarantino had written the role of Jimmie with Steve Buscemi in mind but Buscemi had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts. Tarantino himself ended up filling the role and Buscemi was given a cameo appearance as the Buddy Holly waiter at Jack-Rabbit Slims.
    • Phil La Marr read for Jules Winnfield and Brett before being cast as Marvin.
    • Paul Calderone was almost cast as Jules after a great audition. He got the smaller role of Paul.
  • John Gielgud was originally offered the role of Tiberius in Caligula, but declined. He only accepted the smaller part of Nerva after being sent a letter by Gore Vidal.
  • When Frank Vincent went to meet Martin Scorsese about being cast in Goodfellas, Creator/Scorsese asked Vincent which character he wanted to play, and he said he wanted the role of Paulie. Scorsese then said "Don't play Paulie, play Billy Batts."
  • Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott were originally cast in each other's roles in Ride the High Country. But early in the production each actor went to the producer on his own, dissatisfied and ready to quit, so the roles were reversed.
  • Jim Carrey was originally offered the role of Harry in Dumb and Dumber and was told that it had more drama. He chose the role of Lloyd because it had more laughs.
  • Dogma:
    • Kevin Smith found Linda Fiorentino so difficult to work with that he regretted not casting his first choice, Janeane Garofalo (who played Bethany's co-worker Liz).
    • Jason Lee was originally cast as Loki. Scheduling confilicts meant he had to take the smaller role of Azrael.
  • Val Kilmer was originally cast in the lead role of The Island of Doctor Moreau. When he found out he was getting a divorce, he tried to get his part reduced by 40%. That was impossible, so he took the role of Montgomery.
  • DC Extended Universe:
  • Jason Statham was considered for Owen Shaw in Fast & Furious 6 before being cast as his brother Deckard.
  • John Travolta had wanted to make Battlefield Earth since the latter was published in 1982, but he wanted to star as the rebellious human Jonnie. By the time he got funding, he decided he was too old to fit the role (one of precious few good judgments the production made).
  • Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy:
    • Chris Parnell was originally considered for Brick Tamland before being cast as Garth.
    • Ben Stiller was originally considered for Brian Fantana. He makes a cameo as Arturo Mendes.
  • While Danny DeVito was Barry Sonnenfeld's first choice for the role of Chilli Palmer in Get Shorty because of his natural charisma, he could not fit it into his schedule (he was directing Matilda) so he ended up playing the smaller role of Martin Weir instead.
  • James Bond:
    • Julian Glover and Sean Bean were candidates to play James Bond at some stages. They wound up playing villains in For Your Eyes Only and Goldeneye.
    • According to some sources, Ralph Fiennes was considered to play 007 in Goldeneye. He would later take over as M opposite Daniel Craig.
    • Billington was screen-tested for the role more than any other actor and was said to have been Albert R. Broccoli's first choice had Roger Moore not been available. He met director Peter Hunt and did a photo shoot for On Her Majesty's Secret Service. He was also screen-tested for Live and Let Die, Moonraker, and Octopussy. He ultimately appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me AS Sergei Barsov, Agent XXX's ill-fated lover, at the start of the film.
    • George Baker was said to be Ian Fleming's ideal candidate, but he was unavilable. He would appear as Sir Hilary Bray in On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Captain Benson in The Spy Who Loved Me.
    • Lois Maxwell was offered either Miss Moneypenny or Slyvia Trench in Dr. No. She uncomfortable wearing such revealing clothes and chose Moneypenny.
    • Christopher Lee claimed that he almost got the role of Dr. No. He would eventually play a Bond villain in The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • Tania Mallet auditioned for Tatiana Romanava in From Russia with Love. She was cast as Tilly Masterson in Goldfinger.
    • Cec Linder was originally cast in Goldfinger as Mr. Simmons (Goldfinger's opponent at the card game), while Austin Wills was cast as Felix Leiter.
    • Luciana Paluzzi auditioned for Domino in Thunderball, but decided it would be more fun to play a bad girl.
    • Mie Hama was originally intended for the larger role of Aki in You Only Live Twice, but doubts over her mastering of English, meant that she was ineligible for the part. Hama's reported depression over losing the role, and the disgrace it would bring to her family (she threatened to throw herself off the Imperial Hotel), was instrumental in her taking the equally important, though less vocal part of Kissy Suzuki. Meanwhile Akiko Wakabayashi was originally cast as Kissy.
    • Jill St. John was originally considered for Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever before being cast as Tiffany Case.
    • Broccoli wanted Lois Chiles to star as Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, but she was taking a break from acting at the time. She would star as Holly Goodhead in Moonraker.
    • Louis Jordan was considered for Hugo Drax in Moonraker. He would later play a Bond villain in Octopussy.
    • Carole Bouquet was slated to play Holly Goodhead before she had to turn it down, only to play Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.
    • Monica Bellucci was nearly cast as Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies, but according to Pierce Brosnan, "the fools said no". She would later play Lucia in Spectre.
    • Maria Grazia Cucinotta was considered for the role of Elektra King in The World is Not Enough, but this was nixed when it was discovered her English wasn't up to par. This did however, parlay into her brief but memorable role as the Cigar Girl Assassin.
  • Sam Raimi wanted Bruce Campbell for the lead role in Crimewave, but the studio wanted someone who was more of a "Hollywood actor". Raimi responded by casting Campbell as Reynaldo the Heel and then expanding the role so that he'd be there for the entire production.
    • Campbell was also supposed to star in Darkman. He does cameo as one of Darkman's disguises.
  • Gene Wilder was originally offered the role of Hedley Lamarr in Blazing Saddles, but didn't feel right for it, and told Mel Brooks that he wanted The Waco Kid instead. However, Brooks wanted someone older for The Waco Kid, someone like Dan Dailey. Dailey was originally considered for the role of the Waco Kid, but poor health and declining eyesight forced him to decline.
  • Brad Pitt was the first choice for the role of Cable in Deadpool 2 before Josh Brolin was cast. While he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts, Pitt does show up in the movie proper for a split-second as The Vanisher, an invisible character, as he is being electrocuted by telephone cable.
  • Tombstone:
    • Longtime veteran western actor Glenn Ford had originally signed on as Marshall White; however, poor health forced him to withdraw. The role went to Harry Carey, Jr., who was originally cast as a wagonmaster.
    • Robert Mitchum was originally cast as Old Man Clanton, but the part was dropped from the script after he was injured falling off his horse. He did narrate the film.
  • Spencer Tracy was originally going to have an on-camera role in How the West Was Won, but ill-health meant he had to settle for narrating.
    • John Wayne had intended to play a character in the part directed by Henry Hathaway, but John Ford insisted he appear in the Civil War sequence.
  • The Expendables:
  • Julianne Moore was considered for Dr. Ellie Satler in Jurassic Park. She would later play Sarah Harding in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
  • X-Men Film Series:
  • Batman:
  • James Franco auditioned for Peter Parker in the Spider-Man Trilogy before being cast as Harry Osborne.
  • Kevin Smith originally wrote the part of Randal Graves in Clerks for himself (which is why he has all the best lines), but was already juggling directorial duties and working a full-time day job, losing a lot of sleep in the process, and realized that he couldn't hope to also play a lead character. He gave himself the role of Silent Bob just so he could be on-camera somewhere.
  • Angela Lansbury was considered to star in Mary Poppins. She eventually made a cameo in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • The 1981 comedy Neighbors: John Belushi was originally cast in the role of Vic and Dan Aykroyd in the role of Earl. The two decided to switch roles just prior to filming the movie. As such, Belushi and Akroyd starred in this movie acting against type, loud-mouthed Belushi played a quiet character whilst the meeker Aykroyd played an over-the-top character.
  • The St. Valentine's Day Massacre:
    • Jack Nicholson was originally cast as Johnny May. He chose the smaller role of Gino because it paid more.
    • Orson Welles was originally cast as Al Capone, while Jason Robards was to play George "Bugs" Moran. Welles was willing but Fox vetoed the deal, feeling Welles was "undirectable". Robards took over the role of Capone and Ralph Meeker was brought in to play Moran.
  • William Holden turned down the lead role in The Omen (1976). Seeing as how the finished film turned out, he jumped at the chance to star in Damien: Omen II.
  • Originally John Dahl wanted Dennis Hopper to play either Wayne Brown or the Sheriff in the Neo Noir Red Rock West, but he insisted on playing Lyle from Dallas. Hopper eventually convinced the producers who were thrilled with the end result.
  • Courtney Love auditioned for the role of Nancy Spungon in Sid And Nancy, which eventually went to Chloe Webb; instead she was given the role of Nancy's friend Gretchen.
  • Jeffrey Wiseman tried out for the role of Kevin McCallister in the first Home Alone movie, he was offered the part of Mitch Murphy.
  • James Franco was considered for Charlie Holloway in Prometheus. He wound up getting cast in Alien: Covenant.
  • Virginia Madsen was considered for Brenda Wyat in Highlander. She would play a similar role in Highlander II: The Quickening.
  • Bruce Willis was considered for both Danny Ocean and Terry Benedict in Ocean's Eleven. He did make a cameo As Himself in Ocean's Twelve.
  • Steve Buscemi was originally considered for Simmons in the Transformers Film Series. He would later voice Daytrader in Transformers: The Last Knight.
  • Sam Spiegel wanted to cast Jack Nicholson in the leading role of Monroe Stahr in The Last Tycoon, but Elia Kazan had opted for Robert De Niro. Nicholson got the supporting role of Brimmer.
  • Indiana Jones:
  • Don't Take My Baby: Ross Grant auditioned for the lead in this Made-for-TV Movie about a man with a degenerative eye condition that he himself suffers from in real life. He didn't get the part, but he was then written in as a character called Mike who offers the protagonist advice on managing the condition.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Nathan Fillion first auditioned for Angel, before eventually getting to guest star as Caleb in Season 7. However in this case, he already had a working relationship with Joss Whedon from Firefly.
    • Sarah Michelle Gellar or Bianca Lawson (Kendra) could have been cast as Cordelia, which was the role they originally auditioned for. Both Charisma Carpenter and Elizabeth Anne Allen originally auditioned for Buffy. Sarah and Charisma's roles were switched, and the character of Amy was created for Elizabeth.
    • When Bianca Lawson actually won the role initially, she opted instead to take a role in the sitcom Goode Behavior instead. Producers liked her so much that she was introduced on the second season as Kendra.
    • Julie Benz (Darla), Elizabeth Anne Allen (Amy), Julia Lee (the girl who goes by Chanterelle, Lily and Anne) and Mercedes McNabb (Harmony) all auditioned for the lead role of Buffy.
    • Danny Strong auditioned for Xander originally. He didn't get the part, obviously, but was later given the role of Jonathan, and his talent at portraying a hapless dupe of a Spear Carrier with Hidden Depths led to his becoming a recurring, popular character. What would have happened if he, not Nicholas Brendon, had won the role of Xander?
    • Felicia Day auditioned for the role of Fred in Angel that went to Amy Acker. She played the smaller recurring role of the potential Vi in Season 7 of Buffy.
    • Armin Shimerman first auditioned for Principal Flutie, before getting cast as Sunnydale High's next principal Snyder. Although the plan was for each principal to be killed off after a few episodes as a Running Gag, they liked his performance enough to keep him on the show until the end of season 3 (with a cameo appearance in "Restless" the following season).
    • K. Todd Freeman was in the running for the role of Spike before being cast as Mr. Trick.
  • Charmed (1998): Brian Krause, Julian McMahon and Kerr Smith all originally auditioned for Andy in Season 1. Brian Krause got the last laugh, staying on as Leo for eight seasons, while Andy was written out at the end of the first (Leo had been written as a recurring character first, and didn't become a series regular until Season 3).
  • Cheers: John Ratzenberger originally auditioned for Norm Peterson. When he failed that, he asked the writers if there was a know-it-all character in the series. Thus, Cliff Clavin was born.
  • Davy Crockett: Buddy Ebsen was initially cast as Davy Crockett until Walt Disney saw Fess Parker's performance in Them! and decided he was better suited for the role. Ebsen was recast as Davy's sidekick, George Russell.
  • Friends:
    • June Gable was cast as Estelle the talent agent in an episode, but her scenes in the episode were cut. To make up for it, they cast her as a nurse who appears in a different scene. They then brought Estelle back later, with her playing the original part.
    • Hank Azaria failed to get the part of Joey but was later written in as Phoebe's scientist boyfriend David.
    • Leah Remini first auditioned for the role of Monica, which went to Courteney Cox. She got to appear as Lydia in a Season 1 episode.
    • Jessica Hecht — cast in a recurring role as Susan, girlfriend (and eventual wife) of Ross's ex Carol — was turned down for the part of Rachel.
    • Maggie Wheeler likewise auditioned for Monica and ended up in the recurring role of Chandler's on-off girlfriend Janice.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Carice van Houten was unable to take the role of Cersei Lannister due to commitments to another series at the time. When Season 2 came along, she was able to come on board as Melisandre.
    • Conleth Hill auditioned for Robert Baratheon, played by Mark Addy, but got cast as Varys. This worked out well, and he stayed on for eight seasons.
    • Natalie Dormer says she auditioned for another character (but didn't say which one) before she was cast as Margaery Tyrell.
    • Alfie Allen (Theon), Joseph Maxwell Dempsie (Gendry), and Iwan Rheon (Ramsay) originally all auditioned for the role of Jon Snow.
    • Finn Jones (Loras) auditioned for both Jon Snow and Robb Stark.
    • Eugene Simon (Lancel Lannister) originally auditioned to play Joffrey Baratheon.
    • Anton Lesser auditioned for the role of Maester Luwin. He later played Qyburn.
  • Gilmore Girls: Liza Weil auditioned for the part of Rory (one of the main characters). They loved her, but she wasn't the right fit for the character. Instead, the role of Paris, Rory's Academic Alpha Bitch enemy-later-turned-friend, was specifically created for Liza Weil.
  • Glee: Chris Colfer originally auditioned for Artie (which would go to Kevin McHale) but the producers liked Colfer so much they changed a previously planned character and wrote Kurt Hummel specifically for him.
  • Happy Days: Don Most originally auditioned for both Richie and Potsie, and was almost considered to play the latter. Since they liked Don Most's audition, they eventually decided to create the character of Ralph Malph just for him. While a minor character in the pilot, he eventually becomes a a regular.
  • Lost:
    • Dominic Monaghan originally auditioned for Sawyer, who was originally supposed to be a suit-wearing city con man. The producers were so enthused by Monaghan that the part of Charlie was altered to accommodate him - Charlie was originally going to be a 45-year-old washed-up rock star.
    • Yunjin Kim originally read for Kate. The producers felt she was not what they were looking for in Kate, but decided to create a new character for her, along with a spouse.
    • Matthew Fox and Jorge Garcia also auditioned for Sawyer.
  • MTV: Jesse Camp was the winner of MTV’s "Wanna Be a VJ" contest in 1998. However, MTV later hired the runner-up, Dave Holmes, who stayed with the channel about three years longer than Camp did.
  • Mad Men: John Slattery prepared an audition to play Don Draper. Matt Weiner had already decided on Jon Hamm, but found Slattery perfect for Roger Sterling, Jr.
  • The Office (US):
    • Bob Odenkirk was in the running for the role of Michael Scott, but ultimately lost out to Steve Carell. They brought him back in a later season as Pam's alarmingly Michael-esque boss.
    • Rainn Wilson read for Michael in what he himself described as "a bad Ricky Gervais impresssion." While that wasn't right for Michael, he got the nearly-as-pivotal role of Dwight Schrute.
    • Angela Kinsey auditioned for Pam, but wound up playing the new character of Angela.
  • Our Friends in the North: Christopher Eccleston was originally offered the role of Geordie. He felt the role of Nicky was more interesting.
  • Party of Five: Jerry O'Connell dropped out of the role of Bailey to star in Sliders so it was between Scott Wolf and Jonathan Whitworth. The former got the part, and the latter got a role in the pilot and later another episode as PK - a bad boy love interest for Julia.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers:
      • David Yost auditioned for Jason. He decided that he didn't look like a leader (despite being the oldest in the cast) and took the role of Billy.
      • Jason Narvy (Skull) auditioned for Billy.
      • Danny Southworth (Eric Myers on Power Rangers Time Force) stated at Power Morphicon that he had auditioned for the role of Adam during production of the second season. But instead, Johnny Yong Bosch got the role and Dan continued his stunt work. In addition to being Austin St. John's stunt double (morphed), he also acted as a Stunt Double to Johnny (also morphed).
    • Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue: Rhett Fisher originally auditioned for the role of Carter. Interesting if you think about how, in the show, Carter originally tried to use the Titanium Ranger powers, but couldn't handle it.
    • Emma Lahana auditioned for Tori Hanson in Power Rangers Ninja Storm. And since she was trying to launch a music career at the same time, one wonders if the character would have been a straight copy of Hurricaneger's Nanami had she gotten the role. She would later play Kira in Power Rangers Dino Thunder.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force: Firass Dirani and Richard Brancatisano, who played Nick and Xander respectively, actually tried out for the parts of Xander and Nick respectively.
    • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: Jason Faunt and Rhett Fisher also auditioned for Leo Corbett. They would later be rangers - Rhett became Ryan the Titanium Ranger and Faunt became Wesley Colins.
    • Power Rangers Mystic Force: Firass Dirani and Richard Brancatisano, who played Nick and Xander respectively, actually tried out for each other's parts.
    • Power Rangers Samurai:
      • Emily was almost played by Ciara Hanna, they even had the contract ready, but she backed out before signing. She would return to play Gia in Power Rangers Megaforce.
      • Spike's actor, Felix Ryan actually tried out for the part of the Gold Ranger.
    • Power Rangers Megaforce: Orion's actor, Cameron Jebo, originally tried out for the part of Troy.
    • In Power Rangers: Beast Morphers, Liana Ramirez initially auditioned for the Yellow Ranger before Jacqueline Scislowski would take the role. She instead got casted as Roxy, which adds irony to her character being the intended Yellow Ranger.
  • Red Dwarf:
    • In the commentary for the second episode, Chris Barrie mentions that he originally auditioned for both Rimmer and Lister, and preferred Lister. Imagine that for a moment. "Bodyswap", in fact, gives us a taste of how he would have played it.
    • Norman Lovett originally auditioned for Rimmer. Instead, they changed Holly to a male and offered him the part.
  • Saved by the Bell: Elizabeth Berkley auditioned for Kelly. Although Tiffani Amber Thiessen got the part, they liked Elizabeth's audition so much they created the role of Jessie Spano just to have her in the series.
  • Shakespeare Unwrapped:
    • William Brady was first cast as Gloucester, but then upgraded to Lear.
    • Bobby Calloway auditioned for Albany but got cast as Cornwall instead.
  • The Sopranos:
    • Lorraine Bracco was originally asked to play the role of Carmela Soprano, but she felt that the part was too similar to her character in Goodfellas. She decided the role of Dr. Melfi would be more challenging.
    • Stevie Van Zandt was considered for Tony Soprano, while Michael Rispoli was the first to read for the part. Both were given other roles when James Gandolfini was chosen, Van Zandt as Silvio Dante (a character he pitched himself) and Rispoli as Jackie Aprile.
    • Max Casella (Benny Fazio) originally auditioned for the parts of Matt Bevilaqua and Jackie Aprile, Jr. Both characters only lasted one season, but Benny remained until the final episode.
    • Tony Sirico and Frank Vincent auditioned for the role of Uncle Junior. Sirico was offered the role of Paulie instead. Vincent joined the cast as Phil in the fifth season.
  • Star Trek: The franchise does this a lot (often overlapping with You Look Familiar as a number of actors played one-shot roles and then moved up to playing recurring or regular characters):
    • DeForest Kelley was originally offered the part of Spock. He turned it down, but eventually accepted the role of Dr. McCoy (the first two pilots had different doctor characters). Nichelle Nichols also claimed she was offered the role.
    • Patrick Stewart auditioned three times. Once for Data and twice for Picard. Once bald and once wearing a hairpiece.
    • Marina Sirtis and Denise Crosby were originally going to play Yar and Troi respectively but switched roles at the last minute.
    • Rosalind Cho auditioned for Tasha Yar. She would later play Keiko O'Brien.
    • Jeffrey Combs auditioned for the part of Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation. When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rolled around, he was eventually cast in two different recurring roles, Brunt and Weyoun. The latter was meant to be a one-shot character (he was killed off in his first appearance) but the writers liked him so much they made the character's species a race of clones so they could bring him back, and he became a major villain in the series. Along with a few one-shot guest characters, he also played the recurring role of Shran on Star Trek: Enterprise, who was in line for a Promotion to Opening Titles until the series was canceled.
    • Andrew Robinson tried out for the part of Odo before being cast as Garak.
    • The producers of DS9 were so impressed by Alexander Siddig's performance in A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia that they intended to offer him the role of Sisko, until they actually met him and realized he was far too young for the part (having been aged up for the film). Instead, they cast him in the role of the station's doctor, originally called Julian Amoros but renamed Julian Bashir to better suit Siddig's background.
    • Tim Russ auditioned for the part of Geordi LaForge on TNG. He played a number of one-shot guest roles in the franchise before being cast as Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager.
    • Eric Menyuk was a finalist for the role of Data on TNG; he ended up playing the recurring role of the Traveler, Wesley Crusher's alien mentor.
    • Robert Picardo desperately wanted to be cast in Voyager, but as Neelix, whom Picardo was convinced would become the show's Breakout Character. Thankfully he was persuaded to take the "boring" role of the Doctor, turning that role into the breakout character, instead.
  • Stranger Things Joe Keery initially auditioned for the role of Jonathan, which went to Charlie Heaton. Keery went on to be cast as Steve Harrington.
  • Vikings: Clive Standen said that he was actually more interested in the part of Rollo, but nonetheless auditioned for Ragnar, which would turn out to be the lead role for the first four seasons of the show. (Despite early drafts that planned to kill Ragnar in the first season.) After Travis Fimmel was cast as Ragnar, Standen did wind up playing Rollo.
  • Veronica Mars: Amanda Seyfried and Alona Tal were both runner-ups for the title role. They wound up playing the recurring roles of Lily Kane and Meg Manning, respectively.
  • The Walking Dead TV Show:
    • Jon Bernthal was reportedly considered to play Rick Grimes being cast as Shane Walsh.
    • Ethan Embry, who plays Carter in the Season 6 premiere, originally auditioned for the roles of Rick and Shane.
    • Norman Reedus originally auditioned for Merle Dixon. Although he didn't get the part, his performance wowed the producers so much that they created the role of Daryl for him in the show. Ted Huckabee, who plays Alexandria resident Bruce, also auditioned for the role of Merle.
    • Laurie Holden was originally asked to audition for the role of Lori Grimes before she was cast as Andrea.
    • Chad L. Coleman originally auditioned for the role of Morgan Jones. Similar to Reedus, he impressed the producers despite not getting the part that he's one of the actors considered (and ultimately cast) to play Tyreese when the character debuted in Season 3.
    • Markice Moore, who plays the prisoner Andrew in Season 3, originally auditioned for the role of T-Dog.
    • Ross Marquand (who plays Aaron) and Daniel Bonjour (who plays Aiden Monroe) were among those who auditioned for Gareth.
  • The Wire:
    • Lance Reddick auditioned for the roles of Bunk Moreland and Bubbles before being cast as Cedric Daniels. He was told that they were looking for "a name" to fill the Daniels role.
    • Tray Chaney originally auditioned to play Wee-Bey Brice but the producers felt he was too short. They were so impressed with his audition that they created the character of Poot for him to play.
    • Jay Landsman auditioned for the character based on himself before being cast as Dennis Mello.
    • Seth Gilliam auditioned for the role of Stringer Bell before being cast as Ellis Carver.
    • Tristan Mack Wilds auditioned for the role of Randy Wagstaff before being cast as Michael Lee.
    • Gbenga Akinnagbe auditioned for the role of Marlo Stanfield before being cast as Chris Partlow.
    • Jamie Hector auditioned for the role of Cutty Wise before being cast as Marlo Stanfield.
    • Isiah Whitlock Jr. auditioned for the role of Lester Freamon before being cast as Clay Davis.
    • Michael B. Jordan auditioned before casting director Alexa L. Fogel in New York City for the role of Bodie. He was called back twice and the auditions went well, but he was turned down for the part because Fogel thought he was too young. The part went to Jordan's friend J.D. Williams, who grew up in the same hometown with Jordan in Newark, New Jersey.
    • Anwan Glover auditioned for the roles of Marlo Stanfield, Fruit and Drac before being cast as Slim Charles.
    • Donnell Rawlings was considered for the role of Omar before being cast as recurring character Damien Price.
    • Jermaine Crawford auditioned for the role of Michael Lee before being cast as Dukie Weems.
    • Michael Kostroff originally auditioned for the part of Frank Barlow before being cast as Maurice Levy.
    • Reg E. Cathey auditioned for the roles of Cedric Daniels and Lester Freamon. He was later cast in the show's fourth season as Norman Wilson.

     Web Video 

     Western Animation 
  • In Regular Show, Mark Hamill auditioned for Pops, but Sam Marin already got the role, so J.G. Quintel had him audition for Skips.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • Tim Curry had originally been cast as the Joker, but he had to drop out because doing the Joker's laugh was too hard on his vocal cords, so he was replaced by Mark Hamill. Curry eventually guest starred in the Batman Beyond episode "Final Cut" as Mutro Botha.
    • Kevin Conroy initially auditioned for the role of Detective Harvey Bullock. Conroy believed that voicing the titular character would be boring and read for the part only at the behest of the crew.
  • Clancy Brown originally auditioned for Clark Kent on Superman: The Animated Series. According to Bruce Timm, when he was asked to portray Lex Luthor instead, Brown's initial response was this.
    Am I ever gonna get to play a good guy?
  • The Simpsons: Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith auditioned for both Bart and Lisa. For Smith, the casting director believed her distinctive voice was too high for Bart, and offered her Lisa instead. Cartwright, meanwhile, had been offered her choice between the two, and chose Bart because she liked his mischievous characteristics more.
  • Jeremy Shada auditioned for the role of Keith in Voltron: Legendary Defender before he was cast as Lance.

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