8 of the most surprising failed auditions by famous actors

·4-min read
Left to right: Taylor Lautner, Emma Stone and Timotheé Chalamet (Getty Images)
Left to right: Taylor Lautner, Emma Stone and Timotheé Chalamet (Getty Images)

It’s difficult to imagine the Titanic without Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack, opposite Kate Winslet’s Rose. Yet before DiCaprio was cast, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp were all considered for the part.

With any starring role in a blockbuster film comes a string of rejected actors. Though it may devastate them at the time, most of the actors have since agreed that they weren’t right for the part, and praised the peers who did go on to play the coveted role.

Here are eight memorable times a now-famous actor got rejected from a major film:

Emma Stone

Emma Stone could have been Alice in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice and Wonderland’ (Getty Images)
Emma Stone could have been Alice in Tim Burton’s ‘Alice and Wonderland’ (Getty Images)

The La La Land  star said that she auditioned for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. She told Timotheé Chalamet for Variety: “Oh, my God, when I auditioned for Alice in Wonderland... not getting a Tim Burton movie is really devastating.” The part eventually went to Australian actor Mia Wasikowska.

Timothée Chalamet

Timothée Chalamet revealed that he tested for ‘Spider-Man’ (Getty Images)
Timothée Chalamet revealed that he tested for ‘Spider-Man’ (Getty Images)

In the same interview, Call Me By Your Name star Timotheée Chalamet told Stone that he tested for a part in Spider-Man.

“I went up for all these things, and tested for Spider-Man, and I didn’t get it, and a Tim Burton movie, too, and these things weren’t happening," he said.

Chalamet has since landed a part in an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as an early incarnation of inventor Willy Wonka. Burton previously directed Johnny Depp in the role for his 2005 film.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal was in the running for a role in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (Getty Images)
Jake Gyllenhaal was in the running for a role in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (Getty Images)

The Brokeback Mountain actor recalled bombing an audition for The Lord Of The Rings. “I remember going to this room. There was a lot of stage directions and no lines… It was just like finding the ring… and I remember I didn’t really do it because I didn’t really understand because there were no lines,” Gyllenhaal told Jimmy Fallon.

“So I sort of walked up, and opened [a box] up and I was like ‘Is that good?’ Literally Peter Jackson was like *face palm*.”

Taylor Launter

The ‘Twilight’ star could have been the face of Disney’s ‘Camp Rock’ (Getty Images)
The ‘Twilight’ star could have been the face of Disney’s ‘Camp Rock’ (Getty Images)

Before the Jonas Brothers got their parts starring in Disney’s Camp Rock, a different 2000s teen hearthrob was in the running for the role. "Taylor Lautner did audition, and we liked him a lot," director Matthew Diamond told Insider. "I think we kind of said he wasn’t exactly right for the part."

"Taylor Lautner did audition, and we liked him a lot," Diamond added. "I think we kind of said he wasn’t exactly right for the part." The director said that they could "tell how talented he was" but he wasn’t "quite Shane Gray enough".

"I remember thinking he’s really good-looking and quite charismatic," Diamond added.  Even though Lautner didn’t star in the Disney hit, he landed his iconic role playing Jacob Black in the Twilight franchise, which released in the same year.

The part of Shane Gray went to Joe Jonas, who played alongside his brothers Nick and Kevin.

Matthew McConaughey 

McConaughey could have starred alongside Kate Winslet in the ‘Titanic’ (Getty Images)
McConaughey could have starred alongside Kate Winslet in the ‘Titanic’ (Getty Images)

The Interstellar actor auditioned for Titanic and was ecstatic with how it went. “The audition went really well. Well enough where, when I was left, I was being slapped on the back ... well enough where you go outside and call your agent and say ‘Oh, I nailed it,’" McConaughey said on a 2019 episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.

“And there was a rumour that I got the role and didn’t do it.. This is false,” he added. Despite McConaughey’s feelings about the audition, Leonardo DiCaprio landed the iconic role, and both actors will likely agree their respective careers turned out just fine.

Chris Klein

An audition tape surfaced revealing Klein’s audition tape for ‘Mamma Mia!' (Getty Images)
An audition tape surfaced revealing Klein’s audition tape for ‘Mamma Mia!' (Getty Images)

In an audition tape video that resurfaced years later, American Pie star Chris Klein went for one of the main in roles in the hit Abba musical, Mamma Mia!.

In the tape, Klein is singing “Lay All Your Love On Me” in auditioning to play Sky, Sophie’s lover. The role eventually went to Dominic Cooper.

John Krasinski

Chris Evans was chosen to play Captain America over John Krasinski (Getty Images for Paramount Pictu)
Chris Evans was chosen to play Captain America over John Krasinski (Getty Images for Paramount Pictu)

“My agent called and said, ‘They’re going to go with Chris Evans,’” Krasinski told Variety about losing the role of Captain America in 2011.

“And I remember I said, ‘Yeah, look at him. He’s Captain America.’”

In an interview on The Ellen Show, Krasinski elaborated: "This is a true story. I was putting the suit on, and the [costume] guy was like, ‘This is really momentous.’ And I said, ‘Yes.’"

Reece Witherspoon

Reece Witherspoon could have played main character Cher in ‘Clueless’ (Getty)
Reece Witherspoon could have played main character Cher in ‘Clueless’ (Getty)

There were many contenders for Clueless’s Cher Horowitz, including Angelina Jolie who sent in an audition tape.

“I met with Reese [Witherspoon] because everyone said, ‘This girl’s amazing. She’s going to be huge,’" said Clueless director and writer Amy Heckerling.

“I saw some movie where she [Witherspoon] had a southern accent. Maybe it was on TV, a movie of the week. But I did see some scenes of hers and went: Wow. She’s amazing. But Alicia [Silverstone] is Cher,” she told Vanity Fair.

Alicia Silverstone went on to won Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in Clueless at the 1996 Academy Awards.