Stars Misaligned: Charlie Hunnam Quits 'Fifty Shades' and 15 Other Casting Near Misses
5:19 PM PDT 10/15/2013 by Seth Abramovitch
Alas, we'll never know what an adaptation of E.L. James' steamy read would look like with the "Sons of Anarchy" star in the lead -- but this is hardly Hollywood's first last-minute change of heart. Here are 16 that altered Hollywood history forever.
Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam shocked fans the world over when it was announced that he would not be playing Christian Grey in Universal's Fifty Shades of Grey movie adaptation. Universal cited scheduling conflicts, but sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the actor, 33, was overwhelmed with the attention he received from being cast in the movie and got cold feet about carrying such a high-profile project. Who will fill his shoes? Once Upon a Time star Jamie Dornan and True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard are rumored to be in the running.
'Gravity': Angelina Jolie & Robert Downey Jr. Out, Sandra Bullock & George Clooney In
Angelina Jolie had originally been attached to star in Alfonso Cuaron's space-thriller. Shortly after she pulled out -- reportedly over a salary dispute -- Downey entered talks to play Lt. Matt Kowalski. Other actresses to screen test for the physically demanding role of Dr. Ryan Stone: Marion Cotillard and Scarlett Johansson. Natalie Portman was cast in the summer of 2010, but she too passed on the project, at which point Sandra Bullock was offered the role. Downey backed out shortly after that, and after Bullock signed on officially in Dec. 2010, George Clooney took the male lead.
'Knocked Up': Anne Hathaway Out, Katherine Heigl In
Anne Hathaway was originally Judd Apatow's choice to play the female lead opposite Seth Rogen in Knocked Up and had signed on for the role. She pulled out, however, because the director-writer planned to use real footage of a woman giving birth in the film (according to Apatow). The part went to Katherine Heigl, minting her movie career.
'The Lord of the Rings': Stuart Townsend Out, Viggo Mortensen In
Four days into shooting the first part of his fantasy epic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, director Peter Jackson realized his choice to play Aragorn -- Irish actor Stuart Townsend -- was too young to play the lead. Viggo Mortensen was chosen as his replacement, catapulting the longtime film actor into superstardom.
'The Lovely Bones': Ryan Gosling Out, Mark Wahlberg In
Having gained significant weight to play the part of grieving dad Jack Salmon, Ryan Gosling pulled out of Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones one month before shooting, citing his relatively young age of 29. Mark Wahlberg, 37 at the time, replaced him.
'Her': Samantha Morton Out, Scarlett Johansson In
In his new film, Spike Jonze had Samantha Morton on set to voice the character of Samantha, a sentient smartphone with whom Joaquin Phoenix's character falls in love. As he explains it, "It was only in postproduction, when we started editing, that we realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and I had created together." Scarlett Johansson, friends with the filmmaker since meeting on the set of Lost in Translation, dubbed in Samantha's lines.
'Panic Room': Nicole Kidman Out, Jodie Foster In
David Fincher's survival tale of a mother and daughter trapped inside a high-tech survival chamber as their home is robbed was originally to star Nicole Kidman. But she left after 18 days of shooting because of a flare-up of a knee injury sustained on the set of Moulin Rouge. Jodie Foster, as we all know, was her effective replacement and was offered just nine days to rehearse before stepping before the cameras. But did you know that Kristen Stewart was not Fincher's original choice to play the daughter? That would have been Hayden Panettiere, who dropped out of the project, reportedly because Fincher had difficulty working with the Heroes star.
'The Paperboy': Sofia Vergara Out, Nicole Kidman In
It was Modern Family star Sofia Vergara who was originally slated to play Charlotte Bless in Lee Daniels' 2012 film. Ultimately, she felt the requirements of the role -- which included peeing on Zac Efron after his character is stung by a jellyfish -- weren't a good fit. Nicole Kidman stepped in instead. "I was so glad that I didn't have to pee in anyone's face. I was glad it was not me," Vergara later said. "For [Kidman], that's nothing. For me, it would have been three weeks of stress. 'How am I going to pee in there?' "
'Precious': Helen Mirren Out, Mariah Carey In
It was Dame Helen Mirren who was originally set to play the concerned social worker in Lee Daniels' breakout film, Precious. But according to the director, she left the project to star in something "bigger." Daniels had worked with Mariah Carey on Tennessee and cast her in the role on the strength of that performance. It required of the diva a famously unglamorous look, well worth it considering it wiped away the memory of 2001's Glitter.
'Raiders of the Lost Ark': Tom Selleck Out, Harrison Ford In
In one of the most legendary casting near misses in Hollywood history, Tom Selleck had been offered the role of Indiana Jones, but his commitment to hit series Magnum, P.I. prevented him from taking it. With three weeks to go before cameras started rolling in June 1980, Spielberg convinced producer George Lucas to cast Harrison Ford on the strength of his performance as Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. Phew.
'Side Effects': Blake Lively Out, Rooney Mara In
Steven Soderbergh had cast Blake Lively as the lead in his psychological thriller. But the choice proved so unpopular -- Megan Ellison's Annapurna Pictures reportedly pulled out over his choice -- that the writer-director went after the edgier Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star instead.
'Star Trek Into Darkness': Benicio Del Toro Out, Benedict Cumberbatch In
Benicio Del Toro hadn't signed on to play the top-secret villain in J.J. Abrams'Star Trek sequel, but he was the director's first choice -- Abrams wanted a Latino actor to reprise the part of Khan originated by Ricardo Montalban. The two met several times to discuss the possibility, but in the end, Del Toro passed, reportedly over money. Also considered: Mexican actor Demian Bichir. Ultimately, the part went to the very non-Latino Benedict Cumberbatch, who taped his audition with an iPhone.
'The Matrix': Will Smith Out, Keanu Reeves In
This has got to hurt: Will Smith was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix, which he reportedly turned down over concerns as to whether or not the Wachowskis could achieve the "bullet time" effects they described in their script. (For those still wondering, they achieved them.) Smith's choice of a replacement project? Legendary turkey Wild Wild West, which put Hollywood off blockbuster Westerns until -- well, last summer's even bigger turkey, The Lone Ranger. Keanu Reeves, of course, stepped in.
'There Will Be Blood': Kel O'Neill Out, Paul Dano In
The part of Eli Sunday originally went to Kel O'Neill, but Paul Thomas Anderson replaced him two weeks into the 60-day shoot with Paul Dano, whose performance in The Ballad of Jack and Rose -- in which he starred with Daniel Day-Lewis -- had seriously impressed him. Dano had only four days to prepare for the part and extensive reshoots were required. A New York Times Magazine profile suggested O'Neill pulled out because he was intimidated by Day-Lewis' habit of staying in character when the cameras weren't shooting, something both Anderson and Day-Lewis deny.
'Titanic': Reba McEntire Out, Kathy Bates In
Country crooner Reba McEntire was James Cameron's first choice to play Molly Brown, but she turned down the role because shooting on the epic overlapped with her touring schedule. Kathy Bates got the part and recalled of the filming, "There was a long shoot. And a lot of people thought that it was gonna be a disaster movie of another kind, that it was never gonna make any money."
'X-Men': Dougray Scott Out, Hugh Jackman In
Director Bryan Singer wanted Russell Crowe to be his Wolverine, but when his salary demands were not met, he considered several other actors, ultimately landing on Scottish actor Dougray Scott. It was Scott who chose not to take the role, citing scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II. Hugh Jackman, virtually unknown at the time, got the part three weeks into filming.