Oops! You Wouldn't Believe Which A-Listers Passed on Oscar Contender 'La La Land'

La_la_Land_Comp - H 2016
Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival; Getty Images

La_la_Land_Comp - H 2016

There's a scene in La La Land in which Emma Stone's character imagines an alternate life for her had a single event taken a different turn. Sound familiar, Miles Teller and Emma Watson? Those two originally were attached to Damien Chazelle's modern-day musical before Stone and co-star Ryan Gosling came aboard, and they must be kicking themselves after La La Land's over-the-moon reception at the Toronto and Venice festivals.

Teller, of course, toplined Chazelle's previous film, Whiplash, and was far along into a deal to star in La La Land. But he told Esquire in 2015 that he received a call from his agent, saying, 'Hey, I just got a call from Lionsgate. Damien told them that he no longer thinks you're creatively right for the project. He's moving on without you,' " Teller told the magazine. But sources close to the project say that's not how it went down.

Teller was holding out for more money and his deal never closed. One source says the CAA-repped actor balked at a $4 million offer, and as negotiations lagged, Teller's window of availability began to close (he would have needed to train as a pianist for weeks before the August 2015 shoot began but instead shot Allegiant, the third film in the Divergent franchise, which has now been jettisoned to TV by Lionsgate for its fourth and final installment).

As for why Watson fell out, sources say money wasn't a factor (after all, the actress made eight figures for the Harry Potter franchise). But she waffled over the time commitment and instead opted to do the live-action Beauty and the Beast for Disney. With La La Land stars Stone and Gosling are being hailed for their performances (Stone won the top actress prize at Venice and the film took top honors at Toronto), many involved with the project are asking, "What were Teller and Watson thinking?"

A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.