Lucille Ball as Scarlett O'Hara
Twelve years before "I Love Lucy," the wacky redhead was one of dozens of Hollywood starlets who read for the role of the feisty Southern belle in 1939's "Gone With the Wind." Of course, the part eventually went to a Brit—Vivien Leigh—but we can't help but imagine how Lucy would have played some scenes. Leigh thinks she's so special because she can make a dress out of window drapes? Lucy created couture out of a potato sack! Game, set, match.
Jerry Lewis in 'Some Like It Hot'
Jerry Lewis had an odd reason for turning down the role of Jerry/Daphne (which earned Jack Lemmon an Oscar nom) in the 1959 movie that some consider the greatest film comedy ever made: He didn't want to dress in drag. Really, Jerry? Thirteen years later, he had no problem dressing in ruffles and face paint to play a clown in a concentration camp in "The Day the Clown Cried," a vanity project that was apparently so unwatchable, the footage has never seen the light of day.
Rock Hudson as Atticus Finch
The hero of 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird" will always be American's favorite lawyer and dad, a rock of morality and kindness. And he could have been played by Rock Hudson, who was offered the role before Gregory Peck. Given Hudson's complicated interior life—decades of playing Hollywood's hunkiest leading man while hiding that he was gay—the actor could have put an interesting new spin on the character.
Shirley Jones as Eliza Doolittle
You may remember her as the singing matriarch with the velvet pantsuits and pixie cut in "The Partridge Family," but Jones was on the short list of actresses considered for the Cockney flower-seller in 1964's "My Fair Lady" before Audrey Hepburn signed on. Just imagine Eliza singing "I Could Have Danced All Night" backed up by a heartthrob teen with a mullet and a freckled little girl shaking a tambourine to the mysterious beat in her own head.
Paul McCartney as Romeo
The cutest Beatle as the cutest Shakespearean character? It could have happened! But alas, Franco Zefferelli instead plucked 16-year-old Leonard Whiting from obscurity to star in the 1968 screen adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet." (Whiting then promptly dropped back into obscurity.) But seriously, would it have killed the director to insert a scene of Romeo standing under Juliet's balcony strumming the guitar and singing "And I Love Her"?
Lee Majors as Joe Buck
Had a TV commitment not gotten in the way, the future Six Million Dollar Man would have played the incompetent hustler in 1969's "Midnight Cowboy," a role that landed Jon Voight an Oscar nomination. Now that we're thinking about it, put those bionic body parts in a hot young Texas stud-for-hire, and you've got a verrry interesting film.
Sylvester Stallone as Han Solo
Even Stallone knew his doughy, dumb-guy face had no chance of landing the heroic role in 1977's "Star Wars" when he read for director George Lucas. But let's just picture how it might have been: Instead of stoically saying, "I know," when Princess Leia confesses her love, Stallone would have staggered about yelling, "Leiiii-aaaa!"
John Denver in 'An Officer and a Gentleman'
Back in 1982, the ladies of American let out a collective sigh when Richard Gere, in his dress-white uniform, scooped up Debra Winger and carried her off into the sunset. Can you picture sweet but lightweight country crooner John Denver—who claimed in an interview that he turned down the role—doing that? Nope, neither can we.
O.J. Simpson as the Terminator
Hard to believe, but in 1984, Simpson was still known as the adorable former football star who was a delightful addition to comedies like "The Naked Gun." So when studio execs suggested that "Terminator" director James Cameron consider him for the role of a ruthless killer, the director took a pass, saying that he was just too "likable, goofy and innocent." Besides giving TV news shows a slew of scary clips to air during the 1994 O.J. trial, in this alternate reality, Governor Schwarzenegger would have lost his best campaign lines.
Tom Cruise in 'Footloose'
Sure, Tom Cruise proved in "Risky Business" that he had a few good dance moves, but could he pull off the pouty swagger that Kevin Bacon brought to the role of a small-town rebel in this 1984 film? More importantly, if Cruise had been cast, would we be playing 6 Degrees of Tom Cruise instead?
John Travolta as Forrest Gump
Go ahead, try to imagine anyone but Tom Hanks doing that very specific southern drawl. You can't. But what we can imagine is John Travolta, who reportedly turned down the title role in 1994's "Forrest Gump," winding up with Jenny at Studio 54, dancing with Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger.
Claire Danes in 'Titanic'
Just a couple years after she starred in "My So-Called Life," Claire Danes threw her name in the hat for the society-girl role played by Kate Winslet in this 1997 blockbuster. Thank goodness she didn't get the part, or we would have had to collectively deal with the guilt of watching forever-15 Angela Chase pose naked for Jack. Ewww. Even worse, her co-star Jared Leto was discussed for the role of Jack. Just imagine—instead of racing through the doomed ship to stay alive, the erstwhile Jordan Catalano would have been chilling out below, smoking some weed.
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