When we think about iconic films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, La La Land, or The Matrix, it’s hard to imagine what those movies would have been like with another actor or actress in the lead. But believe it or not, there are several popular movies that were almost much different due to casting.

Putting together a high-profile movie cast is like a puzzle — each piece needs to fit together harmoniously in order to produce a quality finished product. But securing an actor for a project often takes months, and most times, there’s several key players that have a say in the matter. A director may be fully committed to one actor for a role, but the producers have to be on board as well. It doesn’t always have to do with who’s best for the part, either. A more well-known actor is a bankable choice to lead a major motion picture, even when an up-and-comer might fit the role better.

While the actors below are all extremely talented in their own right, that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed any part. In order to secure these famous movie roles, something had to go wrong elsewhere in order for it to go right for them. When the first-choice actor got injured, or left due to creative differences, or simply turned down the role, these actors got their chances to shine. In a couple of cases, their work resulted in Academy Award nominations and wins.

Keep reading to learn about the famous actors who were the second (or third, fourth, or fifth) choice for these iconic movie roles — but ended up nailing their performances.

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