Imagine The Devil Wears Prada without Anne Hathaway, Pretty Women minus Julia Roberts, or Star Wars without Harrison Ford as Han Solo. These roles defined these stars’ careers – but they almost missed out on them.
Today Anne can pretty much take her pick when it comes to parts in movies but 15 years ago, she had to struggle to get noticed. She almost didn’t land the role of Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada because studio bosses feared she wasn’t well known enough.
“I was the ninth choice,” she recently revealed when appearing as a guest on RuPaul's Drag Race, which saw her giving a pep talk to the competing drag queens ahead of their musical-theatre challenge.
She said she had to fight tooth and nail to land the life-changing role.
“But I got it! Hang in there; never give up,” the 38-year-old star added.
Anne was only 23 when she starred as Andy, who lands a job at a fashion magazine as an assistant to the formidable editor, Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep.
But according to Variety, the movie bosses were looking for a well-known star to portray Andy and initially wanted Rachel McAdams (42). Having featured in The Notebook and Mean Girls, Rachel’s career was peaking at the time, but she reportedly declined the role because she didn’t want to go into mainstream movies.
“I'm not going to make movies just to make movies,” said Rachel in 2007 during an interview with Elle.
But Rachel’s loss was Anne’s gain and the rest is movie history.
We take a look at other famous roles that were almost played by other actors.
Charlize Theron as Roxie Hart in Chicago
The Mad Max: Fury Road star was originally cast as Roxie in the 2002 Oscar-winning musical. But when another director took over the project, she had to audition all over again – and ended up losing the dream role to Renée Zellweger.
“I was really bummed about it. And I think because I had it, I was like, ‘Ah . . . I’m gonna make this movie’ and I got kicked off it,” she recalls. “The director didn’t want to make the movie with me.”
Al Pacino as Han Solo in Star Wars
The Hollywood legend passed on playing Han Solo in the first film of the blockbuster series because the script was too “out there”.
“It was mine for the taking. But I didn’t understand the script,” the Oscar winner later admitted. Al, along with rising ’70s stars Jack Nicholson, Chevy Chase and Bill Murray, were among those considered for the part of the dashing scoundrel who would eventually be played by Harrison Ford.
Sandra Bullock as Maggie in Million Dollar Baby
She’d tried for years to produce the film through her production company, Fortis Films, but was turned down by every studio in Hollywood.
“They were like, ‘Female boxing movies don’t sell’. I was like, ‘This is the most incredible piece’,” Sandra said, referring to the script based on the short stories by FX O’Toole.
She really wanted to play the lead role but by the time the movie was eventually greenlighted and went into production in 2004, Sandra was committed to making Miss Congeniality 2, so the part went to Hilary Swank.
The film went on to win four Oscars for best picture, best director (Clint Eastwood), best actress and best supporting actor (Morgan Freeman).
Molly Ringwald as Vivian in Pretty Woman
The Pretty in Pink star was unimpressed with the Pretty Woman script and turned down the role – but looking back she says it was for the best.
“The script was okay, but I gotta say, Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that,” Molly says.