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7 Stars Who Were Brutally Honest About Losing Out on Major Roles

Henry Cavill isn't the only actor who's opened up about being recast.

Once an actor plays a role, it's difficult to imagine someone else in their place. But plenty of major stars have lost out on big jobs, whether that's because they weren't chosen in the first place or because they were and were later recast. In a recent example, Henry Cavill announced on Dec. 14 that he would no longer be playing Superman in the DC Extended Universe, two months after telling fans that he would be returning to the character. He played the classic superhero in 2013's Man of Steel, 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and 2017's Justice League. His Superman also had a cameo in this year's Black Adam.

After noting that he'd just had a meeting with DC Studios executives, Cavill wrote on Instagram, "[I]t's sad news, everyone. I will, after all, not be returning as Superman. After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to their hire, this news isn't the easiest, but that's life." The next Superman movie will reportedly focus on a younger version of the character.

The star then went on to say that the "changing of the guard is something that happens" and tell fans that "it's been a fun ride," over though it may be.

Cavill is far from the only actor who has been open with the public about losing a role. Read on for seven more.

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Tom Holland

Tom Holland has been playing Spider-Man for years, but before he was cast as Peter Parker, he tried to make it into a different movie franchise.

Holland auditioned for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but started laughing in his audition because a woman had to pretend to be a droid in the scene.

"I just remember thinking, 'There's no way this lady's going to read the robot's lines opposite me just, because that would be ridiculous,'" Holland said on a 2021 episode of the YouTube series Hot Ones. "And I don't remember what my line was, but it was, 'Let's get back to the Falcon!' and then his lady, bless her, would sit there with full commitment and she just was like, 'Be-do-be-do-be-do-do.'"

The Uncharted star thought it was a joke at first. "I just got the giggles," he said. "You knew when you realize you've got something so wrong? I just couldn't stop laughing."

But, he ultimately doesn't think that's the reason he didn't the part of Finn, a stormtrooper. "I don't think thats the reason why I didn't get the role," Holland said. "I think John Boyega was just better for the role than me."

Amanda Seyfried

Amanda Seyfried at "The Dropout" finale screening in April 2022
DFree / Shutterstock

Amanda Seyfried auditioned to play Glinda in the upcoming movie adaptation of the musical Wicked but lost the role to Ariana Grande.

"I have dreams that I'm still auditioning for Wicked," Seyfried told Backstage in July. "Last summer while I was playing Elizabeth [Holmes on The Dropout], on the weekends I was auditioning in person to play Glinda in the movie version of Wicked—because I wanted it that much that I was like, 'You know what? Yeah, I have to play the last scene of The Dropout on Tuesday. I'll give my Sunday to you.' I literally bent over backwards while playing the hardest role of my life."

While she didn't get the part, she did get something out of the auditioning experience. "I think it also taught me how far I've come as a singer, which I really wanted to prove," she said. "Because ever since [Les Misérables], I was like, I need to be better. I need to do better. So whatever comes next in terms of musicals, I'm finally prepared."

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore was originally cast to play a part that ending up scoring another actor an Oscar nomination. Moore was set to star in the biopic Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but the role ended up going to Melissa McCarthy.

During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live in 2019, Moore was asked how that came to be and responded, "I didn't leave that movie, I was fired. Yeah, [original director] Nicole [Holofcener] fired me. So, yeah, that's the truth. I think she didn't like what I was doing."

Moore explained that they hadn't filmed anything yet when she was replaced. "We had just been kind of rehearsing and doing pre-production and stuff. I think that her idea of where the character was, was different than where my idea of the character was, and so she fired me," she said.

The loss was still raw enough that she hadn't seen the final product at that point. "I haven't yet, 'cause it's still kind of painful," Moore said. "I love Melissa McCarthy. I worship her. I think she's fantastic, so I'm sure she's great."


Lizzo at the Spotify Best New Artist 2020 Party
DFree / Shutterstock

Pop star Lizzo also lost a role to McCarthy.

The singer (real name: Melissa Jefferson) was hoping to play Ursula in the upcoming Little Mermaid live-action movie. But there are evidently no hard feelings. She and McCarthy ended up bonding over their connection to the character, as Lizzo explained to Variety.

"She was like, 'Hi, I'm Melissa,'" Lizzo said. "And I was like, 'Hi, I'm Melissa. And I also auditioned for Ursula.' And she was like, 'Well, why the hell did I get the part?', which is a classic Melissa McCarthy thing to say. And then I was like, 'Girl, because my audition was terrible' … And then she goes, 'This is my daughter Vivian.' And I'm like, 'Get out of here, because my name is Melissa Viviane.' We were looking at each other like, 'What the hell is going on?'"

Lizzo clarified that she didn't actually think her audition was "terrible," despite what she may have said to McCarthy. "Sometimes I like to make jokes," she explained. "My audition was good. You can ask Disney. I don't want to talk too much about it. The singing was great. I'll just say that."

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Oprah Winfrey

Yes, Oprah Winfrey has been turned down for roles, too. In 2018, the talk show host and actor told Adam's Apple that she wanted to be cast in Doubt. The part she was after went to Viola Davis.

Asked if she has to audition for movies, Winfrey said that her fame can actually be a detriment. "I would have to audition for a role. and I've gotten turned down for roles 'cause of the 'Oprah factor,'" she said. This was the issue with the 2008 drama. "I wanted to be in Doubt," she said. "I mean, it's fantastic because Viola got it. She was wonderful. But the director [John Patrick Shanley] told me no because it wasn't long enough to lose the 'Oprah factor.'"

What Winfrey meant was that, because the role was a supporting one, there wouldn't be enough screentime for her to escape into the character. Davis ended up being nominated for an Oscar for the film.

John Krasinski

John Krasinski has revealed that he auditioned to play Captain America Steve Rogers, a part that ended up going to Chris Evans, who played the role in several Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Krasinski said put on a Captain America suit during the audition, but soon found himself intimidated by seeing Chris Hemsworth, who plays Thor.

"I was putting the suit on, and I was halfway up—not wearing any other clothes other than this—and [the costume] was halfway up. Right at that moment, Chris Hemsworth walked by and he was like, 'You look good, mate.' And I was like, Nope. You know what, it's fine. We don't have to do this. He was just like jacked."

The actor added, "So, I just walked away right there. No, I didn't. I acted my heart out that day. But it didn't work out."

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman at WE Day California 2019
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Natalie Portman was cast in a film and had even started rehearsing before being let go. The actor was set to lead 1996's Romeo + Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. But it was determined by executives at 20th Century Fox that she looked too young for the part.

"Fox said it looked like Leonardo DiCaprio was molesting me when we kissed," Portman told The New York Times in 1996. At the time, Portman was only 14, while DiCaprio was 22. The role of Juliet was recast with Claire Danes, who was 16 when the movie filmed.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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