This Star Almost Had Rosie O'Donnell's Role in "A League of Their Own"

The actor says not getting the role was a "heartbreaking" loss.

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It's hard to imagine our favorite shows and films without our favorite actors. However, plenty of the iconic roles we've come to know and love weren't locked in place from the beginning. In fact, one memorable role in the beloved A League of Their Own could have gone to someone else. In a new interview, Jane Lynch revealed that she almost had Rosie's O'Donnell's part in the film. Read on for more on Lynch and the role she didn't get, and for more celebrities who were turned down, find out which Famous Late Night Host Was Rejected From SNL.

During a Nov. 12 interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Lynch talked about her career, a Friends rumor, and one movie role she didn't end up getting.

"In the '90s, you know what, I auditioned for the movie A League of Their Own in Chicago, and Rosie O'Donnell ended up getting the part," Lynch admitted. "But I auditioned like I had to play baseball, the whole thing. I didn't get it. It was heartbreaking."

Even more heartbreaking for Lynch may be the fact that O'Donnell herself didn't even originally audition to be Doris—the role Lynch lost. According to the American Film Institute, O'Donnell originally read for the part of Marla, which ultimately went to Megan Cavanagh. However, director Penny Marshall liked O'Donnell so much that she changed the part of Doris to better fit the actor into the role.

It's not surprising that Lynch auditioned for a part in the Chicago-based film, as she grew up playing baseball herself south of the city in Dolton, Illinois. In a 2011 interview with Vogue, Lynch said during her early years she had quickly developed into "a huge tomboy who wanted nothing more than to play baseball from sunup to sundown."

But Lynch only revealed her "heartbreaking" loss to O'Donnell for A League of Their Own to dispel a longstanding rumor that she had auditioned for the role of Phoebe on Friends.

"I never auditioned for Phoebe," Lynch told a fan who asked if the rumors were true during WWHL. "I've seen that [rumor] before but that never happened."

Keep reading for other roles that almost went to different actors, and if you're interested in revisiting more iconic roles, Matthew McConaughey Says This Is The Only Rom-Com He'd Do a Sequel to.

1
Al Pacino (Han Solo in Star Wars)

Al Pacino
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That's right, instead of seeing Harrison Ford in this iconic role, we almost got Al Pacino. According to The Independent, The Godfather star told MTV that he was confused by the script, so he turned it down. And for more roles that could have turned out very differently, check out these Iconic Movie Roles That Almost Went to Someone Else.

2
Reese Witherspoon (Cher Horowitz in Clueless)

Reese Witherspoon 2016
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Alicia Silverstone as Cher in Clueless is almost too iconic of a role to think of any differently. However, it turns out Reese Witherspoon almost had a stake in the role.

"I met with Reese Witherspoon, but she never read for it," director Amy Heckerling told Yahoo Entertainment in 2020. "And by that time I was, like, already settled on Alicia [Silverstone], who I love. Who, you know, was in my head while I was writing." And for more fun content delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

3
Matthew McConaughey (Jack Dawson in Titanic)

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It's hard to imagine anyone but Leonardo DiCaprio as one half of Titanic's Jack and Rose. But it almost could have been Matthew McConaughey starring alongside Kate Winslet. During an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Winslet said that when she auditioned for Rose, she actually read her lines alongside McConaughey. And for more on the almost Jack Dawson, discover The 2 Surprising Words Matthew McConaughey Won't Let His Kids Say.

4
Will Smith (Neo in The Matrix)

Will Smith at the premiere of Gemini Man
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The Matrix nearly got the Fresh Prince as its leading man instead of Keanu Reeves. But Will Smith actually turned down the role, saying he "just didn't see it" when it came to the movie.

"I watched Keanu's performance—and very rarely do I say this—but I would have messed it up," Smith told Wired. "I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be." And for roles you may have forgotten, check out these Famous Actors You Didn't Realize Were in Hallmark Christmas Movies.

Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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