They Went In for One Role, But Came Out with Another

April 5, 2015

When Lily James originally auditioned for the movie Cinderella, she went in for one of the less-than-virtuous step sisters. After giving the audition her best efforts, the casting director suggested she read for the part of Cinderella as well. James was elated when, after the drawn-out process of screen tests, she was told she indeed landed the lead role. Lily had always loved Disney princesses as a child. “I was completely infatuated with all of them. I had the little slippers and would parade around the house before my brothers sort of beat me up and shattered my dreams of being a princess!” Now she got to play one.

Lily James certainly is not the first one to land a different role from the one she initially auditioned for. Wizard of Oz Scarecrow Ray Bolger was called in for the part of the Tin Woodman at first–much to his dismay; but, Bolger was under contract to play any role that MGM assigned him, and at the time, Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Scarecrow. Fortunately for Bolger, the roles were eventually switched. Unfortunately, the aluminum-powdered make up used to transform Ebsen into the Tinman coated his lungs and left him close to death, so he was unable to play the part.

When virtually unknown John Krasinski auditioned for The Office, he was called in for power-hungry Dwight Schrute. However, John strongly felt he was better suited for the mild-mannered yet prankster salesman Jim Halpert. After a bit of a wild goose chase, it turns out John did end up getting to play Jim–and Rainn Wilson took the part of Dwight even though he originally auditioned for the well-intentioned but offensive Michael Scott.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YJZvulCZRc&app=desktop

And you know the golden-horned Asgardian God of Mischief Loki played by Tom Hiddleston? Well, he originally auditioned for the part of…can you guess? Thor! “At first Tom came in for Thor,” producer Craig Kyle shared. “He trained. He came in. He was ripped. He did a tremendous job, but he wasn’t Thor.” Of course, Chris Hemsworth came to be known as Thor.

Rachel McAdams initially auditioned for the starring role of Cady Heron in the Tina Fey-scripted comedy Mean Girls. And Lindsay Lohan first read for the villain, the leader of the Plastics, Regina George. However, according to Vulture due to Lohan’s success in Freaky Friday, Director Mark Waters switched their roles. “[Freaky Friday] was a much bigger hit than we expected it to be. Sherry Lansing, who was heading Paramount at the time, told us, ‘We have to have Linday play the lead in Mean Girls. It’s just not going to work having her play the villain because she now has an audience that won’t accept that.'” Rachael McAdams was then cast as Regina because Fey believed that McAdams’ “kind and polite” manner made her well-suited for such a mean-spirited character.

All of these examples go to show just how fluid the casting experience can be for not just the actor, but for producers, directors, and executives alike. But despite everyone’s convictions, hopefully what is best for the project will win out. Have you ever had strong convictions you should be cast in a different part from which you auditioned? Did you ever land a different role from the one you went in for? Please share!