12 stars who lost out on major roles: Dwayne Johnson, Emma Stone, Kaley Cuoco and more

Can you imagine Matthew McConaughey as Jack from Titanic? How about John Krasinski as Captain America? Here are the mega movie roles A-list stars missed out on…

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Joe Jonas recently revealed he had auditioned for the 2012 film The Amazing Spider-Man, losing out on the main role to British actor Andrew Garfield.

“I remember years ago I was up for Spider-Man and I was so, so excited and it was the year Andrew Garfield got it. Obviously, he was the right one,” Jonas told the Just For Variety podcast. “In the moment, you’re destroyed or you’re defeated. But you realise this person was brilliant.”

Although Jonas never got the chance to wear the Spidey suit (alongside Josh Hutcherson, Alden Ehrenreich, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Anton Yelchin, who also auditioned for the role), he’s about to hit the big screen in the hugely anticipated Devotion, alongside Jonathan Majors and Glen Powell.

Here are 11 more stars who missed out on career-defining roles…

1. Emma Stone, Alice in Alice in Wonderland

Emma Stone (left) lost out on the role of Alice in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to Mia Wasikowska. Photos: Getty Images, Disney

She may have an Oscar, but that doesn’t mean Emma Stone gets every role she wants. The actress has spoken about how she missed out on the lead in 2010 film Alice in Wonderland with the part going to Australian actress Mia Wasikowska.

“When I auditioned for Alice in Wonderland... not getting a Tim Burton movie is really devastating,” she told fellow actor Timothee Chalamet in an interview for Variety.

2. Mindy Kaling, Lillian in Bridesmaids

Mindy Kaling (left) auditioned for the role of Lillian in Bridesmaids, which went to Maya Rudolph. Photos: Getty Images, Universal Pictures

Although she has written, starred in and produced her own award-winning TV shows, Mindy Kaling has still experienced the disappointment that comes with not getting the role she wanted.

The actress has revealed she read for, but didn’t get the role of Lillian in the smash hit 2011 comedy Bridesmaids.

“It was for Maya Rudolph's part,” she told Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. “I practiced it so much and was so into it and I loved that whole cast. That was one that was a heartbreaker.”

3. Jake Gyllenhaal, Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings

Jake Gyllenhaal (left) has revealed he messed up his audition for The Lord of the Rings, with Viggo Mortensen winning the role of Aragorn. Photos: Getty Images, New Line Cinema

He’s starred in acclaimed action and drama films, as well as being the rumoured subject of one or two Taylor Swift songs, but Brokeback Mountain actor Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t quite make it to Middle Earth.

“I remember going to this room,” he told talk show host Jimmy Fallon about auditioning for the trilogy. “There was a lot of stage directions and no lines… It was just like finding the ring… and I remember I didn’t really do it because I didn’t really understand because there were no lines.

“So, I sort of walked up, and opened [a box] up and I was like ‘Is that good?’ Literally Peter Jackson was like *face palm*.”

4. Jessica Biel, Allie in The Notebook

Jessica Biel lost out to Rachel McAdams (right) for the role of Allie in The Notebook. Photos: Getty Images, New Line Cinema

Jessica Biel has had her fair share of missing out on coveted roles, but she’s in good company with Britney Spears and Reese Witherspoon who also lost out on the role of Allie in 2004’s The Notebook.

The Notebook [is a film] that I wanted so badly,” she told Elle. “I was in the middle of shooting Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and I auditioned with Ryan Gosling in my trailer while covered in blood. [Director] Nick Cassavetes put me through the wringer in an interesting, excitingly creative way. But there's a million that get away. We're gluttons for punishment. It’s just rejection.”

5. Dwayne Johnson, Jack Reacher in Jack Reacher

Dwayne Johnson said losing out on the role of Jack Reacher to Tom Cruise made him work harder. Photos: Getty Images, Paramount Pictures

As one of the most upbeat and optimistic actors in Hollywood, it’s no surprise that Dwayne Johnson has turned a famous rejection into a positive.

Replying to a tweet from a fan which asked: “Why isn’t @TheRock Jack Reacher?” the wrestler-turned-actor tweeted back: “Yup, luv the character. Bout 10 yrs ago I went after the role, but [Tom Cruise] got it. Was great motivation for me to always stay hungry.”

6. Tom Holland, Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Tom Holland (left) auditioned for the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that went to John Boyega. Photos: Getty Images, Lucasfilm / Disney

He might have made his mark as Spider-man, but British actor Tom Holland was very nearly part of the Star Wars universe rather than Marvel’s.

“I was like four or five auditions in, and I think I was auditioning for John Boyega’s role,” Holland revealed. “I remember doing this scene with this lady, bless her, and she was just a drone. So, I was doing all of this like, ‘We gotta get back to the ship!’ and she was just going, ‘Bleep, bloop, bloop, bleep bloop'.

“I just couldn’t stop laughing. I found it so funny. And I felt really bad, because she was trying really hard to be a convincing android or drone or whatever they’re called.

“Yeah, I obviously didn’t get the part. That wasn’t my best moment.”

7. John Krasinski, Captain America in The Avengers

The Office star John Krasinski has been sanguine about losing the role of Captain America to Chris Evans. Photos: Getty Images, Marvel Studios

He’s carved out a successful career as a writer and director since his hit show The Office ended, but that doesn’t mean John Krasinski always gets what he wants.

“My agent called and said: ‘They’re going to go with Chris Evans,’” the actor told Variety about losing the role of Captain America in 2011. “And I remember I said, ‘Yeah, look at him. He’s Captain America.’”

8. Kaley Cuoco, Birdie in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Kaley Cuoco (left) admitted she was "devastated" to lose a role to Kate Hudson. Photos: EPA, Netflix

The Flight Attendant star has shared how she lost out on a role of Birdie Jay to Kate Hudson in Netflix’s sequel to their hit Knives Out.

“I was so convinced that my bags were packed for Greece. And then I didn’t get it,” she told Glamour. “I was so devastated. And I’m not [normally] devastated over roles. I had done chemistry reads, I had done Zooms. And I didn’t get it. I cried and I cried all night long. I was gutted over that.”

9. Matthew McConaughey, Jack in Titanic

Matthew McConaughey thought he had "nailed" the role of Jack in Titanic, which famously went to Leonardo DiCaprio. Photos: Getty Images, 20th Century Fox

Although he’s recently dabbled in politics, the Oscar winner is still an actor through and through, right down to dealing with rejection.

“The audition went really well,” he told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live about going for the role of Jack in Titanic. “Well enough where, when I was left, I was being slapped on the back. Well enough where you go outside and call your agent and say ‘Oh, I nailed it’”.

10. Elizabeth Olsen, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones

Elizabeth Olsen called her audition for Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones "terrible". Photos: Getty Images. HBO

The actress who landed the role of Wanda in the Avengers had previously auditioned to be the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.

Calling it the "the most awkward audition", Olsen tried out for the role with a monologue from the end of season one, but the part eventually went to British actress Emilia Clarke.

“They didn't know if they wanted a British accent or not,” she said. “So, you did it in both. It was terrible. Anytime someone says, ‘Bad audition story.’ That’s one I remember.”

11. Eddie Redmayne, Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne said the casting director was unimpressed with his audition for the role of Kylo Ren which went to Adam Driver. Photos: Getty Images, Lucasfilm / Disney

The British Oscar winner missed out on the role which Adam Driver made his own — Kylo Ren.

“With films that top secret, they don’t give you the actual lines. So, they give you a scene from Pride and Prejudice, but then they tell you you're auditioning for the baddie,” he told Uproxx. “If you're me, you then put some ridiculous voice on … [The casting director] was just sitting there, and I was trying again and again with different versions of my kind of ‘koohh paaaah’ [Darth Vader breathing sound] voice. And after like 10 shots she’s like, ‘You got anything else?’ I was like, ‘No.’”

Updated: November 27, 2022, 5:09 AM