10(5) Actors Who Auditioned for the Role of the Hero

But were Cast as the Villain

A strong antagonist makes for the most compelling stories. Especially in the world of superpowered heroes, a villain needs to work on many different levels or the movie falls flat. Here are 10 actors who were up for the role of a hero in a movie or television series, but were ultimately cast as the villain. With the exception of two entries on this list, all of the actors auditioned and or screen-tested for their respective parts. Though they didn’t get the part they initially wanted, they got the part they deserved, and gave audiences performances to remember.

Tom Hiddleston Thor (2011)
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With three films as the Asgardian trickster Loki under his belt, it’s hard to imagine Tom Hiddleston as any other character in the Marvel universe. However, before donning the golden horns, the actor originally auditioned for……Thor. Chris Hemsworth would ultimately land the role of the God of Thunder, beating out a long list of actors that also included his brother Liam Hemsworth. In the video below, producer Craig Kyle explains how Hiddleston’s auditions went.
“At first Tom came in for Thor. He trained. He came in. He was ripped. He did a tremendous job, but he wasn’t Thor.”
The video also features footage from Hiddleston’s screen-tests and includes interviews with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and Natalie Portman talking about the importance of Hiddleston’s performance as Loki. Just for fun, I’ve also included a video with Hiddleston doing an impression of Hemsworth had he been cast as Loki — mind-bending, I know.

Christopher Mintz-Plasse - Kick-Ass (2010)
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After his breakout but potentially pigeonholing role as McLovin in Superbad, Christopher Mintz-Plasse was happy to receive the script for the adaptation of the comic Kick-Ass.
“I’ve never done anything action,” he explained to the Examiner. “I don’t look like I shouldn’t do anything action-oriented. So it was a great honor that they sent me the script, and then I realized that I’m playing a kid who should not be doing action in a movie, and he has no superpowers or anything.”
But before landing the role of the villain Red Mist, Mintz-Plasse auditioned for the role of…
…Dave Lizewski, a.k.a Kick-Ass. Mintz-Plasse wasn’t just better suited for the villainous character that would evolve into the main antagonist in the 2013 sequel, apparently the actor’s audition as Kick-Ass didn't go very well. He explained,
“Yeah, I read for the role of Kick-Ass, and [director Matthew Vaughn] hated it. He hated everything I did in the audition, but he gave me the role of Red Mist.”
After an exhaustive search that nearly delayed the movie 6 months, Aaron Taylor-Johnson won the role of Kick-Ass. The British actor did such a convincing American accent in his audition that when he began speaking in his normal voice the director didn't believe he was from England. In the video below, Vaughn talks about mistaking Taylor-Johnson for an American, and then spends the rest of the video heckling Mintz-Plasse.
Sam Rockwell - Iron Man 2 (2010)
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One of the two villains in Iron Man 2 was played by Sam Rockwell. His character Justin Hammer, a billionaire weapons dealer, draws many parallels to the character he was originally considered for in the first movie…
…Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man. It’s well known that director Jon Favreau had to fight to cast Robert Downey Jr. in the title role of his 2008 film Iron Man. But Favreau also had a shortlist of actors he was also considering, and Rockwell — whom Favreau worked with on Made — was on that list. The director explained to the LA Times,
"He was one of the actors I was looking at for Tony Stark. There was some things he would bring to the role that would have been great. Sam is very charismatic and when I was looking at the character there was a list and he had a spot on it, which might have surprised some people. Robert surprised some people, too, though, and now he is Tony Stark, he owns that role. Sam would have come up with interesting and different things."
Depending on when you read this, this could be a SPOILER, but Rockwell recently reprised his role as Justin Hammer for the Marvel One Shot All Hail the King, which is attached to the Thor: The Dark World blu-ray.
Cillian Murphy - Batman Begins (2005)
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Jonathan Crane is the only villain to appear in every installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and one of only five characters to appear in all three films — alongside Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, James Gordon, and Lucius Fox. But before Cillian Murphy was cast as Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow, in Batman Begins, the Irish actor screen-tested for the role of…
...Bruce Wayne/Batman himself. Christian Bale was the first actor Nolan met with about the project, and he would eventually go on to play the Caped Crusader. But the director apparently met with “every young actor in town” while Bale went off and did another movie. All of the actors who screen-tested shot scenes as both Bruce Wayne and Batman. The video below features footage of Bale, Eion Bailey, and Murphy testing for the character wearing Val Kilmer’s Batsuit from Batman Forever. Strictly as a favor to the casting director, Amy Adams (who would of course go one to play Lois Lane in Man of Steel) did the tests opposite the actors.
Here’s what Nolan had to say about Murphy’s screen-test:
“We also had Cillian Murphy screen-test for Batman. He wasn’t right for that part in the way that Christian was. But the performance was incredible and everybody took huge notice of it while we were shooting it and while we watched the tests. I then was able to go to the studio and ask to put him in as Crane, as Scarecrow.”
Apparently the director was particularly entranced by the actor’s piercing blue eyes. Nolan told Spin,
"He has the most extraordinary eyes, and I kept trying to invent excuses for him to take his glasses off in close-ups."
Lee Pace - Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
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The only glimpse we’ve gotten so far of Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser is the split-second shot in the trailer of him choking Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). Before Pace was cast as the primary antagonist in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, he and a long list of actors all auditioned for…
Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord. Along with Pace, other notable actors like Joel Edgerton, Garrett Hedlund, James Marsden, Jim Sturgess, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Aaron Paul, Michael Rosenbaum, Zachary Levi, and John Krasinski were all up for the part of Quill. Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt would emerge as the studio’s choice to play the Han Solo-esque outlaw who will serve as the Tony Stark-type anchor of Marvel’s cosmic universe.
Pace’s diverse list of credits likely led to him being chosen for Ronan the Accuser, whom the actor has described as “f***ing psycho!"  and "a real monster.”
wouldn't mind living in these AUs tbh
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