There are a lot of elements that go into making a movie. There’s the screenplay, the set design, the costumes, the music, the digital effects, the makeup, and most importantly there are the actors. For a great many movies, the actors and actresses make or break the movie – an iconic character becomes iconic because of the person who portrays him or her. So what would happen if your favorite film characters were played by someone else? Here are a few casting choices that could have completely and literally changed the face of your most beloved films.

Not The One

Before the The Matrix character Neo was taken on by Keanu Reeves, the part was originally offered to Will Smith. Smith decided to turn down the role in favor of making the movie adaptation and eventual box-office dudWild Wild West with Kevin Kline and Salma Hayek. This wouldn’t be the last time Smith would pass up a hugely successful role to star is a Hollywood stinker – Smith turned down the lead in Quentin Tarantino’s award-winningDjango Unchained to be in the totally awful After Earth.

My Name Is Gump

Tom Hanks may have won his second Oscar for playing the dull-witted yet lovable Forrest Gump, but the part wasn’t originally his. John Travolta was director Robert Zemeckis’s first choice to play the chocolate-eating hero – Travolta says his decision to turn the role down still haunts him till this day.

Jolly Green Giant

The film Shrek was originally written for the voice of Chris Farley, who completed nearly all of his vocals for the film before his death due to drug overdose. Instead of releasing the movie as it was, the film was re-written and re-recorded with actor Mike Myers.

Not Just Any Superhero

Dougray Scott was cast and ready to shoot as Logan/Wolverine in the very first X-Men movie until scheduling conflicts with his current film Mission: Impossible 2 made him drop out. Instead Hugh Jackman took on the role and has played the character seven times with two more movie appearances in the works before he calls his portrayal of the character quits.

Feeling Not So Lucky

The role of Dirty Harry was popular singer Frank Sinatra’s before it was ever Clint Eastwood’s. Unfortunately Sinatra broke his wrist during filming – as such he couldn’t hold up the famous .44 Magnum and was subsequently fired.

Cold-Blooded Robot

O.J. Simpson was at one point considered to take on the role of the eponymous cybernetic assassin in The Terminator. James Cameron vetoed the decision on the grounds that he didn’t think he could see Simpson as such a killer.

A Day Off To Remember

Before Matthew Broderick ever stepped into the shoes of the infamous Ferris Bueller, the part was supposed to be played by Johnny Depp. The actor turned the role down because he said he didn’t want to be the kind of actor who live on blockbuster movies; after movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland, we totally believe that.

Getting A Little Cagey

Mickey Rourke came extremely close to nabbing Oscar gold for his roll in The Wrestler, but Randy “The Ram” Robinson was not always his character. Nicolas Cage almost got the part because he didn’t want to take steroids to achieve the look of a professional wrestler.

No Redemption To Be Had

The Shawshank Redemption is one of the biggest sleeper hits of all time but originally it was supposed to star Kevin Costner and not Tim Robbins. Costner gave up the role to star in Waterworld, the biggest flop of all time.

Here’s Johnny!

Before Jack Nicholson was scaring the life out of audiences in the horror classic The Shining, director Stanley Kubrick considered giving the role to Robin Williams. He eventually decided against it because he thought Williams would be too psychotic as Jack Torrance.

Future in Hand

Michael J. Fox almost never had the role that launched him into acting stardom. Eric Stolz held the mantle of Marty McFly first but was fired by the director for being “too serious.”

It’s The Mileage

Can you imagine anyone other than the incomparable Harrison Ford playing the famous Indiana Jones? Tom Shelleck held the role first but was forced to choose between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Magnum P.I. because of scheduling conflicts and eventually chose the latter.

Scottish Wizard

Peter Jackson asked the famous Sean Connery to play wizard Gandalf instead of Sir Ian McKellan. Connery decided not to take on the role because Jackson was going to film all three Lord of the Rings films at once, which would take 18 months, way too long for Connery’s tastes.

Slippery Little Suckers

Julia Roberts was rocketed to stardom through her role as Vivian in Pretty Woman. Daryl Hannah turned down the part because she believed the portrayal of a call girl was demeaning to women – she would later go on to star in Dancing at the Blue Iguana, where she played a stripper.

Action Packed

In the beginning, Predator had two zeitgeist action stars attached to it. Although Jean-Claude Van Damme would have put a unique spin playing the titular killer alien, he quit after two days because he found the costume too restricting.

Welsh Psycho

Christian Bale had the role of crazed yuppie psychopath Patrick Bateman for the film American Psycho from the beginning. It was the studio that recast Leonardo DiCaprio in the role. But after various women’s rights groups protested, Bale won the role back.

A Fickle Kiwi

Actor Stuart Townsend spent months preparing for the role of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings films only to be fired for being too young the day before filming began. The role was then taken on by Viggo Mortensen.

Founding Father

Ryan Gosling was cast as the doting father mourning his lost daughter in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, but the actor thought he looked too young and took it upon himself to gain 60 lbs. so that he might look more than age of the role in the script. Jackson hated what Gosling had done to himself and promptly recast the role with Mark Wahlberg.

Bad Mouthed Girl

Megan Fox’s Mikaela Barnes was slated to be the lady love interest opposite Shia LaBeouf in all three of Michael Bay’s Transformer movies. The last film was rewritten with another character played by Victoria Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitley after producer Steven Spielberg insisted that Bay fire Fox after she publicly compared Bay to Hitler.

Ditto To That

Bruce Willis chose not to take on the role of Sam Wheat in Ghost because he thought playing a ghost would be detrimental to his career. This comment came from the same man who starred in the enormously famous The Sixth Sense – where he played a ghost!