We always tend to assume that actors and actresses get cast in famous films due to their amazing acting ability and talent. Of course, good looks and chemistry also help when it comes to snatching a part in a movie that is bound to become a huge hit.
However, in some cases, acting choices are less obvious and far stranger than we can imagine. You see, it’s not always about talent. Other factors, such as pure luck, are just as important.
So while many actors and actresses end up getting roles because they have extensive acting experience, are very talented or simply read the lines to the director’s standards, there have been cases where actors and actresses ended up getting roles due to weirder factors such as lack of good looks, prison tattoos or even funny names.
15. Peter Mayhew Was Cast As Chewbacca In Star Wars Because He Was Really Tall
Not many of us have heard of the actor Peter Mayhew but almost all of us have heard of Wookie from the Star Wars movie series. Mayhew is the actor who played the iconic Chewbacca. Have you ever wondered how he was found and cast for the role?
Before Star Wars, Mayhew was working as a medical assistant in a hospital. Then one day
he was featured in an article about men who have large feet.
It made sense that Mayhew had such huge feet. After all, he was 7’3” tall. The article and Mayhew’s height caught the eye of Charles H. Schneer, the producer of Sinbad and the Eye of Tiger. So Mayhew was cast in the film as a minotaur purely because of his height. Similarly, it was his height that landed him the role of Wookie in the Star Wars series.
14. Mel Gibson Was Cast In Mad Max Because His Face Was Battered
According to the story that has by now become semi-legendary, Mel Gibson was supposed to give his roommate Steve Bisley a lift to the Mad Max audition. However, the night before the audition Gibson went to a bar, got drunk and got into a fight. His face was completely destroyed. Still, not wanting to appear a flake, Gibson gave his friend a lift as promised. The casting director took one look at Gibson and told him to come back in a couple of weeks because
they needed to cast “freaks” in the film.
Of course, Gibson came back a few weeks later when his face was completely healed. His dashing good looks and his charisma convinced the director to give him the lead role. Bisley, on the other hand, got the role of Max’s partner Goose.
13. Samuel L. Jackson Was Cast As Nick Fury Because He Looked Exactly Like The Comic Book Character
When the comic book character Nick Fury first appeared in the Ultimate Universe, it did not resemble any actor. However, when the character resurfaced in 2002 in The Ultimates comic book limited series, it looked identical to the actor Samuel L. Jackson.
The similarity between the character and the actor is actually noted in the comic book
in a scene where the Ultimates are discussing who would play them if a movie about them was made. Fury replies – “Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, of course, no discussion.”
12. Janet Leigh Was Cast In Psycho Because Of Her Smile
In 1945 the actress Norma Shearer was on holidays at the Sugar Bowl ski resort. It was there that she noticed a photograph of a young woman that fascinated her. The photograph was that of Janet Leigh whose parents worked in the ski resort.
Sheared took the photo with her because
“that smile made it the most fascinating face I had seen in years. I felt I had to show that face to somebody at the studio.”
Since Shearer was married to Irving Thalberg, a senior executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) she found it easy to share the photo that fascinated her so much with the studio. Before long, Leigh had a contract with MGM and was starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
11. Johnny Depp Landed A Nightmare On Elm Street Because The Director’s Daughter Thought He Was Beautiful
Did you know that the insanely successful and popular actor Johnny Depp did not always want to be an actor? His first love was music but since he could not live from it he had to resort to acting gigs.
His first film role was in the film A Nightmare on Elm Street but it wasn’t his talent that landed him the role! In fact, the only reason Depp got the role was due to his good looks and the director’s, Wes Craven’s 14-year-old daughter’s and her friend’s fascination with the handsome young man.
Craven has said – “My 14-year-old daughter was in from New York with a friend. I took the headshots of the actors I was considering for the role of Heather’s boyfriend, Glen. I put them out on the kitchen table, and
I asked the girls, ‘Who would you pick?’ They immediately pointed at Johnny.
10. Harry Styles Was Cast In Dunkirk Because He Has An “Old-Fashioned Face”
The singer Harry Styles is really branching out lately. He is now not only a singer but also an actor. Most recently he made an appearance in the 2017 film Dunkirk. So how and why was he cast in the movie?
Well, according to the director Christopher Nolan, Styles was cast because he has an old-fashioned face:
“He has an old-fashioned face … the kind of face that makes you believe he could have been alive in that period.”
9. Emma Watson Was Cast In Harry Potter Because She Called J. K. Rowling Before The Audition
The actress Emma Watson makes the perfect Hermione in the Harry Potter series. In fact, we couldn’t imagine anyone else but her playing the incredibly nerdy but lovable character. And yet if it wasn’t for a phone call between her and J. K. Rowling before the audition, someone else may have gotten the role instead.
J. K. Rowling has said – “It was really lucky I spoke to Emma first before I met her, because I fell absolutely in love with her.
She spoke to me for about 60 seconds without taking a breath and I just said to her, ‘Emma, you’re perfect’.
8. Shane Black Was Cast In Predator Because He Was Supposed To Re-Write The Script Throughout The Movie
Shane Black is a talented man – he’s a screenwriter, director, producer and an actor. He is often regarded as one of the pioneer writers of the action genre. He has written scripts for films such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout.
Black was also asked to help write Predator. However, Black did not only help write Predator, he also starred in it. In fact, the reason he was cast in the film was because the team thought that re-writes of the script would be necessary as the filming progressed.
Funnily enough, Black barely did any writing at all. You may recall that he played the guy who would just not shut up about his wife’s vagina. And the only thing he ended up writing for the script was the second vagina joke.
7. Ryan Gosling Landed The Notebook Because No One Else Wanted It And He Looked “A Bit Nuts”
Nicholas Sparks has said that the actor Ryan Gosling got the role of Noah in The Notebook because no other actor really wanted it. According to the writer, every actor who auditioned for the role kept asking what the character’s story arc was – they were not happy to just support Allie Hamilton (played by Rachel McAdams). Gosling, on the other hand, probably did not ask such difficult questions.
But that’s not the only reason Gosling was cast in The Notebook. According to Gosling himself, the director Nick Cassavetes cast him because he was “not handsome” and looked “a bit nuts” – “When I got there, he was standing in his backyard, and he looked at me and said, ‘I want you to play this role because you’re not like the other young actors out there in Hollywood.
6. Alfred Hitchcock Cast Tippi Hedren In Birds Because He Thought She Would Be The Next Grace Kelly
The actress Tippi Hedren was discovered by none other than Alfred Hitchcock. He first laid eyes on her when he saw her in an ad for a diet drink called Sego. He then decided that he would make Hedren into the next Grace Kelly and that is pretty much why he cast her in Birds.
Hedren was absolutely stunned when she got a call that a director was interested in her – “So I received a call on Friday, the 13th of October of 1961. It was, ‘Are you the girl in the Sego commercial?’ — it was a diet product. And I said, ‘Yes.’ And they said, ‘Would you come over to Universal Studios?’ I did, and I met with an executive there. I asked, who is the director, and he wouldn’t tell me.”
5. Brad Pitt Was Cast In Snatch Because He Asked For A Role
Apparently the actor Brad Pitt is a huge fan of the director Guy Ritchie. In fact, Pitt likes Ritchie and his films, especially Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels so much that one day he simply called up the director and asked him to give him a role in one of his upcoming films.
Ritchie promised Pitt a role in Snatch even though there were no spare roles. So Ritchie did what he felt he had to do – he rewrote the script so he could incorporate a character for Pitt. However,
Pitt couldn’t get the London accent right no matter how hard he tried
4. Danny Trejo Was Cast In Runaway Train Because Of His Prison Tattoo
Before Danny Trejo became an actor he was actually a violent criminal who served time in prison. He was also a drug addict. However, determined to get clean, Trejo joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. He later decided to help others struggling with substance abuse and became a drug counselor.
It was his counsel work that landed Trejo his first film role. In 1985, he got a call from his client who was working on the set of Runaway Train. Trejo arrived on set prepared to offer help when he was approached by someone from the casting team and asked if he’d like to play an extra. Trejo agreed.
But as he was changing into his costume the screenwriter Eddie Bunker, who had also served time in prison, noticed his chest tattoo and remembered that Trejo had done boxing in prison.
3. Charlie Day Landed Pacific Rim Due To The Rat-Killing Speech He Made In It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
Sometimes directors make casting calls based not only on auditions but by taking a look at the previous work that an actor has done. That’s exactly what happened to the actor Charlie Day – the director of Pacific Rim, Guillermo Del Toro, decided to hire Charlie Day as Doctor Newton Geiszler after seeing Day in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
More specifically, Del Toro decided to hire Day because he absolutely loved his rat-killing speech from Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats. Day has said – “Fortunately, Guillermo was just such a big of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ that he was able to picture me as the character who has to be a bit puckish.”
2. Lee Ving Was Cast In Clue: The Movie Because The Director Thought His Name Was Funny
Nowadays Lee Ving is better known as a musician (he’s the lead singer of the music band Fear) than an actor. But he has starred in a number of movies, even if you have never heard of him. Back in the day, Ving was cast as the bad guy Mr. Boddy in the movie Clue. As a character, Mr. Boddy was quite important – after all, it was his death that sparked the whole movie plot.
So how did Ving land the role? Well, apparently Ving got the role because Tim Curry, who plays Wadsworth in the film, says the line
1. Carl Gottlieb Was Cast In Jaws In Order To Punch Up The Script
Carl Gottlieb is another one of those multi-talented men that make us all jealous – he’s a screenwriter, actor, comedian and executive. You may not know him by name but if you’re a Jaws fan then you will certainly recognize him – he played the role of the moustached old man named Meadows who constantly followed the mayor around.
Since Gottlieb was Steven Spielberg’s friend and a comedy writer, he was asked to help punch up the script. But Gottlieb did more than that – he pretty much rewrote the script and ended up eliminating a few subplots such as the subplot that focused on the mayor and the mafia. In fact, by cutting the latter subplot Gottlieb pretty much cut most of his own role in the film.