20 actors who auditioned for popular TV roles but didn't get them

Getty Images/ The CWSome of our favourite TV shows could have been very different.

Rejection is a big part of being an actor and pretty much everyone working in Hollywood knows what it’s like to be turned down for a role. Casting is a very delicate process and actors will tell you that even a fantastic audition doesn’t guarantee anything. Though many A-listers get to a point in their careers where projects come to them, there isn’t an actor out there who hasn’t been on an unsuccessful audition.

Read on to see which stars auditioned for popular TV roles they didn’t land:


Jennifer Lawrence apparently auditioned to play Serena van der Woodsen on “Gossip Girl.”

Getty/ The CWJennifer Lawrence

Ahead of the tenth anniversary of “Gossip Girl,” show creator Josh Schwartz told Vulture that Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for the role that ultimately went to Blake Lively.

“We did not realise this at the time, but Jennifer Lawrence really wanted to play Serena and auditioned,” Schwartz said. “This story came to us secondhand, but we were told she definitely auditioned and was bummed to not get it.”


Producers thought Tiffani Thiessen was “too young” to play Rachel Green on “Friends.”

Getty/ NBCTiffani Thiessen

During a recent appearance on Nikki Glaser’s SiriusXM radio show, Tiffani Thiessen revealed she auditioned for the role of Rachel Green.

“I was just a little too young,” she said. “I was a little too young to the pairing of the rest of them.”

Thiessen would have been 20 in 1994 when the show premiered on NBC. The role went to Jennifer Aniston, who was 25 at the time and the youngest of the six main cast members.


Selma Blair came very close to playing Joey Potter on “Dawson’s Creek.”

Earl Gibson III/Getty Images and Sony Pictures TelevisionSelma Blair

“Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson told Entertainment Weekly that Selma Blair was originally his first choice for the role of Joey Potter until he came across Katie Holmes’ audition tape.

“I really loved Selma until, of course, I got the infamous videotape from the basement of the Holmes family in Toledo, Ohio,” Williamson said. “And when that video showed up, it changed my whole life.”

In April 2018, Blair shared an old photo of herself with Holmes and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who starred on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — another role for which Blair had auditioned.

“In honour of #creekweek and all things new again. I have always admired these ladies. Even if I didn’t get the part of #joeypotter. That role was all @katieholmes212 and I loved watching her from the start,” she captioned the photo. “I auditioned for #Buffy but didn’t even come close. But I have a friend for life ????love you @sarahmgellar this was the night we won #bestkiss#mtvmovieawards2000


Producers thought Katherine Heigl was too “mature” to play Jen Lindley on “Dawson’s Creek.”

Getty Images/ The CWKatherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl auditioned for the role that ultimately went to Michelle Williams. “Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson told Entertainment Weekly that Heigl was brought into audition because she had previously worked with the pilot’s director Steven Miner.

“She looked slightly older at that time. Even though she was younger, I just think she was more mature,” Williamson said. “She gave a great audition, I remember we were all sort of like, ‘Wow, she’s good.'”


“Game of Thrones” producers kept Iwan Rheon in mind for roles after he auditioned to play Jon Snow.

Getty Images/ HBOIwan Rheon

Show creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss were impressed with Iwan Rheon when he auditioned for the role of Jon Snow, a role which eventually went to Kit Harington. The producers told The New York Times they kept Rheon “on [their] radar” for future roles and cast him as Ramsay Bolton in season three.

While speaking to Interview magazine, Rheon revealed that he first read to play Viserys and was asked to come back in to read for Jon Snow.

“At the time I didn’t know much about it. So I auditioned for Jon Snow, but so did a lot of other people probably,” he said.

“I think it was between me and Kit [Harington], which is quite crazy. It could’ve been so different. I’d be dead now. I think they made the right choice; it would have been a very different Jon Snow if I’d played him,” Rheon explained. “I don’t think there’s much point in dwelling on these kinds of things. You’re inevitably going to know other actors going up for parts and you have to be open about it. The majority of the time it’s a specific thing they’re looking for, which could easily come down to how you look, and there’s not an awful lot you can do about that.”


Rumer Willis was surprised to learn that execs at The CW recommended she play Serena on “Gossip Girl.”

Getty Images/ The CWRumer Willis

The CW’s casting director David Rapaport told BuzzFeed that the network initially pitched Ashley Olsen and Rumer Willis for the respective roles of Blair and Serena, which went to Leighton Meester and Blake Lively.

“That’s so crazy – it’s pretty cool,” Willis told People when asked about Rapaport’s comments. “You know, it was actually totally news to me. I felt like I did an awful audition back then. I was so young and it was, like, one of the first things I’d ever auditioned for.”


Nathan Fillion said he didn’t make it very far when he auditioned to play Angel on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Getty Images/ The CWNathan Fillion

Nathan Fillion starred on Joss Whedon’s sci-fi series “Firefly,” but the actor didn’t make it through early casting rounds when he auditioned for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – another of Whedon’s shows.

You understand your job as an actor is to audition,” Fillion told Reuters in 2011. “Your job is to go out there and look for work… When Joss found out that I auditioned for ‘Angel’ – he didn’t know – he felt bad. He said, ‘I don’t remember you.’ I told him not to worry, I never made the first cut.”

David Boreanaz was cast as Angel, but Fillion was eventually cast as Caleb in the final season of “BTVS.”


Peter Hermann was almost cast as Don Draper on “Mad Men.”

Getty Images/ AMCPeter Hermann

Series creator Matt Weiner was impressed by both Peter Hermann and Jon Hamm, who eventually was cast as Don Draper.

“Matt originally sent us tapes on Jon Hamm and Mariska Hargitay’s husband [Peter Hermann],” Christina Wayne, a former senior executive at AMC, told TV Guide. “Those were his two choices and he said he was leaning more towards Jon. We were like, ‘Really? This is the guy you want?’ It was not a particularly great audition.”


Producers thought Olivia Wilde was too “tough” when she auditioned to play Marissa Cooper on “The O.C.”

Getty Images/ The CWOlivia Wilde

Series creator Josh Schwartz revealed that he came close to casting Olivia Wilde as Marissa Cooper on “The O.C,” but ultimately cast Mischa Barton in the role.

“Marissa was obviously a character who Ryan needs to save, and Olivia Wilde needs no saving. She’s pretty tough,” Schwartz said during a panel at the 2016 ATX TV Festival.

Wilde was later cast as a teenage bartender named Alex, who dated both Seth and Marissa in the show’s second season.


Alicia Silverstone was deemed “too beautiful” to play Angela Chase on “My So-Called Life.”

Getty Images/ ABCAlicia Silverstone

When it came time to cast the show’s lead, producers decided to cast Claire Danes over Alicia Silverstone. Executive producer Ed Zwick told The New Yorker he immediately wanted to cast Silverstone, but fellow exec Marshall Herskovitz thought Silverstone was too pretty to play Angela Chase.

“Alicia is so beautiful that that would have affected her experience of the world,” Herskovitz said. “People would have been telling her she was beautiful since she was 6 years old. You can’t put that face in what’s been written for this girl.”


Lily Collins auditioned to play Jenny Humphrey on “Gossip Girl.”

Getty Images/ The CWLily Collins

“I remember the screen test for ‘Gossip Girl’ was on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. I was about 17 or 18 at the time. I remember driving onto the lot and going, ‘Oh my God. This is surreal,’ Collins told Glamour in 2016.

“I wanted it so badly,” she said of the role that went to Taylor Momsen.


Hank Azaria asked to audition twice for the role of Joey Tribbiani on “Friends.”

Getty Images/ NBCHank Azaria

“Friends” fans know Hank Azaria had a recurring role as David the Scientist, but the actor originally read for the role that went to Matt LeBlanc.

“That’s the only job I ever auditioned for twice,” Azaria told HuffPost Live in 2014. “I thought it was so good – they had rejected me once – I said, ‘I’m going back, I’m gonna do it again, I’m gonna try it again.'”

Azaria went on to say that even after being rejected twice for the role, he initially thought he would have done a better job than LeBlanc.

“At first, in my opinion, in the first few episodes of ‘Friends’ he hadn’t really found it,” Azaria said. “And all that first season I was like, ‘I could’ve been funnier than him!’ And then to me, he got hilarious. He really grew into that, he really found himself in that role.”


Adrian Grenier was considered for the role of Dawson on “Dawson’s Creek.”

Getty Images/ Sony PicturesAdrian Grenier

Grenier auditioned for the teen drama and said he actually ended up sitting next to James Van Der Beek – who landed the show’s lead role – on his flight to Los Angeles to read for the part.

“I remember we were both testing for Dawson and I think he was just a little bit more disciplined,” Grenier told E! News in 2014. “I was very young and I was living in New York and it was my first time in LA, so I was a little bit more green. And I think he was a little bit more seasons at the time and so he came in and swept it.”


Emma Stone didn’t make the cut when she auditioned to be a cast member on “All That.”

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesEmma Stone

“I went to an open call for ‘All That.’ We drove out from Arizona and I auditioned for ‘All That’ when I was 12 years old,” Stone told Jimmy Fallon when she visited his late-night show in 2016.

“I didn’t know that you had to [come prepared] with characters. I thought they were going to give us sketches, and then five minutes before I went in the room they said, ‘You need to have three characters when you come in the room.’ So I was like, ‘OK,’ and then I made up a couple of characters.'”

Stone wasn’t cast on the show, but she told Fallon she remembered one of the characters she whipped up on the spot was a cheerleader who couldn’t spell, and the other was a babysitter who was possessed.


David Tennant was close to playing Hannibal Lecter on “Hannibal.”

Getty Images/ NBCDavid Tennant

“I met [‘Hannibal’ executive producer] Bryan Fuller a couple of times, and we talked about it,” Tennant told Entertainment Weekly. “But I think they quite wisely chose Mads Mikkelsen, I think he was a perfect choice for it, and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn’t have managed, so I think the right man got the job.”


Eric McCormack auditioned to play Ross on “Friends.”

Getty Images/ NBCEric McCormack

Eric McCormack was working in live theatre when he set his sights sitcom stardom. The actor told HuffPost Live he audition for the role of Ross on “Friends,” which eventually went to David Schwimmer.

“[Sitcoms] were so up my alley. I was so kind of done with that previous phase. I needed to start pulling at this other sort of funnier, lighter side,” he said. “So I auditioned for everything,” he said. “I auditioned for ‘Friends’ even. I auditioned for [David] Schwimmer’s part.”

Years later when he told “Will & Grace” director Jimmy Burrows – who also directed multiple episodes of “Friends” – that he auditioned for the role, Burrows told him he was kidding himself thinking what might have been:

“He said, ‘Oh, honey, you’re wasting your time. They wrote the part for him.'”


Taylor Momsen said she was actually happy she wasn’t cast as the titular role of “Hannah Montana.”

BFA/ Disney ChannelTaylor Momsen

Miley Cyrus was eventually cast as the star of Disney’s “Hannah Montana” and Taylor Momsen said she was grateful her own audition didn’t work out.

“Honestly, if I’d have ended up as Hannah Montana, I don’t know if the show would have gone as well. I probably would have told them all to go f— themselves by the time I hit 11,” Momsen told Express in 2010. “And I don’t know how that would have gone down. It’s great for Miley, but I really like where I am right now and I feel really fortunate to be able to really be myself.”


Mahershala Ali said he totally blew his “Game of Thrones” audition.

Getty Images/ HBOMahershala Ali

The “Moonlight” star told Jimmy Kimmel his audition for “Game of Thrones” was one of the “worst” auditions of his life.” Ali said he felt “really prepared” to read for the role of a merchant who got locked in a safe in season three (likely Xaro Xhoan Daxos, who was played by Nonso Anozie), but was thrown off by the high stools provided at the audition. Ali told Kimmel the casting director said he looked too stiff and needed to loosen up.


Teri Hatcher was almost cast as Jamie Buchman on “Mad About You.”

Getty Images/ NBCTeri Hatcher

Helen Hunt and Teri Hatcher were finalists for the role of Jamie on “Mad About You,” but Hunt won the role. Producer Danny Jacobson told the New York Times that Hunt was cast when she was asked to perform a scene in the show’s pilot where she imitated Paul Reiser eating.

“She did that so brilliantly. It was as clear as a tap on the shoulder from the coach saying, ‘Go into the game.'” Jacobson said.


Kaley Cuoco said she was passed over for a role on “Freaks and Geeks.”

Rich Fury/Getty ImagesKaley Cuoco

“The Big Bang Theory” star told Vegas magazine that she auditioned a role on “Freaks and Geeks” when she was 12 years old.

“I didn’t get that job, but [executive producer] Judd Apatow called my agent afterward and said, ‘She’s going to work in this business,'” Cuoco said.

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