17 Actors Who Had To Fight To Get A Part

I can’t believe anyone doubted these iconic actors!

Some actors are chased after for roles — like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.

Focus Features / courtesy Everett Collection

But other actors have to fight to get cast in a role they know they’re right for — here are 17 examples of actors who fought tooth and nail to get a part!


Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

Bradley Cooper wanted to cast Gaga right away, but Warner Bros. wasn’t sold on the decision, so Cooper shot a bunch of screen tests with Gaga first. She ended up being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.


Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad

AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

“No one wanted me other than Vince,” Aaron told The Off Camera Show. “And finally, I mean he just said listen, this is the guy I want, you know, this is my show. He made it happen, thank God.” Paul went on to win three Emmys for the role.


Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone

Sebastian Mlynarski/Roadside Attractions / courtesy Everett Collection

Producers thought Jennifer was too pretty for the role — she proved them wrong by jumping on a red-eye and coming in sleep-deprived with no makeup. Lawrence was nominated for her first Oscar for her role.


Constance Wu in Crazy Rich Asians

Warner Bros. Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

Wu was busy filming for Fresh off the Boat, and thus unavailable to shoot the film. However, the role was so important to her that she sent an email to director Jon Chu about what the role meant to her, and they ended up moving filming dates so she’d be available.


Patrick Swayze in Ghost

Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection

Director Jerry Zucker wanted Harrison Ford in the role, and Swayze had to fight for the role after he fell in love with the script. It became an iconic role for Swayze.


Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost

Paramount / courtesy Everett Collection


Winona Ryder in Heathers

New World / courtesy Everett Collection

Daniel Waters thought Ryder wasn’t attractive enough to play Veronica, and Winona’s own agent begged her not to take the part in the dark comedy. However, Ryder loved the script, apparently calling it the “greatest piece of literature since Catcher in the Rye.” Screenwriter Daniel Waters said, “No one has ever liked a piece of writing more than Winona Ryder liked the script of Heathers, and she was so eloquent about her love for it that how could it be anyone else?” The film became a cult classic and helped catapult Ryder to stardom.


Marlon Brando in The Godfather

Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

Francis Ford Coppola had to beg the studio to give Marlon Brando a screen test for The Godfather. Coppola put out some props for him to use, and Brando immediately put shoe polish in his hair to turn it dark and stuffed tissues in his mouth to get the iconic expression and speech style of the mob boss. He also took a phone call in character during the screen test. Paramount was impressed with the video and gave the okay for him to be cast in perhaps his most iconic role.


Dev Patel in Lion

Mark Rogers/The Weinstein Company / courtesy Everett Collection

Patel said there were reservations about him, as they only saw him as the guy from Slumdog Millionaire and wanted someone new and fresh. He said he had to go in and really prove himself, which made him want the role even more. He was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for his role in the film.


Kate Winslet in Titanic

20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kate Winslet called James Cameron and said he’d be mad not to cast her in Titanic. She was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for her performance.


Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy

Jay Maidment/Walt Disney Studios / Courtesy Everett Collection

James Gunn had to fight for Dave Bautista to be cast in Guardians of the Galaxy. Bautista called his audition a “nightmare,” saying his agent had to fight to even get it because they didn’t want a pro wrestler.


Lisa Kudrow in Friends

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Lisa Kudrow recalled having to “fight” to play Phoebe, auditioning multiple times for director James Burrows. She was nominated for an Emmy six times for her performance, winning once.


Taylor Lautner in Twilight: New Moon

Summit Entertainment

Lautner was still a scrawny teenager in the first film, and didn’t play a big role — it was rumored he would be replaced in the next film. However, Lautner spent months bulking up and eventually convinced director Chris Weitz that he could play the muscular character.


Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool

Joe Lederer/20th Century Fox/Courtesy Everett Collection

Ryan Reynolds didn’t have a problem being cast as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but he certainly had to fight to get a solo movie made where he could star as Deadpool — the process took 11 years.


Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde

MGM Distribution Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

Reese Witherspoon was told she needed to be sexier to get the part of Elle. Apparently, the studio head had seen Reese in Election and thought she was a “shrew.” She was told to dress sexy, and then she also showed up at an audition in character to convince them she deserved the part.


Lili Reinhart in Riverdale

Diyah Pera/The CW Network / courtesy Everett Collection

Reinhart had to audition miltiple times to get the role — she said in her video audition she felt she couldn’t get it right, and didn’t get the part until she auditioned in person.


And finally, Mahershala Ali in True Detective


According to Ali, the role was originally intended for a white man. He was offered the role of the supporting character, but fought to be cast as the main character, showing showrunner Nic Pizzolatto photos of his grandfather, who was a state police officer just like the character. He ultimately convinced Pizzolatto that his story would be better served with a Black man as the main character, and that the show could explore what racism was like in Arkansas in 1980.

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