Tom Cruise Was Almost Iron Man, and 5 Other Wild Hollywood Audition Tape Stories


Even Hollywood actors have to work for their cheese sometimes. And sometimes, they don’t even get cheese at all.

Here are six audition tapes that prove things never get easy for anyone:

1 – Kurt Russell auditions for Han Solo

This one is famous, and I have to admit, I like Kurt Russell. Not just because he’s one of a few Hollywood types who shares my political views, but also because he was Snake Plissken. And Snake Plissken was, as they say, “The Bomb” (That would be “The Craic” if you’re Irish”). But I also have to admit that he’s not a very versatile actor. He’s good at playing tough boys in B-movie-type roles, and, sure, Star Wars is very much inspired by B movies of the 40’s, so Kurt could have pulled a decent Han Solo, but Harrison Ford is the better actor without a doubt, and without his special sauce, perhaps the character wouldn’t have been as memorable as it was with him on the role.

For comparison’s sake, here’s a bit of Ford’s original auditions:

2 – Robert Downey Jr. Auditions for Tony Stark

Not many people remember this, but Tom Cruise was once slated to play Tony Stark in Iron Man. I know right? Can you imagine? What’s more, he demanded his face be entirely visible at all times, so the Iron Man armor would need a transparent visor. That was a little too much Diva-ness for the producers, so he got dumped. Instead, they went with this not-as-well-known actor called Robert Downey Jr. who wasn’t a sure bet because he was known to enjoy a little crack every now and then, but who nonetheless could act circles – and squares, triangles, and rhombuses – around Tom Cruise. Fortunately, that worked well for everyone, and now we have a Tony Stark for the ages, and Tom Cruise can live in a cave for all I care.

3 – Jim Carrey Auditions for Andy Kaufman

This one is really amazing. You can see that Jim really wanted this role bad. He went the full monty to get it, with the costumes, and the props and all that. And, even though Jim doesn’t bear much of a resemblance to Andy – with his broad shoulders and muscular physique he looks more like a guy who would bully scrawny, pot-bellied Andy Kauffman in the playground – he makes it obvious that he’s perfect for the role because he has Andy in his heart. The guy was clearly an inspiration for him. It’s just unfortunate that the resulting movie, Man on the Moon, is so underrated, even with Milos Forman at the helm and a cast of incredible actors to boot. But damn it, if Jim didn’t pull off a riveting performance to silence anyone who thought he couldn’t do drama.

Well, you win some, you loose some.

4 – Shia LaBeouf auditions for Lloyd

Here’s Shia LaBeouf auditioning to play the role that arguably put Jim Carrey on the map, in the prequel for Dumb and Dumber: Dumb and Dumberer.

I feel sorry for Shia. All that infinite money and girls, the guy probably doesn’t even have time to work a 12-hour day in an oppressive office space, hoping every day that he can bum a donut from his fat coworker in the neighboring cubicle.

He did get a role in Dumb and Dumberer, as some guy or other, whatever … as if anyone cares.

5 – Natalie Portman auditions for Mathilda

How much do you make in a year?Natalie Portman made 10x as much when she was 12. And she deserved it! Also, she has a diploma from Harvard.

Léon: The Professional was one of the movies that started to convince me that maybe there was more to entertainment than just Tiny Toons and the Pink Panther, and to this day, I still regard it as a world class crime flick, but here’s a mental image for you: In the original screenplay for Léon, the writer makes absolutely clear that Léon and Mathilda totally do it. Wrap your head around that.

6 – Scarlett Johansson auditions for Judy Shepherd

This is Scarlett Johansson years before she became a star. The role of Judy Shepherd in Jumanji eventually went to Kirsten Dunst, who was and still is not much of a Thespian in her own right but, well … a bologna sandwich is an improvement from kid Scarlett Johansson. Without mayo.

I watched an interview with Scarlett the other day on the Late Late Showand she seems really intelligent and nice person overall, with a good sense of humor. But her acting leaves much to be desired. 

* As an aside, here’s Ellen Page’s audition tape for Juno.I just want everyone to swoon with me at how well Ellen Page can act.