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Brenda Song Said She Was Told She Wasn't "Asian Enough" To Audition For "Crazy Rich Asians," And 10 More Shocking, Bizarre, And Ridiculous Reasons Actors Were Rejected From Movie Roles

BuzzFeed
BuzzFeed
 2022-06-12

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1. Harry Styles really wanted to play Elvis Presley in Elvis , but the film's director turned him down.

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In a recent interview on the Fitzy & Wippa podcast , Elvis director Baz Luhrmann explained: "The real issue with Harry is he's Harry Styles. He’s already an icon. Harry and I came to a place, genuinely I mean — he was just desperate to put the suit on and explore."

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Luhrmann did, however, called Styles "really talented" and a "great spirit."

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The role ultimately went to Austin Butler .

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2. Andrew Garfield auditioned to play Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia , but was told he wasn't "handsome enough."

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In an interview with Entertainment Tonight , Garfield explained: "I remember I was so desperate. I auditioned for Prince Caspian in The Chronicles of Narnia and I thought, This could be it; this could be it. ... I remember I was obsessed."

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When the Spider-Man star was turned down for the role, he went to his agent to ask why: "[My agent] eventually just broke under my incessant nagging, and she was like, ‘It’s because they don’t think you’re handsome enough, Andrew.'"

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The role ultimately went to Ben Barnes.

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"Ben Barnes is a very handsome, talented man," Garfield said . "So in retrospect, I’m not unhappy with the decision, and I think he did a beautiful job."

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3. Brenda Song alleges that she wasn't allowed to audition for Crazy Rich Asians because she wasn't considered "Asian enough."

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Song's mother is Thai, and her father is Hmong.

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In an interview with Teen Vogue, the Suite Life star explained: "A lot of people don't know this, but I never got to read for Crazy Rich Asians , ever. Their reasoning behind that, what they said was that my image was basically not Asian enough, in not so many words. It broke my heart. I said, 'This character is in her late to mid-20s, an Asian American, and I can't even audition for it? I've auditioned for Caucasian roles my entire career, but this specific role, you're not going to let me do it? You're going to fault me for having worked my whole life?' I was like, 'Where do I fit?'"

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"I got myself together and said, 'Brenda, there is only one you, and you can't change who you are. You can't change your past.' I am so grateful for every job that I've done. All I can do is continue to put good auditions out there, do the best that I can — that's all I can ask for."

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Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu disputed Song's story, writing in a tweet response to Entertainment Weekly, "would these words ever come out of my mouth? Nope makes no sense. I feel horrible she thinks this is the reason. The fact is I love Brenda Song and am a fan. I didn’t need her to audition because I already knew who she was!"

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4. Robert Redford wanted the lead role of Benjamin in The Graduate , but was told nobody would believe he could play a "loser."

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In an interview with Vanity Fair, director Mike Nichols recalled: "I said, 'You can’t play [Benjamin]. You can never play a loser.' And Redford said, 'What do you mean? Of course I can play a loser.' And I said, 'O.K., have you ever struck out with a girl?' and he said, 'What do you mean?' And he wasn’t joking. "

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^That's Redford back in 1965, a year after The Graduate was released.

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The role ultimately went to Dustin Hoffman.

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5. Robin Williams was reportedly interested in playing Hagrid or Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films, but the filmmakers wanted an entirely British cast.

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In an interview with Huffington Post, casting director Janet Hirshenson explained why director Christopher Columbus turned Williams down for Hagrid. "[Williams] really wanted to be in the movie, but it was a British-only edict," she said. "And once [Columbus] said no to Robin, he wasn’t going to say yes to anybody else, that’s for sure."

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In an interview with Total Film, Columbus said it was "very difficult" to tell Williams that he couldn't play Lupin either. In another interview with Insider, Columbus added, "Robin would have been brilliant [as Lupin]. It would have been a different interpretation."

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The role of Hagrid ultimately went to Robbie Coltrane, and the part of Lupin went to David Thewlis.

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6. Zoë Kravitz was told she was too "urban" to audition for The Dark Knight Rises .

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The Batman star explained in an interview with the Observer: "I don’t know if it came directly from [director] Chris Nolan. I think it was probably a casting director of some kind, or a casting director’s assistant. … Being a woman of color and being an actor and being told at that time that I wasn’t able to read because of the color of my skin, and the word 'urban' being thrown around like that, that was what was really hard about that moment."

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Kravitz later posted on her Instagram story: "I did not mention this to point any fingers or make anyone seem racist, namely Chris Nolan, the film’s producers or anyone on the casting team because I truly do not believe anyone meant any harm. I was simply giving an example of what it was like to be a woman of color in  this industry at that time." She also clarified that she was seeking to audition for a "small role" in The Dark Knight , not the part of Catwoman.

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7. Sean Young initially landed the part of Vicki Vale in Batman , but after she broke her arm, she was let go and replaced by Kim Basinger. When Batman Returns was in the works, Young famously showed up to the Warner Bros. studio lot dressed up as Catwoman to try to convince director Tim Burton that she was perfect for the role — which did not impress him.

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Warner Bros. Executive Mark Canton described the incident in the behind-the-scenes documentary Shadow of the Bat : "My office door flew open, which says a lot about how different security is these days, and Michael Keaton and I saw Sean Young dressed as Catwoman leap over my sofa and say, 'I am Catwoman!' We looked at each other and went, 'Whoa.'"

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In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Young revealed that Burton himself wasn't actually at the studio lot to see her stunt. "He wasn’t there. I guess he was hiding in the bathroom," Young said. "Who knows? If these Warner Bros. executives now were really good businessmen, they’d let me play Catwoman today, and I’d make a smash amount of money. But they’re too stupid. You can lead people to water, but you can’t make them great artists. Nobody wants to take that risk, it’s too scary."

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Young also made an appearance on The Joan Rivers Show dressed as Catwoman in another attempt to land the part, as seen above.

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The role of Catwoman ultimately went to Michelle Pfeiffer.

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8. Tom Holland auditioned for the role of Finn in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens , but didn't land the part because he "couldn't stop laughing" during his audition.

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In an interview with Backstage, Holland explained: "I was like four or five auditions in. ... I remember doing this scene with this lady, bless her, and she was just a drone. So I was doing all of this, like, 'We gotta get back to the ship!' And she was going, 'Bleep, bloop bloop, bleep bloop.' I just couldn’t stop laughing. I found it so funny. And I felt really bad, because she was trying really hard to be a convincing android or drone or whatever they’re called. Yeah, I obviously didn't get the part. That wasn’t my best moment."

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The role ultimately went to John Boyega.

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9. Eddie Redmayne auditioned for the role of Kylo Ren in Star Wars , but was rejected after he blew his audition.

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In an interview with Uproxx, Redmayne described his audition: "They gave me like a Star Trek scene – or like something from Pride and Prejudice . It was one of those films. With films that top secret, they don’t give you the actual lines. So they give you a scene from Pride and Prejudice , but then they tell you you’re auditioning for the baddie. If you’re me , you then put some ridiculous voice on."

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"[Nina Gold] was just sitting there and I was trying again and again with different versions of my kind of 'koohh paaaah' [Darth Vader breathing sound] voice," Redmayne continued. "And after like 10 shots she’s like, 'You got anything else?' I was like, 'No.'"

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The role ultimately went to Adam Driver.

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10. Chris Klein auditioned for the part of Sky in Mamma Mia! , but was knocked out of the running when he realized the musical role did, in fact, require singing.

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In an interview with Huffington Post, the American Pie actor explained: "So an audition that I had done years ago for Mamma Mia! somehow, was put on to the web. And it's a horrible audition. And I took a chance — I can't sing! I don't know why I was in there. But I took a chance! It's a musical — let's see if I can give it a shot. And, you know, the way that they put it out there, it gets taken out of context and all that kind of thing. It was really a dreadful audition. Talk about a reason that I didn't get a part, man!"

The role ultimately went to Dominic Cooper.

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11. And finally, Freddie Prinze Jr. was reportedly being highly considered for the role of Spider-Man for Spider-Man (2002), but he majorly blew it during a meeting with director Sam Raimi.

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In an episode of his podcast Prinze and the Wolf , Prinze Jr. explained: "I got a meeting with Sam [Raimi], and I was super excited, super nervous. Went in and we sat down — it was only like three people that he was talking to — and I sat down and he goes, 'So, tell me, tell me why you love Spider-Man?'"

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"I go into this whole like universe of what my favorite parts of Spider-Man were, and I foolishly bring up the alien symbiote, which is Venom, right," the actor continued. "When I left, I literally was like, 'You just talked about Venom instead of Spider-Man for 25 minutes you stupid a--hole,' and I drove home so upset and angry."

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The role, of course, ultimately went to Tobey Maguire.

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