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9 Actors Who Almost Starred in Classic Horror Films

Horror Film
Kristy Puchko

Of course it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Jack Nicholson chasing little Danny Torrance through a frozen topiary maze in the ‘The Shining,’ but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t almost Robin Williams doing it. Some of your favorite classic horror films came very close to being completely different than the final version.

Just imagine Demi Moore in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street.’ If that’s too difficult for you to fathom, don’t worry about it — we’ve made posters for horror films that could’ve been.

Demi Moore, ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’

Nightmare on Elm Street
Kristy Puchko

Before the part of Nancy went to Heather Langenkamp, Courteney Cox, Tracey Gold, Jennifer Grey and Demi Moore all auditioned for the role. The movie didn’t do Langenkamp’s career any favors, so maybe those actresses should consider themselves lucky that they didn’t tangle with Freddy.

Diane Lane, ‘Dawn of the Dead’

Dawn of the Dead
Kristy Puchko

During script development of Zack Snyder’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake, producers envisioned Diane Lane as Ana. The part eventually went to Sarah Polley.

Ellen Page, ‘Drag Me to Hell’

Drag Me to Hell
Kristy Puchko

Ellen Page was initially cast as Christine, but she dropped out to work on ‘Whip It’ instead. The part was filled by Alison Lohman, who hasn’t appeared in a major movie since. That’s what happens when you cross a gypsy.

Christopher Lee, ‘Halloween’

Kristy Puchko

Make no mistake, we love us some Donald Pleasence, but how awesome would it have been if Christopher Lee had played Dr. Loomis in ‘Halloween.’ Lee has said that turning down the role was one of his biggest mistakes. Which is saying a lot, seeing as how he starred in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels.

Drew Barrymore, ‘Poltergeist’

Kristy Puchko

Drew Barrymore was up for the part of Carol-Anne in Tobe Hooper’s classic horror film, but producer Steven Spielberg wanted somebody more “angelic.” However, it was her audition for ‘Poltergeist’ that got her the part in ‘E.T.’

Sharon Tate, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

Rosemary's Baby
Kristy Puchko

Polanski wanted a girl next door to play the part of Rosemary, and suggested his wife for the part. However, producers wanted a bigger box office draw, and Mia Farrow’s recent marriage to Frank Sinatra, in addition to her work on ‘Peyton Place,’ had made her a household name.

Sinatra was so upset that Farrow took the part that he served divorce papers to her midway through filming. The only reason Farrow stayed on was because she was assured by Polanski and legendary Paramount exec Robert Evans that she would get an Oscar nomination. She didn’t, but her performance is still a classic of the horror genre.

Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, ‘The Exorcist’

The Exorcist
Kristy Puchko

Warner Bros. wanted Brando to play Father Merrin, but director William Friedkin was opposed to the idea, believing that would turn the horror film into a “Brando Film.” Jack Nicholson was considered for the part of Father Karras, but it ultimately went to Jason Miller.

Robin Williams, ‘The Shining’

The Shining
Kristy Puchko

Although Jack Nicholson was Kubrick’s first choice for Jack Torrance, Robert De Niro, Harrison Ford and Robin Williams were also considered for the part. Of course Williams and Shelley Duvall would reunite for a decidedly less successful film (1980’s ‘Popeye’).

Liam Aiken, ‘The Sixth Sense’

The Sixth Sense
Kristy Puchko

Liam Aiken was offered the part of Cole Sear in ‘The Sixth Sense,’ but he turned it down. He went on to star in ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events,’ which is also a good way to describe M. Night Shyamalan’s career post-‘Sixth Sense.’

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