Quick, think of your favorite character from film or TV. Got it? Now imagine someone else wearing that character’s clothes and saying that character’s words. Unless you’re thinking of James Bond, Doctor Who, or another notoriously replaceable face, it’s probably hard to picture a different actor playing the part. Alas, before there were “lights, camera, action” on all our favorite productions, there were auditions, and that role was up for grabs. Check out some silly successful, failed, and even fake audition tapes, featuring some very familiar faces, after the jump.
Chris Klein auditioning for Mamma Mia!
Here we find American Pie star Chris Klein gloriously butchering ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love On Me” in hopes of landing the Mamma Mia! role that was ultimately snagged by Dominic Cooper. It’s unconfirmed whether this enthusiastic tape is real or contrived, but since Klein did his best to make fun of it on Funny or Die, we’re just going to assume it’s real. Rock on, Chris Klein.
TJ Miller auditioning for Yogi Bear
For his Yogi Bear audition in 2010, comedian TJ Miller took a field trip to to highlight his one-of-a-kind chemistry with bears. The scene alternates between adorable and terrifying as the pair shares several romantic marshmallows and the occasional close call, but hey — he got the part.
Scarlett Johansson auditioning for Jumanji
Scarlett Johansson has been a master of the too-cool-for-you attitude since childhood, and in 1995, she was too cool for Jumanji. The role went to Kirsten Dunst, but don’t fret, little Scarlett — Sofia Coppola loves you both equally.
Russell Brand auditioning for Forgetting Sarah Marshall
It’s strange to think that Russell Brand had to audition to be Aldous Snow (who else could have played that part?), but alas, here’s the proof. Enjoy as Russell Brand channels his inner Russell Brand.
Gerard Butler auditioning for Dracula 2000
In 2000, Gerard Butler auditioned for the title role in Dracula 2000, the tale of a modern Dracula in New Orleans. Naturally, Butler’s intense, flowing mane landed him the part.
RZA (Wu-Tang Clan) auditioning for Parks and Recreation
This might not be a real audition, but we’d still thoroughly enjoy Wu-Tang and Recreation, maybe followed by some 30 Roots.
Kaitlin Olson auditioning for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Before she became Dee Reynolds and the real-life Mrs. Mac, Kaitlin Olson had to audition for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia like any other actress. Here we find her reading lines from the episode “Charlie Has Cancer” as the rest of The Gang chuckles in the background.
Steve Carell auditioning for Anchorman
This audition tape is the very first taste of everyone’s favorite mentally-off KVWN weatherman, Brick Tamland. Tune in around the two-minute mark if you’ve ever wanted to see Steve Carell turn purple.
Natalie Portman auditioning for Leon: The Professional
Here’s a tiny Natalie Portman whipping out some bite-size sass in her successful audition for 1994’s Leon: The Professional. The best is when she yells, “Jesus Christmas!” and flirts with the line reader.
Dustin Hoffman auditioning for Tootsie
In 1982’s Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman plays a desperate actor who pretends to be a woman in order to land a job on a soap opera. Check out Hoffman’s audition, performed in drag as Dorothy Michaels.
Charlyne Yi auditioning for Saturday Night Live
Before Charlyne Yi dazzled us with her token awkwardness in Paper Heart, the actress took to YouTube to announce her SNL aspirations.
Michael Cera auditioning for Knocked Up
Here’s another staged one, but what if Michael Cera had played Seth Rogen’s part in Knocked Up? Yeah, we’d rather have more Arrested Development, too.
Lea Michele auditioning for Glee
In this Glee audition and the accompanying interview, it’s made clear that Lea Michele scored her role as Rachel Berry by being herself when the folks behind Glee thought she was acting. That probably isn’t a good thing.
Seth Rogen auditioning for Freaks and Geeks
Long before Seth Rogen played a stoner alongside James Franco in Judd Apatow’s Pineapple Express, he played stoner Ken Miller alongside James Franco in Judd Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks. The show may have only run for one season, but at least it introduced Apatow to our favorite “freaks,” many of whom are still starring in his films to this day.
Cookie Monster auditioning for Saturday Night Live
In 2010, Cookie Monster went on a campaign to host Saturday Night Live. The Sesame Street glutton wasn’t 100 percent successful, but he did get to sing onstage with Jeff Bridges.