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9 Roles Dwayne Johnson Almost Played But Didn’t

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After the recent release of the DCEU’s Black Adam, Dwayne Johnson has proved again that he’s one of the best actors currently working. In a career that’s still going strong since the early 2000s, Johnson has managed to become Hollywood royalty, with no shortage of blockbuster films and television appearances under his belt. However, he nearly played several other movie roles.


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It’s always interesting to find out about roles that almost went to other actors, however fitting or unfitting they might be. From another DC Comics anti-hero to an eccentric candy maker, several interesting and surprising roles slipped out of Johnson’s grasp, including roles in films that didn’t actually get made.

9/9 Johnson Was Going To Be James Payton In Ride Along

Kevin Hart and Ice Cube in a comedic scene from 2014's Ride Along.

Johnson and Ryan Reynolds first teamed up onscreen in 2021’s Red Notice but, had things worked out differently, they could have worked together much sooner. The action comedy Ride Along had been in the works since 2005, with Johnson set to play a tough cop who takes his sister’s security guard boyfriend (Reynolds) on a night out on patrol to see whether he’s worthy enough to marry his sister.

However, the film that eventually got made saw Ice Cube and Kevin Hart in the lead roles instead. Johnson and Reynolds certainly have chemistry and it would have been interesting to see what their take on the film would have looked like, but things didn’t transpire that way.

8/9 Johnson Could Have Played Gabe Law And Gabriel Yulaw In The One

Jet Li as both Gabe Law and Gabriel Yulaw in The One.

Before either the MCU or Everything Everywhere All At Once, the 2001 film The One was the first blockbuster to tackle the concept of the multiverse in an intriguing way. Jet Li stars in The One as both Gabe Law, a Los Angeles deputy sheriff, and Gabriel Yulaw, an agent gone rogue. Gabriel seeks to kill every version of himself from alternate realities (including Gabe) so that he can become an all-powerful figure known as The One.

Before Li was cast, however, Johnson was actually offered the lead roles but passed on them in favor of doing The Scorpion King instead. Since Li’s martial arts work is what makes a lot of The One’s action scenes stand out, a version of the film starring Johnson would have been vastly different.

7/9 Johnson Could Have Starred In Transformers: Age Of Extinction As Cade Yaeger

Mark-Wahlberg as Cade Yeager on the poster for Transformers Age of Extinction.

After working with Michael Bay on the 2013 dark comedy Pain & Gain, Johnson was offered the lead human role of inventor Cade Yaeger in the director’s next Transformers film, Age of Extinction. Johnson couldn’t take the role due to commitments to Hercules, so the actor’s Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg took it instead.

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While Johnson would have been able to bring his charm and passionate attitude to the Transformers series, it’s probably for the best that he wasn’t able to accept this role. The franchise seemed to dip further in quality with both Age of Extinction and its sequel, until the critically acclaimed reboot Bumblebee in 2018.

6/9 Johnson Could Have Been John “Reaper” Grimm In Doom

Karl Urban as John

2018’s Rampage wasn’t the first film based on a video game that Johnson starred in, as he previously appeared in the 2005 film adaptation of Doom. That film wasn’t quite a success but it allowed Johnson the chance to play against type, with his character Sgt. Asher “Sarge” Mahonin becoming a villain by the film’s climax.

Originally though, Johnson was offered the role of the protagonist John “Reaper” Grimm, though he chose to play Mahonin because he found that role more interesting. Karl Urban would then be cast as Grimm afterward.

5/9 Goliath In An Unmade David And Goliath Film

A combined image featuring art of the David and Goliath story along with images of Taylor Lautner and Scott Derrickson.

Back in 2011, it was announced that Relativity Media would be making a new epic film based on the Biblical tale of David and Goliath. Doctor Strange and The Black Phone director Scott Derrickson was set to helm the project, and offers were sent to both Taylor Lautner and Johnson to star as the young shepherd David and the Philistine giant Goliath, respectively.

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As tantalizing as that film sounds, it never came together and those involved all moved on to other projects. Perhaps if Johnson and Derrickson’s schedules line up again in the near future, then this film could still be worth making.

4/9 Lobo In An Unmade Live-Action Lobo Film From Brad Peyton

An image of DC anti-hero Lobo next to an image of Brad Peyton.

Before stepping into the role of Black Adam in the DCEU, Johnson was originally attached to another film based on a notorious DC Comics anti-hero. The intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo is a fan favorite among comic fans and has had a solo film in the works since about 2009. Things seemed to finally get moving for the project in 2012 when Johnson signed on to star as the infamous Czarnian with Johnson’s San Andreas and Rampage director onboard to helm it.

The project soon stalled again, though, and Johnson focused his attention on portraying Black Adam instead. While Johnson certainly has the right stature and physique to play Lobo, it’s hard to see the actor pulling off the character’s lovably sleazy, ultra-violent personality.

3/9 Johnson Was Offered Johnny Bravo In An Unmade Live-Action Johnny Bravo Film

Johnny Bravo smiling at the camera,

In 2002, Warner Bros. purchased the rights to the popular Cartoon Network series Johnny Bravo and planned to make a live-action film adaptation. Johnson became attached to star as the lunkheaded, womanizing title character, but the project never got off the ground before being canceled unceremoniously.

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Johnson certainly has the charisma, figure, and comedic chops to play Johnny Bravo, but live-action adaptations of cartoons can be very hit-and-miss. It was probably a blessing in disguise that the film didn’t come to pass.

2/9 Johnson Auditioned For The Titular Character Of Jack Reacher

Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher in 2012's Jack Reacher.

Jack Reacher is described in author Lee Child’s novels as being a mountain of a man, standing at roughly 6’5″ in height. This is why it was a shock to fans of the character when the much shorter Tom Cruise was cast to play Reacher in the 2012 film Jack Reacher. Still, Cruise did a great job.

However, Johnson revealed in an interview in 2018 that he had auditioned to play the role before Cruise was cast. Johnson would have been stellar as Reacher. While this casting never came to pass, a more faithful adaptation of Jack Reacher was adapted to Amazon Primewith the more height-appropriate Alan Ritchson in the titular role.

1/9 Johnson Was Tim Burton’s Second Choice To Play Willy Wonka

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka

As bizarre as it sounds, Johnson was Tim Burton’s second choice to play the eccentric candy maker Willy Wonka in his 2005 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Johnson was a backup in case Johnny Depp couldn’t take the role.

The fact that Johnson was considered for the role is both interesting and odd. The character is so unlike any role Johnson has played and doesn’t quite fit within the actor’s usual wheelhouse. Perhaps Johnson could have done something charmingly unique as Willy Wonka under Burton’s direction to make the performance work. Even though he lost out on this one, Johnson’s career was just getting started and there were plenty of other great roles that the actor would claim and make his own.

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