5 Major Movie Roles No Other Actor Could Have Successfully Matched

Photo: Archive Photos / Stringer (Getty)

Trips to Blockbuster, VHS in a VCR, anything Bill Murray or Hanks. These are a few of the noteworthy things we loved about movies while growing up, things we never imagined could be reinvented, something tangible yet visceral that could never be replaced.

Now most of those things are replaced. A rebooted Ghostbusters, another Indiana Jones adventure, Jumanji except sexier. A few remakes later, here we are, where nothing is sacred, except these five movie roles played by these specific actors. Aside from Marlon Brando as The Godfather, who else could you possibly imagine?

Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly

Back To The Future (1985)

Great Scott! Yes, an argument could be made that Christopher Lloyd is the one and only Doc Brown, and you’d be right. But Michael J. Fox was born to play Marty McFly.

In fact, director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale wanted Fox from the start; they practically wrote the role with Fox in mind. However, Fox was acting in Family Ties and the studio wouldn’t allow him off the show to shoot Back To The Future. After the hiring and firing of Eric Stoltz (the first Marty McFly), Zemeckis and his team begged with Fox’s boss to allow him to shoot the movie if they worked around the TV show. Fox shot BTTF at night and Family Ties by day, averaged three hours of sleep, and the rest is history.

Robin Williams as Daniel Hillard / Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Speaking of comedic timing, no one was or ever will be as genius as Robin Williams. And possibly his most memorable role that displayed his diverse acting prowess came in 1993 with Euphegenia Doubtfire. Or did you forget about his impressive impersonating to get the job?

Williams as an improvisational master as much as he was a walking Rolodex of characters.

According to one biography, Williams tested how believable his character and makeup of Mrs. Doubtfire was during filming by walking into an adult bookstore. Legend is that he made a purchase and walked out without any questions or recognition.

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Jim Carrey as Ace Ventura

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

There’s original. And there’s original. When it comes to Jim Carrey, you can’t argue there’s never been another like him.

Carrey’s comedic originality came to a peak with Ace Ventura, the over-the-top, animal-loving, borderline psychopathic pet detective who won the hearts of countless comedy lovers, back when comedy was pure. The part was originally to be that of a “bumbling idiot” until Carrey won the role and they had to rewrite nearly everything. Much of it was improvised, including the classic catchphrase “Alrighty then,” which Carrey had used years previous in his standup routine. And his walk? Meant to be animalistic.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump (1994)

Gump is one of the all-time greatest fictional characters, and the movie wouldn’t have been nearly as great if Tom Hanks hadn’t played the part. Just as our previously mentioned greats, Hanks also improvised many famous lines in the film.

Bill Murray, John Travolta, and Chevy Chase all allegedly turned down the role of Forrest. And thank God.

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Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa

Rocky (1976)

Stallone wrote the script for Rocky in a matter of days and sold the script with the promise of him being the lead. Even though United Artists wanted Robert Redford, Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds or James Caan for the lead role, Stallone kept the job.

If one of the aforementioned actors played Rocky, it still would have been a fine film. But there’s a reason Rocky Balboa is still considered timeless, a fan favorite, well, that’s all Sly.

Stallone nailed the blue-collar, uneducated, affable fighter that would make a generation of moviegoers most proud by the time Rocky IV took down the cold war with one upper-cut punch in 1985. The original movie is also the only sports movie to win Best Picture. Think that would have happened, if not for Stallone?


Josh Helmuth is a sports reporter in St. Louis who contributes to Mandatory and loves everything Tom Hanks.