Russell Crowe is one of the most well-known and popular actors of his generation. After initially scoring several supporting roles in various TV shows and movies early on in his career, Crowe began to rise to prominence in the mid and late 1990s for his performances in films like "The Quick and the Dead," "L.A. Confidential," and "The Insider."
His status as a certified movie star, however, was cemented in the early 2000s when he played the lead roles in multiple popular films, including "Gladiator," "A Beautiful Mind," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," and "Cinderella Man." He earned Oscar nominations for his performances in "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Insider," and won his first and only best actor Academy Award to date for his turn as Maximus Decimus Meridius in "Gladiator" (via IMDb).
But for as impressive and star-making as Crowe's film performances were in the years leading up to the dawn of the new millennium, it turns out that he actually missed out on a role in one very beloved '90s movie. Indeed, fans of Crowe's work may be surprised to learn the reason why he ultimately wasn't chosen to star opposite Julia Roberts in the popular late '90s rom-com, "My Best Friend's Wedding."
As part of an interview he did for Scott Meslow's new book, "From Hollywood with Love," P.J. Hogan, director of "My Best Friend's Wedding," revealed not only that Russell Crowe was up for the lead role in the 1997 film, but also why he didn't get the part (via Vulture). During the interview, the director admitted that Crowe was his "first choice" for the role of Michael O'Neal, the friend that Julia Roberts' Jules is secretly in love with in the film.
While Hogan wanted Crowe for the role, the final casting decision was always going to be given to Roberts. "Julia had casting approval. No one was getting in this movie if Julia didn't approve," Hogan recalled. Despite that, the director still tried to convince everyone else that Crowe was right for the role by inviting him to a table read with Roberts. Unfortunately, the audition didn't go very well.
"It was one of the worst table reads I've ever experienced. Russell was seated opposite Julia. He gripped that script ... and he didn't look at her once. He read every line in a monotone. At one point, Julia was literally leaning over the table, staring, like, inches from Russell's face, trying to make eye contact," Hogan said. The director went on to add, "At the end of the reading, Russell came up to me and said, 'I thought that went pretty well.' And then I knew: Russell was not going to be in 'My Best Friend's Wedding.'"
Ultimately, the role of Michael O'Neal ended up going to Dermot Mulroney, and most fans of the film would likely agree that was the right decision. Of course, things turned out pretty well for Crowe too — even if he did miss out on getting to star in one of the most beloved rom-coms of the 1990s.