The Guardian is one of my daily must reads, because they often have really interesting articles. Monday brought us a thought-provoking piece on well-known actors who turned down roles other actors became well-known for. The article reveals such tidbits as: Madonna turned down Whitney Houston's role in The Bodyguard opposite Kevin Costner (can you even picture Madonna and Costner getting it on? I don't think he could handle it.) Costner, the article says, was considered for Keanu Reeves' sexiest role, Neo in the Matrix films (Costner in those skintight black suits, leaping around like that? Uh, no.) And my personal fave, Emma Thompson in the role Sharon Stone made famous in Basic Instinct. (As if Emma Thompson would ever want to be most remembered for flashing her hoo-hah on the big screen.)

That got me thinking about other iconic roles and how I associate the star with that role -- the kind of roles I couldn't imagine another actor in. Like Tom Cruise in Top Gun -- would that film have been the same if it had starred, say, Andrew McCarthy or Emilio Estevez? Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable as Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler. Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator. Signourney Weaver as Ripley. Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko. Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining. William Shatner as Captain Kirk. Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter (OK, that last doesn't really count as high cinema, but who else could have played that role as well?).

What other roles can you think of that are so defined by the actor who played them, you can't imagine someone else in that role?