The Lord of the Rings is one of the biggest film productions ever, no matter how you look at it. All three films were massive box office hits. The Return of the King swept the Oscars, making the movie as critically well regarded as it was a commercial success. The films were also massive undertakings. All three movie were filmed together following a pre-production period that lasted years.
Because of the massive undertaking that the trilogy was, it was going to require a serious commitment for everybody involved. And it was that commitment which apparently turned off at least one potential actor. Mission: Impossible II's Dougray Scott says that he was sent a copy of the script, with the possibility of him playing the role of Aragorn. He explains that, while he thought the movies looked great, he ultimately couldn't reconcile the idea of spending two years in New Zealand making them. According to Scott...
They sent [the script] to me. They wanted me to go meet Peter Jackson in New Zealand, but to be honest with you I’d just finished doing MI:2 and the idea of spending two years away in New Zealand I just couldn’t quite contemplate. I read it. I thought it was great, and I thought the movie was terrific. Like everyone else, everyone’s agents were getting sent the script. They didn’t offer it to me, but they sent me the script to read for sure.
Dougray Scott is clear with NME that he was never specifically offered the role, so even if he had been willing, there's no guarantee we would have seen a very different Aragorn, but it's still interesting to contemplate. If they wanted Scott to fly to New Zealand to meet with Peter Jackson then he must have had a legitimate shot at the role. If he'd taken that meeting he could have been offered the role of Aragorn, and maybe if he had, the idea of spending two years in New Zealand might not have sounded so crazy.
And really, it's two years in New Zealand. Who needs family? Who needs friends?
It's that much more interesting because this would be the second major franchise role that almost starred Dougray Scott. The actor, quite famously, was the original choice to play Wolverine, but his commitments to Mission: Impossible II kept him from the role that eventually made Hugh Jackman a movie star.
Having now seen Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn, it's that much more impossible to imagine anybody else in the role. Peter Jackson's movies have become the definitive visual reference for what Middle Earth looks like. From this point on, just about everybody reading J.R.R. Tolkein's books will be picturing Jackson's films in their head.
Dougray Scott says he has no regrets about turning down the opportunity. Really, these things happen to actors all the time and clearly the healthy thing to do is not dwell on it all too much.