Actors Who Rejected The Chance To Play These Iconic Roles


It’s a well known fact that making movies is a lengthy process, from writing the script, to hiring a production team, and last but not least, finding the right actors for your film. When actors are starting off, their day are often spent divided between day jobs that pay their bills and going to auditions. It usually takes until they get one big role that shoots them into the public eye, which in turn has producers groveling at their feet to appear in their movies. This isn’t always the case, as plenty of established actors continue to audition, even when they’ve made it big in Hollywood.

John Travolta In Forrest Gump

One of the most notable of these cases is Tom Hanks, who won his second consecutive Oscar for playing Forrest in 1994’s Forrest Gump. However, he was not the first choice for the role.

The offer was first made to John Travolta, who declined. Can you imagine how different Gump would be if he were played by the Saturday Night Fever actor? Granted, Travolta is much more than a fabulous dancer. That same year, he played in another classic, Pulp Fiction.

Angela Bassett In Monster’s Ball

Before Halle Berry was booked to play the main role in Monster’s Ball, the producers of the film wanted Angela Bassett. Bassett had a rather colorful response about her lack of desire to play a character employed in the oldest profession.

It was an unlucky choice, as Berry became the first black actress to win the Oscar for the Best Actress in a Leading Role. Bassett was worried about portraying black women in a negative light, but Berry pushed on ahead anyway.

Christopher Walken In Star Wars

There’s a Hollywood legend that has been making the rounds for more than 40 years regarding some of the lead actors in Star Wars.

Sources say that George Lucas originally wanted Christopher Walken to play the space scoundrel, Han Solo in his intergalactic franchise. This rumor, of course, may not be true, as Walken has famously stated he’s never turned down a role in his career. Either way, Harrison is the only Solo we can picture.

Jack Nicholson In The Godfather

It took producers some time to cast the role of Michael Corleone when they were in the process of putting together The Godfather. One of their first choices for the mafia boss was Jack Nicholson, who turned them down.

Before Pacino accepted his career-defining role, a laundry list of actors, from Robert Redford to Dustin Hoffman, and even Ryan O’Neal were called first. Pacino’s performance was so impeccable that he was nominated for an Academy Award.

Julia Roberts In The Proposal

Though Julia Roberts mostly established herself in meatier roles, she was poised for a romantic comedy revival in the early years of the new millennium.

Sandra Bullock had a long string of rom-com hits when she took the lead role in The Proposal, but Roberts had actually been producers’ first choice. The Pretty Women star was reluctant to take on such a lighthearted film, but Bullock had no such complex, as she won an Oscar for The Blind Side, which was released that same year.

Michelle Pfeiffer In Silence Of The Lambs

When you consider the movie, Silence of the Lambs, it’s likely that you associate it with Jodie Foster. However, she almost didn’t make it into the film. The film’s director, Jonathan Demme first tried to give the role to Michelle Pfeiffer, but she was wary of the subject matter.

After Michelle Pfeffier, Dumme offered the role to Meg Ryan, who also wasn’t interested. Jodi Foster had no such concerns, which was a good thing because she won an Oscar for her performance.

Warren Beatty In Kill Bill

When Quentin Tarantino was developing Kill Bill, he knew there was only one actor he wanted for the title role: Warren Beatty. A wrench was thrown in Tarantino’s plan when Beatty turned down the film, as he had become choosy about the roles he took on around that time.

Instead, Tarantino cast David Carradine in the role, while Beatty would go on to perform in Love Affair, opposite of Annette Bening. Given the popularity of Kill Bill, we think Beatty made the wrong choice.

Matt Damon in Star Trek

When Chris Pine took on the role of Captain Kirk in the new Star Trek movie, he had big shoes to fill. Luckily for him, the role was a springboard to stardom, and Pine has become a hot commodity.

However, there are some rumors that Pine wasn’t J.J. Abrams first choice. Whispers have circulated for years that they’d originally been looking at Matt Damon for the role. According to Damon, though, Abrams had been clear about wanting someone younger as Captain Kirk.

Al Pacino In Pretty Woman

In a surprising twist, Garry Marshall didn’t intend for Richard Gere to play the leading man in Pretty Women. When the film debuted in 1990, Gere became one of America’s favorite leading men.

Pacino may have had street cred as an actor, but he definitely couldn’t have attained the kind of heartthrob status that Gere had after the film was released. Moreover, it’s hard to imagine him and Julia Roberts having that kind of chemistry on film.

Tom Selleck In Indiana Jones

Harrison Ford may seem like the embodiment of the swashbuckling archeologist, Indiana Jones, so it’s hard to believe the role almost wasn’t his at all. Before calling up Ford, Steven Spielberg asked Tom Selleck to take on Indy, but he said no in favor of working on Magnum P.I.

Both might be action stars, but we’re not sure if Selleck’s famous mustache would have been a good look for Indy. Ford proved popular enough that he even came back for a number of sequels.

Brad Bird In Star Wars Episode VII

The announcement that Disney would be reviving the seemingly extinct Star Wars films with Episode VII: The Force Awakens was one of the most exciting film announcements in recent history.

Brad Bird, who is a huge fan of the series was originally slated to perform in the film. When it came down to it, though, he decided it would be a better idea to appear in Tomorrowland with George Clooney, as much as he loved the film series.

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Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix In Brokeback Mountain

Before Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal entered the pantheon of star-crossed lovers, the creative team working on Brokeback Mountain envisioned two very different men in the leading roles.

Mark Wahlberg was one of the first approached to take on the film, but said he was “creeped out” by the gay relationship depicted. Apparently, the religious Wahlberg gets his priest’s opinion before taking on any role and was advised to turn it down.

Reese Witherspoon in Scream

Reese Witherspoon had a tough choice to make when she was just beginning her film career. The actress was offered the role of Sydney Prescott in the horror series, Scream, which was released in 1996.

Though Witherspoon’s career could have used the boost, she felt that horror wasn’t the genre she wanted to focus on. It would be a few more years before she became America’s sweetheart by playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, but for the Oscar winner, it seems it was worth the wait.

Denzel Washington In Michael Clayton 

When the thriller, Michael Clayton was in development, the young director, Tony Gilroy, only had one actor in mind for the title role.

Contrary to popular belief, he wanted to see Denzel Washington play the character, but Washington turned him down, thinking the director was too inexperienced. After George Clooney made a splash with his performance in the well-received movie, Washington was open about his regret for having turned down Tony Gilroy in the first place.

Drew Barrymore In Showgirls

Drew Barrymore was in need of a comeback film during her tumultuous teen years, but when the producers of Showgirls asked her to play Naomi Malone, she was more than happy to let it go to Elizabeth Berkley.

The film earned itself a fair amount of revenue, but it was derided by critics, along with its star. Though the movie has developed a cult following, it’s considered one of the worst movies in history. It seems like Drew really dodged a bullet there.

Leonardo DiCaprio In Boogie Nights

Leonardo DiCaprio was a rising star in the mid to late 90s, but his place in Hollywood was really cemented by his role in Titanic. In order to take on the role of Jack Dawson, however, he had to turn to the offer he had been made for the film, Boogie Nights.

The film’s director, Paul Anderson, wasn’t the big name he was today, which made Leo more hesitant. Either way, Leo was glad to see Mark Wahlberg play Dirk Diggler instead.

Chevy Chase In American Beauty

Chevy Chase managed to miss out on a number of well-regarded films in the 1990s. From Forrest Gump to American Beauty, Chase could have had his pick of choice roles. The only choice he made, however, was to turn them all down.

At this point, it would be as hard to imagine Chase playing Kevin Spacey’s character in American Beauty, just as it would be hard to see him as Forrest Gump. He probably regrets passing up so many hits for film flops.

Sean Connery In Lord Of The Rings

Ian McKellen fits so comfortably in the role of Gandalf the Grey that it’s crazy to think he wasn’t Peter Jackson’s first choice for the role. Originally, Sean Connery was asked to portray the mystical wizard in the film adaptation J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world.

Connery turned it down because he “didn’t understand the script.” Connery continued his explanation by saying, “I read the book. I read the script. I saw the movie. I still don’t understand it.”

Whitney Houston In The Cosby Show

When The Cosby Show was first going into production in the 1980s, Whitney Houston was the performer that the creative team really wanted for the show. Just before she signed, however, she called director Jay Sandrich changing her mind.

Houston just had a hunch that she was going to become a music star and didn’t want her singing career sidetracked by acting. Houston’s instinct proved correct, and Sabrina LeBeauf took on the role of eldest daughter Sandra instead.

Jodie Foster In Adventures In Babysitting

One of the most popular comedy films of the 1980s, Adventures in Babysitting was the story of a babysitter, played by Elizabeth Shue, who ended up in some sticky situations with her charges in tow.

While Shue was perfection in the role of Chris Parker, the role was almost played by someone completely different. Jodie Foster was in talks about the role, as well as Valerie Bertinelli and Michelle Pfeffier. Bertinelli especially wanted the role, but seemed too angry in her screen test.

Katie Holmes In Buffy The Vampire Slayer

When it came to teen-centric TV shows in the 1990s, there was a lot of competition for the roles. Sarah Michelle Geller missed out on several opportunities, including the title character in Sabrina the Teenage Witch, before she was ultimately cast as Buffy Summers in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Geller wasn’t the first choice for Buffy, surprisingly though! Producers had wanted Katie Holmes for the role, but she wanted to finish high school first.

Melanie Griffith In Thelma And Louise

Thelma & Louise was a breakthrough film for Geena Davis, and a comeback for Susan Sarandon, both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards for their work. Before Davis had the role, though, it was first offered to Melanie Griffith.

Given the enduring popularity of the movie, it seems that Griffth made a huge mistake my passing it up. The reason she passed, however, was struggles she was dealing with in her personal life, including a break up from then partner, Antonio Banderas.

Ray Liotta In The Sopranos

James Gandolfini has become synonymous with his character on the hit HBO drama, The Sopranos. As finely tuned as his performance was, Gandolfini almost didn’t make the cut as Tony. The character was first offered to Ray Liotta, who said no. He should have thought twice about that decision considering how many awards both the show and Gandolfini himself won, which included three Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe award, and even three Screen Actors Guild awards.

Anne Hathaway In Silver Linings Playbook 

When Anne Hathaway found herself with multiple projects on her hands, she knew she was really living the dream. The downside of that though, is that you can’t always make every film if their shooting schedules conflict.

This was the exact situation that occurred when Hathaway was offered the role of Tiffany in Silver Linings PlaybookHathaway decided to focus on her other projects, allowing Jennifer Lawrence to take on the opportunity. Anne must have been bummed when Jen won the Oscar.

Cher In The Addams Family

Looking at the picture below, it’s clear why anyone would have wanted to cast Cher as Morticia Addams. With her creamy complexion and long dark locks, Cher was an obvious choice.

She had no interest in taking part in the film, however, nor can we really picture her doing it well. Anjelica Huston would eventually sign on as Morticia, and she did an excellent job. Cher, meanwhile, accepted a role in Mermaids along side Christina Ricci and Winona Ryder.

Emily Blunt In Iron Man 2

Emily Blunt is a versatile actress who has given great performances in comedies, dramas, and even musicals. One thing she isn’t known for, though, is being an action film star.

Blunt was on the brink of changing that when she had to pass on doing Iron Man 2. Instead, the production team cast Scarlett Johansson in the film in Blunt’s place. While Johansson became a Marvel superhero, Blunt chose to play a role in the Jack Black film, Gulliver.

Henry Winkler In Grease

If you think back on stars from the 1970s who are known for playing greasers, the first two that come to mind are probably John Travolta as Danny Zuko and Henry Winkler as the Fonz.

That’s no coincidence, considering Winkler played the role so well, he was actually the first choice to play the soft-hearted bad boy in the film adaptation of Grease. We’re not sure how much Winkler was up to the musical demands of the film anyway.

Mel Gibson In Gladiator

Mel Gibson has played his fair share of characters in action films. When it was time to make Gladiator, he was actually the producers’ first choice for the part of Maximus.

When given the offer, however, Gibson declined, saying that by that point, he thought he was “a bit too old” for the lead in an action film. Instead, Maximus was played by Russell Crowe, who ended up winning an Academy Award for his work in Gladiator.

Molly Ringwald In Pretty Woman

Molly Ringwald was still one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood when Pretty Women was going into production. The creative team wanted to bring Ringwald on board to play the lead. However she was unimpressed by the lead character’s occupation, so she turned them down.

Julia Roberts was fresh off of her acclaimed performance in Steel Magnolias and had no qualms with the character. Ringwald herself believed that Julia was the best actress for the role, so there were no hard feelings.

Sarah Michelle Gellar In Clueless

Early on during the production of Clueless, the role of Amber was offered to a young Sarah Michelle Geller. At the time, Geller was merely a soap star, so the film would have been a big stepping stone for her career.

Unfortunately, her filming schedule for All My Children didn’t allow her enough time to do the film, so she turned the part down. There are even some whispers that she had been offered Alicia Silverstone’s role, though they remain unsubstantiated.

Thomas Jane In Mad Men

Jon Hamm’s big break came when he debuted in the 1960s based drama, Mad Men, where he played the cunning advertising executive, Don Draper. Prior to booking Mad Men, Hamm had mostly earned only bit roles in a variety of TV and movie projects.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that the original choice to play Draper was a more established actor. Thomas Jane had a number of films under his belt, but for some reason passed on the chance to star in the hit show.

Bette Midler In Sister Act

In an ironic twist, the Jewish performer Bette Midler was the first choice to play Deloris Van Cartier, a role which would eventually be played by Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg really made her mark on the film, and we can’t really imagine Bette playing a nun.

That was Midler’s concern as well, thinking her fans might not like the look on her. Sister Act wasn’t the only big film role that Midler declined around that time. She previously declined to act in the film Misery.

Tom Cruise in Footloose

Before Cruise was famous for playing the daring pilot Maverick in Top Gun, he had been offered another big film role just as he was becoming a rising star in Hollywood.

Cruise was asked to play the lead role in Footloose, Ren McCormick, but as the calls kept rolling in, Cruise had a choice to make. He chose to forgo the movie musical in favor of making All the Right Moves. In his place, Kevin Bacon took on the role of Ren.

Pamela Anderson in The X Files

It might be hard to imagine Pamela Anderson doing anything other than playing a beautiful lifeguard on the beaches of sunny Southern California.

After she had become a bonafide star from her work on Baywatch, the producers of X-Files wanted to bring Anderson on as one of their leading female characters. Anderson turned them down, however, and they had to look elsewhere for their female star. Ultimately, they chose Gillian Anderson to play female FBI agent, Dana Scully.

Harrison Ford in Schindler’s List

Harrison Ford isn’t known for being particularly picky about the films he takes on like many other actors in his league. One role he did famously turn down, however, was the role of Oskar Schindler in the Steven Spielberg helmed, Schindler’s List.

Ford’s reason for turning the role down was an honest one. He worried that should he take on the character, audiences would only be able to envision him as a star, and he believed the film was more important than his fame.

Paul Giamatti in The Office

Steve Carell may have given a brilliant performance as the inexplicable boss on the American adaptation of the Britsh comedy, The Office. If you have any concept of Carell’s comedic ability, you’ll be surprised to know that he wasn’t the original choice for the role.

The part as initially offered to Paul Giamatti whose brand of comedy is equally funny, but very different from Carell’s. Giamatti said no to The Office, but with Carell at the wheel, it was no loss to audiences.

Garrett Hedlund in 50 Shades Of Gray

When the first details were released about the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey, the leading man was slated to be played by Garrett Hedlund, who had previously appeared in a number of dramatic films, including Friday Night Lights.

Before the film went into production, however, Hedlund dropped out, reportedly because he felt like he was unable to connect with the domineering character. The role was eventually picked up by the Irish actor, Jamie Dornan.

Tom Hanks in Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise is associated with a number of iconic roles, including his character in Jerry Maguire, which he played opposite Renee Zellweger’s single mother, Dorothy Boyd.

According to Cameron Crowe, who directed the hit 1996 movie, when he was writing the screenplay for the movie, he’d actually had a different Tom in mind for the role of Jerry. He’d wanted Tom Hanks, but Hanks was already locked into making the film, That Thing You Do, , so Crowe booked Cruise instead.

Leonardo DiCaprio in American Psycho

Following up on his success in Titanic was likely to be a difficult feat for Leonardo DiCaprio, no matter what he did. When the opportunity arose to play Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, DiCaprio was all in for the movie, however, his manager cautioned him against it.

Supposedly, Leo’s mind was changed after he’d already agreed to the role, when he was convinced that his main fans wouldn’t want to see him play that kind of character.

Gillian Anderson in Downtown Abbey

Downton Abbey became a cultural institution that captivated audiences with its portrayal of high society in early 20th century England. The family drama managed to be at once a fascinating study on manners foreign to our own, while also being relatable to modern viewers.

Chief among the action in the family drama is Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cara Crawley. Surprisingly though, the part was first offered to Gillian Anderson. It would have been a big change from her science fiction roles.

Matt Damon in The Dark Knight

Matt Damon has had some bad luck with regards to some of the roles he decided not to take. He managed to pass up a chance in being in the box office behemoth that Avatar would become, as well as declining a role in The Dark Knight.

Both movies were wildly successful, and somehow Damon managed to miss out on both. In his place, Aaron Eckhart would appear in The Dark Knight as DA Harvey Dent.

Katie Holmes in Orange Is The New Black

As Katie Holmes plotted her comeback to Hollywood, one of the roles she considered taking was Piper Chapman, the central character in the first season of Orange is the New Black.

At the time, Netflix hadn’t fully established itself as a leader of TV programs, so taking on the role likely seemed like more of a gamble to Holmes, who decided she’d pass. Though it’s hard to picture anyone but Taylor Schilling playing Piper, Holmes probably regrets turning down the offer.

Stuart Townsend in Lord Of The Rings

There were a few actors who formed the cornerstone of the Lord of the Rings cast, including Viggo Mortensen. The grizzled heartthrob may have fit into the role of the valiant Aragorn like a glove, but he wasn’t the first actor cast to play the part.

Before Peter Jackson brought in Viggo, Aragorn was slated to be played by the Irish actor Stuart Townsend. Townsend even began production, but Jackson was unimpressed with his work and decided he was too young.

Janeane Garofalo in Fight Club

Janeane Garofalo has always done a great job in roles that require a tough-talking female actress. When Fight Club  was being adapted from book to film, Janeane was one of the first actresses the production team contacted to play the role of Marla.

Garafolo was hesitant to play the role due to the number of intimate scenes Marla would be engaging in throughout the course of the movie. Instead, Helena Bonham Carter picked up the mantle.

Dave Chapelle in Requiem For A Dream

Marlon Wayans gave a brilliant performance as the small time substance dealer, Tyrone, who dreams of the big time in the psychological thriller, Requiem for a Dream.

The film’s director, Darren Aronofsky had a few secrets to share after the film was released. He eventually divulged that Wayans had not been his first choice for the character. Initially, he had wanted the comedian, Dave Chapelle to play Tyrone, but Chapelle decided the project wasn’t for him.

Harry Dean Stanton in The Shining

In a classic case of conflicted scheduling, Harry Dean Stanton was the original actor who was cast in the role of Lloyd in The Shining. Unfortunately for Stanton, as well as director Stanley Kubrick, Harry Dean Stanton was already in the middle of filming Alien, which would be released in 1979.

In his place, Kubrick was forced to find another actor to stand behind the bar in his adaptation of the Stephen King thriller. He would ultimately go with Joe Turkel.

Lou Ferrigno in Gladiator

Sometimes when actors are trying to land big roles, it’s simply a matter of who wants it more.

When the producers of the 2000 film, Gladiator, were searching for an actor to play Tigris of Gaul, one of Maximus Decimus’s many opponents, it came down to two options–Lou Ferrigno and Sven-Ole Thorson. While Ferrigno may surely have fit the description, Thorson had been itching to play the part for some time, which eventually worked in his favor.

Richard Harris in The Fall of The Roman Empire

Richard Harris, an Irish actor famous for his role as Dumbledore of the Harry Potter franchise and Marcus Aurelius of Gladiator, was originally meant to star as Commodus in the 1964 epic film, The Fall of the Roman Empire.

Unfortunately, there was a difference in vision between Harris and Anthony Mann, who was directing. Mann decided to replace Harris with Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. The film was nominated for an Academy Award and went on to win a Golden Globe.

Joseph Fiennes in The Pianist

Landing a big role is often about being in the right place at the right time. Director Roman Polanski originally wanted Joseph Fiennes, famous for his portrayal of William Shakespeare in the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love, to play the lead role in the 2002 drama The Pianist.

Because Fiennes was already committed to some theater work, he was unable to take the role of World War II survivor and Polish musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, which allowed Adrien Brody to take on the character.

Fay Wray in Titanic

It’s never good to make decisions which you go on to regret. The late Fay Wray was offered the role of older Rose in Titanic, which she turned down, saying “I think to have done this film would have been a tortuous experience altogether.

“I feel good about where my life is, now. I feel free and joyous and happy and more liberated than I have ever been.” Gloria Stuart would go on to earn herself an Academy Award nomination for the movie.

Simon Pegg in Inglorious Basterds

If only there was a way to be in two places at the same time. English actor Simon Pegg, who was also seen in 2004 comedy horror film, Shaun of the Dead, was in the running for the role of Lt. Archie Hicox in Inglorious Basterds.

Unfortunately, Pegg was already committed to The Adventures of Tintin, so the part was given to the German-born, Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who had previously portrayed a Spartan warrior in 300.

Michael Madsen – Vincent Vega

Michael Madsen was the first actor asked to portray Vincent Vega in Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction. Because he was already in the middle of filming Lawrence Kasdan’s 1994 Western, Wyatt Earp, John Travolta stepped in and ended up taking the part.

Pulp Fiction went on to win an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. John Travolta was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe as well for his individual performance in the film.

Tom Hanks in Shawshank Redemption

Coming off popular films such as 1988’s Big, 1989’s Turner & Hooch, and 1993’s Sleepless in Seattle, Tom Hanks was on a roll by the mid 1990s.

It seemed as if everything he touched turned to gold, so it’s no wonder that director Frank Darabont wanted Hanks to play Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption. However, since Forrest Gump was already in production, Hanks had to turn down the role. Tim Robbins took the part instead, and both films were incredibly successful.

Stellan Skarsgard in Schindler’s List

Stellan Skarsgard was originally intended to play Oskar Schindler, the German businessman and savior of over a thousand Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, in the 1993 film, Schindler’s List.

The role ended up going to Liam Neeson after he bailed on the role of Father Lankester Merrin in Exorcist: The Beginning. In an ironic twist, Skarsgard decided to take the role that Neeson surrendered. It seems like it was a win-win for both of the actors.

Albert Finney in Lawrence of Arabia

Albert Finney was originally slated to star in Lawrence of Arabia, but Katharine Hepburn lobbied for Peter O’Toole to take on the character in his stead. The producers took her advice and delivered the bad news to Finney.

While some may consider Katharine Hepburn’s request to be entitled and diva-like, the always classy Hepburn clearly made the right suggestions, as Lawrence of Arabia was a huge critical and financial success, which has remained popular among viewers and critics alike to this day.

Billy Crystal in Toy Story

When you’re a big name in Hollywood, every movie offer can have the potential to make or break a career. Billy Crystal definitely regretted turning down the offer to be the voice of Buzz Lightyear in the 1995 computer-animated film, Toy Story.

Following Crystal’s refusal, Tim Allen was cast as the space ranger action figure. It was clear that Crystal knew he had made a mistake when he quick to take up the chance to voice Mike in Monsters Inc.

Blake Lively in Wolf of Wall Street

Blake Lively, who is best known for her work on the CW’s Gossip Girl, was originally offered the role of Naomi Lapaglia, love interest and mistress of Jordan Belfort.

Lively turned down the part in Martin Scorsese’s 2013 black comedy crime film, The Wolf of Wall Street, which ended up going to Australian actress, Margot Robbie instead. The Wolf of Wall Street was overall well received, achieving the rank of #78 on the BBC’s Greatest Films of the 21st Century list.

Viggo Mortensen in Batman Begins

Before Liam Neeson attempted to recruit Bruce Wayne into the League of Shadows as Ra’s al Ghul, better known as Henri Ducard, in Batman Begins, the role was almost given to Viggo Mortensen.

Mortensen may be best associated with his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mortensen turned down the part, however, so Neeson was free to take the role in his own direction. Batman Begins had some great success in the box office and took home three Saturn Awards.

James Purefoy in V for Vendetta

In the 2005 film, V for Vendetta, James Purefoy was originally meant to portray the masked anarchist terrorist known as V. Unfortunately, Purefoy couldn’t handle the character’s signature Guy Fawkes mask, saying, “We’ll never see my face… Spider-Man’s mask comes off.

Batman’s mask comes off. Even the elephant man had eyes. That’s all I ask for, just an eye!” Hugo Weaving ended up replacing Purefoy and dubbed his voice over in scenes that had already been filmed with Purefoy as V.

Melanie Griffith in Taxi Driver

In Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic, Taxi Driver, Melanie Griffith was actually the first choice for the role of Iris, a teenage lady of the night.

Her mother, Tippi Hedren, however, did not want her 12-year-old daughter to take on such an adult role and forced her to turn it down. The part then passed to Jodie Foster, who was nominated for a 1977 Oscar for her work as Iris, in addition to winning a handful of smaller awards.

Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs

When Quentin Tarantino wrote 1992’s Reservoir Dogs, he originally had himself in mind for the role of Mr. Pink but was willing to let other actors audition.

When Steve Buscemi showed up to the actors call, Tarantino was sure to let him know his intentions of being Mr. Pink and told him that the only way Buscemi could take if from his was to do an amazing audition. Buscemi ended up impressing Tarantino so much in his audition that he was given the role.

James Caan in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

In the 1975 film adaptation of the Ken Kesey novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Jack Nicholson gave a riveting performance in his portrayal of recidivist criminal and mental ward rebel, Randle McMurphy.

However, prior to Jack Nicholson accepting the part, director Milos Forman had James Caan in mind. Regrettably, Cann would reject the Oscar-winning part, later saying in an interview with Howard Stern that he “…turned down Cuckoo’s Nest four times before Jack [Nicholson] got it.”

Harvey Keitel in Rocky

When Sylvester Stallone set out to write the 1976 classic sports film, Rocky, he had Harvey Keitel as his first choice to play Paulie Pennino, the close friend of Rocky Balboa, and older brother to Rocky’s love interest, Adrian Pennino.

Stallone’s original thought process was to have Carrie Snodgress play Adrian so the siblings would both be of Irish descent, but when Snodgress couldn’t take the part, adjustments were made to the script, and Burt Young was tapped to play the character.

Dustin Hoffman in Catch Me If You Can

Director and co-producer Steven Spielberg initially wanted Dustin Hoffman for the role of Frank Abagnale, Jr. in the 2002 biographical film, Catch Me If You Can.

Because the film was intended to be made in the 80s, Hoffman was too old to portray the 18-year-old Frank Abagnale Jr., when it finally went into production several decades later. Leonardo DiCaprio got the part instead, which earned him another Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor.

Kate Winslet for Inception

In addition to Titanic and Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet was almost featured as yet another doomed lover opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2010 science fiction film, Inception.

Director Christoper Nolan asked Kate to tak on the role of Mal, Dom Cobb’s wife who is driven to suicide. Winslet refused the offer because she couldn’t picture herself as the deeply depressed character, who director Christopher Nolan wanted to be a femme fatale. In her place, the role was played by Marion Cotillard.


Irrfan Khan in Body of Lies

Indian actor, Irrfan Khan, decline the offer to play the part of Hani Salaam in Ridley Scott’s 2008 film Body of Lies. Khan could have had he chance to act opposite of some big-time Hollywood names like Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.

His shoes were filled by Mark Strong in the end. Khan would later explain the reason he didn’t appear in the film as, “It just didn’t work out.” Strong was nominated for a London Film Critics Circle Award for his role.

Brad Pitt for The Departed

As Martin Scorsese was putting together his all-star cast for 2006’s The Departed, he had some alternate ideas about who he wanted to play the seasoned criminal, Colin Sullivan.

At the start of casting, Scorsese wanted to bring Brad Pitt on board to play the role. However, Pitt decided to drop out of the production when he was offered a part in the Alejandro G. Inarritu directed film, Babel. Boston native, Matt Damon, was Pitt’s replacement, which probably made him a better choice.

Michael Williams in Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino revealed in an interview that he had written a part in Django Unchained specifically with Michael K. Williams in mind.

Tarantino was therefore disappointed to find out that Williams wasn’t going to be able to work on his film due to his previous obligation to Boardwalk Empire. Tarantino never specified which role he’d written for Williams in the film, nor if he made any changes to the script after another actor was cast.

Michael Madsen in LA Confidential

L.A. Confidential is a nostalgic look at Hollywood’s criminal past, as the lives corrupt law enforcement officials intersect with those of the glamorous movie stars populating Hollywood during the 1950s.

As the movie began production, director Curtis Hanson wanted to cast Michael Madsen in the role of the hardened plainclothes officer, Bud White. Madsen turned down the offer, which was then made to Russell Crowe. Crowe was hesitant to play the character, fearing he couldn’t adequately capture his essence, but ultimately accepted.

Anthony Minghella in Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting was characterized by the mix of Hollywood newcomers, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, in contrast with the veterans, Robin Williams and Stellan Skarsgard.

One of the other veteran actors the creative team was hoping to book was Anthony Minghella, who they wanted to offer the role of Henry Lipkin. Unfortunately for Good Will Hunting, Minghella was already locked into another project. In his place, George Plimpton played the role of  Henry Lipkin.

Keanu Reeves in Heat

As the film Heat began the casting process, the producers had their eyes on Keanu Reeves to play the role of Chris. He’d established himself as an action star when he fronted the 1994 film, Speed.

Executives working on putting together a sequel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, as well as those working on Heat, all wanted Reeves to star in their movies. Keanu refused to agree to either, despite their spectacular paychecks, instead choosing to perform in a stage production of Hamlet.

Ray Liotta in The Departed

Ray Liotta may have made a splash in a previous Scorsese crime production, Goodfellas, so it’s no surprise that Scorsese wanted to bring him back when he was putting together the cast of The Departed.

Sadly, he wasn’t available to film the movie. Liotta wasn’t the only actor Scorsese considered to play Dignam. Before choosing another Boston native, Mark Wahlberg for the role, Scorsese also thought about casting Denis Leary, but we’re glad Wahlberg got to show off his roots.

Johnny Depp In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Matthew Broderick might be best associated with his work in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, despite his understated, but still impressive resume. Before he was chosen as Bueller though, the producers ran through several other big 80s stars.

First to get the offer was Johnny Depp, but the role itself feels a little clean cut for Depp’s tastes. The other actors given offers before Broderick were heartthrob Rob Lowe, and Back to the Future star, Michael J. Fox.

Lindsay Lohan In The Hangover 

Lindsay Lohan had a successful run in a number of movies late in her teen years. Shortly after, she began to struggle with her personal life, as many child actors do when they hit adulthood.

She has been offered several chances to make a comeback, including being offered the role of Jade in the 2009 comedy, The Hangover. After Lohan turned it down, the part went to the gorgeous Heather Graham. With any luck, Lindsay will still manage to get herself back in the game.

Will Smith In The Matrix

When The Matrix first went into production, Will Smith was a hot commodity. He’d had a string of successful films, from Men in Black to Independence Day, proving to the world that he was more than just a sitcom star.

That’s one of the reasons why Smith was actually offered the role of Neo in The Matrix first. Smith preferred working on Wild Wild West, however, which is how Keanu got the role. Smith has no regrets.

Matthew Broderick In Breaking Bad

Before Bryan Cranston was Walter White, he was the nerdy dad in Malcolm in the Middle. After seeing how terrifying he can be, it’s hard to think of him as being as nerdy as Matthew Broderick comes across.

The truth is, the producers liked Broderick’s unassuming personality and offered the role of Walter White to him first. Just as we can’t imagine Broderick becoming the monster that Walt becomes, producers were unsure if Cranston could handle the role as well.

Will Smith In Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino had a variety of actors in mind when he was first developing Django Unchained, many of whom were unable to commit to the project.

Will Smith seemed to have simply turned down the opportunity to appear as the star of the film because he thought the script was too violent. After Smith declined, Tarantino then brought the offer to Jamie Foxx, who said yes. When the movie was received well by critics, Smith expressed his regret for passing on the film.

Dana Delany In Sex And The City

Sarah Jessica Parker might be best associated for her role as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, but the role almost wasn’t hers. Before Parker was given the offer, Dana Delaney was asked to play Carrie.

However, she told producers that she preferred not to appear in a show with such an explicit focus. Parker was the perfect fit for Bradshaw though, becoming so synonymous with her character than many people only know her as Carrie, not Sarah Jessica Parker.

Bruce Willis In Ghost

M. Night Shyamalan was kind enough to consider using a real husband and wife team when he was casting his 1990 film, Ghost. Bruce Willis was the first actor who was offered the part of Sam, so he could work opposite his wife at the time, Demi Moore.

Willis declined the film on the grounds that he didn’t think fans would like him as a ghost, and because he didn’t think the script was that good. Instead, Patrick Swayze took his place.

Rooney Mara In Zero Dark Thirty

The critically acclaimed war film, Zero Dark Thirty almost had a very different star. Originally, the leading female role was offered to Mara Rooney, but she was unable to commit due to being involved with another project that was shooting at the same time.

Instead, Jessica Chastain took on the film, though when she first received the call that she got the role, her agent turned it down on her behalf. We’re glad that Chastain decided to reconsider.

Angelina Jolie In Charlie’s Angels

Charlie’s Angels was a cultural institution when the TV show first aired in the 1970s, and it made bonafide stars out of the women who appeared on the show, from Farrah Fawcett to Jaclyn Smith.

When studios announced they’d be rebooting the show as a film, they knew they needed an exceptional cast. One of the first actresses they asked was Angelina Jolie, who decided she wasn’t interested. In her place, they ultimately cast Lucy Liu.

Emily Browning In The Twilight Saga

When Twilight was being developed into a movie from the original written series, the producers desperately wanted to bring Emily Browning on board.

Browning, who hails from Australia has been involved with other book to film adaptations, including the 2004 version of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Browning had no interested in being in Twilight, which was good news for Kristen Stewart, whose career was kicked off by being attached to the teen drama.

Jim Carrey In Edward Scissorhands

Goofball Jim Carrey has appeared in a wide variety of comedies, including some with darker overtones, but it’s still a surprise to hear that he was considered to play the title character in Edward Scissorhands.

In the end, Tim Burton wanted the macabre glory in which Johnny Depp excels. It was the beginning of a creative partnership that continues to this day, as the pair has also made films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as well as Sweeney Todd.

Julia Roberts In The Blind Side

The Blind Side was the second film released in 2009 that starred Sandra Bullock, who had only gotten the role because Julia Roberts passed it up.

Surprisingly, Julia Roberts chose to work on the montage film, Valentine’s Day, rather than the critically acclaimed biopic, The Blind Side, because the former offered her a larger paycheck. It was a real mistake on Roberts’s part, given that Bullock won an Academy Award for her work, seemingly surpassing Roberts’s own reputation.

Kevin Costner In Shawshank Redemption

Shawshank Redemption was a complete commercial failure upon its release, but considering how popular it became, Kevin Costner is probably more disappointed that he passed on the film.

He was originally offered the part that Tim Robbins would go on to play. In its place, Costner took on the film Waterworld, whose production costs were some of the highest in Hollywood history. The film had mixed reviews from the critics, in comparison to the high regard that critics and audiences hold for Shawshank.