IMDb Polls

Poll: Actors Who Turned Down Big Roles

As with just about every movie made, before the lead actors are cast there are many more that audition or are considered for the roles. Sometimes the person we see on screen and admire might not have been the directors or studios first choice. So let's take a look at some of the actors and actresses who, if things had played out differently, could've ended up playing these classic roles?

Which of these actors who turned down big roles would be most interesting to see?

Discuss the list here!

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!
     

    Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

    The role of Indiana Jones was originally intended to go to Tom Selleck who was a huge hit in “Magnum, P.I. (1980).” at the time. The show was reluctant to let their star perform in a movie that was obviously destined to be a mega hit. The moustached actor was forced to choose between the two roles and decided to honour his original commitment to the TV show.
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    Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump (1994)

    The classic role of Forrest Gump was initially offered to John Travolta. He declined the part and has since openly admitted that passing on the role was one of the biggest mistakes of his career.
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    Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

    Burt Reynolds once admitted that his biggest regret was passing up the role of Han Solo in film Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977). The role went to Harrison Ford. Reynolds once said: "I think that has to be the biggest mistake of my career. I blame the agent. It was not all down to me."
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    Al Pacino in The Godfather: Part II (1974)

    Jack Nicholson diclined the role of Don Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) trilogy. Years later he explained why he turned down the role: "I knew 'The Godfather (1972)' was going to be a great film, but at that time I believed Indians should play roles written for Indians and Italians should do the same."
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    Ian McKellen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

    Sean Connery was studios first option for the role of Gandalf. He (Conery) declined because he had never read J.R.R. Tolkien's novel and just "didn’t understand the script." If Connery had taken the part he would've earned around $400 million, which is more than any other actor has ever been paid for a single role ever!
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    Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (2006)

    Hugh Jackman declined to be considered for taking the part of 007 around the time of the first X-Men (2000). Later, the actor told the that he had turned down the role out of fear he would get typecast and that it would limit his opportunities in the future.
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    Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

    Will Smith was the first choice for the lead role of ''Neo'' in the incredibly successful sci-fi franchise “The Matrix (1999).” He says that he turned it down because he didn’t understand the movie and knew that he wouldn’t be able to give the role the respect it deserved. Instead, Smith went on to star in the action comedy “Wild Wild West (1999)” and the role of Neo went to Keanu Reeves.
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    Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, and Delos V. Smith Jr. in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

    James Caan rejected the role of R.P. McMurphy in the 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Caan had the honesty to say: "At the time, I thought - because I'm a genius - it wasn't visual enough. It took place in these four walls. I didn't know that [director] Miloš Forman was as good as he was. It's my opinion that I'm stuck with, unfortunately. I've made some bad choices."
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    Tim Robbins in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

    Kevin Costner was offered the part of the main character Andy Dufresne in the The Shawshank Redemption (1994). He wanted to work on Waterworld (1995). Costner has since said that he strongly regrets letting Tim Robbins take the role.
  10. Vote!
     

    Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

    The director of ''The Silence of the Lambs (1991) '' Jonathan Demme wanted Michelle Pfeiffer for the role of Clarice Starling. Pfieffer, however, preferred to avoid the heavy amount of gore and dark subject matter, so she turned down the film.
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    Viggo Mortensen in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

    Daniel Day-Lewis was Peter Jackson first option for the role of Aragorn and tried to open negotiations with him multiple times, only to be shot down on each occasion.
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    Hayden Christensen in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

    George Lucas offered the role of Darth Vader to Leonardo DiCaprio but he didn't feel ready for that kind of a movie.
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    Photo Courtesy 20th Century Fox

    Katie Holmes had been offered the role of Buffy Summers, a part taken by Sarah Michelle Gellar — but she decided to finish high school instead.
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    Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side (2009)

    Julia Roberts was initially offered the part of the real-life strong-headed woman, Leigh Anne Tuohy, but she declined the role in order to star in Valentine's Day (2010).
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    Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire (1996)

    Director Cameron Crowe has admitted that he wrote the 1996 sports drama with Tom Hanks specifically in mind. Hanks couldn’t take the role, as he was busy directing That Thing You Do! (1996).
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    Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights (1997)

    Leonardo DiCaprio was up for the part of porn star Dirk Diggler in the 1997 film but decided to pass.“I’m a huge fan of (director) Paul Thomas Anderson but the first time I met him for that role I hadn’t really seen much of his previous work,” Dicaprio once told. “Now I love that movie.”
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    Sam Worthington in Avatar (2009)

    Before casting Sam Worthington in 'Avatar (2009),' James Cameron sent out an offer to his number one pick, Matt Damon. Damon turned it down, but still regrets not starring as Jake Sully in the visually ambitious flick.
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    Brad Pitt in Se7en (1995)

    Denzel Washington could had been in Se7en (1995) for the role of Det. David Mills but he passed it up because it was too dark and evil. He admitted later that he regretted this decision.
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    Brad Pitt in Se7en (1995)

    Sylvester Stallone turned down the role of Det. David Mills. He admitted later (same as Denzel Washington) that he regretted this decision.
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    Kristen Stewart in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 (2012)

    Emily Browning had an offer for the role of Bella Swan. She had just finished shooting the horror flick “The Uninvited (2009)'' and felt that she needed to take a break from acting rather than ploughing right into a film that was likely to become a series.
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    Steve Carell in The Office (2005)

    Paul Giamatti was the first choice to play Michael Scott in “The Office (2005).” The actor was still riding a wave of publicity after successful movie “Sideways (2004)” and didn’t like the idea of appearing in a TV show. He turned the part down, and it became a major launching pad for Steve Carell.
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    Chazz Palminteri in The Usual Suspects (1995)

    Al Pacino turned down the role of Dave Kujan in The Usual Suspects (1995) due to scheduling conflicts. He later admitted that he regretted this greatly.
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    Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (1992)

    Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the offer to star as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct (1992) because she found the bare-all scenes too daunting.
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    Christian Bale in American Psycho (2000)

    Leonardo DiCaprio had an offer for the role of Patrick Bateman but he turned it down.
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    Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990)

    Meg Ryan declined an offer for the role of Pretty Woman (1990). The actress has said that she thinks the movie is degrading towards women, and she wasn’t the only one who thought so.
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    Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

    Johnny Depp had to decline the role of Ferris Bueller because of scheduling conflicts with other projects.