Stars who turned down legendary roles

When you watch legendary movies and TV shows you think how the actors cast in them are such a perfect choice, but you would be surprised at how many of them weren’t actually the first pick. The truth is that many actors and actresses have actually turned down more roles than they have taken. Some regret their decision, some don’t. Take a look at the very popular roles these stars decided to pass on. 

Will Smith – Neo in The Matrix








Will Smith has starred in some of the biggest moneymaking blockbusters of all time, from Independence Day to the Men in Black franchise, but he had the opportunity to have another legendary franchise at one point in time. Smith was originally offered the role of Neo in The Matrix, before turning it down to make Wild, Wild West. Will said, “You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn’t see it. I watched Keanu’s performance – and very rarely do I say this – but I would have messed it up.”

Dana Delany: Carrie Bradshaw, love and the City








Sarah Jessica Parker helped define a generation of single women in her iconic role as Carrie Bradshaw. But the part was originally offered to Body of Proof star Dana Delany (who also turned down the role of Bree Van de Kamp). The actress claimed to not want to be associated with a show about love. Big mistake.

Sean Connery – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings and Morpheus, The Matrix








A star with a career as long as Sean Connery’s is bound to make both good and bad decisions. The good ones include roles in The Hunt for Red October (1990), seven James Bond movies, and his Academy Award-winning role in The Untouchables (1987). But one questionable decision was turning down the 007 role in Live and Let Die (1973), which became a great career move for his replacement, Roger Moore. Connery later turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which went to Ian McKellen, and the role of Morpheus in The Matrix films, which went to Laurence Fishburne — two decisions that he later admitted regretting.

Matt DamonAvatar and The Dark Knight

66eme Festival de Venise (Mostra)







Matt Damon is no stranger to cinematic success. However he did pass up on two of the highest-grossing movies of all time. He turned down the lead in James Cameron’s Avatar (the highest-grossing film in history) due to a scheduling conflict with The Bourne Ultimatum; and he passed on the role of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight due to filming conflicts with Clint Eastwood’s Invictus.

Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs








The Silence of the Lambs was such a brilliant movie that it swept the five major Academy Award categories, was a box office hit and spawned an impressive franchise. Jodie Foster‘s performance as Clarice Starling was impeccable, but she was far from director Jonathan Demme’s first choice for the lead. Demme had initially offered the role to Michelle Pfeiffer, who happened to be one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood in 1991, but Pfeiffer took issue with the violence and graphic nature of the script.

Mel GibsonThe Terminator and Batman

Actor Gibson arrives at the HBO after party after the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills







Mel Gibson has had a blockbuster career as an actor, starring in both the Mad Max and Lethal Weapon series, and as a director, winning an Academy Award for Braveheart (1995), in which he also starred. Gibson turned down the lead role in The Terminator (1984), which went to Arnold Schwarzenegger instead. Gibson was also offered the lead in the first Batman movie (1989) (which went to Michael Keaton), but he was already committed to Lethal Weapon 2.

Jack Nicholson – Michael Corleone in The Godfather

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers

One legendary actor had the opportunity to play one of the greatest characters in cinematic history before another legend was handed the role of a lifetime. Jack Nicholson was the first one offered the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. Nicholson turned it down because, as he once said, “I knew ‘The Godfather’ 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.”



Denzel Washington – David Mills in Se7en

Denzel Washington







Se7en was the film that made David Fincher and Brad Pitt an A-List director and an A-List star, respectively. Since this movie, Fincher and Pitt have teamed up for Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but the duo may not have been so tight-knit had Fincher’s first choice for Se7en played out as planned. Fincher initially offered the role of Det. David Mills to Denzel Washington, but Denzel turned it down because he felt the subject matter was too dark.

Molly RingwaldPretty Woman and Ghost








Believe it or not, 80s “it girl” Molly Ringwald was offered the leads in both Pretty Woman and Ghost. Ringwald’s decision to pass on both of those roles certainly didn’t help her career, but those decisions helped to make Julia Roberts and Demi Moore breakout Hollywood stars.


Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.