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20 Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

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The history of the movie is messed up with the tales about stars who were an inch away from portraying characters that got established into the hearts and minds of movie-goers. When actors look back, they probably repent for passing up some important roles. If we see the list of 20 actors who passed up some iconic roles, we will see that some memorable characters were almost played by different actors.

Here Are 20 Actors Who Turned Down Famous Roles

1. Al Pacino

Al Pacino Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime
Firstly he was offered the character of Han Solo in Star Wars. He was not eager to play the role. The role was then played by Harrison Ford. Later Star Wars became one of the most successful film series in the history and Harrison Ford established his superstar status.

2. Bette Midler

Bette Midler Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

The producers of Sister Act first cast Bette Midler for the role but she thought that her fans will not accept her acting in the film as a nun. As a result, she refused to play the role. Eventually, the role was given to Whoopi Goldberg. The film was a big success, generated one sequel and a Broadway musical.

3. Dana Delany

Dana Delany Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

4. Dougray Scott

Dougray Scott Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime
Now we can’t think Wolverine without Hugh Jackman but initially, the role was meant to be played by Dougray Scott. But Scott was then busy in playing the villain Mission Impossible. As a result, he was dropped out of production for which he missed major Wolverine franchise.

5. Henry Winkler

Henry Winkler Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Henry Winkler was offered to portray Danny Zunko in the musical film Grease. When he turned down the role, John Travolta played it. Grease earned $694 million at the box office. It was listed #97 in its 100 Years…100 Passions by the American Film Institute.

6. Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

When Jack Nicholson got the proposal to play the role of Michael Corleone, he passed up. He knew that The Godfather would be a fantastic movie but he felt that the role of Corleone should be played by an Italian. Later Al Pacino played the role and became the 11th most iconic villain in American film history.

7. Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal

If Jake Gyllenhaal portrayed the character of Jake Sully in James Cameron’s Avatar, he would now hold the honor of starring the biggest grossing film of all time.

8. Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Jeremy Irons was first offered the character of Hannibal Lecter in the movie The Silence of the Lambs. But showing excuse of the film’s violent content he turns down the role. Later Anthony Hopkins played the role and it became one of the milestones of the actor’s career.

9. John Travolta

John Travolta Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

10. Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime
At first, Kate Winslet was chosen for the character of Viola de Lesseps in the movie Shakespeare in Love. If she accepted the proposal she would win an Oscar for best actress much earlier in her career.  This actress experienced 5 losses before getting her first academy award in 2009.

11. Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger

Kim Basinger refused to play the role of Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct. Later Sharon Stone played the role. The movie earned $352 million at the box office and became one of the biggest hit of 1992. The role is particularly regarded as it gave Sharon Stone her much required a break.

12. Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Mel Gibson was first offered the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 adaption. He thought that the movie would be a flop and passed up. After releasing the film, Batman was criticized for being too much dark but in spite of all these the movie became the biggest hit and earned $411 million.

13. Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer

At first, Michelle Pfeiffer was offered the character of Clarice Starling in the movie The Silence of the Lamb. She passed up the character because she considered the movie too violent and disturbing. Jodie Foster took over the role and it earned her a second Academy Award for Best Actress.

14. Molly Ringwald

Molly Ringwald Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Molly Ringwald was one of the most demanded actresses in  Hollywood in the 80’s for her superb acting in the movie Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club. She was the first cast for the role of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman but she passed up the role. Julia Roberts took over the role and receive an Oscar nomination for the role.

15. Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon refused to audition for the character of Sidney Prescott in Scream. She thought that it would be just another B grade horror movie. Later the role was portrayed by Neve Campbell.

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16. Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock

For unwanted delay, Sandra Bullock Packed her bag and passed up the leading role of Million Dollar Baby. Later Hillary Swank played the role. Unfortunate for Sandra Bullock, the film was not only one of the biggest hits, but it also got accolade of the critics. It brought Hillary Swank her 2nd Oscar.

17. Sarah Michelle Gellar

Sarah Michelle Gellar Actors Who Turned Down Famous Roles

Sarah Michelle Gellar was first proposed to portray the leading role in Clueless. The role was later played by Alicia Silverstone. The character, Cher Horowitz, the rich, spoiled, yet sweet girl became so dear to fans that then unknown Alicia Silverstone became a superstar overnight.

18. Sean Connery

Sean Connery Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Sean Connery refused to play the character of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. He cited that he didn’t get fantasy. Eventually, the role was played by Ian McKellen which earned him an award of Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. He also got an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

19. Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck didn’t exactly pass up the character. He was really interested to portray the character. He was the first choice of both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. But Universal studio set him in another film. Eventually, Harrison Ford took over the role though George Lucas was first reluctant to cast Harrison Ford.

20. Will Smith

Will Smith Actors Who Turned Down Roles Of A Lifetime

Will Smith was initially proposed to play the role of Neo in the Matrix. He passed up the character because he thought the concept of the movie was too much complicated and it wouldn’t do well in the box office. But he was totally wrong.

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I worked in Los Angeles and New York in movie sets, studios, production offices and more. I also studied film and narrative at Princeton University with minors in Visual Arts and Creative Writing. Taking advantage of all this experience, I have talked about the film industry in The Huffington Post, in Tedx Talk, conferences and on my YouTube channel. But above all I can not stop watching superhero movies and annoy my friends and family with my comments of analysis and discussion.

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