It’s hard to believe how many actors who turned down legendary roles are out there in Hollywood. Granted, I’m sure they didn’t know just how successful the movies would become. Lucky for us, the actors who DID get cast were golden in these roles. Check out this list of actors who turned down legendary roles. There’s some pretty shocking stuff here!
1 Dana Delany
Can you believe that Delany COULD have been Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and The City”? It’s hard for me to imagine anyone but SJP playing the iconic role because I think she nailed it. Delany was show creator Darren Star’s first choice. She claimed to have turned down the role because she didn’t want to star in another project whose focus was on sex. By the way, she also turned down the role of Bree Van de Kamp on “Desperate Housewives.” She’s just one of the many actors who turned down legendary roles. Big mistake, huh?
2 Sarah Michelle Gellar
Gellar was originally offered the now-iconic role of Cher Horowitz in the ‘90s classic, “Clueless." Due to scheduling conflicts with “All My Children,” she had to say no. The part went to Alicia Silverstone, who earned her place in the canon of Most Memorable Characters Ever. I love Sarah Michelle Gellar but I really can’t picture anyone but Alicia as Cher. Do you agree?
3 John Travolta
Travolta was the studio’s first choice for the lead role in "Forrest Gump.” In ’94, the movie became the highest grossing movie in North America but the success went to another actor. Tom Hanks landed the role and even nabbed an Oscar for his performance. Travolta has since admitted that passing on the role was a mistake! I love Travolta but it’s kind of difficult for me to picture anyone but Hanks in the film.
4 Matthew Broderick
Okay, this one really surprised me. It’s rumored that Broderick, along with John Cusack, passed on the role of Walter White in the hit show, “Breaking Bad.” Can you imagine if he hadn’t? I feel like the show would’ve been totally different. Bryan Cranston (the man who did take on the role) has definitely cemented his place in TV history. I’m glad things played out the way they did!
5 Tom Cruise
Cruise was offered the role of Ren McCormack in the 1984 hit, “Footloose.” I guess it’s not really that hard to imagine a young Cruise dancing around. I mean, remember his underwear dance scene in “Risky Business”? However, he turned down the role to go film “All the Right Moves” instead. The part of Ren went to Kevin Bacon (who did amazing in the film), but only after Rob Lowe also passed.
6 Will Smith
Can you believe that Will passed on “The Matrix”?! He was offered the role of Neo. Since then he’s said: “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. I would have absolutely messed up ‘The Matrix.’” Wow, at least he turned down the role for the good of the movie! By the way, that’s not the only big role he turned down. Smith also passed on Django in “Django Unchained” because it wasn’t the sole leading role.
7 Anne Hathaway
Anne was originally cast as Tiffany Maxwell in “Silver Linings Playbook.” She had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts! Lucky for J.Law, she got the role and landed an Oscar for Best Actress. Anne also won that year, bagging a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Les Mis. Can you imagine if it had been Anne and Bradley Cooper together on screen?
8 Tom Selleck
I couldn't imagine Indiana Jones being played by anybody but Harrison Ford and yet we almost saw him played by Tom Selleck instead! Unfortunately, he was already committed to Magnum P.I. and just couldn't get out of it. Tom never was really able to break out of his TV career into movies and sadly this could have been that role for him. Nevertheless, things worked out because we got Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones instead!
9 Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt opted out of doing the Jason Bourne franchise in 2002, but instead chose to do the movie "Spy Game." This obviously hasn't hurt his career or fame in any way. Brad Pitt has done several movies since turning down the role, but could he regret it? He hasn't come out to say anything about it, but the Bourne franchise did become a huge hit all around the world.
10 Gwyneth Paltrow
I couldn't imagine anyone else playing Rose in "Titanic," but if Gwyneth Paltrow hadn't turned down the role it would have been she who played opposite of Leonardo DiCaprio. Gwyneth turned down the role stating that it just "wasn't her cup of tea" and has never come out to say whether or not she regrets turning down the role. Luckily for Kate Winslet, this was a career making role for her!
11 Al Pacino
Could you imagine?! While this hasn't really hindered Pacino's career in any way, what would have become of Harrison Ford without his role of Han Solo or Indiana Jones (see: Tom Selleck, above)? Al Pacino turned down this role because he wasn't into the fantasy aspect of the script. He instead went on to do "Bobby Deerfield," which turned out to be one of his lesser known movies. Nevertheless, this decision didn't really impact his career.
There you have it! Eleven actors who turned down some pretty iconic roles. Don’t get me wrong, the list goes on and on (you’d really be surprised at how many actors have turned down big roles). But, these are some actors that turned down roles in movies that I’ve actually seen! Which one shocked you the most?
This article was written in collaboration with editor Lydia Sheehan.