Stars Who Turned Down Legendary Roles
Stars Who Turned Down Legendary Roles
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 the notorious flop 'Wild, Wild West' alongside Kevin Kline. The huge success of the franchise hasn't seemed to bother Will all that much. Will has 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."
Matt Damon - 'Avatar' and 'The Dark Knight'
With Academy Award acclaim from the outset of his career, thanks to penning and playing the lead in 'Good Will Hunting,' Matt Damon is no stranger to cinematic success, especially when you consider he has starred in the 'Ocean's' franchise, the 'Bourne' trilogy, and 'Saving Private Ryan.'
Damon did, however, 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.'
Jack Nicholson - Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather'
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, not Al Pacino, 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." Considering Jack appeared in the likes of 'Easy Rider,' 'The Last Detail,' 'Five Easy Pieces,' 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest,' and 'Chinatown' within a handful of years of 'The Godfather,' he obviously survived passing on the role.
Johnny Depp - Ferris Bueller
This is a hard switch to picture, but it would have definitely changed the face of one of the biggest comedy hits of all time; Johnny Depp was originally offered the lead in 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' before Matthew Broderick ended up landing his career-defining role. Like Smith, Damon and Nicholson, Johnny Depp seems to have landed on his feet since then.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Dirk Diggler in 'Boogie Nights'
Leonardo DiCaprio starred in the film that stood as the highest-grossing film for years and the blockbuster that made him a bona fide movie star, 'Titanic;' but, the film he passed on to make it still stands as the biggest regret of his career.
Leo was offered the iconic role of Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Boogie Nights' before Mark Wahlberg dug into the starring role. DiCaprio told GQ, "'Boogie Nights' is a movie I loved and I wish I would’ve done...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. Now I love that movie."
Molly Ringwald - 'Pretty Woman' and 'Ghost'
Believe it or not, 80s "it girl" Molly Ringwald of 'Pretty in Pink,' 'Sixteen Candles,' and 'The Breakfast Club' fame, 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.
Kevin Costner - Andy Dufresne in 'The Shawshank Redemption'
Kevin Costner was one of the biggest movie stars on the planet for the majority of the 80s and the early 90s. Sadly, Costner's reign took a devastating blow when he decided to pursue his disastrous passion project of 'Waterworld' (one of the biggest bombs in film history), instead of taking the legendary role of Andy Dufresne in 'The Shawshank Redemption.'
Emily Blunt - Black Widow in 'Iron Man 2'
Successful, young British actress Emily Blunt of 'The Devil Wears Prada,' 'The Adjustment Bureau,' and 'Looper' fame, missed out on the opportunity to be a part of a massive franchise. Blunt was originally offered the role of Black Widow in 'Iron Man 2,' which ultimately went to Scarlett Johansson, because Blunt already had a scheduling conflict with 'Gulliver's Travels,' a film that would go on to be a box office bomb.
Sean Connery - 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'The Matrix'
Screen legend Sir Sean Connery could have had two late-career blockbuster franchises under his belt in addition to his decades of hit movies. Connery was offered both the role of Gandalf in the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy and Morpheus in 'The Matrix' trilogy. In the years since turning down the roles, Connery has admitted to regretting his decisions.
Tom Selleck - Indiana Jones
It may be hard to wrap your head around it, but Harrison Ford was not the first actor that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas pursued for the role of Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' 'Magnum P.I.' star Tom Selleck was offered the genuinely iconic role first, but he had to decline due to scheduling conflicts with his hit TV show.