Hollywood’s predictability requires actors to face critical decisions that can shape the course of their careers. Some choices lead to iconic performances and glory, while others haunt them with lasting remorse. Welcome to a world where the ones that got away linger like specters, haunting the hearts of 21 actors who once passed up roles they would come to regret greatly.
Eddie Murphy doesn’t have many regrets about his acting career, but the movie he wishes he had been a part of was Who Framed Roger Rabbit as Eddie Valiant. He wasn’t sure at the time whether live-action and cartoons would work.
John Lithgow rejected Tim Burton’s offer to play The Joker because he didn’t feel it was worth the effort. The actor was part of Madame Butterfly on Broadway then and told Burton, “I don’t think I can,” thanks to his exhausting show schedule.
The actor was tipped to play the lead role in the comedy hit Groundhog Day but turned the role down because he didn’t quite “get” the movie’s premise.
The legendary actor could have been the first American to play iconic British spy James Bond and replace Sean Connery but turned it down due to his nationality, which he later realized was “a stupid thing to say.”
Gwyneth Paltrow came very close to landing the role of Rose in the blockbuster Titanic but eventually lost out to Kate Winslet. It’s one she regrets even to this day.
Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, one of cinema’s greatest movies, could have been played by Kevin Costner if it weren’t for the fact that he was busy filming one of the biggest Hollywood flops, Waterworld.
According to Nicholas Cage, he would “have benefitted” from taking the role of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings franchise. However, he could not commit too much filming overseas in New Zealand then.
Even though he admitted it was “the best material he had read in some time,” Denzel Washington still turned down the titular role in the movie Michael Clayton simply because he didn’t know the director.
One “missed opportunity” for Al Pacino was when he turned down the chance to play Han Solo in the Star Wars franchise, quite simply because at the time he couldn’t wrap his head around the sci-fi epic.
The blonde bombshell turned down the iconic role of Holly Golightly in Breakfast At Tiffany’s to star in her husband’s film, The Misfits. Apparently, the role of Holly could have tarnished Monroe’s image as it is suggested that she is a call girl. Coincidentally, Marilyn and her husband, Arthur Miller, divorced soon after.
For turning down the role of Sam Wheat in Ghost, Bruce Willis called himself a “knucklehead.” At the time, he didn’t think a romance with a ghost would work on screen.
Halle Berry “stupidly said no” to playing Annie Porter in Speed. In her defense, in the script that she read, the bus didn’t leave the parking lot, a stark contrast to what actually happens in the movie.
Leonardo DiCaprio was once torn between two roles. He decided to play Jack in Titanic but still feels sad that he had to turn down the role of Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights to do so, as he was a big fan of the movie.
The actor turned down the role of Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which then hurt his chances when going for another role in another film directed by Nolan: The Prestige. Both parts ended up going to Christian Bale.
Scared of being typecast as a “dumb blonde,” Christina Applegate turned down the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. The actress now realizes this was “a stupid move.”
The actor famous for playing the Fonz in Happy Days could have been cast as the heartthrob Danny Zuko in the hit musical Grease, were it not for the fact that he turned it down for fear of being typecast. After discovering that John Travolta could buy his private jet, thanks to the movie’s success, Winkler regretted his decision.
Will Smith could have been cast as Neo in The Matrix trilogy, but he turned it down to work on Wild Wild West instead. He has since reported wishing he had a time machine to return and convince himself to take the other role!
Another iconic Hollywood name that was offered the role of Neo in The Matrix was none other than Brad Pitt. He even jokingly said he “took the red pill” regarding that decision!
Matt Damon turned down the lead role in Avatar, despite being presented with a lucrative offer to take 10% of the movie’s profits at the box office. With the film going on to be the highest-grossing movie in history, it’s clear this was a big blunder for Damon.
Michelle Pfeiffer has turned down two movie roles that she regrets and stated that she “still can’t watch” Thelma & Louise because of it. The other role she turned down was to be Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. Although she turned it down because it was “too evil” for her liking, she is sad that it would have been her last chance to work with the late filmmaker Johnathan Demme.
There are two films that Madonna was offered yet regrets refusing. The first was to take a role in The Matrix, and although it has never been confirmed whom she would have played, evidence suggests she would have been the female lead of Trinity. The second role was that of Catwoman in Batman Returns, which Madonna has said would have been “pretty fierce.”
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