Actors Who Passed Up On Iconic Roles
Ian Marsh
Aug 13, 2018
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The history of film is cluttered with stories about stars who were an inch away from playing roles that got embedded into the hearts and minds of movie audiences.

When actors look back into some of their career mishaps, the ones they'll probably notice the most are the glaring errors they made in passing up on important roles. Are you curious to see which memorable characters were almost played by different actors?

Sean Connery

Citing that he "didn't get fantasy," Sean Connery passed up on playing Gandalf in Peter Jackson's adaptation ofThe Lord Of The Rings. The role that was eventually given to Ian McKellen earned the actor an award (Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture) and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Will Smith

Will Smith was initially offered the role of Neo inThe Matrix. He turned it down on account of the concept being too complicated, and he didn't see the film performing well at the box office. Well, we all know how the movie fared.

Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer was offered the role of Clarice Sterling in Jonathan Demme's adaptation ofThe Silence Of The Lambs. She turned it down because she found the movie to be too violent and disturbing. Jodi Foster won the role, and it gave her a second Academy Award for Best Actress.

Al Pacino

Al Pacino was offered the role of Han Solo inStar Wars. He said he wasn't interested in playing the role. Harrison Ford took over, and the movie franchise went on to become one of the most successful film series in history, establishing Ford's superstar status.

Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons was initially appraoched to play Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme's adaptation ofThe Silence Of The Lambs. Just like Michelle Pfeiffer when approached to play clarice Sterling, Irons cited the film's violent content as his reason for turning down the role.

John Travolta

John Travolta passed up on playingForrest Gumphuge mistake. In 1994, the film became the highest grossing movie in North America. Tom Hanks was acclaimed for his portrayal of the role, giving him an award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars.

Reese Witherspoon

Thinking that it was just another B-Horror movie, Reese Witherspoon refused to audition for the role of Sidney Prescott in Wes Craven's critically acclaimed slasher filmScream. The role was played by Neve Campbell instead.

Jake Gyllenhaal

Had Jake Gyllenhaal proceeded to play the role of Jake Sully in James Cameron'sAvatar,he would now be holding the honor of starring in the highest grossing film of all time.

Sandra Bullock

When the production ofMillion Dollar Babywas met with delays, Sandra Bullock packed her bags and left. Unfortunately for her, the film was not only a commercial success, it also was universally acclaimed by critics.

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson was initially approached to play the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation. Thinking that the movie would be a flop, Gibson passed up on playing the role.

About the Author

Ian Marsh: Crossfitter, compiler, gender activist, lard face. I chew on straws.
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