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'Forrest Gump' 1994 directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images)

Actors Who Turned Down Legendary Roles

Could you imagine turning down a movie role that turns out to be a classic movie or a classic character? I am not in the acting game but this would be like turning down a lower paying job and then finding out the guy who took the job became the CEO of the company 10 years later.  That has to hurt.

Now, a lot of the people on this list have done just fine in their careers and went on to put out some epic performances in epic movies.  They have all talked about the role that they wish they did not turn down in interviews so this list is accurate.  Could you imagine someone other than Marlon Brando playing Don Corleone in The Godfather?  I couldn’t fathom it.  It would not be the same movie if someone else tried to portray that character.

How about someone other than Tom Hanks playing Forrest Gump?  I don’t think the movie would work.

Now there are lots of movies where fans wish that the actor turned down the role.  I can think of a few right off the bat.  George Clooney as Batman.  That was just a bad choice of casting and movie role choosing. Michael Keaton was amazing as Batman, then Val Kilmer donned the suit and it was decent but then it all went downhill went Clooney took the role.  Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze in that Batman movie was just terrible as well.

Has anyone seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves?  It’s actually one of my favorite movies ever.  It stars Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, and Alan Rickman.  The last 3 actors I mentioned did a really good job.  They even put on British accents (Alan Rickman is British so he didn’t have to change). Kevin Costner on the other hand, did not even try the British accent. It was a good movie but a poor choice of casting.

Here is a list of Actors Who Turned Down Legendary Roles:

  • Jack Nicholson - Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather'

    Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather

    LOS ANGELES – MARCH 15: Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather, ‘ the movie based on the novel by Mario Puzo and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This scene takes place in the Don’s home office, 1955. Initial theatrical release on March 15, 1972. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)













    In 2004, Jack was quoted saying he thought an Italian actor should play the role so he turned it down. Al Pacino landed the role and the rest is history. I’m shocked it was an offer Jack could refuse.

  • Halle Berry - Annie in 'Speed'

    Sandra Bullock as Annie in Speed

    Sandra Bullock at the Santa Monica Bus Lines in Santa Monica, California (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)



















    Halle turned down the role because it was a watered down version of what the film actually became. She said she saw the film and said “Damn!” She was quoted saying they offered me “The Parking lot version of the film.”

  • Mel Gibson - Maximus Decimus Meridius in 'Gladiator'

    Russell Crowe in The Gladiator

    Russell Crowe with sword in a scene from the film ‘Gladiator’, 2000. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)














    Mel Gibson couldn’t see himself playing the role because he thought he was too old which is odd because he starred in The Partriot the same year. Russell Crowe went on to take the role and took the Oscar for Best Actor.

  • John Travolta, 'Forrest Gump'

    Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

    ‘Forrest Gump’ 1994 directed by Robert Zemeckis. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Getty Images)













    This would have been a completely different movie. Travolta turned down the role to play Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Let’s just say this worked out great for both movies.

  • Will Smith, 'Neo in The Matrix'

    Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix

    Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in The Matrix (Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)













    Will Smith was quoted saying he thought the movie and script was way too confusing and lackluster. He went on to make Wild Wild West instead. The movie was not so good but I did like the Wild Wild West song Will Smith made.

  • Brad Pitt, 'Neo in The Matrix'

    Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix

    Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving face each other in a scene from Andy and Larry Wachowski’s 1999 movie The Matrix. In this scene, Neo (Reeves) fights the computerized Agent Smith (Weaving). (Photo by Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)














    Another person turned down The Matrix. I’m not saying Keanu Reeves isn’t a good looking guy but I think Brad Pitt is too pretty to be Neo.

  • Al Pacin0o, Han Solo in 'Star Wars'

    Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars

    American actor Harrison Ford, as Hans Solo, on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope written, directed and produced by Georges Lucas. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)















    He turned down the role because he didn’t understand the concept of Star Wars. Harrison Ford landed the role and the rest is history.

  • Tom Selleck, Indiana Jones in 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'

    Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

    American actor Harrison Ford on the set of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)















    He couldn’t make time to film because of his role as Magnum P.I. Another Harrison Ford win! I still see him as Richard in Friends and I’m glad he lost out on Monica to the Chand man.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, 'Brokeback Mountain'

    Jake Gyllenhaal & Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain

    BEVERLY HILLS, CA – AUGUST 4: The movie’s poster is seen at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Great to Be Nominated screening of “Brokeback Mountain” at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on August 4, 2008 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)




















    Apparently all of these guys turned down roles in Brokeback Mountain. It ended up good for Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.

  • Leonardo DiCaprio, Dirk Diggler in 'Boogie Nights'

    Mark Wahlberg as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights

    CIRCA 1997: Actor Mark Wahlberg on set of the movie “Boogie Nights ” , circa 1997. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)















    He has to turn down the role because he accepted a role for some low budget movie called Titanic. Lol! He wanted to do both but the James Cameron film was too good to turn down. Mark Wahlberg took the role and crushed it.  It basically put Mark Wahlberg on the map. 

  • Burt Reynolds, James Bond in 'Live & Let Die'

    Roger Moore as James Bond in Live & Let Die

    Roger Moore points gun as James Bond 007 from the 1973 movie ‘Live and Let Die’. (Photo by Screen Archives/Getty Images)


















    He turned down the role because he didn’t think people would accept an American James Bond.  Roger Moore took the role and was a very good Bond!

  • Madonna, Catwoman in 'Batman Returns'

    Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman in Batman Returns

    American actress Michelle Pfeiffer on the set of Batman Returns, directed by Tim Burton. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)













    I think she could have been very good in this role. The sneaky, sexy villain suits her but Michelle Pfeiffer was so good, I don’t want to think about anyone else playing the role.

  • Bruce Willis, Sam Wheat in 'Ghost'

    Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat in Ghost along with Demi Moore as Molly Jensen

    LOS ANGELES – JULY 13: The movie “Ghost”, directed by Jerry Zucker and written by Bruce Joel Rubin. Seen here, Demi Moore as Molly Jensen at her potter’s wheel and Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat, while the song, ‘Unchained Melody’ by The Righteous Brothers plays in the background. Initial theatrical release July 13, 1990. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)













    The guy was literally married to the co-star of the movie. He didn’t get how a dead guy could have a romance with a living woman. Dude, who cares? I’m happy about this because I wouldn’t want to see Bruce Willis showing a super soft side like that.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose Dawson in 'Titanic'

    Kate Winslet as Rose Dawson and Leonardo DiCaprio as  Jack Dawson in Titanic

    LOS ANGELES – DECEMBER 19: The movie “Titanic”, written and directed by James Cameron. Seen here from left, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack and Kate Winslet as Rose. Initial USA theatrical wide release December 19, 1997. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)












    She never revealed the exact reason she turned down the role but she did say she doesn’t drive herself crazy thinking about it. It’s weird to think this movie being made without Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

  • Henry Winkler, Danny Zuko in 'Grease'

    John Travolta as Danny Zuko in Grease the movie

    LOS ANGELES – JUNE 16: The movie “Grease”, directed by Randal Kleiser. Seen here, the musical number, “Greased Lightning,” led by John Travolta (front and center) as Danny Zuko. Initial theatrical release of the film, June 16, 1978. Screen capture. Paramount Pictures. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
















    Henry Winkler said he didn’t want to be typecasted so he rejected the role. Odd since he is known as The Fonz.  He said he would go back and do accept the role if he could. He was quoted saying I went home and had an orange juice while Travolta went home and bought an airplane.

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