23 Actors Who Turned Down Huge Movie Roles

Michael Keaton regrets passing on the chance to star in "Groundhog Day."

Michael Keaton regrets passing on the chance to star in "Groundhog Day."

Role was played by: Bill Murray

Michael Keaton told Entertainment Weekly he turned down the lead in 1993's "Groundhog Day" because he simply "didn't get it."

"This guy sounds like the kind of wry, sardonic, glib young man I've played—and it ended up being so great," Keaton tells EW. "But you can't do it better than Bill Murray did it."

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Bill Murray declined to play the lead in "Forrest Gump."

Bill Murray declined to play the lead in "Forrest Gump."

Role was played by: Tom Hanks

Murray told Howard Stern on his SiriusXM program the part didn’t interest him.

“I did have ‘Forrest Gump’ conversations,” said Murray’. “I think I had the original book and all that sort of stuff.”

Murray says he never saw the script for the film. When Stern asked Murray if he regretted passing on the film, he said he never saw it.

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Matt Damon turned down the role of Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight."

Matt Damon turned down the role of Harvey Dent in "The Dark Knight."

Role was played by: Aaron Eckhart

Damon told MTV he had to turn down the iconic role of Harvey "Two-Face" Dent due to filming conflicts.

"I couldn't [appear in The Dark Knight]. It was a scheduling thing. But, I never spoke to Chris Nolan."

He had no qualms regarding Nolan's final choice for the villain.

"Look, Aaron is a great actor, so the movie didn't suffer for it. Every once in a while you get [an acting opportunity] and you can't do it."

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Leonardo DiCaprio passed up a reported $20 million to star in "American Psycho."

Leonardo DiCaprio passed up a reported $20 million to star in "American Psycho."

Who played the role: Christian Bale

Lionsgate reportedly offered DiCaprio $20 million to play serial killer Patrick Bateman in "American Psycho." After the actor expressed interest, the studio went so far as to issue a press release saying he would star.

DiCaprio also exited the World War II film, "The Imitation Game," which will star Benedict Cumberbatch. Early screenings of the film already have critics buzzing about it for Oscar season.

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Christian Bale passed on the chance to play James Bond.

Christian Bale passed on the chance to play James Bond.

Role was played by: Daniel Craig

According to Christian Bale biography, “The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman,” Bale’s former publicist says the actor wasn’t interested in “being committed to a franchise that was very British” after Pierce Brosnan’s contract was up as Bond.

“He thought that James Bond represented every despicable stereotype about England and British actors. Besides, he quipped: ‘I’ve already played a serial killer.’”

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Angela Bassett openly rejected the role of Leticia in "Monster's Ball."

Angela Bassett openly rejected the role of Leticia in "Monster's Ball."

Role was played by: Halle Berry

Angela Bassett turned down the role, openly telling Newsweek she didn't want to fit a cliché.

"I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn't do that because it's such a stereotype about black women and sexuality."

The role earned Berry a Best Actress Oscar, making her the first African-American woman to receive the award.

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Angelina Jolie passed on the lead in Oscar winner "Gravity."

Angelina Jolie passed on the lead in Oscar winner "Gravity."

Role was played by: Sandra Bullock

According to Variety, Angelina Jolie was originally set to play the lead in Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar winner; however, passed on the role in summer 2010.

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Nicolas Cage passed up the role of the Green Goblin in "Spider-Man."

Nicolas Cage passed up the role of the Green Goblin in "Spider-Man."

Role was played by: Willem Dafoe

In a CNN interview, Nicolas Cage once addressed a number of roles he turned down including the lead in "The Wrestler" and the Green Goblin in "Spider-Man."

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Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the leads in both "Pretty Woman" and "Basic Instinct."

Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the leads in both "Pretty Woman" and "Basic Instinct."

Roles were played by: Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone respectively

Pfeiffer passed on two huge roles offered her way, declining the role in "Basic Instinct" due to its nudity, according to an interview with Contactmusic.

"I just couldn't do that one, because of the sexual parts, the nudity," she said. "My father was still alive. I'm kind of prudish … And honestly? I am not that uninhibited about my body. I'm modest."

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Julia Roberts turned down the roles of Leigh Anne Tuohy in "The Blind Side" and Margaret in "The Proposal."

Julia Roberts turned down the roles of Leigh Anne Tuohy in "The Blind Side" and Margaret in "The Proposal."

Roles were played by: Sandra Bullock

Julia Roberts passed on not one, but two roles that ended up going to Sandra Bullock instead.

The "Pretty Woman" actress declined "The Proposal" after reportedly refusing to accept a pay cut. Bullock took the role instead at the lower salary. To date, "The Proposal" has earned more than $317 million worldwide.

She also passed up "The Blind Side," based on a real-life story. Bullock received the Best Actress Oscar for the role.

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Al Pacino turned down a lot of big roles, including an offer to play Han Solo in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope."

Al Pacino turned down a lot of big roles, including an offer to play Han Solo in "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope."

According to The Atlantic Wire, Al Pacino was very selective when it came to movie roles. Early on he passed on a bunch of big parts including Han Solo in "Star Wars," Martin Sheen's role in "Apocalypse Now," "The Usual Suspects," and the lead in "Pretty Woman."

Pacino explained why he turned down the role of Captain Benjamin L. Willard in "Apocalypse Now":

"I know what this is going to be like," said Pacino. "You're [Francis Ford Coppola] going to be up there in a helicopter telling me what to do, and I'm gonna be down there in a swamp for five months."

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Jack Nicholson declined an offer to play Michael Corleone in "The Godfather."

Jack Nicholson declined an offer to play Michael Corleone in "The Godfather."

Role was played by: Al Pacino

Nicholson admitted in a 2004 interview with Movieline that he passed on the iconic role because he knew it wasn't his to play.

"Back then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians … There were a lot of actors who could have played Michael, myself included, but Al Pacino was Michael Corleone. I can't think of a better compliment to pay him."

A 2009 Vanity Fair article references multiple actors who were considered for Corleone's role including Warren Beatty, Robert Redford and Martin Sheen.

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Will Smith passed up the part of Neo in "The Matrix."

Will Smith passed up the part of Neo in "The Matrix."

Role was played by: Keanu Reeves

Yes, Neo could have been played by "Men in Black" actor, Will Smith. Instead, Smith made "Wild Wild West," which spawned this gem.

Smith told Wired he's okay with his decision, though.

"I watched Keanu's performance — and very rarely do I say this — but I would have messed it up," said Smith. "At that point I wasn't smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be."

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Emily Blunt turned down the role of Black Widow in "Iron Man 2."

Emily Blunt turned down the role of Black Widow in "Iron Man 2."

Role was played by: Scarlett Johansson

“The Edge of Tomorrow” actress was the first choice to play the Black Widow in “Iron Man 2.” While Blunt has said she backed out due to timing Deadline reported the recast resulted from a low paycheck for the actress.

Blunt told Screenrant she has no regrets about missing out on the role but that she’s still open to playing a superheroine in the future.

“I’m never regretful about not doing something; I didn’t do it at the time because it wasn’t the right time and I was contracted to do something else," said Blunt. "But Scarlett [Johansson] has done such a phenomenal job – she’s it! Like why even reminisce about what could’ve been? She’s it and she nailed it and I love ‘The Avengers,’ I really found it to be really good fun.”

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Ian McKellen turned down the role of Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" franchise.

Ian McKellen turned down the role of Dumbledore in the "Harry Potter" franchise.

Role was taken over by: Michael Gambon

The actor turned down the role of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore after Richard Harris passed away.

McKellen said people always ask him if he wished he played Dumbledore, but since the actor played Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" he declined.

Plus, he also had personal reasons for turning down the role …

"… seeing as one of the last things he did publicly was say what a dreadful actor he thought I was, it would not have been appropriate for me to take over his part. It would have been unfair."

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Tom Selleck passed on playing Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Tom Selleck passed on playing Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Role was played by: Harrison Ford

Tom Selleck was offered the role, but turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with "Magnum P.I."

You can watch his screen test for "Indiana Jones" here.

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Harrison Ford turned down the chance to star in "Jurassic Park."

Harrison Ford turned down the chance to star in "Jurassic Park."

Role was played by: Sam Neill

Who According to /film, Steven Spielberg said he offered the lead role to Harrison Ford during a 30th anniversary screening of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in Los Angeles.

“You know who I offered 'Jurassic Park' to? This guy. Alan Grant, 'Jurassic Park,' right here," said Spielberg.

/Film says Ford quickly changed the conversation.

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Denzel Washington turned down the role of Detective David Mills in "Se7en."

Denzel Washington turned down the role of Detective David Mills in "Se7en."

Role was played by: Brad Pitt

Washington could have had Brad Pitt's role. However, he turned down "Se7en," deciding to work on detective thriller, "Devil in a Blue Dress" instead.

The actor later told Entertainment Weekly he regretted the decision after seeing a screener.

"They offered me the Brad Pitt part, but I was like, 'This is so dark and evil,'" said Washington. "Then, when I saw the movie, I was like, 'Oh, shoot.'"

In a recent interview with theGrio, Washington admitted it was a "mistake."

“I just didn’t think anybody was going to see it," said Washington. "I don’t know what I made instead, I can’t remember, but I turned [Seven] down. I guess Brad Pitt is happy about that.”

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Charlie Hunnam turned down the lead in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" adaptation.

Charlie Hunnam turned down the lead in the "Fifty Shades of Grey" adaptation.

Role will be played by: Jamie Dornan

The "Sons of Anarchy" star was originally cast in the lead for the highly-anticipated adaptation, but later dropped out telling Moviefone he had a "nervous breakdown."

“I just said, ‘I can’t, I can’t," said Hunnam. "Fifty’s going to be massive, it’s going to be huge. I really didn’t want to fail on such a grand scale and I just couldn’t transition from Jax Teller to Christian Grey in 48 hours. I bit off more than I could chew and it was painful. I loved the character and I wanted to do it … It was one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations.”

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Josh Hartnett turned down the chance to play the Man of Steel in "Superman Returns."

Josh Hartnett turned down the chance to play the Man of Steel in "Superman Returns."

Who played the role: Brandon Routh

Josh Hartnett told Details magazine he was once in contention to play nearly every big superhero but wasn't interested in any of them.

"Spider-Man was something we talked about," said Hartnett. "Batman was another one. But I somehow knew those roles had potential to define me, and I didn't want that. I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger."

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Brad Pitt turned down a large role in "12 Years a Slave" and opted for a smaller one.

Brad Pitt turned down a large role in "12 Years a Slave" and opted for a smaller one.

Role was played by: Michael Fassbender

According to the New York Post, the "12 Years a Slave" producer turned down one of the lead roles of a mean slave owner saying, “I didn’t want my kids to see me in this role.”

Instead, he took on the much smaller role of a kinder slave owner.

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Anne Hathaway turned down the lead in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Anne Hathaway turned down the lead in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Who played the role: Jennifer Lawrence

Harvey Weinstein told Howard Stern both Anne Hathaway and Mark Wahlberg were set to star in the Oscar picture.

"Silver Linings Playbook was originally going to be with Anne Hathaway and Mark Wahlberg," said Weinstein. "And then Anne wasn't doing it. And she's marvelous, and wonderful and she was my choice, I love her."

According to Weinstein, Hathaway and director David O. Russell had a few issues on set.

"Well, David and Anne had some creative differences," Weinstein said. "They didn't see eye-to-eye."

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Jonah Hill turned down the lead in "The Hangover" franchise.

Jonah Hill turned down the lead in "The Hangover" franchise.

Who played the roles: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis

Jonah Hill told Bullet Magazine he had the opportunity to play any of the leads in Warner Bros.' "The Hangover." He also had a chance to star alongside Shia LaBeouf in "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

“A genuine fear of mine was that I was going to be known as ‘The Guy from Superbad’ for the rest of my life," said Hill.

“They were both really big decisions, and ones that most people didn’t understand,” he added. “I knew I could be a dramatic actor, but I also knew I couldn’t go from 'Superbad' to 'Schindler’s List.'”

Hill went on to receive Oscar nominations both for 2011's "Moneyball" and for 2013's "The Wolf of Wall Street."

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Bonus: Chris Pratt originally turned down "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Bonus: Chris Pratt originally turned down "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Before Pratt took on the role of "Star-Lord" in Disney's hit, he second guessed playing the character since he didn't make the cut for the leads in the "Star Trek" reboot and "Avatar."

“I was probably scared,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “And thought I was too fat to play a superhero."

The actor actually passed on a meeting about "Guardians."

"I didn’t want another Captain Kirk or ‘Avatar’ moment," he told EW.

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Those were the movies that got away.

Those were the movies that got away.

Now, see the best TV shows that were cancelled too early >

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