13 Actors Who Turned Down Some of the Biggest Movie Roles

Gage Skidmore via flickr

Actors and actresses may seem like they have their lives together, but ever think that they’re just acting? Seriously—not all actors go through life without any regrets. In fact, of the biggest regrets some actors have is turning down some of the biggest movie roles of their careers.

Sometimes when offered a role, actors either don’t have the time or turn it down based on the storyline and not thinking the movie will take off. And sometimes, they are very, very wrong. Behold, some actors who declined some of the biggest movie roles they might’ve ever played.

  1. Bill Murray, Forrest Gump

    Though it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Forrest except Tom Hanks, Murray was actually offered this role beforehand and declined. The reason? The part simply didn’t gauge his interest.

  2. Leonardo DiCaprio, American Psycho

    DiCaprio was reportedly offered $20 million to play the lead role in the film, a serial killer, Patrick Bateman. The role was later given to Christian Bale.

  3. Christian Bale, James Bond

    At the time, Bale just wasn’t too interested in taking over Pierce Brosnan’s role after his contract came to an end. “He thought that James Bond represented every despicable stereotype about England and British actors. Besides, he quipped: ‘I’ve already played a serial killer,’” said Bale’s former publicist.

  4. Michelle Pfeiffer, Basic Instinct

    Though it was a huge role, later played by Sharon Stone, Pfeiffer had to turn it down because she was too modest of an actress. “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.”

  5. Michael Keaton, Groundhog Day

    Michael Keaton turned down Bill Murray’s lead role in the 1993’s “Groundhog Day.” He said he simply didn’t “get” the plot line. Though he regrets his decision, he says Murray nailed it (we agree!).

  6. Angela Bassett, Monster’s Ball

    The role of Leticia was later played by Halle Berry, earning her a Best Actress Award. Bassett had turned it down because the role felt stereotypical to her. “I wasn’t going to be a prostitute on film,” she said. ”I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.”

  7. Julia Roberts, The Proposal

    Apparently, the role would’ve been a big pay cut for her. However, it earned more than $317 million worldwide with Sandra Bullock as the lead of Margaret.

  8. Matt Damon, The Dark Knight

    Damon turned down the role of Harvey Dent, or “Two Face,” which was eventually played by Aaron Eckhart. He wanted to do it, but he had filming conflicts get In the way. “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,” he said.

  9. Jack Nicholson, The Godfather

    He just knew he wasn’t right for the role as Michael Corleone, who nailed Al Pacino. “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,” he said.

  10. Angelina Jolie, Gravity

    She was offered the star role of Alfonso Cuaron’s Oscar winner, but decided to pass and let Sandra Bullock take over.

  11. Ian McKellen, Harry Potter

    He could’ve been *the* Albus Dumbledore, but Michael Gambon took it over. He thought because he played Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, he had to turn it down.

  12. Emily Blunt, Iron Man 2

    Though she had to turn down the role of Black Widow due to a timing deadline, she says Scarlett Johansson did 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,” she said.

  13. Jonah Hill, The Hangover

    Hill had the choice to play any of the main men, which were played by Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. He also turned down a star role in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. “They were both really big decisions, and ones that most people didn’t understand,” he said.

Did you know any of these actors could’ve played some of these roles? Do you have any regrets about your career?