11 Actors and Actresses Who Turned Down Million-Dollar Roles

John Travolta turned down the role of Forrest Gump and Jack Nicholson considered it impossible to play a Sicilian man without actually being one, that’s why it was Al Pacino who got the role of Michael Corleone. Still, these actors managed to star in many movies that brought them success and fame. However, sometimes things turn out to be a bit different and the turndown of a role ruins all the hopes for a bright career.

We at Bright Side decided to find out what significant roles were turned down by actors and how it affected their professional fate.

Emily Browning — Bella Swan, Twilight saga

Today, it’s hard to imagine someone else apart from Kristen Stewart as the main character of the Twilight saga. However, initially is was Emily Browning who was considered for the role. If that had happened, Bella Swan would be totally different.

But Browning turned the role down. Later she said that she doesn’t regret making this decision because the actors who played in the flick became enormously successful and famous, and she was not ready for that.

Josh Hartnett — Superman and Batman

Josh Hartnett turned down the role of Batman and Superman. The actor says that this decision was correct and perhaps the only right one he’s made. Josh didn’t want to become the hostage of stereotype roles and that’s why didn’t consider this collaboration.

Though the actor got the main role in the movie Lucky Number Slevin in 2006, within the next 10 years he only had cameo appearances in low-budget movies. In 2017, the viewers could see Josh in Below: Miracle on the Mountain, but the flick got mainly negative reviews from critics. The rating of movie approval on Rotten Tomatoes is only 22%.

Matthew Broderick — Walter White, Breaking Bad

The creators of the Breaking Bad series were hoping that Matthew Broderick will agree to play the main role in their project. But he turned this offer down and the creators had to look for someone else to fill the position. Bryan Cranston happened to be that someone who didn’t miss his chance and did his best in the role.

After that, Broderick starred in many movies but, unfortunately, they didn’t bring him much success. Today we can hear Broderick more than see him because he does voice-overs for animated characters. Thus, Simba the lion, for example, speaks with Matthew’s voice.

Laurence Fishburne — Jules Winnfield, Pulp Fiction

For his fans, Laurence Fishburne has remained Morpheus from The Matrix for many years though the actor had every chance to not let this situation happen. When Quentin Tarantino was working on Pulp Fiction, he invited Laurence to play the role of Jules Winnfield, but he turned the offer down.

It was Samuel L. Jackson who became Jules and was awarded a BAFTA for the Best Film Actor in a Supporting Role.

Jennifer Love Hewitt — Prue Halliwell, Charmed

When actress Shannen Doherty left the project Charmed at the end of the 3rd season, the creators were puzzled about the future destiny of her character, Prue Halliwell. Jennifer Love Hewitt was invited to try herself in this role. However, the actress refused to play in the series. Tiffani Thiessen, who got the same proposal, also rejected the role. Eventually, it was decided to remove Prue Halliwell from the list of the series’ characters.

Recently Jennifer Love Hewitt completely shifted from acting in feature films to acting in series. Thus, she has had roles in projects like Criminal Minds and Hot in Cleveland. Today, we can see the actress in a drama series called 9-1-1.

Ja Rule — Tej Parker, The Fast and the Furious saga

Rap singer Ja Rule made a cameo appearance in the first part of The Fast and the Furious. During filming 2 Fast 2 Furious, director John Singleton increased the screen time and tried to get the rap singer into the cast but he refused. It created a conflict: the director was saying that the singer was out of touch and that he had to follow Ja around to get an answer. Eventually, Ja rejected the half a million dollar paycheck but he didn’t give up on his acting ambitions.

Ja Rule tried himself in collaboration with other directors but it didn’t bring him much success. Thus, the movie Half Past Dead got a 4.6 IMDb score, while Don’t Fade Away got a 4.9. At the same time, Ludacris, who got the role of Tej after Rule’s refusal, appeared in almost every part of the saga, including the last one, F9.

Nicolas Cage — Aragorn, Lord Of The Rings trilogy

Nicolas Cage had a chance to play Aragorn I in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy but he refused to do it for personal reasons — he didn’t want to leave his home for such a long period of time. That’s why Viggo Mortensen became the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom and gained world fame thanks to this role.

Today Nicolas often appears in media: within one year, he appeared in many movies but his roles mainly caused furious comments from haters and confused his old fans.

Molly Ringwald — Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman

Before Julia Roberts was approved for the role of Vivian in Pretty Woman, many other actresses rejected playing this character. They include Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Valeria Golino, among others. Later Molly Ringwald confessed in an interview that she regretted having made this decision.

It’s not surprising because in the ’90s that actress lost her fame, having started to take parts in little-known movies and series, while the role of an easy-going girl played by Julia Roberts brought her the status of one of Hollywood’s recognizable stars.

Michael Madsen — Vincent Vega, Pulp Fiction

The legendary dance of Uma Thurman and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction could’ve looked different if the role of Vincent had gone to Michael Madsen. However, the actor turned the role down because he was engaged in another project — at that moment he was filming Wyatt Earp, a western flick. But this movie didn’t turn out to be as successful as Quentin Tarantino’s black comedy — it was nominated for Golden Raspberry 5 times and won 2 of its nominations. Though it’s worth mentioning that the movie also had a nomination for Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Michael recalls the rejection of this role with humor and says that it’s unlikely that someone would’ve been happier to see him instead of Travolta. Madsen had been playing in low-budget movies for a long time but recently he has started to appear in projects from Russian cinematography like Velvet Revolution, The Way, The 5th Execution, etc. Moreover, the actor tried himself in a new line of work and published several books with his own poetry.

Oliver Hudson — Jack Pearson, This Is Us

Oliver Hudson had every chance to get the role of Jack Pearson in the This Is Us series, but the actor preferred to go on a 10-day fishing trip instead of the set. Eventually, it was Milo Ventimiglia who played the main role and got several Emmy nominations for it.

Oliver’s main work is in his role in the Rules of Engagement sitcom where he acted for 7 seasons.

Claire Danes — Rose DeWitt Bukater, Titanic

The role of Rose brought 22-year-old Kate Winslet world fame and a nomination for an Oscar. The young woman instantly became a star in Hollywood. However, initially, it was Claire Danes who was invited to take this role but she refused claiming she was tired and bored with her most recent projects. Danes also didn’t want to act with DiCaprio, because not long before Titanic, they both appeared in William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

In the following years of her acting career, Claire had a part in the series Homeland which was broadcast for almost 10 years until its end in April 2020. Participation in feature movies almost never brings the actress awards or delighted reviews. Films she has been in from recent years can’t claim to be loved by audiences: for example, As Cool as I Am has a 5.8 IMDb rating, while A Kid Like Jake — 5.4.

Can you imagine someone else instead of your favorite movie and series characters?

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