14 Actors Who Could’ve Starred in Our Favorite Iconic Movies
Some movie viewers that don’t know a lot about the cinematography might think that any actor is willing to do anything just to get the main role in a film. But this isn’t really true. Quite often, for different reasons, stars decide to refuse to portray roles, even if the directors beg them to take them on.
We at Bright Side have found that among such “rejected” roles, there are many of those that became iconic. And even today, it’s difficult to imagine these characters being portrayed by completely different actors.
The role of Sam Wheat was offered to Bruce Willis and Patrick Swayze.
Bruce Willis was married to Demi Moore when he was offered the main role in this iconic film. But when he learned more about the plot, he was confused — he couldn’t understand how the writers were planning to make a powerful romantic plot with a ghost! He didn’t believe the film would be successful, so he turned the role down.
Patrick Swayze wasn’t very eager to learn about the part. Only thanks to his wife, who insisted, did he read the script in one sitting and cry at the end. After that, he was totally willing to portray the character.
The role of Daisy Domergue was offered to Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Quentin Tarantino really wanted to get Jennifer Lawrence to play one of the main roles in The Hateful Eight. He is a fan of hers, and he said it himself. But her really tight schedule didn’t let her work with the famous director.
According to Tarantino, he felt that Lawrence met him only out of politeness because at the time, she was busy portraying the main character in Joy.
The role of James Bond was offered to Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan.
According to Liam Neeson himself, at the beginning of the ’90s, he was never offered the part of Bond directly. He had a few superficial talks with the producer of the film — he, among other candidates, was considered for the role.
But his girlfriend (and later wife), Natasha Richardson said, even after these talks, “Darling, if you’re offered James Bond, and you’re going to play it, you’re not going to marry me.” Later, when they got married, the actor joked with his wife for a long time, humming the James Bond tune when they were fighting.
The role of Sidney Prescott was offered to Drew Barrymore and Neve Campbell.
As it turned out, the main part in the horror flick, Scream, was originally offered to Drew Barrymore, but she turned it down due to personal reasons — she didn’t want to be part of a movie cliché where the main character survives. This is why, in order to shock viewers, Barrymore suggested the director hire her for a very small supporting role of a girl that only appears at the beginning of the film. And Neve Campbell portrayed the main character.
The role of Gandalf was offered to Sean Connery and Ian McKellen.
Today, we know the Lord of the Rings as a worldwide success, but at the beginning, the studio thought the movie adaptation was a very risky idea, as it had a huge budget, a relatively unknown director, and no big names on the list of actors, all of which were very worrisome.
They wanted to hire at least one famous actor for one of the main roles, like Gandalf. They wanted to get Sean Connery to play him. But, despite all the negotiations and promises about big money, he turned it down because he didn’t understand the script. And now everyone knows Ian McKellen as one of the key characters of the famous story.
The role of Michael Corleone was offered to Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino.
It’s known that Jack Nicholson didn’t mind getting the part and eventually turned it down, but it wasn’t because he was busy or doubted the project would be successful. On the contrary, he thought the role was very significant, and because of its Italian roots, an Italian actor should get it. He said that many actors could have portrayed Michael Corleone, but Al Pacino was born for this role.
The role of Vivian was offered to Sarah Jessica Parker and Julia Roberts.
As it turned out, at the beginning, Julia Roberts wasn’t the first choice for the film, Pretty Woman — Disney didn’t want her for the lead role. But dozens of other actresses were considered, including Sandra Bullock, Winona Ryder, Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others.
But none of them were chosen. The creators of the film thought that some of them were too young, and others turned the role down themselves because they were worried about their reputation. Finally, little-known Roberts was hired, and it was her golden ticket.
The role of Neo was offered to Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves.
The careers of Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves crossed many times, and one of them was during the making of The Matrix. The first person that was chosen for the role of Neo by the Wachowskis was Johnny Depp. Even Warner Brothers didn’t fully agree with this choice and wanted someone more like Brad Pitt, but they caved.
But Depp turned the part down and let Reeves show himself in this role, and now it’s hard to imagine anyone but him as Neo.
The role of Ego was offered to Matthew McConaughey and Kurt Russel.
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, one of the key roles, antagonist Ego, could have been portrayed by the Oscar winner, Matthew McConaughey. The rumors about him taking part in this franchise started when he was reading scripts for DC and Marvel films. But fans were wrong.
In any case, McConaughey turned the role down because he decided to appear in a different big project — Stephen King’s adaption of The Dark Tower.
The role of Harvey Dent was offered to Matt Damon and Aaron Eckhart.
Matt Damon decided not to portray Harvey Dent in Christopher Nolan’s film because he was busy with a different project. The actor said he would be the main character in that other project, and in Batman, he was offered a smaller part, so he needed to choose. It is interesting that later Damon appeared in another one of Nolan’s projects, Interstellar. And he had to work really hard to become part of the team at that time.
The role of Rose was offered to Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet.
Today, everyone thinks about Kate Winslet when Rose from Titanic is mentioned. And it’s hard to believe that a completely different young actress could have portrayed this character in the film, Gwyneth Paltrow.
She doesn’t give a clear answer as to why she decided not to accept the part, and only says that every actor sometimes agrees to bad parts and misses the good ones. This is why she tries not to worry about it.
The role of Maximus was offered to Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe.
Considering the image of “the cool guy” Mel Gibson earned thanks to his roles in Mad Max and Braveheart, it wasn’t very surprising that he was the first choice to portray Maximus on the big screen.
But the actor turned the role down, not because he was busy, but out of practical reasons — he admitted that he thought he was too old because there were many dynamic scenes. So Russel Crowe was hired for the role, and it made him a big Hollywood star.
The role of Noah Calhoun was offered to George Clooney and Ryan Gosling.
In 2020, George Clooney said that he was originally supposed to portray the young version of the main character together with Paul Newman, who was going to be the older Noah. They really wanted to work together.
But after a lot of thinking and many movies he watched with Newman, Clooney decided to turn the part down. The actor said he thought he wasn’t attractive enough compared to Newman, so they wouldn’t look convincing on-screen. As we now know, Noah was portrayed by the charming Ryan Gosling, and it was a great turn in his career.
The role of Jake Sully was offered to Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Worthington.
Initially, the main part in Avatar was offered to Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal. But their refusals actually made director James Cameron happy, not sad.
He once admitted that he was planning for the not-yet-famous Australian actor, Sam Worthington, to play the part, but he had to offer the part to more famous stars to appease his bosses over at Fox. They were afraid the movie wouldn’t be successful without big names. And when the actors refused, Worthington got it and turned into a star after the movie was released.
In your opinion, which of these films would’ve been bigger successes had the actors that got the offer first agreed to take the parts?