movies

Molly Ringwald in Pretty Woman and Hugh Jackman as Bond: 15 actors who passed on iconic roles.

When it comes to iconic movie roles, we always associate the character with the actor who played them.

When we think of Pretty Woman, we think of Julia Roberts. Forrest Gump? Tom Hanks immediately comes to mind.

But what about the A-list actors that declined, passing up on potential career-defining roles?

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It’s happened a bunch of times in Hollywood. And although those characters would not be what they are today without the actors who played them, it’s interesting to think about what they would’ve been like played by someone else.

Here are 15 actors who passed on iconic movie roles.

Charlie Hunnam as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey.

The role was played by Jamie Dornan.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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Charlie Hunnam was set to play Christian Grey in the movie adaptation of the bestselling book, Fifty Shades of Grey. Sadly he changed his mind due to the explicit content that was shown in the film. Oh, and scheduling issues.

When speaking to V Man, the Sons of Anarchy star said, “Oh, it was the worst professional experience of my life. It was the most emotionally destructive and difficult thing that I’ve ever had to deal with professionally. It was heartbreaking.”

He also shared that when speaking to the director, Sam Taylor-Johnson, he said, “We both cried our eyes out on the phone for 20 minutes. There was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life that left me on real emotional shaky ground and mentally weak. I just got myself so f***ing overwhelmed, and I was sort of having panic attacks about the whole thing.”

Christina Applegate as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde.

The role was played by Reese Witherspoon.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

Dead to Me star Christina Applegate was set to play the iconic role of Elle Woods back in the day, but eventually declined.

When speaking about it she said, "The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished Married [...with Children], and it was a blonde who in that first script didn't win it but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don't remember. I got scared of kind of repeating myself. What a stupid move that was, right?”

Leonardo DiCaprio as Eddie Adams in Boogie Nights.

The role was played by Mark Wahlberg.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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After watching DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries, the director of Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson was desperate for him to play the role. However, he turned it down for Titanic.

"Boogie Nights is a movie I loved and I wish I would've done." DiCaprio told GQ.

When asked whether he wished he'd said yes, he said, "I'm not saying I would have. But it would have been a different direction, career-wise [to Titanic]. I think they're both great and wish I could have done them both."

Emma Watson as Mia in La La Land.

The role was played by Emma Stone.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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Emma Watson was offered the chance to play Mia in the Golden Globe-winning film La La Land. But due to her commitments to Beauty and the Beast, she turned it down.

During an interview with SiriusXM Town Hall she said, “I knew I had horse training, I knew I had dancing, I knew I had three months of singing ahead of me, and I knew I had to be in London to really do that. And this wasn’t a movie I could just kind of parachute into. I knew I had to do the work, and I had to be where I had to be. So scheduling conflict-wise, it just didn’t work out.”

Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Casino Royale.

The role was played by Daniel Craig.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

Australian actor Hugh Jackman could have been the new James Bond. But sadly, he had too many blockbuster commitments at the time and the much-sought-after role ended up going to Daniel Craig.

“I just felt at the time that the scripts had become so unbelievable and crazy, and I felt like they needed to become grittier and real. And the response was: ‘Oh, you don’t get a say. You just have to sign on.’ I was also worried that between Bond and X-Men, I’d never have time to do different things," he told Variety.

John Travolta as Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump.

The role was played by Tom Hanks.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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It has been said that John Travolta was offered the iconic role of Forrest Gump before Tom Hanks ever was. And he said no.

Since then, he has shared that it was a mistake turning down this part, but to be honest we're pretty happy he did. Tom Hanks was made for it.

Sandra Bullock as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby.

The role was played by Hilary Swank.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

Sandra Bullock tried to get Million Dollar Baby filmed for years. And when it finally was, she was busy with Miss Congeniality 2 and Hilary Swank took the part.

"We had Million Dollar Baby with someone else for a while, trying to get it made. I couldn't get it made. We tried and tried and tried. [They were like] Female boxing movies don't sell. I was like, 'This is the most incredible piece.'

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"I then started doing Miss Congeniality 2 and they got Hilary (Swank) and they got Clint," shared Bullock.

Will Smith as Django in Django Unchained.

The role was played by Jamie Foxx.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

Will Smith was offered the role of Djano in Quentin Tarantino’s film, Django Unchained. However, due to creative differences, he declined.

"It was about the creative direction of the story. To me, it’s as perfect a story as you could ever want: a guy that learns how to kill to retrieve his wife that has been taken as a slave. That idea is perfect. And it was just that Quentin and I couldn’t see [eye to eye].

"I wanted to make that movie so badly, but I felt the only way was, it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story," Smith told the Hollywood Reporter.

Julia Roberts as Annie Reed in Sleepless in Seattle.

The role was played by Meg Ryan.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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The iconic Julia Roberts was offered another major role, Annie Reed in Sleepless in Seattle. But she decided to say no.

When speaking to InstyleRoberts said, "I’d been offered Sleepless in Seattle, but couldn’t do it. [Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town, you know?"

Matt Damon as Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.

The role was played by Aaron Eckhart.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

The Dark Knight is considered to be one of the best movies ever made. And Matt Damon said no to being a part of it.

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

"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."

Anne Hathaway as Alison Scott in Knocked Up.

The role was played by Katherine Heigl.

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Image: Getty and IMDb.

Anne Hathaway was offered to play pregnant Alison Scott in the rom-com, Knocked Up. However, since she had not experienced childbirth yet, she said no.

When speaking to Allure she said, "My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself, I didn't know how I was gonna feel on the other side about giving birth."

Denzel Washington as David Mills in Seven.

The role was played by Brad Pitt.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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Denzel Washington was offered to play David Mills in '90s film Seven. But he decided to work on the detective thriller, Devil in a Blue Dress instead.

While at the premiere for his film The Equalizer he said, "They offered me the Brad Pitt part, but I was like, 'This is so dark and evil. Then, when I saw the movie, I was like, 'Oh, shoot.'"

Molly Ringwald as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman.

The role was played by Julia Roberts.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

While Molly Ringwald appeared as the lead in almost every iconic '80s film, she turned down the chance to play Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman. 

When speaking about why she declined the offer she said, "Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that.

Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone in The Godfather.

The role was played by Marlon Brando.

Image: Getty and IMDb.
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The Godfather is hands down one of the greatest films of all time. And when Jack Nicholson was offered to play the lead role of Michael Corleone, he said no.

When speaking to Movieline about why he declined to play the part, he explained that it wasn't his role to play.

"Then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians," he said. Of course, the part went to Marlon Brando in what's generally considered his career-defining role.

Will Smith as Neo in The Matrix.

The role was played by Keanu Reeves.

Image: Getty and IMDb.

It's no secret that Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in The Matrix.

When discussing why he did, he said, “I’m not proud of it. Keanu was perfect, Laurence Fishburne was perfect. So I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it, so I did y’all a favour.”

Feature image: Getty and IMDb.

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