12 Iconic Movie Roles That Famous Actors Turned Down

Matt Damon in 'Avatar'
Matt Damon in 'Avatar'
Eminem was Neill Blomkamp's first choice to play the Elysium character eventually inhabited by Matt Damon, but the rapper turned down the role when the director wouldn't shoot it in Detroit. His decision follows a long tradition of famous actors turning down major roles, including Elysium star Damon's own decision to pass on Sam Worthington's role in Avatar and these others...
20th Century Fox; Splash, News
Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones
Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones
Tom Selleck turned down Raiders of the Lost Ark so he could work on Magnum P.I.. But we don’t really see Indy with a mustache, either.
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Christopher Walken in 'Star Wars'
Christopher Walken in 'Star Wars'
George Lucas originally didn't want to give Harrison Ford the role of Indiana Jones because he disliked the idea of reusing actors from his previous films. Which is also why he initially balked at casting Ford, who had appeared in his American Graffiti, as Han Solo in Star Wars. The original pick for the nerf herder? Christopher Walken.
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Jack Nicholson in 'The Godfather'
Jack Nicholson in 'The Godfather'
It's hard to believe it, but Jack Nicholson really was considered for the role of Michael Corleone over Al Pacino. Let's all say it together now: worst idea ever.
Everett Collection; WENN
Al Pacino in 'Pretty Woman'
Al Pacino in 'Pretty Woman'
However, Pacino was director Garry Marshall's first choice to play the john eventually assayed by Richard Gere. Hoo-ah!
Everett Collection; WENN
Julia Roberts in 'The Proposal'
Julia Roberts in 'The Proposal'
Julia Roberts, having gone some years without a Pretty Woman-style hit, could have given herself a boost by taking the female lead in The Proposal, the part that ultimately went to Sandra Bullock and helped launch her toward Hollywood MVP status.
Everett Collection; WENN
Michelle Pfeiffer in 'The Silence of the Lambs'
Michelle Pfeiffer in 'The Silence of the Lambs'
It's hard to imagine Clarice Starling being played by anyone other than Jodie Foster, but Michelle Pfeiffer was hot — in more ways than one — in 1991, so she was Jonathan Demme's first choice to tangle with Hannibal Lecter.
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John Travolta in 'Forrest Gump'
John Travolta in 'Forrest Gump'
1994 will forever be known as the Year that John Travolta Reinvented Himself. The first time, anyway. As Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction' he transformed from a burnt-out dancing fool from the '70s to a live-wire dancing fool of the '90s. But he could have played the title role in the movie that ultimately defeated Pulp for Best Picture. We think he made the right choice.
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Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Boogie Nights'
Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Boogie Nights'
Imagine the fangirl explosion that would have happened if Leo had immediately followed up Jack Dawson with Dirk Diggler in Paul Thomas Anderson's porn epic. He was apparently in love with the role, but in the end' the rubber appendage went to Mark Wahlberg.
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Warren Beatty in Kill Bill
Warren Beatty in Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino had written Bill with the Bonnie & Clyde star in mind. But Beatty had become increasingly picky by the early 2000s — he still hasn’t starred in a film since 2001’s money-hemorrhaging flop Town & Country — and turned down the part. QT turned to another of his faves, former Grasshopper David Carradine instead. Seriously, Beatty would appear in Love Affair but not Kill Bill?
Miramax; WENN
Will Smith in 'The Matrix'
Will Smith in 'The Matrix'
Whoa. Smith was riding high after Independence Day and Men in Black, so he had his pick of roles, including The Matrix. He turned that down to make Wild Wild West instead. Good call!
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Sean Connery in 'Lord Of The Rings'
Sean Connery in 'Lord Of The Rings'
The original James Bond was still acting in the late '90s when Peter Jackson offered him the part of Gandalf. Apparently, Connery declined because he "didn't understand the script." After LOTR's runaway success, Connery then decided to accept the lead role in the next movie script he didn't understand: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Actually, no one understood that one.
Everett Collection; WENN
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