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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?