When it comes to Hollywood movies it’s not always an easy feat in determining those that will be a success and those that will flop; this is the very same way actors and actresses feel, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that sometimes when choosing roles they get it wrong. Yes! They are only human and miss out on opportunities, just like everybody else. It’s easy to look back after a movie’s huge success and call someone foolish for not taking the opportunity to play a certain part, but when looking at the same story on a dull script, it’s not always easy for these stars to see the potential present.
Along with this sometimes other commitments just make it impossible for actors to take certain roles, after all, it’s not possible to be in two places at once (not yet anyway) or to film two movies at the same time. So, maybe it’s down to fate or blind chance who gets to play these parts but one thing’s for sure, once an actor gives a good performance, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in their place. That’s what’s so interesting about this list, some of these potential castings seem so random; it’s fascinating to try and imagine an alternate reality in which these actors would have taken on these roles and what impact that would have had on the movie’s overall success.
12. John Travolta – Forrest Gump
It was Travolta who was first considered to play the titular role of the 1994 epic ‘Forrest Gump.’ However, Travolta declined the role for reasons that were never really known and in recent years has made some comments indicating he may have regretted his decision. The role went to Tom Hanks, which saw him win his second best actor Oscar, making him the only actor, till this day, to have won the award two years in a row. The touching storyline and Hank’s performance immediately captured the hearts of audiences everywhere; with results like that it’s no surprise Travolta regrets not snapping up this part!
11. Emily Browning – Twilight
Browning reportedly turned down the opportunity to audition for the role of Bella Swan in the 2008 Vampire Romance flick ‘Twilight.’ Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight book series, had actually stated in a blog post that Browning would be her dream casting for the role. However, the actress was just completing filming of ‘The Uninvited’ and stated “I’m not the type of person who can just work back-to-back. So I was just exhausted, and I was like, ’I’m sorry, but I just can’t sign on to a trilogy right now.” Kirsten Stewart later went on to earn the part of Bella and her on-screen romance with Edward Cullen (Robert Patterson) became the obsession of teen girls everywhere, launching both the young actors’ careers.
10. Molly Ringwald – Pretty Woman
Ringwald, who was somewhat of a teen idol after appearing in three iconic movies during the 80s was also very close to being the star of ‘Pretty Woman.’ However, ‘The Breakfast Club Star’ opted not to pursue the part but claims she holds no regrets over her decision. It was Julia Roberts who ended up scooping up the role and Ringwald later stated “Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that.” It’s difficult to disagree with Ringwald as Roberts definitely did a wonderful job in the movie, however, it’s hard for one not to imagine had Ringwald taken this opportunity her transition from a teen star to a serious Hollywood actress may have gone more smoothly.
9. Mel Gibson – Gladiator
Gibson passed on the chance to play the role of the iconic Maximus Decimus Meridius in the epic historical drama ‘Gladiator’ realised in 2000. Gibson said his reason for turning down the offer was that he felt, at 43, that he was too old to take on the role of this character. Russell Crowe was later cast as Maximus and the movie went on to be a huge box office success. Not only did Crowe earn himself an Oscar for Best Actor but the film went on to six Oscars overall at the 73rd Academy Awards. It’s hard to imagine how Gibson would not be kicking himself after passing on this one!
8. Sarah Michelle Gellar – Clueless
The ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ star was originally offered the role of the iconic Cher Horowitz in the cult comedy classic ‘Clueless.’ At the time Gellar was appearing in soap opera ‘All My Children’ and was forced to decline the role due to clashes in filming schedules. Nevertheless, Alicia Silverstone scooped up the part and although she was lesser known at the time this didn’t stop her from winning the approval of nineties teens everywhere; it’s hard to imagine anyone topping Silverstone’s performance as she captures Cher’s character perfectly; a character whose personality and style is referenced in pop culture, even now.
7. Tom Hanks – Jerry Maguire
Hanks allegedly passed up the lead role in the 1996 comedy-drama sports film ‘Jerry Maguire’ as at the time he was preoccupied with directing ‘That Thing You Do.’ Its surprising Hanks declined the part as director Cameron Crowe stated that he had the actor in mind when writing the script. Nevertheless, Tom Cruise was eventually cast to play the part and went on to give an excellent performance. Although Hanks is a terrific actor, it’s definitely hard to envision anyone but Cruise screaming ‘show me the money’ down the phone in what is now is classed as one of the movies most famous scenes!
6. Gwyneth Paltrow – Titanic
It’s hard to imagine anyone but Kate Winslet playing the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, however, Gwyneth Paltrow was first considered for the role; it’s not commonly known but Paltrow was actually director James Cameron’s favourite to appear in the movie. Titanic went on to be win an outstanding 11 Oscars, which included Winslet taking home her first gong for best actress. It’s easy to imagine this was difficult for Paltrow, however when later asked if she regretted not taking the role she insisted that there was no use getting upset and that her actions were part of something greater.
5. Tom Cruise – Footloose
Long before his ‘Jerry Maguire’ days Cruise actually passed on the part of Ren McCormack in the 1984 musical drama hit ‘Footloose.’ The casting directors had actually spied Cruise for the part but unfortunately he was caught up in other commitments filming ‘All the Right Moves.’ Kevin Bacon later accepted the part of Ren and definitely did it justice as the movie went on to be a huge box office success. However, one can’t help but think Cruise would have also done a good job in this role; well, that is if his dance scene in ‘Risky Business’ is anything to go by.
4. Johnny Depp – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Many would find it hard to believe, but Depp was offered the role of Ferris Bueller in the 1980’s cult comedy ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.’ Depp reportedly declined the role as it interfered with his schedule and other filming commitments. Matthew Broderick later snapped up the part and after its release the movie went on to be one of the best coming-of-age stories to ever grace movie screens. Depp would have definitely put an interesting twist to the character of Ferris but after its huge success it’s very hard to imagine anyone but Broderick in this role.
3. Will Smith – The Matrix
It’s been 17 years since Smith turned down the opportunity to play Neo in the 1999 science fiction flick, however it’s easy to imagine this one still irks the actor considering the huge success this movie went on to have. The Matrix is still, even now, considered one of the most revolutionary and astonishing films to grace movie screens. Keanu Reeves was later cast to play the part and there’s no denying he did a fantastic job, when speaking on the matter, Smith himself said “You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn’t see it. I watched Keanu’s performance – and very rarely do I say this – but I would have messed it up.” Smith also famously turned down the opportunity to play Django in the Oscar winning film ‘Django Unchained’ due to the fact he would not be playing the lead role.
2. Julia Roberts – The Blind Side
Roberts turned down the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy the 2009 sports drama ‘The Blind Side’ a movie based on true events. The actress claimed she did not have a strong enough interest in the script. The role was taken by Sandra Bullock, but interestingly enough, Bullock actually declined the role three times herself; the actress felt she would have difficulty portraying a character who was a devout Christian. Nevertheless, after a visit with the real life Leigh Anne Tuohy, Bullock’s opinion changed dramatically and not only did she accept the role but she agreed to do it for less money! This was not the first role Roberts turned down that was later picked up by Bullock; the 2009 comedy the ‘Proposal’ was also offered to Roberts first.
1. Jack Nicholson – The Godfather
Jack Nicholson’s decline of the offer to play Michael Corleone in the 1972 crime-drama ‘The Godfather’ is definitely the most interesting on the list; this is due to the fact the film is widely regarded as the best movie of all time. When asked why he turned down the opportunity, Nicholson simply stated “I knew The Godfather was going to be a great film, but at that time I believed Indians should play roles written for Indians and Italians should do the same.” Al Pacino was later cast in the part and there is little argument that the he gave an outstanding performance; it really is difficult to imagine anyone topping it, Jack Nicholson, or not. Although, from what Nicholson had to say it’s clear he was happy for Al Pacino’s success one can’t help but think about an alternate reality in which Nicholson would play the part and what this would mean for the character!