As we all know, celebrities can chose to turn down roles for a number of reasons; whether it be because of scheduling conflicts, salary issues or simply due to creative differences. However, sometimes they turn down roles because they’re too afraid to take them on. This fear is different for each star – a fear of letting down fans, a fear of failing, a fear of a film flop, a fear of how they’ll be portrayed and even a fear of how scary the script is. Sometimes the fear gets the best of some great Hollywood celebs and as a result they miss out on some pretty iconic roles, like these twelve celebrities that were too afraid to take on a role.
12. Leonardo DiCaprio – Patrick Bateman in American Psycho
Lionsgate reportedly offered Leonardo DiCaprio $20 million to play serial killer Patrick Bateman in the 2000 film American Psycho. After DiCaprio expressed interest, the studio went so far as to issue a press release saying he would star in the film. However, not long after, he decided to back out on account of his Titanic fanbase. He feared that they would not respond well to him going from sweetheart Jack Dawson to a psycho that slices up prostitutes with a chainsaw.
11. Jennifer Hudson – Precious in Precious
Jennifer Hudson was originally offered the role of Precious, but she turned it down, because it would have forced her to gain a serious amount of weight. The thought of gaining weight after she worked so hard to slim down terrified Jennifer. She felt that it would be unwise and unhealthy to pack on pounds for a role. It also would have interfered with her contract to serve as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers. The role eventually went to Gabourey Sidibe and the film was a success earning four Oscar nominations and two Oscar wins.
10. Charlie Hunnam – Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey
The Sons of Anarchy star was originally cast in the lead for the highly anticipated adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. He later dropped out, telling Moviefone that he had a “nervous breakdown” about the role. “I just said, ‘I can’t, I can’t,'” Hunnam said. “Fifty’s going to be massive, it’s going to be huge. I really didn’t want to fail on such a grand scale and I just couldn’t transition from Jax Teller to Christian Grey in 48 hours. I bit off more than I could chew and it was painful. I loved the character and I wanted to do it … It was one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations.”
9. Angela Bassett – Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball
Angela Bassett liked the idea of acting along side Billy Bob Thornton, but she had no desire to portray a prostitute. Bassett was afraid people would remember her as ‘that prostitute.’ She told Newsweek, “I wasn’t going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.” After turning down the role, Halle Berry had no problem taking it on. The role earned Berry an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role making her the first African-American to receive the award.
8. Leonardo DiCaprio – Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote Boogie Nights with Leonard DiCaprio in mind as the lead role of Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler. At the time, Leonardo was on fire from the success of Titanic. When he was offered the role, DiCaprio declined it opting for a role in The Man in The Iron Mask instead. According to DiCaprio, the reason for his decision was because he was afraid to work with P.T. Anderson, who had only directed one feature film. Leonardo has openly expressed his regret after seeing Boogie Nights, because he loved the film.
7. Mark Wahlberg – Jack Twist in Brokeback Mountain
Mark Wahlberg caught the eye of iconic Chinese director, Ang Lee back in 2004 who was working on casting for the film Brokeback Mountain. Lee sent the script to Mark hoping he might play Jack Twist, but Mark struggled with the thought of playing a gay character given the rather explicit sex scenes. He told SF Gate, “I met with Ang Lee on that movie, I read 15 pages of the script and got a little creeped out. It was very graphic, descriptive—the spitting on the hand, getting ready to do the thing.” The role went to Jake Gyllenhaal, and he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
6. Jeremy Irons – Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs
Before Anthony Hopkins took on the iconic role of Dr. Hannibal Lector, one of the creepiest characters in cinematic history – it was originally offered to another actor, Jeremy Irons. Irons turned it down out of his fear of the dark plot and violence in the film. He had just done a villainous role and also feared being pigeonholed. As we know, Hopkins played the role formidably and went on to win an Oscar for the role.
5. Denzel Washington – David Mills in SE7EN
David Fincher originally wanted to have two black police officers in Seven, Morgan Freeman mentoring Denzel Washington. However, Denzel couldn’t get into the Seven script. He told Entertainment Weekly, “They offered me the Brad Pitt part, but I was like, ‘this is so dark and evil.'” Denzel couldn’t get over the creepy and scary vibes the film gave him and decided to pass on the offer. The role went to Brad Pitt. After Denzel saw the film, he admitted that he regretted his decision.
4. Mel Gibson – Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman
Mel Gibson was Tim Burton’s first choice for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the 1989 release. Gibson turned down the role fearing the film would flop. He couldn’t see how it could he executed well during that time, and felt people would see it and then forget about it. However, that thought process missed the mark. Michael Keaton took on the role of Batman and the film was wildly successful, spawning a sequel and delivering iconic performances by both Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson.
3. Hugh Jackman – James Bond in Casino Royale
Hugh Jackman was originally offered the role of James Bond, the British secret service agent in Casino Royale, but he turned it down out of fear that it would limit his future opportunities. He didn’t want to forever be known as James Bond. Jackman told The Hollywood Reporter, “I thought it would box me in too much. My natural instinct is to keep as many doors open as possible.” The role went to Daniel Craig and didn’t hinder other opportunities for him. Recently, when asked about the newest James Bond film, Jackman commented that he would be interested in the role after Daniel Craig opts out. Looks like Jackman has some regrets…
2. Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling in Silence of The Lambs
Michelle Pfeiffer was originally offered the role of Clarice Starling in Silence of The Lambs, but found the script too creepy and the subject matter too dark. She decided to turn down the role because of that. The role of Clarice Starling, the heroine who makes nice with Hannibal Lector in order to get to Buffalo Bill ultimately went to Jodie Foster. The film was a huge success and Foster went on to win an Oscar for her performance.
1. Brad Pitt – Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave
According to The New York Post, Brad Pitt turned down one of the lead roles in 12 Years a Slave and opted to play a much smaller role. He was originally offered the role of Edwin Epps, the mean slave owner. Pitt told the Post that he had turned down the role because he feared having his kids see him in a role like that. The role went to Michael Fassbender who in turn received an Oscar nomination for his performance.