From the outside looking in, it's hard to say how truly stupid some of the decisions actors make actually are. For the big stars, they must have roles being offered to them all the time. They can't take them all so they have to choose the ones that will make them the happiest, or the richest. This can be like betting on horses. Sure, there's going to be a horse that has a great track record and looks to be a heavy favorite, expected to do well, but sometimes betting on the long shot can pay more dividends. This happens all the time in Hollywood. Most of the time, however, these bad bets don’t hurt an actor too badly. Especially if they're megastars.
So what are we looking at here? Well, let's start with what we're not looking at. We're not looking at stars who turned down major roles that didn't visibly impact their careers. So, no, Jack Nicholson turning down the role of Michael Corleone in The Godfather won't be on here considering he would do Chinatown and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest right after, not exactly a lull in his career. No, Al Pacino turning down Han Solo in Star Wars or Daniel Day-Lewis turning down Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings are not here. Sure, these roles may have made them even more rich, but these guys did alright. Pacino would remain one of the most legendary actors of all time without Star Wars and Day-Lewis has won two of his three Best Actor awards post-Lord of the Rings. We're looking at major negative impacts. We're looking at decisions, either taking a bad role or turning down a good role, that changed their careers forever, probably for the worse. Here are 15 stars who made catastrophic career Decisions.
15 Molly Ringwald - Turned Down Pretty Woman
Molly Ringwald was the definition of the "it girl" in the 80s. When she first teamed up with director John Hughes in Pretty in Pink, Ringwald became an overnight sensation. She would increase her fame with The Breakfast Club and the sky was the limit. Ringwald was then offered another role in a Hughes film, Some Kind of Wonderful, which she turned down because of how closely it was linked to Pretty in Pink, which it was. She said that she would prefer to act in more adult roles, but when one came along, Pretty Woman, Ringwald turned that down too because it was too risqué. These two decisions would haunt her career. Though she would show up in the odd film after this, her fame would plummet.
14 Shelley Long - Left Cheers
13 Will Smith - Did After Earth Instead Of Django
12 Gwyneth Paltrow - Turned Down Titanic
11 Chris O'Donnell - Batman Forever Instead Of Titanic
10 Katherine Heigl - Knocked Up Complaints
9 John Travolta - Did Battlefield Earth
8 Katie Holmes - Mad Money Instead Of Dark Knight
7 Dougray Scott - Turned Down Wolverine
6 Halle Berry - Did Catwoman
5 Sean Connery - Turned Down Gandalf
4 Emily Browning - Turned Down The Role Of Bella Swan
3 Michelle Pfeiffer - Turned Down Pretty Woman & Lambs
Michelle Pfeiffer took time off acting to be with her family more, but before that, she turned down some iconic roles which would have done a lot for her career. That's not to say that Pfeiffer's career struggled, just that it never became would it could have become. The two big ones that she turned down were the leads in Pretty Woman because she didn't like the character and how it would look on her and Silence of the Lambs because she didn't like the excessive violence in the film. Though Pfeiffer has voiced some regret about these decisions, she did have a successful career after them. If she would have done either of these roles though, she may have become one of the biggest stars on the planet as she was already a big name in the industry. Look at what those two movies did for the stars who did take the roles, Julia Roberts and Jodie Foster.
2 McLean Stevenson - Left M*A*S*H
When an actor makes a massive, career-destroying decision in Hollywood, they often connect it to McLean Stevenson. Stevenson will go down as the model for what it means to have it all and throw it away betting on yourself. Stevenson was cast as Lt. Colonel Henry Blake on the TV series M*A*S*H, and his career blew up. He was one of the most popular cast members in a very talented ensemble. Then, after the third season of the insanely successful TV show, one of the most successful television shows in the history of show business, Stevenson asked to be written off because he was tired of playing second fiddle to Alan Alda. Before he left, he said, "I know I will not be in anything as good as this show, but I have to leave and be number one." He was right. He would never again act in a show even close to as good, and he would live to regret this fateful decision.
1 Paul Giamatti - Turned Down The Office
When the American adaptation of The Office was first being discussed, the iconic role of Michael Scott was offered to Paul Giamatti. At the time, Giamatti was coming off of his role in Sideways and was earning a ton of recognition for his acting chops. Turning down the role because he wanted to focus on film would certainly be a poor decision for Giamatti, but not career-ending. Giamatti, on the one hand, though he would struggle to find the heights he had with Sideways (until Barney's Version at least), has remained a force in Hollywood, albeit more of a side character than the main star. Steve Carell, on the other hand, the guy who would take the starring role on The Office, became one of the most recognizable comedians in the world. That being said, it's tough to imagine anyone else other than Carell playing Michael Scott. It's not crazy to suggest that if Giamatti takes the role, the show doesn't take off as it did, and this article is about Giamatti making a catastrophic decision by accepting the role and not turning it down.
Sources: Stylecaster; BusinessInsider, IMDB
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