8 Actors Who Turned Down Incredibly Lucrative Roles

Despite million dollar budgets, academy-award winning directors and all-star casts, predicting the success of a movie or a TV show is almost entirely a gamble. While production companies, actors and marketers can give it their best shot, and might be sure they've got a hit on their hands, nobody ever truly knows how the public will react to a film or television series. Although high-quality pieces will often reap their justified rewards, countless great productions often slip under the radar. In the same way that some horrible movies, panned by critics, manage to take in unworldly amounts at the box office (like most of Adam Sandler's body of work, for example).

With this is mind, it's easy to see that getting things right isn't straightforward in the entertainment industry. In fact, picking and choosing roles can be a nightmare for celebrities and their agents. Although some of the biggest stars may be guaranteed a million dollar paycheck whichever direction they choose to go in at the height of their careers, it's in these actors' and actresses' best interests to choose their roles carefully. Bad roles can lead to a bad reputation, and a bad reputation means that filmmakers won’t be hanging around to offer you the prime roles for much longer. Of course, a script is a far cry from the finished product, so celebrities and their agents must be incredibly discerning when it comes to choosing their next big projects.

Some of Hollywood's most lucrative and iconic roles were, in fact, turned down by incredibly famous celebrities. In some cases, the dismissal of a role ended up costing the performer in question hundreds of millions of dollars, but it may well have been the saving grace of some of these movies. Can you imagine Gladiator without Russell Crowe? It nearly happened. Read on to learn how some of Hollywood's biggest actors turned down some of Hollywood's biggest roles.

8 John Travolta - Forrest Gump

John Travolta solidified his place amongst the world’s most beloved actors after his roles in Saturday Night Fever and Grease. Despite finding fame in the 1970s, Travolta’s success has remained strong for decades. In 1994, he starred in Pulp Fiction, a film which is generally hailed by critics as one of the best of all time. However, Travolta missed a huge opportunity when he turned down the lead role in Forrest Gump. The film, which tells the tale of a dim-witted young man with a love for sport, was a massive success worldwide, grossing almost $700 million dollars in the box office. It won six Academy awards, including a Best Actor for Tom Hanks, who was given the role after Travolta passed on it.

7 Tom Cruise - Ferris Bueller

6 Mel Gibson - Maximus, Gladiator


5 Emily Browning - Bella, Twilight


4 Tom Selleck - Indiana Jones


3 Gwyneth Paltrow - Rose, Titanic

2 Nicolas Cage -  Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings


1 Sean Connery - Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings


Sean Connery is certainly one of most well-known actors in Hollywood, and with over $120 million dollars to his name, he certainly isn't doing too bad. Despite his riches, though, he must be pretty annoyed that he turned down the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The studio were so keen to have Connery on board that they offered him $6 million dollars per movie, as well as a 15% cut of box office profits. This deal sounds too good to be true nowadays, considering the incredible success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It has been calculated that this rejection cost Connery a whopping $450 million! The reason Connery gave for rejecting the role? He didn't understand the movie. However, Connery has since expressed the opinion that Ian McKellen made a fantastic Gandalf.

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8 Actors Who Turned Down Incredibly Lucrative Roles