As an actor or actress one thing that every star aims for is to be cast in a film or series that becomes hugely successful and then gets their name out to the public. Big films then lead to many other projects which can help define stars careers. It also means that when directors look to take on films, they already have an idea of which people they would like in the film, and the actors and actresses who have already made an impression are usually the ones who are chosen.
Obviously, actors and actresses still have control over which jobs they accept and if they don't like the sound of a script, then it isn't unusual for them to decide to turn it down. Some of Hollywoods biggest stars turn down roles that are offered to them on a regular basis because they either have no time or no interest in the project, but it seems that there are a number of stars who have turned down roles in films that could have ignited their career, roles that they will be haunted by for the rest of their lives.
The following list looks at just 15 actors or actresses who definitely regret turning down roles in some of the biggest films of the past few decades. Many of these actors could have become instant household names, but instead, they are just left wondering what could've been.
15 Sarah Michelle Gellar - Clueless
Sarah Michelle Gellar became well known for her role as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but she is also someone who has turned down her own fair share of movie roles over the past few years. Gellar was originally offered the role to be in the iconic 90s movie Clueless.
Gellar obviously couldn't be part of the movie due to scheduling conflicts with her role in All My Children, so she was forced to pass on the opportunity. Alicia Silverstone went on to take up the role instead and became a fashion icon for the next generation, wearing outfits that are still referenced in pop culture to this day. For example, pop star Iggy Azalea referenced the movie in her music video for "Fancy." Gellar may have become iconic in her own way, but deep down she has to regret giving up the chance to become a 90s fashion icon.
14 Emily Blunt - Iron Man 2
Emily Blunt will be known to many audiences following her roles in The Adjustment Bureau and The Devil Wears Prada, but it seems that along with everyone else on this list, Emily had a chance to become part of a huge franchise when she was offered the role as Black Widow in Iron Man 2.
Emily was all set to be part of one of the biggest roles of her career before it was revealed that she was forced to drop out because of scheduling conflicts with Gulliver's Travels. Scarlett Johannson was given the role when Emily dropped out and has since become iconic as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that could have been Emily if she hadn't been caught up with a film she had already agreed to be part of. Hopefully, the change like this comes around again, because she is one of Hollywood's most talented actresses right now.
13 Matt Damon - The Dark Knight
Matt Damon has definitely had a career to envy over the past few years as the face of The Bourne Identity franchise, but it seems that even Damon could have a number of regrets when he reaches the end of his career and one of the biggest ones could be turning down the role of Two-Face, a.k.a. Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.
Damon revealed in an interview a few years ago that he was offered the part and really wanted to work with Christopher Nolan, but there was a scheduling conflict and he wasn't able to make the timing work. Damon said that every now and then there is a role and you can't do it; it's just one of the things that sometimes happen in his job. Damon also praised Aaron Eckhart, the actor who went on to take the role after he passed on it, and said that he doesn't think anyone could have played it better.
12 Emily Browning - Twilight
Emily Browning is perhaps best remembered for her role in Sucker Punch back in 2011, but it seems that Browning had the opportunity to kickstart her career much earlier. It was reported that Twilight author Stephanie Meyer actually wanted Emily to be the one who played Bella Swan in the hit movie adaptations of her popular book, but the actress turned down the role.
Browning has since faded into the background throughout her career over the past decade, while Kristen Stewart was able to step into the vacant role and become a worldwide star. If fame was something that Browning wanted from her career then she will definitely be regretting her decision to pass on the popular movie franchise, but given the attention that Stewart has received and the problems this has caused in her life, there is more than one way of looking at the pros and cons of her choice.
11 Hugh Jackman - James Bond
It could be argued that Hugh Jackman has become an international star after his roles in movies such as Van Helsing and Wolverine, but it seems that Jackman once had the opportunity to be the man that every other male in the world dreams of being at least once in their life: international spy James Bond.
Jackman was offered the role of Bond back in 2006 when Daniel Craig was subsequently cast for the remake of Casino Royale. Jackman said that he turned down the role because he didn't want to be boxed in when it came to his career, because there have been many men who have become huge stars because of the role, but they have never been able to shake off the James Bond character even after they've moved on. Jackman has since been able to switch and change his characters over the past few years, but deep down he must regret not being able to add James Bond to his filmography.
10 Christina Applegate - Legally Blonde
Christina Applegate has had a mildly successful career over the past few decades, after spending 10 years portraying Kelly Bundy on Married... With Children. After she wrapped up filming, she was then handed the script to Legally Blonde, which she read with trepidation. She revealed that she was scared that she would be repeating herself after she had been seen as a ditzy blonde on TV for the past decade.
This fear forced her to turn down the iconic role which was later instead given to Reese Witherspoon. Applegate herself admitted a few years ago that she knew it was a "stupid move" to turn down a role that could have pushed her career to the next level, but she allowed herself to be consumed by fear. She did say that she was happy with the way the movie turned out, though, and that she couldn't have done the role any more justice than Reese did.
9 Will Smith - The Matrix
Will Smith became a star following his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air in the 1990s and has since been able to branch out to film roles including I Robot, Men in Black and I Am Legend. Will's film career is perhaps not considered to be as successful as many thought it would be when Fresh Prince finished filming, but that could be down to Will's own choices.
Will was offered the role in The Matrix back in 1999, a movie role that would have changed his life and Hollywood forever, but it seems that Will turned it down. He said that it was too challenging a concept for him and he was scared that he was going to ruin the movie. Obviously, Keanu Reeves went on to make it one of the most iconic movies of all time and one that is still seen as groundbreaking in this era. Will has gone on to be cast as Deadshot in Suicide Squad, but even he understands that none of the films that he has made over the past two decades are anywhere near the level of The Matrix.
8 Molly Ringwald - Pretty Woman
Molly Ringwald will always be remembered for her iconic role as Claire Standish in The Breakfast Club back in 1985. Molly gained a lot of attention following the worldwide success of the movie, which also then led to her being offered the role of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman a few years later, a role that went on to be accepted by Julia Roberts.
Molly didn't know that Pretty Woman would become just as iconic as The Breakfast Club in its own way, which could be why she turned down the opportunity. Ringwald was given an early version of the script and later revealed that the film was called $3,000 at the time. She has since gone on to star in popular series The Secret Life of the American Teen alongside Divergent star Shailene Woodley instead, but she has to be wondering how different her career could have been if she accepted the role.
7 Chloe Bridges - Fifty Shades Of Grey
Chloe Bridges is well known for her role in The Carrie Diaries, but it seems that she was one of a number of women who auditioned for the role of Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey. The film adaptation of the best selling novel has become one of the biggest films of the past generation, which is why the audition process managed to bring in so many well-known names.
Bridges along with the likes of Lucy Hale from Pretty Little Liars and eventual star Dakota Johnson all auditioned for the role, but it seems that both Lucy and Bridges were uncomfortable with the subject matter and found it really awkward to be put into that position in a film. Bridges decided to step away from the role, which has allowed Dakota to become a household name, something that she probably wishes she had been able to get past now.
6 Gwyneth Paltrow - Titanic
Gwyneth Paltrow has had an incredible career in Hollywood and perhaps wouldn't have changed many of the roles she has been able to play over the past few decades. However, when it comes to regrets, Paltrow should definitely wonder why she decided to turn down the role of rich girl Rose DeWitt Bukater in 1997 film Titanic.
The film went on to win 11 Oscars and was nominated for 14, and is still one of the most iconic films of the current generation, but it was revealed that Kate Winslet wasn't director James Cameron's first choice to play the female lead role in the movie. Instead, he wanted Gwyneth Paltrow to be Rose, but she turned down the role. She admitted that she couldn't change her past choices but she hoped that they had led to something greater, which sounds very much like someone who regrets her decision to pass on one of the greatest movies of her time.
5 Meg Ryan - Pretty Woman
Much like Molly Ringwald listed above, Meg Ryan was also offered the role of Vivian Ward in the 1990 hit movie Pretty Woman. It is also reported that Michelle Pfeiffer was considered for the iconic role as well but she also turned it down before Julia Roberts stole the show with one of the best performances of her career.
The original script for the film was apparently much darker and included quite a depressing end, which led to a number of actresses feeling uncomfortable when auditioning. Julia wasn't a very well-known actress at the time but this kickstarted her career and won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination, so both Meg Ryan and Michelle are probably regretting the decision to pass on the movie now, especially since it led to an incredibly successful career for Roberts, one that could have been in Meg or Michelle's hands.
4 Emma Watson - La La Land
Emma Watson will forever be known as Hermione Granger because of her role in the Harry Potter saga that spanned eight films up until 2011. Watson has since been able to continue her career on the silver screen with roles in The Perks of Being A Wallflower and the heavily criticized live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast earlier this year.
It seems that because of the work that she had already done over the past few years, Watson was originally offered the role in La La Land alongside Miles Teller, before it was Emma Stone who was cast because Watson turned it down. Stone went on to win an Oscar for her role in the film while Watson chose to be part of Beauty and the Beast, a film that wasn't received as well. Watson was said to have regretted her decision slightly, but it seems that it was a rash decision that the young actress will now learn from.
3 Tom Selleck - Indiana Jones
Tom Selleck 's role in Magnum P.I. is what really put him on the map, but it was reported that it was also this role that cost him the chance to star in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark due to scheduling conflicts.
George Lucas initially wanted Selleck to be cast in the 1981 movie because he didn't want Harrison Ford to be in another one of his movies after starring in two. Selleck was part of a screen test and was then chosen for the role, but it seems that he had already filmed the pilot for CBS reality show Magnum P.I. which meant that he couldn't get out of his contract and be part of the movie. Magnum P.I. became a success and eventually won Selleck an Emmy but it seems that this only paled in the comparison to the $1.8 billion that Indiana Jones made as a franchise.
2 Charlie Hunnam - Fifty Shades Of Grey
When it was revealed that Fifty Shades of Grey was set to be made into a movie following its worldwide success as a book, Hunnam was one of the actors that were rumoured to be considered for the role as Christian Grey. It seems that many fans were not fond of the choice that was made when Hunnam was cast, which led to a petition that had more than 20,00 signatures for the director to recast the role. Hunnam was later forced to drop out of the role because of scheduling conflicts, but there will always be the feeling that this could have been the movie that finally made him the star he always had the potential to be.
1 Sandra Bullock - Million Dollar Baby
Sandra Bullock has perhaps become quite a typecast star over the past few years with her roles in The Proposal and Miss Congeniality, meaning that she is relatively known for being part of chick flick movies.
Bullock was offered the chance to change this up a few years ago when she was set to star in Million Dollar Baby, a film that Sandra would have easily been able to pull off. Sadly, it seems that scheduling conflicts with Bullock's Miss Congeniality 2 meant that the Blindside star was forced to drop out of the movie and instead hand the main role over to Hilary Swank. It was a movie that instead kickstarted Swank's career and has led to a lot of success for the star, something that Bullock will be kicking herself about, considering the sequel to Miss Congeniality didn't do anywhere near as well as the original or Million Dollar Baby.