12 Times Actors Overlooked Roles That Ended Up Becoming Iconic
Hollywood is full of what-ifs questions. It’s pretty hard to imagine someone else but Julia Roberts as Vivan Ward or Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, plenty of these roles almost went to other celebrities.
A scheduling conflict is often blamed for, but occasionally an actor makes a wrong decision, refusing a great role, and then regrets not taking the chance on a once-in-a-lifetime role. In some cases, they’re still happy that directors cast the right actor.
We’ve made a list of actors who turned down major, iconic movie roles. Keep scrolling down to see who they are.
#1. Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Ron Weasley in Harry Potter franchise
As a child, Thomas Brodie-Sangster had an audition for the role of Ron Weasley but he didn’t land the part. He said that he had a tough time because of it, “I do remember thinking, though, that the next time I went for an audition, I’d have to put up a shield to stop myself from getting hurt.” But the entire experience turned out to be a great lesson: “It was the last time I ever felt like that, so whatever I did seemed to work.”
#2. Harrison Ford as Alan Grant in Jurassic Park
Harrison Ford and director Steven Spielberg collaborated on the Indiana Jones movies, but when Ford was offered the Alan Grant part, he declined. Sam Neill took on the role. There’s even a poster where Ford is running away from a dinosaur. The actor himself didn’t comment on the situation so we can only guess — maybe he thought the part was too similar to Indiana Jones?
#3. Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Daniel Craig’s Bond movies
Every few decades, the choice of the next James Bond never stops making fans excited. You might be shocked to learn that Hugh Jackman nearly got the role.
He said, “I was about to do X-Men 2 and a call came from my agent asking if I’d be interested in Bond.” Ultimately Jackman was “worried that between Bond and X-Men, I’d never have time to do different things.”
#4. Matthew McConaughey as Jack in Titanic
Matthew McConaughey was pretty close to playing Jack Dawson in the iconic Titanic. He shared, “I went and auditioned for that. I wanted that. I auditioned with Kate Winslet. Had a good audition. Walked away from there pretty confident that I had it. I didn’t get it. I never got offered that.”
#5. Halle Berry as Annie Porter in Speed
In an interview, Halle Berry revealed that she was invited to play Annie Porter in Speed but she rejected the offer because of an unconvincing script. After seeing the film, she totally regrets it.
#6. John Travolta as Forrest in Forrest Gump
Throughout his career, John Travolta made some tough choices and one of them was to decline the role of Forrest in Forrest Gump. He recalled, “Oh if I had done Forrest Gump or Chicago, what might have been?”
#7. Christina Applegate as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde
Christina Applegate was afraid of being typecast so she missed the chance to play Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. She said, “The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, Married [...with Children], and it was a blonde who in that first script didn’t win it but ends up going to Yale, or Harvard, I don’t remember. I got scared of kind of repeating myself. What a stupid move that was, right?”
Eventually, Reese Witherspoon got the part.
#8. Gwyneth Paltrow as Rose in Titanic
What Titanic would look like if Kate Winslet didn’t portray Rose? It’s hard to imagine it, but it nearly happens. Paltrow was the first choice for the role but she turned it down. The actress explained, “I know that the story is that I turned it down. I think I was really in contention for it — I was one of the last 2.” But Gwyneth has no regrets: “There’s a universal lesson here. What good is it to hold onto roles?”
#9. Justin Timberlake as Elton John in Rocketman
Elton John did want Timberlake to star in his biopic after watching Timberlake in a video parody of his song. But, after some deliberation, Elton and his husband, who produced the movie, changed their mind and decided to choose to go in a different direction: “But we never formerly approached Justin because we weren’t ever at a stage where it was the right time to approach him. But he did an amazing job in the video. He put on a prosthetic nose, and it turned out to have been some really interesting acting work as well.”
#10. Reese Witherspoom as Amy in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon produced the movie and planned to star in it. But her colleagues persuaded her against it. “David Fincher said I wasn’t right for the role, and I actually completely agreed with him,” Witherspoon explained in an interview. Eventually, Rosamund Pike played the starring role.
Ultimately, Rosamund Pike took on the role.
#11. Russel Crowe as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy
Russel Crowe was first supposed to play Aragorn but he trusted his gut and decided to refuse it. He said, “I didn’t think [director] Peter Jackson actually wanted me on the film. I think he was forced into talking to me because there was a moment in time when everybody wanted me in everything... my instinct was that he had somebody else in mind... and he should be able to hire the actor that he wants.”
Eventually, the role went to Rosamund Pike.
#12. Brendan Fraser as Superman in Superman Returns
Before Brendon Routh, the chance to play the next Superman was given to Fraser. However, the actors turned it down and said, “Of course, it’s a life-changing, amazing opportunity, but I had to reconcile with, ’Okay, say you do get the job to be the Man of Steel. It’s going to be chipped on your gravestone. Are you okay with that? You will forevermore be known as the Man of Steel.’”
Who else do you think we skipped? Let us know in the comments.