14 “Rejected” Roles That Ended Up Becoming Legendary

It’s not a surprise that many legendary roles were turned down by movie stars. At the height of their careers, actors can get a dizzying amount of scripts to sift through so it's often rather difficult to know which one is worth picking. When these actors realize that "rejected" roles were a golden ticket and they just threw them in the bins, all the things they can do is just let the regret eat them.
After all, the casting process tends to happen fortuitously and if it weren't for a series of fateful events, the characters of our favorite films could have been portrayed by different actors. Even when actors do get the role, they are able to be dismissed for unexpected reasons. while there're some parts that screenwriters tailor specifically with one actor in mind, many others are offered several performances before they get to the actors who nail the role.
Anyway, thanks to that string of actors rejecting roles, some of the most iconic ones ever to grace the silver screen were forged.
We've made a list of "rejected" roles that ended up becoming iconic. And if you're looking for more, click here, here, and here.

#1 The role of Gandalf was offered to Sean Connery and Ian McKellen

“Rejected” Roles is drew barrymore related to george clooneySource: © Der Name der Rose / Cristaldifilm + and co-producers© The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / New Line Cinema + and co-producers

Initially, the film “Lord of the Rings” wasn’t expected to be world-famous because the studio thought the movie adaptation was a very risky idea. They wanted to hire at least one popular actor for one of the main characters, like Gandalf so they invited Sean Connery to play the role. Despite all the negotiations and promises about money, the actor turned it down. He said that he didn’t understand the script so eventually, the role went to Ian McKellen.

#2 The role of Daisy Domergue was offered to Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Jason Leigh

“Rejected” Roles is drew barrymore related to george clooneySource: © Joy / Annapurna Pictures + and co-producers© The Hateful Eight / FilmColony + and co-producers

Jennifer Lawrence was expected to play one of the main roles in “The Hateful Eight” but she rejected this offer because of her tight schedule. Eventually, the role went to Jennifer Jason Leigh.

#3 The role of James Bond was offered to Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan

“Rejected” Roles jennifer jason leigh plastic surgerySource: © Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot / East News© Tomorrow Never Dies / Eon Productions Ltd. + and co-producers

In fact, Liam Neeson was never offered the part of Bond directly. He had a few superficial talks with the producer of the movie — he, among other candidates, was considered for the role. But, Natasha Richardson, his later wife, said, “Darling, if you’re offered James Bond, and you’re going to play it, you’re not going to marry me.” Even after a long time, the actor often joked with his wife, humming the Jame Bond tune when they were fighting.

#4 The role of Sidney Prescott was offered to Drew Barrymore and Neve Campbell

“Rejected” Roles script hook v 2802Source: © Scream / Dimension Films + and co-producers© Scream / Dimension Films + and co-producers

Because of personal reasons, Drew Barrymore rejected the offer to play Sidney Prescott. After all, the actress still appeared in a very small supporting role of a girl at the beginning of the movie. And the main character was taken over by Neve Campbell.

#5 The role of Sam Wheat was offered to Bruce Willis and Patrick Swayze

“Rejected” Roles ghost producers for hireSource: © Mary Evans / AF Archive / David Gadd / East News© Ghost / Paramount Pictures + and co-producers

Bruce Willis was first offered to play Sam Wheat but he turned it down because he couldn’t understand how the writers were planning to make a powerful romantic plot with a ghost. As for Patrick Swayze, he wasn’t very eager to learn about the role but thanks to his wife’s advice, he landed the role. the actor even cried after reading the script.

#6 The role of Michael Corleone was offered to Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino

“Rejected” RolesSource: © The Postman Always Rings Twice / Lorimar Film Entertainment + and co-producers, © The Godfather: Part II / Paramount Pictures + and co-producers

Due to being busy and having a doubt about the project, Jack Nicholson rejected the role of Michael Corleone. He thought that the role was rooted in Italy so an Italian actor should get it and AI Pacino was born for this role.

#7 The role of Vivian was offered to Sarah Jessica Parker and Julia Roberts

“Rejected” RolesSource: © HBO / Courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection / East News© Pretty Woman / Touchstone Pictures + and co-producers

Julia Roberts wasn’t the first choice for the role of Vivian in “Pretty Woman”. Dozens of actresses were considered, including Sandra Bullock, Winona Ryder, Drew Barrymore, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others. But none of them were chosen. Some were too young while others turned down the role because they were worried about their reputation. Eventually, Julia Roberts, a little-known actress nailed the role.

#8 The role of Neo was offered to Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves

“Rejected” RolesSource: © Mary Evans / AF Archive / Graham Whitby Boot / East News© The Matrix / Village Roadshow Pictures + and co-producers

The Wachowskis wanted Johnny Depp to land the role of Neo but Warner Brothers wanted someone more like Brad Pitt but they caved. Johnny Depp didn’t get the offer and let Keanu Reeves show himself in this character.

#9 The role of Ego was offered to Matthew McConaughey and Kurt Russel

Source: © Free State of Jones / Route One Films + and co-producers© Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 / Walt Disney Studios + and co-producers

The role of Ego could have been portrayed by the Oscar winner, Matthew McConaughey but the actor decided to star in a different big project - Stephen King’s adaption of The Dark Tower. Finally, the role went to Kurt Russel.

#10 The role of Harvey Dent was offered to Matt Damon and Aaron Eckhart

Source: © East News© The Dark Knight / DC Comics + and co-producers

Due to his scheduling conflict, Matt Damon didn’t portray Harvey Dent in Christopher Nolan’s film. So, Aaron Eckhart took on it.

#11 The role of Rose was offered to Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet

Source: © Mary Evans / AF Archive / Graham Whitby Boot / East News© Titanic / Paramount Pictures + and co-producers

It’s hard to imagine anyone but Kate Winslet as Rose in “Titanic” but before her, Gwyneth Paltrow was offered the role. The actress rejected this offer without a clear reason. After all, Kate Winslet nailed the role.

#12 The role of Maximus was offered to Mel Gibson and Russell Crowe

Source: © East News© Gladiator / Universal Pictures + and co-producers

It wasn’t a surprise that Mel Gibson was initially invited to play Maximus on the big screen. He revealed that he was too old to play in dynamic scenes. So, Russel Crowe was hired for the role, and it made him a big Hollywood star.

#13 The role of Noah Calhoun was offered to George Clooney and Ryan Gosling

Source: © Leatherheads / Universal Pictures + and co-producers© The Notebook / New Line Cinema + and co-producers

George Clooney shared that he was initially supposed to play the young version of the main character together with Paul Newman. But after a lot of thinking, Clooney decided to pass on the role. He thought that he wasn’t attractive enough compared to Newman. And as we know, Noah was portrayed by the charming Ryan Gosling.

#14 The role of Jake Sully was offered to Jake Gyllenhaal and Sam Worthington

Source: © Invision / Invision / East News© Avatar / 20th Century Studios + and co-producers

It turned out that the refusals of Jake Gyllenhaal and Matt Damon for the role of Jake Sully actually made director James Cameron extremely happy. Sam Worthington nailed the role and the movie became a huge hit.
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