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10 Iconic Roles That Actors Almost Passed On

There’s a lot that goes into making a movie, but the stars are front and center. Hollywood’s most beloved movies would be a lot different if their leads decided to pass on their roles. Can you imagine Titanic without DiCaprio, or Game of Thrones without Dinklage?

While the success of a blockbuster isn’t solely in the hands of its stars, the right combination of them can turn a movie into a box office sensation. But before that happens, the artist must agree to accept their roles. And sometimes, that’s a difficult process. When an actor first gets the script, they might not realize what an amazing character they have on their hands. Perhaps they’re worried about the role, or they’re just not impressed with the story, or maybe they’ve got something going on in their personal lives.

Here are 10 actors who almost passed on their iconic movie roles.

#1 Peter Dinklage — Game of Thrones

Source: Game of Thrones / Home Box Office (HBO) and co-producers

It’s impossible to imagine Game of Thrones without Peter Dinkage, as his visage has been ingrained in the minds of the viewers as Tyrion Lannister. However, the actor almost wanted to reject the role.

As he had heard that it was a fantasy series, he thought he had to wear a long beard and funny shoes again, like he previously did in Narnia. It took a little bit of research before he understood what kind of fantasy series it was and what kinda character the writers wanted him to play and he said yes.

#2 Michelle Rodriguez — Fast & Furious

Source: Furious 6 / Universal Pictures and co-producers

Rodriguez almost turned down the role, thinking her character was not developed enough. She wanted it to be rewritten but the writers had a different opinion.

The producers didn’t agree to her demands and had it not been for Vin Diesel’s involvement she would have left the project. The character was rewritten to be more involved in action scenes and plot-wise.

#3 Emma Watson — Harry Potter film series

Source: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire / Warner Bros. and co-producers

Emma scored the jackpot when she auditioned for and subsequently won the role of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise. But she almost dropped the franchise after Goblet of Fire. She was very similar to Hermione herself in that she also wanted to pursue her academic studies.

She did remain in the franchise, but she also didn’t give up her studies either. She got a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

#4 Chris Evans — The Avengers

Source: Captain America: The First Avenger / Paramount Pictures and co-producers

It looks like Chris knew from the start that Captain America would become a hit. This was exactly the reason why she didn’t want to pursue the role, as he was afraid of the media attention.

It took some convincing from his dear old mum about how the role is a great career opportunity and the rest is history.

#5 Leonardo DiCaprio — Titanic

Source: Titanic / Twentieth Century Fox and co-producers

Titanic without DiCaprio? How would that even work, you may ask yourselves. But it’s true, DiCaprio didn’t want to play in melodramas anymore and was only interested in serious dramatic roles (which was probably why there was that one decade where he keeps playing in Scorsese films).

After some convincing from James Cameron, Leo becomes world-famous for this role and Cameron himself made over 2 billion dollars at the box office.

#6 Jennifer Lawrence — The Hunger Games

Source: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire / Color Force and co-producers

Before Hunger Games, Jennifer Lawrence was not a big star. Besides X-Men: First Class, she had only been in small budget dramas as she preferred them over blockbusters.

But she still believed that the story was more important than the budget, and she liked the books about Katniss Everdeen. So, when Jennifer turned the role in The Hunger Games down, her mother straight-up called her a hypocrite. And Jennifer immediately changed her mind.

#7 Emma Stone — La La Land

Source: La La Land / Summit Entertainment and co-producers

Of course, Emma Stone had already been famous before La La Land, but the role got her an Oscar!

She was doing Cabaret, a Broadway musical that of course involved singing and dancing. She was reluctant to do 2 musicals at the same time, but Damien Chazelle just wouldn’t give up. He met up with her not once, but twice, and she finally agreed after being shown some demo tracks of the musical score.

#8 Richard Gere — Pretty Woman

Source: Pretty Woman / Touchstone Pictures and co-producers

Pretty Woman stands as one of the classics in the halls of romantic comedies, in part due to the insane chemistry of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. So it would come as a shock to some that Gere almost wanted to drop the role. He hated everything from the story to his own character. But that certainly didn’t stop Gary Marshall, nor did it stop Julia Roberts.

Marshall invited both actors to meet him and left them alone to talk. Then Julia gave him a piece of paper, saying, “Please say yes.” And the actor agreed. So, you can say that he took the role because of Roberts.

#9 Al Pacino — The Godfather

Source: The Godfather: Part II / Paramount Pictures and co-producers

The actor liked the script of The Godfather, but he had the desire to play a different character. He thought that the role of Sonny was more appropriate for him than the role of Michael, perhaps due to Sonny’s explosive personality.

He eventually agreed to director Francis Ford Coppola’s offer, and the role cemented his career with an Oscar nod.

#10 Jim Carrey — How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Source: How the Grinch Stole Christmas / Universal Pictures amd co-producers

Jim had already agreed to the role, but during the production process, he grew to hate the heavy amount of makeup and prosthetics that he had to wear.

He was ready to quit until a producer introduced him to an actual CIA operative trainer who taught him how to endure 2 and a half hours of daily torture.