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11 Characters That Were Turned Down By Huge Stars But Ended Up Becoming Iconic

Have you ever imagined Brad Pitt as Neo, Josh Harnett as Batman, or Halle Berry as the lady driving the bus in “Speed”? Believe it or not, all would have happened if those actors had said yes. In fact, in the history of Hollywood, many actors turned down roles for different reasons. Some had scheduling conflicts, some felt their pay was too low or the script seemed too boring.

Many actors turned down the characters that ended up becoming iconic. That made some actors regret their decisions. Characters went to the others but earned them various prestigious awards. Here are actors who turned down certain roles that later became iconic.

#1 Edward Lewis (Pretty Woman, 1990)

Source: East News, 20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, Mary Evans / AF Archive / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News© Pretty Woman / Touchstone Pictures and co-producers

It’s hard to imagine that someone plays Edward Lewis in “Pretty Woman” except Richard Gere. For his performance, the actor was nominated for a Golden Globe. However, many might not know that before that Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, or John Travolta turned down the role for some reasons.

#2 Paul Sheldon (Misery, 1990)

Source: Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, © Scent of a Woman / Universal Pictures and co-producers, East News, © Misery / Castle Rock Entertainment and co-producers

Misery is a 1990 psychological thriller film, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The movie starred James Caan as Paul Sheldon, for which he got a Saturn Award nomination. The character could have been portrayed by a load of actors. They included Warren Beatty, Robert De Niro, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Mel Gibson, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt (twice), Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Robert Redford, Denzel Washington, and Bruce Willis.

#3 Walter White (Breaking Bad, 2008-2013)

Source: BEHAR ANTHONY / SIPA / EAST NEWS, Warner Bros, Courtesy Everett Collection / East News,  © Breaking Bad / Sony Pictures Television and co-producers

Bryan Cranston portrayed the lead character, Walter White in “Breaking Bad”, which became iconic. Before he got the role, it had already been offered to John Cusack and Matthew Broderick. Both of them declined for some reason.

#4 General Zod (Man of Steel, 2013)

Source: Briquet Nicolas / ABACA / EAST NEWS, picture alliance / dpa / EAST NEWS, © Man of Steel / Warner Bros. and co-producers

General Zod, a supervillain in “Man of Steel”, was played by Michael Shannon. The actor looked awesomely intimidating in Kryptonian battle armor. Michael Shannon was not the first choice for the role. In fact, it could have been played by Viggo Mortensen or Daniel Day-Lewis, but they turned down it.

#5 Green Goblin (Spider-Man, 2002)

Source: Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, Mary Evans / Allstar/Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, © Spider-Man / Columbia Pictures and co-producers

Green Goblin took on the role of Green Goblin, a villain trying to destroy Spider-man. Originally, some actors were considered for the role but all of them refused. They included Mel Gibson, John Travolta, Robert De Niro, Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, and Jim Carrey.

#6 Captain John Miller (Saving Private Ryan, 1998)

Source: East News, Mary Evans / AF Archive /Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, © Saving Private Ryan / Dreamworks Pictures and co-producers

Tom Hanks starred in the movie “Saving Private Ryan” in the role of Captain John Miller, which was originally offered by Mel Gibson and Harrison Ford. Eventually, director Steven Spielberg chose Hanks and the actor played the role well.

#7 Maximus (Gladiator, 2000)

Source: © Thick as Thieves / Millennium Films and co-producers, East News, Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News,  © Gladiator / Dreamworks Pictures and co-producers

Russell Crowe received an Oscar and some awards for the role of Maximus in “Gladiator”. Many might not know that initially, the role was turned down by Antonio Banderas, Hugh Jackman, or Mel Gibson.

#8 Stuart “Stu” Shepard (Phone Booth, 2002)

Source: Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, Photo by John Barrett-PHOTOlink.net / East News© Phone Booth / Fox 2000 Pictures and co-producers

Stuart Shepard, an arrogant and dishonest New York publicist, was portrayed by Colin Farrell. His performance received a lot of praise from critics and movie buffs. Some said, “Quick pacing and Farrell’s performance help make Phone Booth a tense nail-biter”. Before Colin Farrell took on the role, it was refused by Mark Wahlberg, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Jim Carrey.

#9 Alonzo Harris (Training Day, 2001)

Source: Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, © Training Day / Warner Bros. and co-producers

Detective Alonzo Harris is the main antagonist of the crime thriller film “Training Day”. The role was originally offered to Bruce Willis, Gary Sinise, and Tom Sizemore but all of them refused. Eventually, the role went to Denzel Washington and the actor fulfilled it perfectly.

#10 God (Bruce Almighty, 2003)

Source: BIGPICTURESPHOTO.COM: 938 / GCC / EAST NEWS, Mary Evans / Allstar / Graham Whitby Boot. / East News, © Bruce Almighty / Spyglass Entertainment and co-producers

Can you imagine someone playing God in “Bruce Almighty” except Morgan Freeman? Well, you can see the other version of God if Jack Nicholson and Robert De Niro said yes to the role. They refused and it went to Morgan Freeman.

#11 Hannibal Lectеr (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991)

Source: © Back to the Future / Universal Pictures and co-producers© Casino / Universal Pictures and co-producers, East News, © The Silence of the Lambs / Orion Pictures and co-producers

For the role of Hannibal Lectеr in “The Silence of the Lambs”, Anthony Hopkins earned himself an Oscar and got numerous other awards and nominations. However, initially, the role was refused by many actors such as Christopher Lloyd, Patrick Stewart, Forest Steven Whitaker, Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Robert Duvall, Jack Nicholson, and Robert De Niro. Some thought the script was disgusting, some had scheduling conflicts.

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