Famous actors often refuse roles in movies for various reasons. Some of those refusals turned out to be the right thing to do, but there are cases when actors have turned down roles in movies which later became legendary.
Some of those choices turned down never actually made a harmful impact on their careers, but there are a few roles that could have increased their fame ten-fold. Here’s a list of 7 actors who refused roles in some iconic movies:
1. Tom Hanks as Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption
The Shawshank Redemption is one of the best movies of all times. The role of Andy Dufresne was originally offered to Tom Hanks, but the actor had to refuse the part due to his engagement in Forrest Gump, another movie made in 1994. The role was later given to Tim Robbins, who made a fantastic Andy Dufresne. Tom Hanks made the right choice, as he won the Best Actor Oscar award for his performance in Forrest Gump, which on the other hand beat The Shawshank Redemption in the race for the Best Movie award.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings
Peter Jackson was really eager to hire Daniel Day-Lewis for the role of Aragorn in his legendary trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, so he tried to persuade the actor several times. Day-Lewis refused the offered part, which comes as no surprise, as he is known to be one of the pickiest actors out there. As a result of his choosiness, Daniel Day-Lewis has appeared in less than 20 movies in his entire career. The role of Aragorn was later given to Viggo Mortensen, who made an outstanding performance in his role as the noble ranger who later became a king.
3. Meg Ryan as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman
When Rik Marshall decided to direct Pretty Woman, he was certain that the role of Vivian Ward should be given to Meg Ryan. The talented actress denied the role for reasons unknown and the part was given to Julia Roberts.
The movie became iconic and launched Roberts into stardom, and her marvelous performance of a prostitute earned her an Oscar nomination. Meg Ryan on the other hand never reached her full acting potential, and she has since stated that she now regrets the refusal to play the role of Vivian Ward.
4. Michelle Pfeiffer as Clarice Sterling in Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster gave an astonishing performance as Clarice Sterling, the FBI agent in the Silence of the Lambs. The movie which is now on the list of the most iconic pieces ever made, won 5 Oscars: best picture, best director, best screenplay, best leading actor, and lastly, the best actress award, given to Jodie Foster. Johnathan Demme, who directed the movie, wanted to hire Michelle Pfeiffer for the role of Clarice, but the famous actress refused the role, judging it as excessively violent. Pfeiffer made a huge mistake, as this movie could have given her career a completely different shape.
5. Michael Madsen as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction
Michael Madsen was the first choice for the role of Vincent Vega in the cult movie Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino and the actor had previously worked together on Reservoir Dogs, so Madsen was the first choice of the director for his new movie as well. However, Madsen had turned the role down so he could play in Wyatt Earp, another movie made in the same year. John Travolta got the part of Vega and played one of the most legendary roles of all times. As a result of the refusal, Tarantino and Madsen did not speak for several years but eventually made up and Madsen appeared in Kill Bill. Michael Madsen still regrets this mistake, as Wyatt Earp was viewed quite negatively by critics, and Pulp Fiction ended up becoming a legendary masterpiece.
6. Jim Carrey as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
Johhny Depp’s role in Pirates of the Caribbean is considered to be one of the best acting performances of all times. He starred in all the five movies made under the franchise and made the eccentric Captain Jack Sparrow a pop icon. What’s really surprising is that Depp was not the first choice for the role.
Director Gore Verbinksi initially offered the role to Jim Carrey, but the famous actor had to refuse as he was busy filming Bruce Almighty. One thing is sure though: Carrey would have been an excellent Jack Sparrow as well, and this role could have been quite good for his career.
7. Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone in The Godfather
The role of Michael Corleone in the Godfather made Al Pacino a Hollywood star, as he was an unknown actor before the legendary trilogy. The role was offered to one of the best actors of all times, Jack Nicholson. The star refused the role as he thought he was too old to play Michael Corleone. Instead, he took part in The Last Detail, a 1973 comedy which won him an Oscar nomination.
The Godfather trilogy is on top of the best movies of all times list, and Al Pacino did a fantastic job portraying the role of a young member of the Italian mafia. However, it is a shame that Jack Nicholson did not appear in the movie, together with legendary actors such as Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro, as he probably would have been great in it.