Art’s World – They Turned Down Starring Roles!

Art’s World – They Turned Down Starring Roles!

We all have movie favorites we can always watch more than once. Be it a drama, comedy, musical, animated, etc. there are always those films that have stuck with us. One main reason is because of who the stars were and the performance they gave on the screen. However, imagine if some of the great movies like “The Godfather”, “Gone With the Wind”, “Forrest Gump”, for example had gone with the star they originally wanted. Would it have been as good, or better, or even worse?

Here are some big name stars, the roles they turned down and why. Trust me, you are in for some big surprises.

Molly Ringwald as Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman – Molly Ringwald revealed she had once been offered the lead in the film. After she reviewed the initial script she turned it down. Enter Julia Roberts.

Gary Cooper as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind – The studio wanted Cooper for the role, but after he read the outline and parts of the script, he felt the movie would be a failure and hurt his career, so he said no. Enter Clark Gable.

Henry Winkler as Danny Zuko in Grease – Winkler was literally given the role but he immediately turned it down. His reasoning was that he did want to be ‘typecast” as it was too much of a “Fonzie” like role. Enter John Travolta.

Tom Cruise as Ren McCormack in Footloose – The producers of Footloose wanted Tom Cruise to play the role of Ren McCormack in the film. In this case Cruise had to turn it down because of a scheduling conflict with All The Right Moves. Enter Kevin Bacon.

Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone in The Godfather – He turned down the iconic role as The Godfather in the 1972 film. Nicholson reportedly told Movieline in 2004 that he thought the role should have been played by an Italian and was the main reason for not doing the film. Enter Al Pacino.

Matthew McConaughey as Jack Dawson in Titanic – He did the audition with Kate Winslet and thought he had it nailed. But he never got the call back for the role as producer/director/writer James Cameron had one more actor to audition. Enter Leonardo Di Caprio.

Gwyenth Paltrow as Rose Dawson in Titanic – She was offered the role of Rose by James Cameron but politely turned it down. She would say later that sometimes you make good choices or bad choices, but you move on and learn from it. Enter Kate Winslet.

Mel Gibson as General Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator – Gibson reportedly turned down the lead role in Gladiator. According his camp, Gibson, as much as he liked the role, said no to the film because he believed he was too old for the action-oriented role. Enter Russell Crowe.

Hugh Jackman as James Bond in Casino Royale – He got the offer right before filming for X-Men 2 started. He felt the scripts had become so unbelievable and crazy and he felt like they needed to become grittier and real. So, he said no and enter Daniel Craig.

Shirley Temple as Dorothy in Wizard of Oz – Temple was one of the biggest movies stars of the 1930’s. When the Wizard of Oz was in development the producers wanted Temple for the role of Dorothy, but she was under contract to Fox. Their asking price to “loan her out” for the film was way to high so they scrapped the idea. Enter Judy Garland.

Tom Selleck as Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark – He was offered the role of Indiana Jones, but couldn’t free up time for the role given his Magnum P.I. contract and had to turn down this iconic role. Enter Harrison Ford.

Jim Carey as Buddy the Elf in Elf   – The script for Elf was first created in 1993, and Jim Carrey was ready to play the role of Buddy. But by the time the film came together a decade later, Carrey turned it down for other projects. He was also hesitant to play the role after playing the Grinch. Enter Will Ferrell.

Angela Bassett as Leticia in Monster’s Ball – Angela Bassett was approached for the lead role in Monster’s Ball, but turned it down. She told Newsweek in 2002 that she refused to accept the role “because it’s such a stereotype about Black women and sexuality.” Enter Halle Berry.

John Lithgow as The Joker in Batman – When Tim Burton was brought on to direct Batman in the late 1980s, his team approached Lithgow to bring The Joker to life. At the pair’s first meeting, Lithgow ended up talking Burton out of even considering him for the role because he thought at the time, “Who is going to want to see a movie about Batman?” Enter Jack Nicholson.

John Travolta as Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump – Forrest Gump wouldn’t be the same without Tom Hanks at the helm of the film. But the first choice for the film’s title character. John Travolta was offered the role, but he had to turn it down because he was signed to make Pulp Fiction. Enter Tom Hanks.

That’s just fifteen of them, there are many more and you can find them at: Just think how some of these films may have changed had the original stars done the movie. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this as much as I did researching it and putting it together.

Art Koch, National Features & DVD Editor, NightMoves Magazine and AAN

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