Did you know that Julie Andrews was considered for the role of Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast? Or that Patrick Swayze was considered to voice Gaston? Even Regis Philbin tried out for the part of the Beast. The most significant to me, however, is Patrick Stewart as Cogsworth. I say significant because he wasn’t only considered, he had the role—but turned it down! His schedule with Star Trek: The Next Generation just wouldn’t allow it..
I have collected ten roles that were actually turned down by famous actors and actresses. Imagine what life would be like if:
John Travolta as Forrest Gump. Travolta has said this was one of his biggest mistakes in his career; however, that year he did take on the now-iconic role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction and was nominated for best actor that year. How
ironic it must’ve been for him to watch Hanks get it for the role he turned down.
Burt Reynolds as Han Solo. Every Thanksgiving I take time to thank God that this role didn’t go to this man. Han Solo is not only one of the all-time favourite fictional characters of the 20th Century, but if young and old were asked today to pick the “coolest” movie character, I’m sure it would be the nerf herder who’d get the most votes. However, if the role went to Burt, we’d all be talking about how much of a deuce Han Solo is.
Molly Ringwald in Pretty Woman. She was the queen of the 80’s movies, and this one could have catapulted her career as much as it did for Julia Roberts. But she turned it down and moved overseas. So many of us 80’s children ask each other where Ringwald is and why she isn’t making more movies. Could this little event be the culprit?
Johnny Depp as Ferris Bueller. I do enjoy Depp’s acting, but I find myself lately wanting to see him do some real acting and not just do the weird eccentric character that he keeps doing, mainly for Tim Burton. So for this reason, so glad he made this decision. Broderick is an ok actor, but he was born to be Ferris.
Sean Connery as Gandalf. It’s almost surprising that Connery has had such a successful acting career. He’s turned down so many huge roles. I saw him in an interview where he talks about turning down this role as well as roles in The Matrix and the new Star Wars trilogy because he read the scripts and “didn’t understand them.” In this interview he said that he was approached to be in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, a script he also didn’t understand. But since he’d missed out on so much, he decided to take the plunge with this one. Good choice Connery. Real good choice.
Bette Davis as Scarlett O’Hara. Sure Bette Davis made a name for herself in films like All About Eve (“Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”) and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane as well as being the subject of a 1981 Kim Carnes song, but imagine how much more she’d be remembered if it was her proclaiming that tomorrow’s another day?
Michelle Pfeiffer as Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. It could have been her on the receiving end of Anthony Hopkins’ creepy stories of eating a census taker’s liver, but she thought the story was too dark and disturbing. Probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but when the movie went on to take all five of the top Oscar awards that year… well, not so much.
Kevin Costner as Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. This movie still sits at the number 1 spot on IMDb’s top 250. If there is anyone in this world who didn’t like this movie, I’ve never met them. Costner has expressed regret over passing up on this role. What’s even worse is that he turned it down to make Waterworld, the most expensive movie in history at that time, and yet a monumental flop at the box office.
Jack Nicholson as Michael Corleone. Jack is amazing, but Michael could not be played by anyone else other than Pacino.
Julia Roberts as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. Julia Roberts could definitely have done this role well. But the year it was released all anyone talked about was Sandra Bullock. People placing bets on the Oscars that year ALL chose Bullock for best actress. She was absolutely unforgettable. Perhaps that wasn’t one to give up so easily, Julia!
Congratulations Beauty and the Beast. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.
Best Actor: Just to spite my brother: John Travolta as Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction.
Best Quote: “That’s our hero shot.” — The Truman Show.
I’ve turned down opportunities as well in my life, though I have to say I have no regrets.