Some actors were born to play certain roles. Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump, Julia Roberts IS Vivian Ward and Harrison Ford IS Han Solo. The way that a role is played or the particular look of an actor allows the role to become iconic. This makes it hard to believe that some of our favourite films could’ve looked very different had some directors gotten their way and their first choice for a role had been cast. Charlie Chaplin once said, “Actors search for rejection. If they don’t get it they reject themselves.” Some actors don’t have to look too far to find that rejection as they are always turning down blockbuster level roles! Some of the most iconic roles could’ve turned out very differently and perhaps not so iconic if every actor accepted every role that they were offered.
We’re going to take a trip down memory lane and change the face of cinema history by looking at the almost roles: iconic movie roles almost played by other actors.
Oh what might’ve been!
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
It turns out that Emily Blunt was originally offered the role of Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff aka The Black Widow in Iron Man 2 but turned it down due to scheduling commitments with the Jack Black movie Gulliver’s Travels. As we all know, the role went to Scarlett Johansson who has since reprised the role in both Avengers outings as well as Captain America: Winter Soldier and one of the biggest movies of 2016 – Captain America: Civil War.
Anyone else as Michael Corleone
Did you know that Al Pacino wasn’t the first choice to play gangster Michael Corleone in The Godfather? He wasn’t the second, third or fourth choice either…While casting the classic mafia family story in the early 70s, Paramount knew that they wanted an established star to play the lead role of Michael Corleone. Many actors were approached for the role including Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. The role went to Pacino and the rest is history.
John Travolta as Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump was one of the highest grossing and iconic movies of the 90s. Forrest Gump, to anyone that has seen the movie will agree, was a role written with Tom Hanks in mind. His unique portrayal of the slow witted but kind hearted simpleton from Alabama earned him an Oscar for Best Actor in 1994. However, Tom wasn’t the first choice to play Forrest, the role was originally offered to John Travolta who turned it down. John has since said that he regrets passing on the role and that it was a big mistake.
Will Smith as Neo
Will Smith quite famously passed on the role of Neo in The Matrix as he didn’t fully understand where the movie was going and he had bigger commitments with Wild, Wild West. He has admitted that the role went to the right person in Keanu Reeves but part of us has to think how much Will regretted his decision at the time considering that The Matrix was a multi-million dollar trilogy and Wild, Wild West can be picked up in the bargain DVD bin in your local corner shop.
Christopher Walken as Han Solo
Han Solo was the last of the lead characters cast for Star Wars: A New Hope as George Lucas had a very hard time picturing anyone in the role. Many names were thrown around including Burt Reynolds who famously turned down the role and called it the biggest mistake of his career, but one name that was considered was Christopher Walken. We can only imagine how amazing that performance would’ve been!
Molly Ringwald as Vivian Ward
A career building role for the not very well known Julia Roberts was initially offered to and declined by Miss 1980’s herself Molly Ringwald. Would Julia Roberts be one of the highest earning actresses of all time had Molly accepted the role of prostitute Vivian in the early 90s movie?
Molly also turned down the lead role of Molly Jenson in Ghost which was then offered to Demi Moore in another career defining role. Molly went on to struggle to find good acting roles during the early 90s and missed out on a shot at Oscar glory by turning down two of the most famous roles in movie history
Sean Connery as Gandalf
The original James Bond was offered the role of Gandalf the Grey by Peter Jackson in the late 90s, during very early stages in the films production. Connery turned the role down as he didn’t fully understand the script. Unfortunately he signed onto the next movie script that came along that he didn’t understand, the early 00s flop – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Here is our list of movie roles almost played by other actors. Can you think of any other roles that were famously turned down? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or head on over to Facebook,Twitter or Instagram to join the discussion!