8 actors who passed up iconic roles

Throughout Hollywood history, there have been numerous instances where actors have been offered roles that would go on to become iconic in cinema. However, for various reasons, these actors turned down the opportunities, often leaving us wondering what could have been. From superheroes to wizards, here are 8 instances where actors passed up roles that would define their genres.


1. Will Smith – Neo in “The Matrix” (1999)

Will Smith - Neo in "The Matrix" (1999)

Believe it or not, the role of Neo in the groundbreaking sci-fi film “The Matrix” was initially offered to Will Smith. However, Smith declined the role in favor of starring in the less successful “Wild Wild West.” Keanu Reeves eventually took on the role, and “The Matrix” became a cultural phenomenon.


2. Sean Connery – Gandalf in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy (2001-2003)

Imagine the legendary Sean Connery as the wise and powerful wizard Gandalf! Well, it almost happened. Connery was offered the role but turned it down, citing he didn’t understand the script. Sir Ian McKellen ultimately brought Gandalf to life, earning immense praise for his portrayal.


3. Emily Blunt – Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Before Scarlett Johansson took on the role of Black Widow, Emily Blunt was originally cast for the part in “Iron Man 2.” However, due to scheduling conflicts with another film, Blunt had to pass on the opportunity. Johansson has since become synonymous with the character.


4. Tom Selleck – Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

Tom Selleck - Indiana Jones in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981)

Tom Selleck, best known for his role in “Magnum, P.I.,” was Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s original choice to play the iconic archaeologist Indiana Jones. However, due to contractual obligations, Selleck had to decline, and the role ultimately went to Harrison Ford.


5. Leonardo DiCaprio – Spider-Man in Sam Raimi’s Trilogy

In the early 2000s, before Tobey Maguire swung into action as Spider-Man, Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role. However, DiCaprio turned it down, and the role of the friendly neighborhood superhero went to Maguire, launching a successful trilogy.


6. Gwyneth Paltrow – Rose in “Titanic” (1997)

Before Kate Winslet mesmerized audiences as Rose DeWitt Bukater in “Titanic,” Gwyneth Paltrow was offered the role. However, she declined, and the part went to Winslet, earning her critical acclaim and worldwide fame.

7. Hugh Jackman – James Bond in “Casino Royale” (2006)

Hugh Jackman, known for his iconic portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men films, was considered for the role of James Bond in “Casino Royale.” However, Jackman turned down the opportunity, paving the way for Daniel Craig to become the suave secret agent.

8. Molly Ringwald – Vivian Ward in “Pretty Woman” (1990)

Molly Ringwald - Vivian Ward in "Pretty Woman" (1990)

The role of Vivian Ward, the charming and vivacious prostitute in “Pretty Woman,” was initially offered to Molly Ringwald. However, Ringwald passed on the role, and Julia Roberts stepped into the iconic part, solidifying her status as a Hollywood star.

These instances remind us that even the most successful actors have had their fair share of missed opportunities. While it’s intriguing to imagine these actors in these iconic roles, it’s also a testament to the actors who eventually brought these characters to life and made them unforgettable.

Which of these roles do you think would have been most interesting with the original actor cast? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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