For whatever reason, these “actors who turned down roles” lists are notoriously popular. Unfortunately, that list has been done to death. By now, everyone knows that Will Smith turned down Neo, that Johnny Depp turned down Ferris Bueller, that Molly Ringwald turned down Pretty Woman, Sean Connery turned down Gandalf, and Christopher Walken (and Burt Reynolds) allegedly even turned down Hans Solo.
So I thought, if it’s already been done to death: Fuck it. I’ll make one up.
A Fictional List of 10 Famous Actors Who Turned Down Blockbuster Movie Roles
10. Hugh Grant — Neo in the Matrix: Back in 1999, Hugh Grant famously turned own the role of Neo in the Matrix, reasoning, “To be honest, the Wachowskis kind of scared me.” Grant decided to do Mickey Blue Eyes, instead
9. Rhys Ifans — James Bond: Back in 2005, when MGM was searching for a replacement for Pierce Brosnan, Rhys Ifans immediately jumped to the top of the list. However, Ifans famously called director Martin Campbell and declined, noting that the role would hurt his reputation. Ifans decided instead to take on the role of McBunny in Garfield: The Tale of Two Kitties.
8. Jennifer Tilly — Vivien in Pretty Woman: There was a long list of women who turned down the role of Vivien before Julia Roberts came along and took this role, catapulting her onto the A-list. Little known, however, is that director Gary Marshall originally offered the role to Jennifer Tilly, and the first iteration of the script was more seedy, R-Rated, and heavy on the sex scenes between Vivien and her johns.
7. Charlie Sheen as John Bender in The Breakfast Club: John Bender was the last role to be cast in the film, and while most know that it came down to between Judd Nelson and John Cusack, what most people don’t know was that Hughes’ first choice was Charlie Sheen, who declined to instead do The Boy’s Next Door, but was such a hit with Hughes that he made a small appearance in his next film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
6. Jason Biggs as Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights: A lot of folks know that Leonardo DiCaprio declined this part in favor of Titanic, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s second choice, before Mark Wahlberg, was actually Jason Biggs, who turned down the role to instead stick his diggler in baked goods on American Pie.
5. Rupert Everett as Batman in Batman and Robin: After Val Kilmer declined to continue being Batman for Joel Schumacher, and before the diretor eventually settled on George Clooney, his initial choice was Rupert Everett, who had just wrapped filming on My Best Friend’s Wedding. However, Schumacher eventually went in another direction, reasoning that Everett would push the film’s homoerotic undertones over the line.
4. Rick Moranis as Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump: Bill Murray was actually Robert Zemeckis’ very first choice, but when Murray declined, he offered the role to Moranis, who was coming off the hugely successful Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Moranis, however, was already committed to The Flintstones movie. Soon after The Flintstones, Moranis retired from acting. Who knows how it would’ve gone down if he’d been able to make Forrest Gump?
3. Phoebe Cates in Sixteen Candles: And she would’ve been perfect. Unfortunately, she was already committed to Gremlins.
2. Whoopie Goldberg as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct: Whoopie Goldberg was Paul Verhoeven’ first choice for the evil seductress in Basic Instinct, and even began filming on the movie. Unfortunately, Verhoeven fired Goldberg during filming when she refused to shave for the pivotal interrogation scene. Goldberg turned her attention instead to Sister Act.
1. Ron Howard as Han Solo in Star Wars: Rumor has it that Al Pacino, Nick Nolte and Christopher Walken and even Burt Reynolds were offered the role of Han Solo before Harrison Ford took it. But his true first choice was Ron Howard, who Lucas had worked with on American Graffiti. However, the studio wouldn’t allow it, reasoning that audiences would never believe in a Ginger action hero.