25 Actors Who Passed Up On Iconic Roles

Posted by , Updated on August 9, 2018

The history of film is cluttered with stories about stars who were an inch away from playing roles that got embedded into the hearts and minds of movie audiences. When actors look back into some of their career mishaps, the ones they’ll probably notice the most are the glaring errors they made in passing up on important roles. Are you curious to see which memorable characters were almost played by different actors? Check out these 25 Actors Who Passed Up On Iconic Roles.

Subscribe to List25


Sean Connery


The Role: Gandalf

Citing that he “didn’t get fantasy,” Sean Connery passed up on playing Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings. The role that was eventually given to Ian McKellen earned the actor an award (Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture) and an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.


Dana Delany

dana delany

The Role: Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, is one of the most popular female TV and movie characters of all time, at least in the “chick flick” genre. The role was originally offered to Dana Delany. She later claimed not to regret her decision to turn it down.


Molly Ringwald

molly ringwald

The Role: Vivian Ward

Molly Ringwald was one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood in the 80’s, thanks to the movies she started in like Pretty In Pink and The Breakfast Club. However, the actress has been plagued with obscurity ever since the 90’s. Her fate might have turned out differently had she accepted the role of Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman. The movie was a massive commercial success, earning over $463 million at the box office. Julia Roberts, who eventually played the character, received an Oscar nomination for the role and became regarded as one of the biggest movie stars in the world.


Will Smith

will smith

The Role: Neo

Will Smith was initially offered the role of Neo in The Matrix. He turned it down on account of the concept being too complicated, and he didn’t see the film performing well at the box office. Well, we all know how the movie fared.


Henry Winkler


The Role: Danny Zunko

Henry Winkler was approached to play Danny Zunko in the musical film Grease. When he turned it down, John Travolta took on the role. Grease earned $694 million at the box office. The American Film Institute listed Grease at #97 in its 100 Years…100 Passions, which lists the 100 greatest love stories in American cinema.

Photo: Featured Image - BagoGames via flickr (modified with Al Pacino's face), Rumour: Han Solo Has a 'Gigantic Role' in Star Wars Episode VII, CC BY 2.0, 1. Noemi Nuñez, Jim-Carrey-2008, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 2. Gage Skidmore, Sigourney Weaver by Gage Skidmore 4, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 3. photo by Alan Light, Bruce Willis 1989, CC BY 2.0 , 5. Nick Step, Emily Browning 2011, CC BY 2.0 , 6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonyshek/, Kate Winslet at The Dressmaker event TIFF (headshot), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 7. Georges Biard, Mel Gibson Cannes 2016, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 8. David Torcivia, Sandra Bullock 2011 AA, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 9. Georges Biard, Jake Gyllenhaal Cannes 2015, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 10. GabboT, Reese Witherspoon (29689592861), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 11. photo by Alan Light, BetteMidler90cropped, CC BY 2.0 , 12. I, DavidShankbone, Sarah Michelle Gellar 2007 2, (Cropped), CC BY-SA 3.0 , 13. Georges Biard, John Travolta Deauville 2013 2, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 14. Georges Biard, Jack Nicholson 2002, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 15. Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, Dougray Scott (8609505278), CC BY-SA 2.0 , 16. Dominick D, Tom Selleck at PaleyFest 2014, CC BY-SA 2.0 , 17. Siebbi, Jeremy Irons face, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 18. photo by Alan Light, Kim Basinger 3, CC BY 2.0 , 19. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 20. Jeremiah Christopher, Michelle Pfeiffer 2007, CC BY 2.0 , 21. wikimedia commons (Public Domain), 22. Gage Skidmore via flickr, Will Smith, CC BY-SA 2.0, 23. Panio Gianopoulos, Molly Ringwald in Greece, CC BY-SA 3.0 , 24. Greg Hernandez, Dana Delany 2010, CC BY 2.0 , 25. Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, Sean Connery 1983, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL

SEE ALSO: 25 Life Hacks That Actually Don't Help Make Your Life Better »

NOW WATCH: 25 Craziest Medical Treatments In History

Subscribe to List25
Show Us Your Love
Join Over 2 Million+ List25 Fans