25 Actors Who Passed Up On Iconic Roles

Posted by , Updated on June 26, 2014

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. In 25 Celebrities Who Passed Up On Iconic Roles, we take a look at some of films most memorable characters and the stars who almost got to play them.

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Dougray Scott


The Role: Wolverine

Although Hugh Jackman is now exclusively associated with Wolverine, the role was intially meant to be portrayed by another actor, Dougray Scott. Scott was handpicked by Tom Cruise to play the villain in Mission Impossible. The 2nd installment of MI overran filming of X-Men by two months and Scott was forced to drop out of production which cost him a major Wolverine franchise.


Jack Nicholson


The Role: Michael Carleone

When Jack Nicholson was approached to play Michael Corleone, he knew that The Godfather would be a great movie. However, at that time, he felt that “Indians should play characters written for Indians”. In the same thread, Nicholson felt that the role of Corleone should be played by an Italian so he passed up on playing the iconic role. Michael Corleone, played by Al Pacino, was cited by the American Film Institute as the 11th most iconic villain in film history.


John Travolta


The Role: Forrest Gump

John Travolta passed up on playing Forrest Gump…huge mistake. In 1994, the film became the highest grossing movie in North America. Tom Hanks was acclaimed for his portrayal of the role, giving him an award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars. Travolta has since admitted to regretting the decision he made.


Sarah Michelle Gellar


The Role: Cher Horowitz

Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down the opportunity to star in the 1995 sleeper hit, Clueless. The character, Cher Horowitz, the rich spoiled yet sweet girl became so endearing to fans that it brought the then-unknown Alicia Silverstone worldwide recognition.


Bette Midler


The Role: Deloris Van Cartier/Sister Mary Clarence

The producers of Sister Act agreed that Bette Midler was best suited for the role. Later on, Midler declined to play the role expressing concerns about her fans not wanting her to play the role of a nun. The part was eventually given to Whoopi Goldberg. The film was widely successful, spawning one sequel and a Broadway musical.

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