Once you have seen a movie it becomes almost impossible to see any other actors starring in it. When movies are made though, roles were not always initially offered to the star you see on the silver screen. A lot of actors turn down roles. For some movies this is a good decision (as Halle Berry turned down Gigli for example), but there some movies that became big hits and they might have been scratching their heads when they saw so.
Can you imagine the following actors starring in these movies?
The part : Butch
Who got the role : Bruce Willis
Originally offered to : Mickey Rourke
When you think of Butch in Pulp Fiction the first thing I think of is Bruce Willis saying “Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead”. His role as boxer who decides to win his match which he was supposed to lose was originally offered to Mickey Rourke. It would have been a fitting role as Rourke was an avid boxer who stopped acting to pursue a career as professional boxer. The reason he turned it down? He wanted to keep boxing instead of doing it in a movie.
The part : Vincent Vega
Who got the role : John Travolta
Originally offered to : Michael Madsen
Having appeared in Reservoir dogs as Vic Vega, Michael Madsen was supposed to reprise his role in Pulp Fiction. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to do his role as he was busy with Wyatt Earp. The role was then given to Travolta and the name of the character was changed to Vincent.
The part : Dr.Grant
Who got the role : Sam Neill
Originally offered to : Harrison Ford/Kurt Russell/William Hurt
It’s a long list of actors that were not interested in playing the leading role in Spielbergs dinosaur movie. Harrison Ford turned it down, probably because he didn’t want to play another doctor. Kurt Russell turned it down due to his salary demands and William Hurt didn’t even read the script before saying no to it. It might not have been the most iconic role, but I would have loved to see Kurt Russell doing this.
The part : Morpheus
Who got the role : Laurence Fishburne
Originally offered to : Russel Crowe
I can imagine why actors would have turned this one down as the Wachowskis weren’t big directors yet and the concept would probably be very hard to imagine. Crowe read the script but couldn’t understand it and passed on it. He’s not the only one though…
The part : Unknown (but possibly The Architect)
Who got the role : Helmut Bakaitis
Originally offered to : Sean Connery
Connery also turned down a role in the film as he said he couldn’t understand the script.
The part : Agent Smith
Who got the role : Hugo Weaving
Originally offered to : Jean Reno
For this role I couldn’t imagine anyone else but Hugo Weaving doing it. He acted as a machine (which in this case is a compliment) and was a real menace. Reno would have probably been able to do it as well, but declined as he didn’t feel like leaving France for a couple of months to shoot in Australia. He took a role in Godzilla instead.
The movie : The Matrix
The part : Neo
Who got the role : Keanu Reeves
Originally offered to : Will Smith
It’s amazing how many actors turned down roles for this movie. Will Smith was also one of them. Can you imagine him playing Neo? Somehow this role fit Keanu perfectly I think.
The movie : Apollo 13
The part : unknown
Offered to : Brad Pitt
Who got the role : Unknown
Unfortunately not a lot of details are known about this, but I am very happy that Pitt did turn down this role. Although Apollo 13 is a very good movie, the movie he decided to do instead was Se7en.
The part : Gandalf
Who got the role : Ian McKellen
Offered to : Sean Connery
After The Matrix Connery also turned down the role of Gandalf, the wizard who helps the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He thought appearing in a fantasy film would hurt his reputation. He later stated that after turning down both The Matrix and Lord of the Rings he decided to say yes to The League of Extraordinary Gentleman although he didn’t understand that project either.
Could you imagine these actors doing those roles? Do you know any other interesting ones? Leave a comment!