We take a look at the roles that actors passed up on

Rumours about who turned down which iconic role rumble around the internet all the time – like the one that David Boreanaz passed on the role of Bruce Wayne in BATMAN BEGINS – so we decided to take a look at the actors that said no to iconic roles. Can you imagine Sean Connery as Gandalf? No, us either.

Will Smith – Neo in THE MATRIX
Can you imagine anyone other than Keanu Reeves as Neo? Well, the producers of the Matrix Trilogy evidently could, because they originally offered the leading role to Will Smith. Smith turned down the part to work on THE WILD WILD WEST, but later admitted that he had no regrets because Reeves was so good in the role. Point of interest: THE WILD WILD WEST went on to win five Razzie Awards for worst film, THE MATRIX was nominated for, and won, four Oscars.
Interestingly, Smith originally passed on Men in Black, but was encouraged to reconsider by his wife.

Hugh Jackman – James Bond in CASINO ROYALE
In 2011, Jackman revealed that years previously, he had been offered the role of the super suave super spy. While many of us would consider this to be a massive mistake, Jackman insists he made the choice in order to prevent becoming typecast, and to keep his options open for the future. The most recent WOLVERINE movies may not have been Jackman’s greatest roles, but the actor went on to be nominated for an Oscar for his role in LES MISERABLES, so he’s doing fine!

Although it may seem that the role of Captain Jack Sparrow was written for Johnny Depp, originally director Gore Verbinski had another Hollywood screwball in mind for the part; Jim Carrey. We’re sure that Jack Sparrow would have been a very different character with Carrey portraying him, but we will never know just how different, as Carrey turned down the role to work on BRUCE ALMIGHTY. In 2004, Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of the eccentric Jack Sparrow, but lost out to Sean Penn for his role in MYSTIC RIVER.

Meg Ryan has never really been able to break out of the rom-com genre, and perhaps this is why she decided to turn down the role of Vivian Ward in PRETTY WOMAN. Or maybe the story of a hooker with a heart of gold was too risqué!? Whatever the reason, Ryan has since said that she regrets turning down the role that transformed Julia Roberts’s career.
Curiously, Al Pacino also turned down a role in PRETTY WOMAN, the role that eventually went to Richard Gere; Edward Lewis.

Al Pacino – Han Solo in STAR WARS
It is definitely hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford playing the iconic role of Han Solo, but the role was originally offered to Al Pacino. Pacino, uncomfortable with the elements of fantasy and sci-fi in STAR WARS, turned the role down to do the Sydney Pollack biopic, BOBBY DEERFIELD. It is doubtful that turning down the role of Han Solo had any impact on Pacino’s career, and the part catapulted Ford’s career to another level; seems it worked out for the best!

Honourable mentions to… Matt Damon for turning down the role of Harvey Dent in THE DARK KNIGHT, Mark Wahlberg for turning down Jack Twist in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, Michelle Pfeiffer for turning down Clarice Starling in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Sir Ian McKellen for turning down Dumbledore in the HARRY POTTER franchise and Sean Connery for turning down the role of Gandalf in the LORD OF THE RINGS franchise.

Words: Brogen Hayes