It’s what every young actor dreams of, they are offered a role in a film that looks like it could become a blockbuster. So what do you do? Phone Mum and Dad? Jump in the air? Well for some Hollywood actors they decided to say no… yes that’s right say no to what could have become one of the biggest roles of their career. Let’s have a look at the men who had the nerve to say ‘no.’
Tom Selleck – It almost seems like something that could have happened in another universe, but believe or not Harrison Ford wasn’t actually the producers first choice to play the legendary explorer Indiana Jones. When pre-production first started on “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom” way back in the early 1980s the producers wanted the mustached-one himself, Tom Selleck to play the action hero. At the time Selleck was hot property due to the fact that he was playing television cop Magnum in the extremely popular “Magnum P.I.” However, when he was offered the role of Indy he turned it down, so George Lucas went with the man he had just worked with on the “Star Wars” franchise – Harrison Ford.
Will Smith – Keanu Reeves has joked in the past that getting to play Neo in the sci-fi thriller “The Matrix” provided him with enough money to feed his family forever. But Mr. Reeves should consider himself extremely lucky for every having the opportunity to don the duster jacket and enter into the realm of the matrix, because he wasn’t Andy and Lana Wachowski’s first choice to play the role. The Wachowski’s first choice was Will Smith who had just completed work on his comedy television series “The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” and was the toast of Hollywood after delivering great performances in blockbusters such as “Independence Day,” “Men In Black” and “Enemy Of The State.” Ironically, Smith ended up doing “Wild, Wild West” instead of “The Matrix” and as time has since told, that was the beginning of the fall of his career as far as critics were concerned.
Jack Nicholson – Okay, so ultimately it didn’t affect his acting career all that much, but how many people know that screen legend Jack Nicholson once turned down one of the most iconic screen roles of all time. Back in 1972 when director Francis Ford Coppola was putting together his cast for arguably one of the most famous films of all time, “The Godfather,” he originally approached Jack Nicholson about playing the role of Michael Corleone. Nicholson turned down the role and instead Coppola gave the role to a virtual unknown called Al Pacino who used the role to become a screen legend himself.
Matt Damon – Matt Damon may be one of the biggest stars on the planet so it’s a little weird to find out that the actor turned down two roles that could have helped him become an even bigger star. It seems Damon may have something against franchises because both film roles he turned down were roles in two of the biggest franchises of modern times. Firstly, Damon turned the lead role in James Cameron’s “Avatar,” which was feverishly snapped up by Australian Sam Worthington, and then went on to turn down the role of Harvey Dent in Christopher Nolan’s Batman epic “The Dark Knight.” Both films went on to become mega blockbusters at the box office; however, people should cut Damon a little slack as he turned down “Avatar” to do “The Bourne Ultimatum” and turned down “The Dark Knight” to do “Invictus,” so both his choices still kind of worked anyway.
Johnny Depp – “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has become one of the most iconic films of all time and even back in 1986 you would have thought any actor would have jumped at the opportunity to work with director John Hughes. Hughes may have delivered great films like “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty In Pink” but that wasn’t enough to win over Johnny Depp who decided to pass when he was offered the role of Ferris Bueller in the comedy. True Depp seems to have landed on his feet since then so it ultimately wasn’t a bad decision, but it can still make film goers wonder what could have been. For the record, the role of Bueller ended up becoming a career defining role for Matthew Broderick.
As you can see actors say ‘no’ to a role normally because they have a good reason and thankfully not many live to regret it, although it is still a fairly funny daydream to wonder what Tom Selleck would have looked like playing Indy.