15 Actors Who Turned Down Iconic Roles

Elizabeth Spina
Michelle Pfeiffer
YouTube | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Sometimes, an actor may not be completely sold on a script for one reason or another, so they turn down the opportunity to work on the film, only to later regret their decision when the film blows up in popularity.

Here are 15 distinguished actors who have admitted they regret turning down huge roles.

1. Halle Berry

Halle Berry
Instagram | @halleberry

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Halle shared that before Sandra Bullock accepted the leading role in Speed, it was offered to her and she "stupid" turned it down.

"I was offered Speed before Sandra Bullock. I stupidly said no. But in my defense, when I read the script the bus didn’t leave the parking lot," she said.

2. Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway
Instagram | @annehathaway

Anne revealed that she was offered a role in Knocked Up, but turned it down due to the birthing scene. "My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself, I didn't know how I was gonna feel on the other side about giving birth." she told Allure.

3. Will Smith

Will Smith
Giphy |

Will Smith has said yes to countless iconic film roles, but there is one that he regrets saying no to, and that's one that he could've had in The Matrix.

"I’d go back to the Wild Wild West and I would say, 'A----hole why didn’t you do The Matrix?'" he told ReelBlend.

4. Madonna

Instagram | @madonna

Will Smith wasn't the only celeb to turn down a spot in The Matrix and live to regret it.

"Can you believe that? That’s, like, one of the best movies ever made. A teeny-tiny part of me regrets just that one moment in my life," the "Like A Virgin" singer told Jimmy Fallon.

5. Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington
Giphy | Golden Globes

Denzel revealed in an interview with GQ that he could have starred in the movie Se7en, and that it, "...was the best material I had read in a long time." However, he didn't feel prepared to gamble on a first-time director. "[I] was nervous about a first-time director, and I was wrong."

6. Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer
YouTube | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Michelle regrets turning down a role in Silence of the Lambs that later went to Jodie Foster, but justifies her decision because she felt the film was too dark for her taste.

"There was such evil in that film. It was that evil won in the end, that at the end of that film evil ruled out. I was uncomfortable with that ending. I didn’t want to put that out into the world," she told The New Yorker.

7. Christina Applegate

Christina Applegate
Giphy |

Before Reese Witherspoon landed the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, the spot was offered to Christina Applegate, who turned it down but has since had a change of heart.

"The script came along my way and it was right after I had just finished, Married [...with Children], and it was a blonde who in that first script didn't win it but ends up going to Yale or Harvard, I don't remember," she told ETOnline, "I got scared of kind of repeating myself."

8. Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton
YouTube | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

As we know, the beloved role of Phil in Groundhog Day went to Bill Murray, and we wouldn't have it any other way. But Michael Keaton just might!

He told Entertainment Weekly that he initially turned down the role after reading the script because he, "didn't get it."

9. Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio
Giphy |

If you can believe it, Leonardo DiCaprio almost wasn't Jack from Titanic!

At the time, the actor was torn between Boogie Nights and Titanic, and as we now all know, chose the latter. He told GQ he wishes he could have been in both films. "I think they’re both great and wish I could have done them both," he said.

10. Javier Bardem

Javier Bardem
Instagram | @bardemantarctic

Javier Bardem revealed that he turned down a role in Minority Report due to a language barrier.

"At the time, it was difficult for me to jump into a foreign-language performance," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

11. Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis
Instagram | @dobledebruce

Bruce Willis called himself a "knucklehead" for turning down a leading role in the movie Ghost.

"I just didn’t get it... I said 'Hey, the guy’s dead. How are you gonna have a romance?’ Famous last words," he told The New York Times.

12. Henry Winkler

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In Hindsight, Henry Winkler would have been a perfect fit to play Danny Zuko in Grease. But he turned down the role because he didn't want to pigeonhole himself in Hollywood.

"I turned down the lead role in Grease. I didn’t want to be typecast. But you’re typecast anyway. And it’s not now that I’m, like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done the role.’ It’s that I turned it down intellectually instead of instinctually. Listen to your gut— it knows everything. Your head knows only some things. So I went home and had an orange juice. Travolta went home and bought a plane," he told AARP Magazine.

13. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt
YouTube | Jimmy Kimmel Live

Before Scarlett Johansson stepped into the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, it was offered to Emily Blunt who turned it down because it would've conflicted with another project she was working on.

"It’s a shame the two of them couldn’t work together. It just got complicated, so I think I had to pull out for my own sanity more than anything," she told MTV News.

14. Eddie Murphy

Eddie Murphy
Giphy |

Bob Hoskins ended up playing the role of Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the role was originally offered to Eddie Murphy who turned it down and now feels like an "idiot" because of it.

"I was like, ‘What? Animation and people sounded like bulls**** to me.' Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot," he told Jimmy Fallon.

15. Kevin Costner

Kevin Costner
youtube | Team Coco

According to sources, Kevin Costner was offered a role in the iconic film, The Shawshank Redemption but turned it down so that he could work on another film, Waterworld. He later admitted that he "regrets not taking the part."