Actors Who Regret Turning Down Huge Movies

Jordan Claes
Tom Hanks in 'Forrest Gump' sitting on a bench.
Paramount Pictures | Paramount Pictures

Hindsight is always 20/20. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to possess the foresight of greatness — especially when you're an A-list actor in Hollywood. All you can do is follow your gut and hope that it doesn't betray you.

Sometimes, it works out in your favor, and other times — you miss the landing and fall flat on your face. With that in mind, let's have a look below at a collection of actors who all regret turning down huge movies.

Michelle Pfeiffer could've been Clarice Starling in 'The Silence Of The Lambs'.

Michelle Pfeiffer taking a selfie in her car, wearing large black sunglasses.
instagram | @michellepfeifferofficial

"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," Michelle told The New Yorker.

Halle Berry laments turning down the role of Annie Porter in 'Speed'.

Halle Berry taking a selfie in her backyard.
instagram | @halleberry

Halle Berry has called her declining Speed a stupid decision. But in her defense, when she read through the original draft of the script, the bus never left the parking lot.

Leonardo DiCaprio's only career regret was turning down the role of Dirk Diggler in 'Boogie Nights'.

Leonardo DiCaprio biting his fist in 'The Wolf Of Wall Street'.
Giphy | WE tv

Leo apparently loved the script but wound up turning down the offer in order to star in James Cameron's Titanic alongside Kate Winslet.

Can you imagine if The Joker in Tim Burton's 'Batman' had been played by John Lithgow?

John Lithgow in the recording booth.
instagram | @jalithgow

John not only turned Tim Burton down, but he completely talked him out of wanting to hire him in the first place. The iconic comedic actor couldn't wrap his head around the idea of people wanting to see a movie about Batman.

Josh Hartnett was Christopher Nolan's first choice for 'Batman Begins'.

Josh Hartnett folding his arms, saying "Oh, you're serious."
Giphy | The Roku Channel

Hartnett said that his biggest regret isn't turning down the chance to don the cape and cowl, but rather in doing so, he forewent a relationship with director Christopher Nolan.

Henry Winkler said no to playing Danny Zuko in 'Grease' for fear of being typecast.

Henry Winkler famously portrayed Fonzy on Happy Days for 10 years and had grown tired of his greaser image. He joked that after Travolta accepted, John went home and bought a plane. He, on the other hand, went home and had a V8.

Christina Applegate was offered the lead in 'Legally Blonde'.

Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy in 'Married...With Children'.
Giphy | Sony Pictures Television

Christina was fresh from playing the dimwitted Kelly Bundy in Married...With Children and feared that portraying yet another stereotypical "dumb blonde" would leave her typecast with no other options down the road.

Kevin Costner turned down 'The Shawshank Redemption' in order to star in 'Waterworld'.

To add insult to injury, Kevin's reasoning as to why he said no to The Shawshank Redemption was so that he could go and star in the ill-fated Waterworld.

Matt Damon turned down a starring role in 'Avatar', worth upwards of $280 million.

Matt Damon dancing in his chair in 'Good Will Hunting'.

Not only did Matt turn down the lead role, but James Cameron offered him 10% of the film's gross earnings. No other actor in history has ever left so much money on the table.

Will Smith could've been Neo in 'The Matrix'.

At the time, Will wasn't sold on the Wachowskis and their ability to create a great film. in the end, Will passed on The Matrix and instead decided to star in Wild Wild West.

Al Pacino didn't understand the script for 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' and thus declined the part of Han Solo.

Al Pacino screaming "I'm in the dark!" in 'Scent Of A Woman'.

While filming An Evening with Al Pacino in 2013, the Oscar-winning actor said, "You know who else I gave a career to? Harrison Ford. I was offered Star Wars, but I didn't understand the script."

Eddie Murphy could've been Eddie Valiant in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'

Eddie Murphy being interviewed on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon'.
youtube | NBC

"The only movie that I have turned down that became a big hit was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie revealed to Jimmy Fallon. "I was going to be the Bob Hoskins dude. I was like, 'What? Animation and people? That sounds like [expletive] to me.'"

Denzel Washington didn't want to risk working with a first-time director in 'Michael Clayton'.

Denzel Washington scratching his chin on the red carpet as he's being interviewed.
Giphy | Entertainment Tonight

Ironically enough, Denzel said that the script for Michael Clayton was some of the best material he'd read in years. Still, it wasn't enough to dissuade him from his trepidations.

Michael Keaton passed on the chance to play Phil Connors in 'Groundhog Day'.

Michael Keaton wearing a brown suit in 'The Founder'.
The Weinstein company | The Weinstein Company

By his own admission, Keaton didn't get the idea behind Groundhog Day and felt that Phil Connors too closely resembled characters whom he'd played in the past.

John Travolta passed on 'Forrest Gump'.

John Travolta and family celebrating New Year's Eve.
instagram | @johntravolta

At the time, John's career was in dire need of a resurgence. He was presented with two scripts: one was Forrest Gump and the other was Quentin Tarantino's cult classic, Pulp Fiction. Thankfully, he chose the latter.