10+ Celebrities Who Walked Away From Millions Of Dollars

There are three things in this world that money absolutely cannot buy: love, time, and happiness. The truth is that if you don't love what you do, no amount of money is going to change your mind.

To prove my point, I've managed to compile a list of 10+ celebrities who walked away from millions of dollars. They're living proof that there's so much more to life than just a healthy bottom line.

Charlie Sheen

Before Charlie Sheen walked away (or was led away) he was the highest-paid actor on television. His average payday per episode was close to $2 million per episode.

Unfortunately for Charlie, he simply couldn't see eye-to-eye with showrunner/creator Chuck Lorre.

Pamela Anderson

Did you know that before she accepted her career-defining role on Baywatch that Pam Anderson was offered the role of Dana Scully on The X-Files?

Had she made the latter career decision, Pam would have made over $12 million.

Sean Connery

Before Sir Ian was offered the role, Peter Jackson was vying for Sean Connery to be Gandalf the Grey in The Lord of the Rings.

Sean refused because he didn't understand the script; it wound up costing him close to $450 million.

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq was given the opportunity to invest in Starbucks even before Magic Johnson. His reason for refusal was that he simply didn't drink coffee.

If Shaq had signed on the dotted line, that investment would be worth close to $100 million today.

Keanu Reeves

Money can't buy integrity, a fact that Keanu Reeves knows and understands all too well. When the time came to make a sequel to Speed, Keanu was offered $12 million to reprise his role.

He politely declined because he didn't like the script.

Jodie Foster

Jodie didn't want to risk tarnishing the legacy of Clarice Starling and opted not to return for Hannibal.

Sources speculate that she was offered a $15 million payday but it still wasn't enough to entice her to return.

Dave Chapelle

When Dave Chapelle was in his comedic prime, he was the most popular comic on the planet — bar none.

He was offered an unprecedented $50 million to do a third season of Chapelle's Show and absolutely refused.

Michael Keaton

Many fans wonder why Michael never returned for Batman Forever. In his own words, he felt that the script was terrible and that there was no amount of money that could change his mind.

Michael was true to his word and couldn't be swayed; not even for $15 million.

Matt Damon

James Cameron not only offered Matt Damon the lead in Avatar but he even went as far as to extend him a cut of the profits.

Had Damon accepted, his total payday would have been $278 million.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale completely breathed new life into the caped crusader and Warner Bros. was keen to keep going.

They were willing to part with $50 million in order to get Christian to don the cape and cowl on last time, but he refused out of loyalty to Christopher Nolan.

Jerry Seinfeld

Always leave them wanting more; that is the mantra of Jerry Seinfeld.

When he made the decision to take Seinfeld off the air, it was the most popular show on television. The network begged him to stay, offering him $100 million but still, he declined.

Will Ferrell

I don't get it. Will Ferrell said that he didn't want to do a sequel to Elf but he agreed to appear in Daddy's Home 2?!

What the heck, Will? I'm pretty sure you didn't get offered [$30 million](https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/elf-will-ferrell-turned-down-29-million-dollars-to-become-buddy-the-elf-again-in-a-sequel.html/ for Daddy's Home 2, so what gives?

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga was offered a staggering $1 million to perform for one night at the Republican National Convention and refused!

Do you know how hard it would be to say no to $1 million for an hour's worth of work?!

Vince Gilligan

Vince Gilligan is the creator of Breaking Bad, one of the defining series of the early '00s. Absolutely everyone loved Breaking Bad and would have been happy to see the show continue.

Sadly, Vince couldn't be persuaded — not even to the tune of $75 million for only three episodes.

Jim Parsons

Jim was making $1 million an episode playing Dr. Sheldon Cooper and the network was prepared to renew the series for another two seasons.

By deciding to walk away, Jim left roughly $50 million of potential profits on the table.


It's no exaggeration to say that at one point in time, ABBA was bigger than The Beatles.

The iconic pop band was offered an astronomical $1 billion to reunite and flatly refused the offer. They said it wasn't about the money and they meant it.

Katie Holmes

Did you know that before Sarah Michelle Gellar stepped into the title role that Katie Holmes was offered the lead in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

It could have netted her a total payday upwards of $15 million. That news both bites and sucks.

Hulk Hogan

At the height of his career, former WWE legend and Hall of Famer, Hulk Hogan, was given the option to endorse a meatball maker or a grill.

He opted for the former and the latter went to George Foreman, netting the boxing champion more than $200 million in total revenues.

The Beatles

Former drummer Ringo Starr let it slip that he and his fellow bandmates were offered $50 million to reunite in the late '70s.

According to Ringo, the band was nearly in agreement, until they learned that the opening act was a man biting a shark.


Who remembers Gotye's classic earworm "Somebody That I Used To Know"?

It was a huge hit and could have made the singer more than $5 million in YouTube ad revenue — except that Gotye opted not to run ads on the song.

Morrissey (The Smiths)

Coachella is one of the biggest music festivals in the entire world.

Morrissey and The Smiths were offered $5 million for a weekend's worth of work but still couldn't be swayed — no matter how large the payday.

Noel Gallagher

Liam and Noel Gallagher were the feuding frontmen of the iconic '90s rock band, Oasis.

A few years back, Liam accused Noel of turning down a $100 million offer for a reunion tour; a claim which Noel refutes.

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis was offered $3 million for four days worth of work in The Expendables 2. He asked for an extra $1 million and decided to walk when his demands weren't met.

Clearly, Bruce has never heard the expression "a bird in hand is worth two in the bush."

Katie Holmes (again)

What is it with Katie Holmes and making financially detrimental career decisions?

Katie walked away from The Dark Knight and opted instead to star in Mad Money. She lost out on $2 million and The Dark Knight was the top-grossing film of the year.

Jim Carrey

Jim was offered $10 million to appear in a sequel to his smash-hit comedy The Mask. At the time, it was a truly unprecedented offer.

Jim declined because he didn't think it would be challenging enough. That's what I call short-term loss for long-term gain.

Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson was given the opportunity to portray Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's paradigm-shifting film, The Godfather.

At that time, Jack believed that only Italians should be able to play Italian roles in movies and on television.

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson was actually offered the chance to return as Mad Max long before Tom Hardy was ever offered the role.

But before production could begin, 9/11 rocked the country. Shortly thereafter, Mel became the subject of severe scrutiny after a video of his racist rant became public.

Emily Blunt

Did you know that Scarlett Johansson wasn't the first choice to play Black Widow in Iron Man 2? Initially, the studio had its eyes set on Emily Blunt.

But due to contractual obligations, Emily had to refuse the role to star in Gulliver's Travels opposite Jack Black.

Al Pacino

Can you imagine anyone turning down the chance to play Han Solo? As hard as it may seem to believe, that's precisely what Al Pacino did.

According to him, he couldn't understand the script. Since then, the Star Wars franchise has made billions.

John Travolta

John was offered the lead role in Forrest Gump before Tom Hanks came into the picture.

Not only was Hanks' payday more than $65 million, but he also received an Oscar for his work in the celebrated classic.

Nicolas Cage

There were several actors being considered for the part of Neo in The Matrix, one of whom was Nic Cage.

Unfortunately for Cage, he declined to spend more time with his family. And as a result, Keanu Reeves made more than $260 million for the three films combined.