10 Actors who turned down their Major roles in Movies

John Travolta at IIFA 2014. Photo by Jim Dooley.

Hollywood movies are known for great masterpieces. The films are the backbone of it. And these films are the concoction of good narration and great portraying of characters by actors and actresses. There are some actors and actresses who turned down several huge roles, giving their reasonable reasons.  No doubt, these actors are the best in acting and performance. Famous directors approached them for the great movie role, and they turned down several huge roles like a petty thing.

Hollywood is the place of major roles in movies and entertainment.  Along with this, the actors do have their own choices of acting in a particular movie. Some actors pass on the chance to play a great movie role to other budding actors, while some have their reasons for not doing it.

Hollywood history is full of such actors who turned down several huge roles offered by famous directors.

The list of 10 actors who turned down their major roles in movies

1. Burt Reynolds

The first name in the list is Burt Reynolds, who was approached for the famous James bond role.  He was approached for the great movie role because of his exceptional performance in various masterpiece movies.  He has done various impressive movies in his lifetime, including, Smokey and the bandit, boogie nights, deliverance, etc. He passes on the chance to play James bond to another actor in Sean Conney’s movie.

He cited his reason for not doing the James bond film. He said that the audience would not accept an American as a 007 character. Burt also turned down some very optimistic major roles in movies like star wars’ than solo. After turning down James bond, he turned on a role in star wars also.

2. Leonardo de Caprio

Caprio is known for his iconic acting skills in many successful movies like titanic, inception, etc. he has done magnificent roles in all movies.  However, he turned down the offer of Brokeback mountain, which, when released, acclaimed commercial success.

The movie was undoubtedly a big blockbuster, but the directors have to struggle for the lead cast of the movie. They approached big stars like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, etc., who turned down the great movie role.  Finally, heath ledger acted in the movie and won Oscar for that.

3. John Lithgow

The third on the list of actors who turned down major roles in movies is John Lithgow. He was eyed for the character of joker in the film. He persuaded the director not to take him for the role and succeeded in doing so.

John was turned off from the movie, and Jack Nicholson was made to act in the movie. The film joker became the sensational movie of all time, having gross collection worldwide. But it was turned down by John Lithgow in the first place.

4. Emma Watson

You all are familiar with this actor’s stardom and major roles in movies. She plays a major role in movies like Perks of Being a Wallflower, Harry Potter, etc. but she turned down the major role in the Oscar-winning film La-La Land. If Emma did that role, she would have won the Oscar, but it did not happen.

After turning down the great movie role, she turned her head towards Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and marked the compensation of not doing La La Land.

5. Sean Connery

The actor is the most exceptional actor of this era. He has played many major roles in movies. He was approached for the great movie role in lords of rings as Tolkien’s beardy wizard. He passes on the chance to play that character to another actor.

Sean further says that he doesn’t understand the movie at all. He has read the movie and script but couldn’t understand it better. After turning down the movie, the director says that the movie would have surfaced differently if Sean would do the great move role. But he was not in the movie.

6. Christina Applegate

Reese Witherspoon portrayed the great movie role of Elle woods in legally blonde. But, it is hard to believe that she was not the first choice for the character. At first hand, Christina Applegate was approached for the movie’s role of Elle woods and some other actors in the line. But they all pass on the chance to play the character.

Later on, the film earned Reese Witherspoon the golden globe award for the character Elle Woods.

7. John Travolta

Tom hanks earned Oscar for his great movie role in forest grump. But if john would do the movie, he has surely earned the award. Travolta was approached for the movie, which he turned down the role to take up the pulp fiction. Later in the same year, the two films were against each other at Oscars, where forest grump bagged six awards compared to fiction’s one.

8. Warren beauty

The film kill bill has a title role that was offered to warren beauty in the first place. But beauty was uncertain about the project. He turned down major roles in movies role due to the unavailability of time. This enabled the other actor David Carradine to take up the role in the movie. Further, the beauty explained that he wouldn’t want to leave his kids to do the film, set to shoot in China.

9. Will smith

Quentin Tarantino, the famous director, approached, will smith for the neo’s role in the matrix. Smith’s big fat no laid back the director for the project.  The actor was getting himself ready for Django’s role in some other movie.  Smith added that he would not be the right choice for the project.  So, he turned down the great movie role.

10. Julias Robert

You all are familiar with Shakespeare in love film, which depicted the literary legend’s life. Julias was approached for the movie in the first place, which she denied. Robert passes on the chance to play to Daniel day-Lewis, for which Daniel got Oscars.

Within a week, the whole cast was set, and the film surfaced in Hollywood theatres drawing attention from the audience.


These were the actors who turned down several huge roles in their film career. Some of them would have regretted their decision, and some did not. Which piece is rare gold, you never know. The actors are so good in their acting skills for which the famous directors approached them. Many of them have turned down major roles in movies.


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