Nida Faraz looks at what could have been cinematic
The fact that some good roles were rejected by leading actors has made them regret their decision. It is a well-known matter that the best-known characters in the Cineworld are forever linked to the actors who portrayed them but such actors were not always the first choice of the movie makers.
Will Smith turned down The Matrix
It is hard to imagine The Matrix without Keanu Reeves but still, Will Smith was offered the lead role of Neo but he missed the opportunity Smith regretted it by saying: “You know, The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn’t see it. I watched Keanu’s performance—and very rarely do I say this—but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point, I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don’t try and perform every moment.”
John Lithgow turned down the Joker
“My worst audition was for Tim Burton for Batman,” Lithgow said adding “I have never told anyone this story but I tried to persuade him I was not right for the part, and I succeeded. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. About a week later I heard they were going after Robin Williams and Jack Nicholson.” At the time, Lithgow was performing in the play M. Butterfly and continued doing so although he regretted the missed chance. The role went to Jack Nicholson.
Sean Connery turned down Gandalf
The former 007 stars turned down the part of the wizard in Lord of the Rings because he “did not understand the script,” despite being offered $10 million per film and 15% of the box office which would have netted him a tidy $450 million, in the end. And, of course, there were a number of actors including Richard Harris, who was hoping to play Gandalf. The role went to Sir Ian McKellen.
Warren Beatty turned down Quentin Tarantino
Warren Beatty explained that he turned down the title role in Kill Bill because he did not want to leave his kids since the project would be filming in China. He also turned down roles in The Godfather, Boogie Nights, and Superman. In his place, David Carradine netted the role.
Jack Nicholson turned down The Godfather
Al Pacino has Jack Nicholson to thank for passing on the role of Michael Corleone, for which Pacino earned two Oscars. “Back then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians,” explained Nicholson. “Mario Puzo had written such a great book that if you go back to it, you’ll see so much of what was special about the movie. There were a lot of actors who could have played Michael, myself included, but Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. I can’t think of a better compliment to pay him.”
Anne Hathaway turned down Knocked Up
An explicit birth scene pushed Hathaway to decline the female lead in Judd Apatow’s comedy Knocked Up, opposite Seth Rogan. “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. And by the way, I could pop a kid out and think, ‘Oh, well, I really should have done that movie.’” Katherine Heigl finally got the role.
Tom Selleck turned down Indiana Jones
Tom Selleck was George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s first choice for Indy, as they thought he would be perfect as the adventuring archeologist. But Selleck had just finished filming the pilot for the TV series Magnum P.I., and CBS wouldn’t let him out of his contract. “Spielberg and Lucas held the offer out for about a month. The more they held out the offer and talked to the network the more the network said no…so I had to kind of move on.” Harrison Ford ultimately played the part and the rest is history. TW
Nida Faraz is very active in social circles