Silly And Absurd Reasons Why Actors Turned Down Major Movie Roles

Actors turn down roles all of the time, but there are only a select few who turn them down for a silly, absurd, or ridiculous reason. Take Russell Crowe, for example. He turned down the role of Wolverine because he didn’t want to become known as “the wolf guy.”

Amazingly, that isn’t even the most bizarre reason!

Mark Wahlberg Turned Down Donnie Darko Because Of A Lisp

Mark Wahlberg
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

While Jake Gyllenhaal wound up winning the title role of Donnie Darko, director Richard Kelly was originally looking at none other than Mark Wahlberg for the role. In fact, Marky Mark was all set to play the part!

He wound up walking away from the role of Donnie after Kelly turned down his idea that the character speaks with a lisp.

Django Unchained Wasn’t “Big Enough” For Will Smith

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Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images

Quentin Tarantino wanted nothing more than for Will Smith to play Django in Django Unchained. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned because Smith wouldn’t take the backseat as a supporting actor.

Smith turned the role down because it wasn’t a big enough part for him. Talk about being a major diva!

Sean Connery Didn’t Understand Lord Of The Rings

Sean Connery
Columbia Pictures/Getty Images
Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Lord of the Rings is a very beloved trilogy. But it would have been very different had the legendary Sean Connery taken up the role as Gandalf. Even with Peter Jackson offering $10 million per film and a 15% cut of the box office, he rejected the role.

And it was for a hilarious reason. Connery said no to being a part of Lord of the Rings because he didn’t understand the script!

James Purefoy Wasn’t About The V For Vendetta Mask

James Purefoy
Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage
Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

The amazing thing about James Purefoy and the 2005 film V for Vendetta is the fact that he spent six weeks filming before Hugo Weaving took over as the title character.

For those who aren’t familiar, V wears a mask throughout the film. That mask is the exact reason Purefoy ditched the character — he couldn’t stand it!

Tom Cruise Didn’t Trust A First-Time Director On Shawshank

Tom Cruise
Samantha Zucchi/Insidefoto/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
Samantha Zucchi/Insidefoto/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

When a celebrity is an A-lister like Tom Cruise, they tend to have specific requests for movies, such as a director who knows what they’re doing. This is actually why Cruise turned down the role of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

The actor didn’t trust that first-time filmmaker Frank Darabont was going to do a good enough job. Pretty much, Cruise didn’t want to put his name on it if it went south.

Russell Crowe Didn’t Want To Become “Mr. Wolfman”

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Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images
Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty Images

When Russell Crowe was approached about starring as Wolverine in X-Men, he turned it down. At the time, he was wrapping up Gladiator, and his character Maximus had a wolf in the middle of his armor.

Crowe didn’t exactly get the mutant memo and thought he was just going to become known as the guy with all of the wolf insignias. So, he turned it down.

Tim Roth Didn’t Want To Be On A Harry Potter Lunch Box

Dominique Charriau/WireImag
Dominique Charriau/WireImag

While Alan Rickman played an unforgettable Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, the role was originally offered to Tim Roth. But the indie actor wasn’t ready to dive headfirst into what would become one of the biggest franchises.

In an interview, Roth spoke of the offer, saying, “I wasn’t ready to be on a lunch box, I really wasn’t.”

Olivia Munn Didn’t Want To Be Eyecandy In Deadpool

Olivia Munn
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE

When 20th Century Fox began casting for their upcoming superhero (antihero?) comedy Deadpool, they had their sights set on Oliva Munn for the role of Vanessa, Wade Wilson’s girlfriend.

Munn turned the role down. She had no interest in being another girlfriend character who had nothing to add to the movie but was solely eye-candy for viewers.

Harrison Ford Didn’t Appreciate Syriana‘s Historical Inaccuracies

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Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

By 2005, Harrison Ford could have his pick of scripts. But when he was offered the role of Bob Barnes in the thriller film Syriana, he couldn’t bring himself to take on the character.

He wound up turning it down because of multiple historical inaccuracies. Ironically, the writers wound up taking those parts out after the role was given to George Clooney. He ultimately won an Academy Award for his performance. Whoops.

Christina Applegate Didn’t Want To Be Typecast As Elle Woods

26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Arguably best known for her role in Married…With Children, Christina Applegate was afraid of doing a repeat role when the script for Legally Blonde came her way. Her character of Kelly Bundy wasn’t the smartest blonde and the thought of playing Elle Woods didn’t sit well with Applegate.

She didn’t want to be typecast as the “dumb blonde” for the rest of her career. Applegate now regrets her decision.

Ralph Macchio Misinturpreted Back To The Future

Ralph Macchio Visits The IMDb Show
Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb
Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

Actor Ralph Macchio learned a great lesson in reading a script in its entirety after turning down the role of Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Coming off The Karate Kid fame, Macchio was a shoo-in for the role of McFly.

In a very silly move, he turned it down because he thought the script was all about “A Kid, A Car, and Plutonium Pills.”

John Lithgow Didn’t Think Batman Would Be A Big Deal

John Lithgow
Amy Sussman/WireImage
Amy Sussman/WireImage

When Tim Burton began casting for the 1989 film Batman, he very much wanted John Lithgow to play the iconic role of The Joker. Somehow, Lithgow didn’t realize how big of a deal the superhero film would be, turning Burton down.

In an interview, he said, “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.”

Nic Cage Didn’t Think He Could Bulk Up In Time For The Wrestler

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Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images
Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

Nic Cage is known for many things but having a wrestler-big physique isn’t one of them. For the 2009 film The Wrestler, he was actually moving on to play the role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, but he ultimately turned it down.

According to Cage, he didn’t think he had enough time “to achieve the look of the wrestler who was on steroids.”

Angela Bassett Didn’t Want To Play A Lady Of The Night

Angela Bassett
Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images
Chris Pizzello-Pool/Getty Images

During casting for Monster’s Ball, Angela Bassett was approached for the role of Leticia Musgrove, a lady of the night. Well, she ultimately turned down the role because she didn’t want to look back on her career and have “that role” on her resume.

In the end, Halle Berry took the part and wound up winning an Academy Award for Best Actress!

Al Pacino Didn’t Understand Star Wars, So He Turned Down Han Solo

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Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Al Pacino might be known as one of the greatest mafia actors around, but he made a mistake that he calls the “crown jewel in his museum of mistakes” — turning down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars.

He turned down the role for a very silly reason, too; he didn’t understand the script. Next time, maybe ask someone for clarification?

Burt Reynolds Didn’t Think He Could Play A British Man

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Carlos Marino/Getty Images
Carlos Marino/Getty Images

After Sean Connery left the iconic role of James Bond, it was time to cast someone new. The popular actor Burt Reynolds was actually the first on the casting director’s list to take up the role of 007 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but he turned it down.

Reynolds didn’t think he could take the role for a silly reason, he was American, and the character is British.

Matthew Modine Didn’t Approve Of Top Gun

Matthew Modin
Mychal Watts/WireImage
Mychal Watts/WireImage

The 1986 film Top Gun revolved around the United States Naval Aviator LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a role that was originally offered the Matthew Modine. Alas, he didn’t take the role.

Ultimately, the role went to Tom Cruise because Modine was very anti-war and didn’t condone playing a military man while the Cold War was still happening.

Henry Winkler Thought Grease Was Too Similar To The Fonz

Henry Winkler
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

While it’s hard to imagine anyone but John Travolta as the leather jacket-wearing and greasy slicked-back hairstyle sporting character of Danny Zuko in Grease, he wasn’t the original choice.

That title goes to Henry Winkler, the man who turned down the role because he thought he was being typecast. The actor thought Danny was too close to his role as The Fonz in Happy Days.

Josh Hartnett Didn’t Think The Dark Knight Was For Him

Josh Hartnett
Pierre Suu/Getty Images
Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Christopher Nolan had his sights set on Josh Hartnett for his Dark Knight trilogy. But when he approached the actor, Hartnett turned him down.

According to Hartnett, at the time, he was more interested in films about people and not superheroes. Unfortunately, Hartnett turning down Nolan wasn’t the best for his career, as the director overlooked him for The Prestige.

Dustin Hoffman Thought Martin Scorcese Was Crazy

Dustin Hoffman
Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Lars Niki/Getty Images for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Academy Award-winning actor Dustin Hoffman was about ten years into his career when director Martin Scorsese approached him about being the lead in his upcoming film, Taxi Driver. According to Hoffman, Scorcese was a bit too crazy for him, so he turned it down.

During an interview, the actor said, “He had no script, and I didn’t know who he was…he was talking a mile a minute… I thought the guy was crazy!”