Special Report

Actors Who Turned Down Blockbuster Roles

Charles Stockdale

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26. Tom Selleck
> Role: Indiana Jones
> Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
> Played by: Harrison Ford

The famously mustachioed Tom Selleck auditioned for — and was offered — the role of Indiana Jones in the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He was unable to get out of his contract for the television series Magnum P.I., however, and had to forfeit the opportunity.

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27. Will Smith
> Role: Neo
> Movie: The Matrix (1999)
> Played by: Keanu Reeves

According to Will Smith, he turned down the lead role in “The Matrix” following a meeting with directors Lana and Lilly Wachowski that left him less than impressed. The actor has noted his mistake, while also praising the casting of Keanu Reeves in a role that required not a lot of dialogue, calling it “perfect.”

Source: Gareth Cattermole / Getty Images

28. John Travolta
> Role: Forrest Gump
> Movie: Forrest Gump (1994)
> Played by: Tom Hanks

John Travolta passed on a chance to play the lead in Robert Zemeckis’ “Forrest Gump.” Tom Hanks — who accepted the part — ultimately won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance. Travolta managed to find some success with his role in “Pulp Fiction,” which was released the same year.

Source: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

29. Emma Watson
> Role: Mia
> Movie: La La Land (2016)
> Played by: Emma Stone

While “La La Land” director Damien Chazelle claims that there was a moment when Emma Watson was signed on to star in the film, the actress says that it was never a settled matter. Due to scheduling issues related to her role in the live action “Beauty and the Beast,” Watson passed on the part. Replacement Emma Stone went on to win the Best Actress award at the Oscars.

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30. Reese Witherspoon
> Role: Sidney Prescott
> Movie: Scream (1996)
> Played by: Neve Campbell

Following Drew Barrymore’s decision to play the smaller role of Casey in the 1996 horror movie “Scream,” rather than protagonist Sidney, the filmmakers offered Reese Witherspoon the role. She turned it down, as did Claire Danes and Brittany Murphy. “Scream” eventually grossed $173 million worldwide against a $14 million budget.