Special Report

Actors Who Turned Down Iconic Roles

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Al Pacino
> Role: Han Solo
> Movie: “Star Wars” (1977)
> Portrayed by: Harrison Ford

Following his role as Michael Corleone in the Godfather movies, Al Pacino was in great demand. George Lucas approached Pacino about starring as Han Solo in the original “Star Wars” (retroactively retitled “Episode IV: A New Hope”). It was a role Pacino could refuse. He said he didn’t understand the script and passed on the project. The film helped launch Harrison Ford into superstardom.

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Angelina Jolie
> Role: Ryan Stone
> Movie: “Gravity” (2013)
> Portrayed by: Sandra Bullock

Angelina Jolie passed on the lead role of “Gravity” because she was too busy making her directorial feature debut, 2011’s “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” a love story set during the Bosnian conflict.

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Anne Hathaway
> Role: Tiffany Maxwell
> Movie: “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)
> Portrayed by: Jennifer Lawrence

Anne Hathaway left “Silver Linings Playbook” because of creative differences with director David O. Russell and scheduling conflicts with another film, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Jennifer Lawrence took the role and would go on to win the Best Actress Academy Award.

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Bette Midler
> Role: Deloris
> Movie: “Sister Act” (1992)
> Portrayed by: Whoopi Goldberg

Midler declined the part of the Las Vegas showgirl hiding out in a convent because she felt her fans would react badly to her playing a nun. She regretted the decision. For Goldberg, who already had an Oscar win, the movie was a box-office smash, grossing almost $232 million worldwide.

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Brad Pitt
> Role: Neo
> Movie: “The Matrix” (1999)
> Portrayed by: Keanu Reeves

Brad Pitt told an interviewer at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2020 that he turned down the role of Neo in “The Matrix” without giving a clear reason. Keanu Reeves has gone on to define the role in the successful franchise.

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