Special Report

Actors Who Turned Down Iconic Roles

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Bruce Willis
> Role: Sam Wheat
> Movie: “Ghost” (1990)
> Portrayed by: Patrick Swayze

Bruce Willis rocketed to fame on television in the series “Moonlighting” and on the big screen as the relentless cop John McClane in the Die Hard movie series. Even though he has had movie hits such as “Armageddon” and “The Sixth Sense,” Willis regretted turning down the role of Sam Wheat in “Ghost” because he didn’t believe a romantic relationship between a ghost and a living person could work. He also missed the opportunity to star with his then-wife Demi Moore.

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Burt Ward
> Role: Benjamin Braddock
> Movie: “The Graduate” (1967)
> Portrayed by: Dustin Hoffman

Fans of campy television remember Burt Ward as Robin in the television series “Batman.” Ward was approached by a producer of the film “The Graduate” about playing the role of Benjamin Braddock. He wanted to do it, but ABC, which was airing “Batman,” said no because it would hurt the popularity of the television series. “The Graduate” became a touchstone film of the counterculture in the 1960s and made Dustin Hoffman a star.

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Cary Grant
> Role: James Bond
> Movie: “Dr. No” (1962)
> Portrayed by: Sean Connery

Film producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had Cary Grant in mind to play James Bond. However, the suave movie star would only commit to one Bond movie and the producers wanted an actor to play the British agent in a series of films. Eventually they convinced Sean Connery to take the iconic role.

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Charlie Hunnam
> Role: Christian Grey
> Movie: “Fifty Shades of Grey” (2015)
> Portrayed by: Jamie Dornan

American audiences know British actor Charlie Hunnam from series such as the “Sons of Anarchy.” After signing to play Christian Grey, Hunnam dropped out because he was wrapping up “Sons of Anarchy” and felt the shooting schedule was too grueling.

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Chevy Chase
> Role: Lester Burnham
> Movie: “American Beauty” (1999)
> Portrayed by: Kevin Spacey

The “Saturday Night Live” alum, who found big-screen success with the National Lampoon Vacation series, passed on the chance to star in “American Beauty,” saying it would hurt his family-friendly image. “American Beauty” would win five Oscars, including one for Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham.

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