10 Actors Who Turned Down Major Roles: Will Smith as Neo

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Dougray Scott as Wolverine
Originally,
Dougray Scott was tapped to play Wolverine in the original X-Men. But
after scheduling conflicts with his role in Mission: Impossible 2, the
gig went to Hugh Jackman, now one of the biggest stars in the world. No
hard feelings though. Scott told the Daily Record: “I like Hugh, he’s a
really lovely guy. It wasn’t as if he stole it off me. Basically, my
movie ran over and I had to pull out.”
Thomas Jane as Don Draper
When
we think of Mad Men, we think of Jon Hamm. But Hamm told Marc Maron on
the WTF podcast back in 2011 that the role that gave him his break
almost went to someone else: “The funny thing was, I think they went to
Thomas Jane for it, and they were told that Thomas Jane does not do
television.” Jane later did television on HBO’s Hung, which lasted three
seasons.
Christian Bale as Batman
Even
though he quit, Christian Bale says he’s jealous to hand Batman’s cape
to Ben Affleck. He told Empire (via ComicBookMovie): “I’ve got to admit
initially, even though I felt that it was the right time to stop, there
was always a bit of me going, ‘Oh go on… Let’s do another.’ So when I
heard there was someone else doing it, there was a moment where I just
stopped and stared into nothing for half an hour.”
Matthew Broderick and John Cusack as Walter White
After
Malcolm in the Middle, Bryan Cranston made a huge career leap when he
was cast as Walter White on Breaking Bad. But the Hollywood Reporter
revealed that execs from the network were more interested in getting
Matthew Broderick or John Cusack to take the lead role. Luckily, they
both passed.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
Scarlett
Johansson totally kills it as the Black Widow in the Avengers. But the
part was almost Emily Blunt’s, who had to back out. She’s fine with it,
though, as she explained to ScreenRant: I didn’t do it at the time
because it wasn’t the right time and I was contracted to do something
else. But Scarlett [Johansson] has done such a phenomenal job – she’s
it!”
Natasha Lyonne as Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Orange
is the New Black star Natasha Lyonne almost had a very different career
path if she hadn’t walked away from the lead in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the
Vampire Slayer series. She’s hinted at her decision in interviews for a
while, with a solid account compiled by the Huffington Post.
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cher Horowitz
Speaking
of Buffy, Gellar herself almost took on another iconic role from the
1990s: Cher Horowitz from Clueless. Gellar had to pass on the role, says
Complex, because it conflicted with work on All My Children.
Mel Gibson as Maximus
Details
are sketchy, but the New York Times says that former Braveheart (and
future Beaver-puppet-haver) Mel Gibson was set to play the lead in
Gladiator. The role of Maximus went to fellow Aussie Russell Crowe,
however. That’s probably better for the movie’s longevity when you think
about how Gibson’s career turned out, though…
Annette Bening as Catwoman
For
many, Michelle Pfeiffer is the only Catwoman, having stolen the show in
Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. But, as Blastr points out, the role was
originally Annette Bening’s, who dropped out when she became pregnant
right before shooting started.
Will Smith as Neo
It’s
true: Will Smith turned down The Matrix. Everything’s turned out fine
for him since then, but he explained his decision to Wired in 2004: “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.”

 – Looper

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