The reasons as to why an actor might turn down a role in any movie can range from the basic (“I don’t like the script”) to the blue (“I haven’t got time to fit it in”) to the brutally honest (“I don’t understand it” – which is what Sean Connery happily admitted when he was offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings). Of course, passing on a project whether you like it or not is both a pitfall and a pleasure of working in the movie industry: it’s mostly good that you have the opportunity to deny projects that you don’t like – it’s not the 1940s anymore, after all, and actors are rarely forced to appear in specific movies by way of pressure or contractual obligation.
On the other hand, watching a part you said “no thanks” to launch another actor to Oscar glory years later has presumably provided some Hollywood stars with a good ‘ol dosage of “the depressions.” Whether they misjudged the script or couldn’t find time in their schedule to do a movie, incidents like this have given us some of the most iconic casting decisions of all time: take Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, for example, who stepped in as a replacement when Magnum P.I.’s Tom Selleck couldn’t find the time in his schedule to don the fedora and crack the whip.
Looking back at 2013, then, it’s interesting to ponder which actors might just be kicking themselves for passing up the opportunities to star in some of the year’s biggest movies….
Honourable Mention: Alec Baldwin Turned Down Unnamed Marvel Villain
Perhaps best known for his award-winning turn as Jack Donaghy in Tina Fey’s awesome sitcom 30 Rock, and for that brief role in Glengarry Glen Ross where he turns up and shouts at a bunch of famous actors for 10 minutes, Alec Baldwin briefly revealed that he was once asked to play an unknown villain in “one of these Marvel comic movies” (Baldwin’s wording there sort of suggests that he’s not all that enthused or familiar with the in and outs of the Marvel franchise).
When Baldwin revealed this little tidbit on The Howard Stern Show, he refused to say which villain it was, exactly (presumably he couldn’t remember), but it’s possible he could have either been talking about the role in Thor: The Dark World that eventually went to actor Christopher Eccleston – Malekith, the Dark Elf – or even Guy Pearce’s role as Aldrich Killian in Iron Man 3. Still, he had good reason to say no: his wife was pregnant and he wanted to stick around. How sweet.
This article was first posted on February 17, 2014