10 Actors Who Stupidly Turned Down Iconic Roles

When actors reach the end of their careers and look back on all that they achieved, it’s unlikely that many...

Simon Gallagher

Executive Editor

When actors reach the end of their careers and look back on all that they achieved, it’s unlikely that many of them will be able to look out without at least a couple of mistakes rearing their ugly heads (unless we’re talking about Gary Oldman of course). For various reasons actors occasionally have to take on roles that end up being stinkers – to pay their mortgage perhaps, or because of the substances they might have taken to make their nights more entertaining, or simply because their agent was a filthy liar who convinced them of the most ludicrous of things – but it’s the roles that they missed out on that will probably really stick with them.

The annals of cinema history are riddled with stories of actors who almost played infamous roles, only to be dropped at the last minute, or during filming, or who chose consciously to pass on the roles because of either schedule conflicts

You can’t say yes to them all – but this lot should probably have said yes to these films, considering how popular they subsequently went on to be (even if some of the actors chosen aren’t exactly on the bread line)…

1. Tom Hanks – The Shawshank Redemption

The Role: Andy Dufresne

Tom Hanks isn’t short of an award or two, and in three decades as an actor he has made some wonderful films, winning hearts and critical acclaim thanks to an everyman appeal and disarming charm that made him one of Hollywood’s leading men not so long ago. He continues to star in huge projects like Cloud Atlas and the upcoming Captain Phillips, but in truth his work hasn’t been universally loved since he scored a double-header success with Road To Perdition and Catch Me if You Can back in 2002.

When Hanks looks back at his career after he’s put the lid on it, chances are he won’t have too many regrets – turning down Field Of Dreams was possibly wrong, but he did the right thing passing Jerry Maguire to Tom Cruise – but one that might stick out for the Big star is his inability to accept the role of Dufresne, thanks to a scheduling conflict on Forrest Gump.

Yes, that decision won him an Oscar, but Tim Robbins has pretty much been able to dine out on Shawshank since 94 (albeit apart from good cameos in War Of The Worlds and High Fidelity, and the excellent Arlington Road and Mystic River), and Hanks would probably be viewed with an awful lot more credibility had he played Dufresne.