10 Actors Who SAVED Their Careers By Turning Down Movie Roles

Good call, Drew.

Closer Natalie Portman Dirty Dancing Havana Nights
Columbia & Lionsgate

Hollywood is an extremely fickle beast at the best of times, and we've seen time and time again that talent is only a small part of what allows an actor to become a hugely successful star.

Things like good timing, successful marketing, and more than a little dash of luck are what catapult most A-listers to reach those highs, though in some cases it's also the result of smart judgment when faced with a questionable project.

These 10 actors all turned down roles that, on paper, would've netted them huge paydays and further boosted their career profiles, yet whatever their reasons for saying no, their standing in Hollywood was ultimately saved as a result.

The same can't quite be said for the actors who eventually did take these parts, though, many of whom ruined their A-list cred forever, while others had to spend years clawing their way back up to the top.

Either way, the actors who passed on these roles might've been doubting themselves at the time, though it's clear in retrospect that this was the only call to make...

10. Russell Crowe Turned Down Cutthroat Island

Closer Natalie Portman Dirty Dancing Havana Nights
Warner Bros. & MGM

In the mid-'90s, Russell Crowe was on the cusp of his big Hollywood breakthrough, largely due to the international attention he received for his acclaimed performance in the 1992 skinhead drama Romper Stomper.

And so, as MGM was putting together their 1995 swashbuckling blockbuster Cutthroat Island, Crowe was offered the lead role of William Shaw, as was originally written for Michael Douglas.

Crowe ultimately passed on the part, which instead went to Matthew Modine, who hoped it would be his breakthrough into lead actor roles.

Sadly, production on Renny Harlin's tentpole was a disaster from the jump, with the budget quickly spiralling wildly out of control. But the real issue came with its actual release, where the film grossed a pathetic $10 million worldwide against a $98 million price tag.

Cutthroat Island's failure caused Hollywood to leave pirate-themed movies well alone until Pirates of the Caribbean in 2003, while the careers of stars Modine and Geena Davis were irreversible irradiated.

Modine unfortunately never reached that high-gear he was hoping for and has largely been a supporting player ever since. And so, it's fair to say that Crowe likely wouldn't have been cast in L.A. Confidential two years later if he had auditioned as "the Cutthroat Island guy."

Given that L.A. Confidential effectively put Crowe on the A-list, turning down Cutthroat Island was the smartest decision of his entire career.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.