10 Actors Who Turned Down Iconic Roles For Stupid Reasons

9. Mark Wahlberg Wasn't Allowed To Have A Lisp - Donnie Darko (Donnie Darko)

The Perfect Storm Mark Wahlberg Jake Gyllenhaal Donnie Darko
Warner Bros. & Flower Films

The Role

The titular protagonist of Richard Kelly's cult classic debut, a troubled young man who receives disturbing visions of an impending apocalypse.

Before Jake Gyllenhaal won the star-making role, Kelly looked at numerous other actors, including Jason Schwartzman, a 30-year-old Vince Vaughn and, most bafflingly of all, a 29-year-old Mark Wahlberg.

Why He Turned It Down

Vaughn quite sensibly turned down the role because he appreciated that he was too old to play 16-year-old Donnie, but that apparently wasn't a problem for Wahlberg.

The actor was quite keen to take the part, though decided to walk away after Kelly rejected his insistent idea for the character, that he play Donnie with a lisp.

It makes the brain hurt even trying to conceive how anyone could consider a 2000-era Wahlberg age-appropriate to play a high school student, so while it would've been a fascinating curio, there's a good chance it would've derailed the eccentric brilliance of Kelly's film, lisp or not.

We ended up with a 19-year-old Gyllenhaal playing the part and everything was right with the world, even if Wahlberg's reasoning for dropping the part was staggeringly daft.


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.