20 Actors Who Turned Down Major Movie Roles

A mix of opportunities missed and lucky escapes.

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It's quite tough to picture anyone else in a role once a you've seen a film, but that doesn't mean that the person you're watching was the first choice for the character. Sometimes, great performances come about because other actors aren't willing to do them. Some don't understand the scripts, some are too busy, and some don't want to be typecast.

Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, Oscar winning dramas, classic comedies and much more, no franchise, series or genre is left untouched by the brief possibility that the actor we love wasn't considered for the role right away. Still, some of the following actors would have been fun to watch and well-suited to the film. Others, not so much.

Be them roles everyone knows and universally loves, or actors who wouldn't come to mind when considering the character in question, the following list will have a look at 20 actors who turned down some pretty major roles... and some pretty hefty paychecks. If you've got a strong imagination, then some of these could-have-been's might traumatise you, so be warned.

Also, some minor spoilers follow.

20. Leonardo DiCaprio - Many, Many Roles

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It's safe to say Leonardo DiCaprio has been around. Outside of taking forever to finally win an Oscar, the guy has been in some of cinema's biggest films of the last two and a half decades. He was great in Titanic, Romeo and Juliet, Blood Diamond, Body of Lies, Basketball Diaries, Wolf of Wall Street...yeah, he's had some solid input to Hollywood.

And since he's one of the world's biggest stars, it's inevitable that he would have to turn down some of the great roles coming his way. Back in 2005, he was approached to take the lead role in Brokeback Mountain, but turned it down because wanted to pursue other ventures. The role in question ended up being filled by Heath Ledger.

More recently, he was also approached to take the role of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. He had expressed interest in playing the mathematician, so much so that Warner Bros bought the script just to have him in it. He eventually passed on the opportunity, however, leading Benedict Cumberbatch to fill the role.

He also turned down the roles of Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) in Boogie Nights, Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix, Norman Bates (Christian Bale) in American Psycho, and turned down an appearance (weirdly) in Hocus Pocus.

Needless to say, though, that none of these decisions have negatively effected his career.

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WhatCulture contributor and lover of all things Star Wars, Buffy, zombie, TV and movie. Usually found rambling about how Jack Nicholson is the greatest actor of all time and watching the same six shows on repeat.