Harvey Weinstein revealed in a 2015 interview that Anne Hathaway had been his first choice for the role of Tiffany in “Silver Linings Playbook,” but she turned down the role due to creative differences. Jennifer Lawrence ended up with the part, which won her a best actress Oscar.
Nearly Played: Mia (“La La Land”)
Before Emma Stone was cast as Mia and would eventually go on to win the best actress Oscar for the role, Emma Watson was originally offered the part. The “Harry Potter” alum eventually turned down the role for another musical — “Beauty and the Beast.”
Nearly Played: Rose (“Titanic”)
Gwyneth Paltrow revealed in a 2015 interview with Howard Stern that she turned down the role of Rose in James Cameron’s “Titanic.” The interview also touched on her turning down the role in “Boogie Nights” that eventually went to Heather Graham.
Nearly Played: Michael Corleone (“The Godfather”)
In a 2004 interview with Movieline, Jack Nicholson said he turned down the role of Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”
“Back then I believed that Indians should play Indians and Italians should play Italians,” Nicholson said in the interview. “There were a lot of actors who could have played Michael, myself included, but Al Pacino was Michael Corleone. I can’t think of a better compliment to pay him.”
Nearly Played: Ferris Bueller (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”)
“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” could have had a much different tone. “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp was originally offered the titular role of the 1986 comedy before turning it down due to scheduling conflicts.
Nearly Played: Forrest Gump (“Forrest Gump”)
Tom Hanks was catapulted to superstardom after starring in and winning an Oscar for “Forrest Gump,” though the role almost went to John Travolta. Although Travolta has said that passing on the film was one of the biggest mistakes of his career, he did star in an equally popular film the same year called “Pulp Fiction.”
Nearly Played: Annie Reed (“Sleepless in Seattle”)
In a 2014 interview with InStyle magazine, Julia Roberts said that she turned down the role of Annie Reed, which eventually went to Meg Ryan.
“I’d been offered ‘Sleepless in Seattle,’ but couldn’t do it,” she said. “[Meg Ryan] and Tom Hanks are just such a jewel of a fit in that. I guess what they did for that moment in time is sort of what Richard [Gere] and I were doing across town (in ‘Pretty Woman’).”
Nearly Played: Max (“Hocus Pocus”)
“Hocus Pocus” has become almost mandatory viewing around Halloween time, but the film almost included a major actor in his early years. Leonardo DiCaprio turned down the role of Max in the film so he could audition — and ultimately get — a part in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” DiCaprio told Variety he turned down “more money than I ever dreamed of” when he said no to “Hocus Pocus.”
“I don’t know where the hell I got the nerve,” he said. “You live in an environment where you’re influenced by people telling you to make a lot of money and strike while the iron’s hot. But if there’s one thing I’m very proud of, it’s being a young man who was sticking to my guns.”
Nearly Played: Jake Sully (“Avatar”)
While promoting his film “The Adjustment Bureau,” Matt Damon revealed that he had been approached to star in “Avatar,” and had spoken with director James Cameron. Damon eventually decided to work with Paul Greengrass on “Green Zone” instead.
Nearly Played: Sebastian (“La La Land”)
Miles Teller had landed the role that would eventually go to Ryan Gosling, and was reportedly considering dropping “War Dogs” in order to appear in “La La Land” when he got a call that they were passing on him.
Nearly Played: Vivian Ward (“Pretty Woman”)
During a Reddit AMA in 2012, Ringwald revealed she was offered the role of Vivian Ward in “Pretty Woman” — then called “$3,000” — before it eventually went to Julia Roberts.
“The script was okay, but I gotta say, Julia Roberts is what makes that movie. It was her part. Every actor hopes for a part that lets them shine like that,” Ringwald said.
Nearly Played: Jerry Maguire (“Jerry Maguire”)
Cameron Crowe wrote Jerry Maguire with Tom Hanks in mind for the titular character, but he took so long writing the script that Hanks was nearly 40 years old when filming was set to start. The actor turned down the role and, according to Crowe, “didn’t buy the marriage part.”
Nearly Played: Indiana Jones (“Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”)
George Lucas had his eye on Tom Selleck to play Indiana Jones. Both Lucas and Steven Spielberg liked Selleck as the lead and were ready to cast him, but unfortunately, Selleck had filmed a CBS pilot that he couldn’t contractually get out of so the two filmmakers returned to Harrison Ford.
The show Selleck couldn’t exit was “Magnum P.I.,” which earned him an Emmy.
Nearly Played: Eowyn (“Lord of the Rings”)
While on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” Uma Thurman revealed she turned down the role of Eowyn in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“I do consider it one of the worst decisions ever made,” she said on the show.
Nearly Played: Neo (“The Matrix”)
Will Smith turned down the chance to play The Chosen One himself, Neo, in “The Matrix” films. In an interview with Wired, Smith was asked why he turned down the role.
“You know, ‘The Matrix’ is a difficult concept to pitch. In the pitch, I just didn’t see it,” Smith said. “I watched Keanu’s performance — and very rarely do I say this — but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up ‘The Matrix.’ At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be. Let the movie and the director tell the story, and don’t try and perform every moment.”