FEMAIL reveals actors who have turned down movie roles

As Idris Elba ‘walks away from playing James Bond’, FEMAIL reveals the other actors who have turned down blockbuster movie roles – including Gwyneth Paltrow in Titanic and John Travolta as Forrest Gump

  • Idris Elba was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy
  • ‘Walked away’ from playing James Bond because he is keen to pursue other roles
  • He’s far from the first movie star to turn down a blockbuster role in a movie 
  • Gwyneth Paltrow decided against Titanic, with Kate Winslet winning the part
  • John Travolta turned down Forrest Gump, which Tom Hanks went on to star in

Idris Elba has become the latest star to walk away from a blockbuster movie role, with reports suggesting he has turned down the part of James Bond.

The star, 49, was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles – and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007.

A source told The Sun: ‘Fans and Barbara wanted Idris but he wants to create something for himself.

‘However, he’s put forward names to play 007. He’s ‘informally’ in the decision-making process as he’s been in talks with producers for so long.’

Idris Elba has become the latest star to walk away from a blockbuster movie role, with reports suggesting he has turned down the part of James Bond

The star, 49, was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles – and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007

However he is far from the first actor to turn down a blockbuster role in a movie – with stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and John Travolta among those who have previously walked away from huge parts.

Meanwhile Meg Ryan opted against doing Pretty Woman, while Matt Damon chose not to star in Avatar. 

Here FEMAIL reveals the other stars who have turned down some of the film and TV world’s biggest roles…  

GWYNETH PALTROW (TITANIC)

Gwyneth Paltrow was first picked to play the part of Rose in James Cameron’s blockbuster hit Titanic


Kate Winslet went on to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic which was to become the highest-grossing film of all time

It was the film that was nominated for 14 Oscars and won 11 of them – including best film – and there’s no doubt that this was predominantly down to its magnetic and utterly believable leads.

But before a young Kate Winslet, now 39, was cast as rich girl Rose DeWitt Bukater (and nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress) in 1997 iconic blockbuster Titanic, Gwyneth Paltrow was also in the running.

It also turns out that the blonde 42-year-old was actually director James Cameron’s favourite to star as the lead female.

When interviewed by radio presenter Howard Stern in January 2015, Paltrow admitted that she couldn’t change the past and that her choices were part of something greater.

MEG RYAN (PRETTY WOMAN)

Meg Ryan didn’t favour the dark nature of the script of Pretty Woman, and turned the role of Vivian down

Julia Roberts (pictured right) went on to star opposite Richard Gere (pictured left) in one of the most loved rom-coms of all time

It’s virtually impossible to imagine anyone other than Julia Roberts playing the lovable character of prostitute Vivian in the most celebrated rom-coms of all time, Pretty Woman.

But before she took on the role there were a slew of other big-name actresses in the works.

Notably Meg Ryan, 53, and Michelle Pfieffer, 57, were first in line, but felt uncomfortable with the script, which was originally much darker and included a depressing ending.

Roberts, 47, went on to star opposite Richard Gere and the pair made an irresistible on-screen couple.

The previously little-known actress also scooped a Golden Globe for her portrayal and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

JOHN TRAVOLTA (FORREST GUMP)


John Travolta turned down the lead role in Forrest Gump for unknown reason and has since expressed his regret (left, and right, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump) 

A classic film, well-known for its memorable quotes, touching story and unforgettable perfornance from Tom Hanks  but at one point, actor John Travolta was in the running to play the titular character, Forrest Gump (1994).

However Travolta, 61, declined the part of the lead for unknown reasons, but since then has expressed regret at not taking the part, which is unsurprising, seeing as the film earned Tom Hanks his second Oscar award for Best Actor, making him the only person in history to have won the Best Actor Oscar two years in row.

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE (LEGALLY BLONDE) 


Christina Applegate (left) has previously spoken of how she turned down the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde – before it went on to be played by Reece Witherspoon (right) 

She found fame as Kelly Bundy on the long-running sitcom Married… with Children.

The show ended in 1997 after a decade and Christina Applegate, then 26, focused on building her acting career as an adult.

While promoting her new Netflix series Dead To Me in March 2019, the actress revealed that she passed on the lead role of Elle Woods in the 2001 movie Legally Blonde, that helped make a star of Reese Witherspoon.

‘I wasn’t actually offered it, but the script had came to me,’ Applegate said during an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. 

‘But I had just gotten off Married with Children and I felt like it was too close to what I had just been doing and I was very interested in removing myself from that.’ 

‘I don’t regret it because Reese Witherspoon did a much better job than I ever could and she has way more money and more success, and why would I ever regret that?’ she said. 

MEL GIBSON (BATMAN AND BOND) 

Earlier this year, Mel Gibson spoke about turning down a number of roles – including Batman, James Bond and Gladiator

There have been a number of actors who have played Batman over the years, including Robert Pattinson 

Earlier this year, Mel Gibson spoke about turning down a number of roles – including Batman, James Bond and Gladiator. 

During his chat for An Experience with Mel Gibson LIVE at the Doubletree Hilton Mel in May, he revealed he’d turned down Batman three times after being offered the Batsuit.

He also turned down James Bond after Roger Moore because he was only 26 and felt too young, with Timothy Dalton taking on the role, as well as movies Rainman, Gladiator and the Patriot.

HUGH JACKMAN (BOND)

Hugh Jackman was asked to consider taking on the role as James Bond, but turned it down due to other commitments


Daniel Craig went on to scoop the role and has enjoyed phenomenal success as the gun-toting agent

Australian actor, Hugh Jackman, has made a name for himself in films such as the X-Men and Wolverine films, but once upon a time, the 46-year-old nearly considered donning a British accent and playing the most famous gun-toting agent of all time.

After Pierce Brosnon’s film contract ended, Jackman turned down an offer to play James Bond.

Speaking to the British Press Association in 2011, Jackman said: ‘I was about to shoot X-Men 2 and Wolverine had become this thing in my life and I didn’t want to be doing two such iconic characters at once.’

The Aussie actor has since regretted his actions and has previously joked in a 2013 interview with Fabric magazine: ‘Of course, I cry myself to sleep every night.’ 

Brit actor, Daniel Craig, 47, went on to put on the killer tuxedo for Casino Royale (2006), which became the highest grossing Bond film of all time at $599,045,960 worldwide (approximately £379,617,539), until Quantum of Solace surpassed it in 2008, and also Skyfall (2012), as well as the upcoming Spectre (2015).

MATT DAMON (AVATAR)

Actor Matt Damon turned down James Cameron’s request to star as the lead in his 2009 film Avatar

Australian actor, Sam Worthington, 38, ended up with the career-boosting role, with the film going on to be one of the highest grossing of all time  

With Titanic (1997) as the highest-grossing film of all time until it was surpassed by Avatar in 2009, there’s no doubt that James Cameron has a knack for turning a film into a guaranteed blockbuster hit.

Actor Matt Damon was the first choice of director James Cameron to play ex-marine Jake Sully in the blue alien blockbuster, but had other filming commitments at the time, such as The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – the last of the three-part franchise in which Damon has starred as the lead.

In a 2012 interview with Playboy, Damon admitted: ‘I particularly wanted to work with James Cameron, and still do… He knew he was the star of that movie and that everyone was going to see it anyway. 

‘When he said, ‘Look, I’m offering it to you, but if you say no, the movie doesn’t need you,’ I remember thinking, ‘Oh God, not only do I have to say no because of scheduling, but he’s going to make a star out of some guy who’s going to to start taking jobs from me later.”

Australian actor, Sam Worthington, 38, ended up with the career-boosting role.  

LEONARDO DICAPRIO (AMERICAN PSYCHO)

Leonardo DiCaprio was originally set to play the character of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho


The role ended up going to Christian Bale, whose portrayal is now iconic in popular culture

There are very few people who could play a refined yet maniacal psychopath with such precision, but Christian Bale hit the nail on the head with his portrayal of Wall Street banker Patrick Batemen in 2000 flick American Psycho.

Although the lead role was initially offered to then little-known actor Christian Bale, the popularity of Leonardo DiCaprio following Titanic (1997) meant Bale was soon replaced.

Despite the discouraging development, Bale remained hopeful and refused to take on any roles for nine months, confident that DiCaprio would drop out.

After numerous disputes with the film’s director, Oliver Stone, about the direction and script, Leo did indeed drop out to film The Beach, and Bale returned to his promised role, which propelled him to fame, and the film to cult status.

Years later, DiCaprio would go on to play another financier character of note, real-life Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street (2014).

SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR (CLUELESS) 


A film that won the hearts of the Nineties generation, Sarah Michelle Gellar (left) turned down the iconic lead in Clueless (right) due to scheduling conflicts with her appearance in American soap opera, All My Children

In Clueless (1995), Alicia Silverstone, 38, portrays makeover-doing spoiled teen, Cher Horowitz to perfection, but the role was initially offered to Sarah Michelle Gellar, 38 – better known for her titular part in TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A film that won the hearts of the Nineties generation, Gellar turned down the iconic lead in Clueless due to scheduling conflicts with her appearance in American soap opera, All My Children.

Silverstone went on instead to scoop the part and donned the memorable outfits that are still referenced in popular culture to this day. 

EMILY BROWNING (TWILIGHT)

Emily Browning refused to audition at all for the role of Bella in the hit franchise Twilight because she didn’t want to appear in a trilogy 


Actress Kristen Stewart went on to star opposite Robert Pattinson in Twilight, launching both of their careers 

There’s very few people that would decline auditioning for a part all together – especially when it is the film adaptation of immensely popular young adult book franchise, Twilight – but that’s exactly what actress Emily Browning did.

In a 2011 interview with Metro, the 26-year-old actress admitted that she had refused to audition for the role of Bella as she had finished a horror film and was exhausted and not ready to be a part of a trilogy.

However, Browning has concluded that she did not regret her decision, adding: ‘The way the media treats the Twilight cast, I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle that attention at that age. I would have gone a little bit insane.’

Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have gone on to enjoy phenomenal success. 

DANA DELANEY (SEX AND THE CITY)

Desperate Housewives actress Dana Delaney turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw in hit series, Sex and the City

Sarah Jessica Parker went on to take the role as Carrie Bradhsaw in hit series, Sex and the City, launching her career 

It might be hard to envisage anyone else in the role of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City – which is now inextricable from actress Sarah Jessica Parker, but it turns out that Dana Delaney, known for playing Katherine Mayfair in series, Desperate Housewives, was at one point in the running. 

In an interview with the MailOnline in 2011, Delaney, 59, admitted: ‘I didn’t want to be in a show about sex. 

‘The part went to Sarah Jessica Parker and it made her into a worldwide star, but I’ve got no regrets.’ 

Sarah Jessica Parker, 50, went on to essentially make her career with the series, which ran between 1998 to 2004 on HBO, and has also enjoyed success from three spin-off films. 

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