“I look back at the choices I’ve made and think, ‘Why the hell did I say yes to that? And no to that?’” —Gwyneth Paltrow
Will Smith said he would like to travel back in time and tell himself to take the role of Neo in The Matrix instead of doing Wild Wild West.
Henry Winkler regretted turning down the role of Danny Zuko in Grease because “John Travolta went on to buy his own plane, and I just went home.”
Christina Applegate said that turning down the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde was “a stupid move.”
Josh Hartnett wished he’d accepted the role of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins because it would’ve enabled him to form a professional relationship with director Christopher Nolan.
Leonardo DiCaprio wished he’d accepted the role of Eddie Adams/Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights because of how much he loved the movie.
Halle Berry admitted she “stupidly said no” to the role of Annie Porter in Speed.
Bruce Willis called himself a “knucklehead” for turning down the role of Sam Wheat in Ghost.
Al Pacino jokingly referred to his decision to turn down the role of Han Solo in Star Wars as “another missed opportunity.”
Nicolas Cage said he “would have benefitted from” taking the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.
Denzel Washington said he was wrong to be nervous about working with a first-time director when he turned down the role of the titular character in Michael Clayton.
Kevin Costner said he regrets turning down the role of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption.
Gwyneth Paltrow, who was one of the final two choices for Rose DeWitt Bukater in Titanic, lamented that she “couldn’t change the past.”
Michelle Pfeiffer turned down the role of Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, but she regrets that she missed out on doing another movie with director Jonathan Demme.
Burt Reynolds turned down replacing Sean Connery as James Bond because he didn’t think people would accept an American in the role, but he later said that was a “stupid thing to say.”
John Lithgow successfully convinced Tim Burton he wasn’t right for the role of the Joker in Batman because he didn’t realize what a big deal the film would be.
Michael Keaton regretted passing up the role of Phil Connors in Groundhog Day.
And lastly, Eddie Murphy said the only role he turned down that became a big hit was Eddie Valiant in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
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