Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Guess What Roles These Actors Turned Down

If the leads in Titanic would have been Matthew McConaughey and Claire Danes, would the movie still have become a blockbuster? It’s difficult to imagine, since what makes movies unforgettable are the actors who appear in them. In fact, after watching the films, it’s almost impossible to imagine any other actors playing the same roles. Yet, casting in the movie and television industry tend to happen fortuitously, and if it weren’t for a series of fateful events, the characters in our favorite movies could have been portrayed by completely different actors. Sometimes actors are offered roles they have to turn down because of other commitments, and sometimes the reasons for rejecting a role are deeper and more personal. Here are some of the actors and actresses who turned down roles that they’re likely kicking themselves for passing up.


Pretty Woman: Jennifer Connelly
Pretty Woman was the production that turned Julia Roberts into one of the most successful leading ladies in the industry. However, it could easily have been actress Jennifer Connelly on the arm of actor Richard Gere in the 1990 film, but she backed out because she considered herself too young to play the role.

Legally Blonde: Christina Applegate
Christina Applegate first rose to fame as Kelly Bundy on the sitcom Married…..With Children. Her role on the show was as the stereotypical dumb blonde, so it’s not surprising that she was offered the role of lawyer-to-be Elle Woods in the 2001 comedy Legally Blonde. Out of fear of landing a role that was too similar to Kelly Bundy, Applegate decided to decline the offer. As a result, Reese Witherspoon gained worldwide recognition for her role in the film.

The Godfather: Jack Nicholson
Actor Jack Nicholson is considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, so it’s no wonder that director Francis Ford Coppola offered him the part of Michael Corleone in The Godfather. Nicholson, however, didn’t believe that he had enough Italian roots to do justice to the role, so he bowed out. Eventually, the part went to Al Pacino, becoming his breakthrough role.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Tom Selleck
If Tom Selleck had played Indiana Jones as originally intended, his career and that of Harrison Ford would have played out very differently. Steven Spielberg originally wanted Selleck for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but Selleck was already committed to Magnum, P.I. and CBS refused to release him from his contract. That’s when Spielberg turned to Harrison Ford, and the rest is history.