10 roles that famous actors turned down to star in worse movies

  • 10 great roles that famous actors turned down to star in worse movies

When your profile reaches a certain point in Hollywood, you can pick and choose the scripts coming your way from people that are desperate to star in their movies.

Sometimes famous actors and actresses have made massive clangers when given the choice between great films and terrible ones.

Massive clangers such as... 

Brad Pitt turned down The Bourne Identity to play virtually the same character (in a worse film)

Brad Pitt normally picks great films and great roles, including Inglourious Basterds, Fight Club and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, that it’s hard to pick a misstep on the filmography of Mr. Jolie.

One of the missteps which Brad took in the early 2000s was to drop out of the Jason Bourne role in The Bourne Identity near the beginning of shooting, in order to star as a CIA agent in the very similar Spy Game.

While Spy Game was quite well received, it is largely forgotten - but with the Bourne series, Pitt could have the action franchise that he craves so much - as the Bourne series has become a huge box office draw each time a new chapter is released... except for the one with Jeremy Renner in it.

Michael Madsen turned down Vincent in Pulp Fiction for a minor role in a Razzie-nominated flop

It's well known that Quentin Tarantino loves working with the same actors in his films (as well as feet, he loves feet), including Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel and Uma Thurman.

Michael Madsen also features on the list, having been in Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and The Hateful 8, but he skipped on the chance to star as one of Tarantino's most famous characters and possibly the biggest role of his career - Vincent Vega.

Instead of playing Marsellus Wallace's favourite hitman, Madsen took on a role in Wyatt Earp - the semi-biographical tale of the legendary lawman; but while Kevin Costner took the titular role, Madsen was left in a minor role as Wyatt's older brother.

Wyatt Earp turned out to be a stinker and was nominated for five Razzie Awards. Also, Tarantino took the snub personally and the pair didn't speak for seven years because of it - Madsen has said that he still regrets his choice.

Kevin Costner turned down The Shawshank Redemption in order to ruin his career

Kevin Costner's Waterworld is regarded as one of the biggest cinematic flops of all time and, at the time, was the most expensive film ever made.

But Costner could have starred in a universally-loved film in the form of The Shawshank Redemption instead.

Costner was offered the part of Andy Dufresne in the prison epic, instead choosing to work on the overblown post-apocalyptic sci-fi film, which, along with 1997's The Postman, helped to destroy Costner's Hollywood career virtually beyond repair.

Related: 8 stars who turned down big movie roles for ridiculous reasons

David Schwimmer was offered the role of Men in Black's Agent J, turned it down for an atrocious rom-com

Back in '96 when Friends had started to make an impact with audiences, the cast wanted to branch out onto the big screen and made some very dubious choices.

Jennifer Aniston joined Cameron Diaz on the disappointing rom-com She's the One, Lisa Kudrow appeared in comedy-drama Mother and Matt LeBlanc starred in sports comedy Ed, about a baseball playing monkey - seriously.

But one 'Friend' could have made a great start to their movie career, when David Schwimmer was offered the chance to play the lead of Agent J in Men in Black.

Schwimmer turned it down because he wanted to "grow rather than go for the quick cash".

Nobly choosing to master his craft, Schwimmer opted to star in the massively underwhelming rom-com The Pallbearer, where he is asked to be a pallbearer to a classmate that he doesn't remember, all of which saw him nominated for the Razzie award for Worst New Star.

Meanwhile, Will Smith took on the role and it contributed to the Fresh Prince's rise to become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

Brooke Shields' mother tells her to not star in Scarface, chooses a terrible film which wins her a Razzie

When Scarface director Brian De Palma was casting for his tale of the rise and fall of Tony Montana, he offered the part of Montana's drug-addicted trophy wife Elvira Hancock to Pretty Baby star Brook Shields.

According to the Brooke Shield 1985 biography, On Your Own, Brooke's mother Teri Shields insisted her daughter turn down the role, which went to Michelle Pfeiffer and gave the actress her breakout role.

Meanwhile, Brooke Shields - perhaps on the advice of her mother - instead chose to star in the Terri Shields produced film (see?) Sahara, in which she plays a young American heiress whose father passes away and she dons a moustache and pretends to be him in order to take his place in an international car race across the Sahara.

Sahara bombed spectacularly and grossed less than $1.5 million (on a $25 million budget) and also earned Shields a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress, as well as winning the award for Worst Supporting Actor as 'Brooke Shields (with a moustache)' - becoming the only actress to win this award.

Tim Roth turned down Harry Potter for one of the biggest disappointments in film history

While it's hard to look past the late Alan Rickman as the man to play Harry Potter's cold and sarcastic teacher Severus Snape, it could have been very different.

Quentin Tarantino's favourite Brit, Tim Roth was asked to play Snape, and at the same time agreed to be in Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes reboot.

Roth explained: "I was going to do both films. We rigged it so that I could fly back and forth. They figured out the schedule but it just got to be overwhelming in my mind."

Roth had to make a choice and opted to work with Tim Burton - which was the wrong choice, as Burton's attempt at a new take on the infamous twist of the original confused and angered audiences.

While Planet of the Apes has become one of the biggest punchlines in the history of film, the Harry Potter films are praised and loved by fans around the world.

Eddie Murphy passed up Rush Hour for a terrible comedy (which may have doomed his career)

Back in 1998, Eddie Murphy hadn't yet entered the career downward spiral of the likes of Norbit, The Adventures of Pluto Nash and Meet Dave, but one critical choice may have started that decline.

Murphy was approached by Brett Ratner to star opposite Jackie Chan in Rush Hour but chose instead to play a spiritual character in the abomination that was Holy Man.

Clawing in $12 million from a $60 million budget, Murphy has labelled it as a "horrendous movie" and that it's a strong possibility that his choice set in motion the terrible choices that have afflicted Murphy for the past twenty years... probably.

Related: 11 terrible casting choices in film history

Al Pacino turned down Morgan Freeman's role in Se7en to star in an all-but-forgotten drama

David Fincher's masterpiece of gore, terror, and heads in boxes could have looked a lot different if the originally planned cast would have taken the roles.

Initially, Al Pacino was considered for the role of Somerset, masterfully played by Morgan Freeman role in the final version, but the Scarface star instead chose to rejoin Sea of Love director Harold Becker to play the Mayor of New York in the suspense drama City Hall.

The film has been largely forgotten by film history, mostly because it was so forgettable - it also only made back half of its estimated $40m budget; meanwhile, Se7en earned over $325 million.

French star Jean Reno turned down The Matrix for one of film's most hated blockbusters

Jean Reno has popped up in such fan-favourite films as Léon: The Professional, Ronin and the first Mission: Impossible, but his career could have taken a very different turn when he was approached by The Wachowskis.

Reno was asked to play the Neo-hating Agent Smith in The Matrix, one of the most iconic roles in the Matrix trilogy - but he turned it down.

Reno wasn't interested in moving to Australia to shoot the films, instead playing French secret service agent in the dismal 1998 Godzilla movie.

The film was criticised from all sides as it was branded "one of the most idiotic blockbuster movies of all time" and the planned sequel was abandoned.

Related: 14 insane movie casting decisions that almost happened

Julia Roberts turned down an Oscar-winning role in The Blind Side for a much-hated rom-com

Julia Roberts bagged the Best Actress Oscar all the way back in 2000 with Erin Brockovich, and must have been hankering after picking up the award for the second time.

That chance came along when she was offered the role of the religious, fast food franchise owner Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2009 sports drama The Blind Side, the semi-biographical story a homeless boy who becomes an NFL player with the help of Tuohy and her family.

Roberts wasn't interested in the role at all, and the producers turned to their second choice, Sandra Bullock, who turned down the role three times before accepting.

Having turned down The Blind Side, Julia Roberts went on to star in the lukewarm ensemble rom-com Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day was ripped apart by critics, but still was a box office success and spawned two equally-disappointing unofficial sequels, New Year's Eve and Mother's Day.

Meanwhile, Sandy B's performance in The Blind Side earned the actress her first Best Actress Oscar.

In another twist of fate, Bullock signed up 2009's The Proposal, which Roberts also turned down after she refused to take a pay cut; but as Bullock made a backend deal on the film's gross, it ended up making her Hollywood's highest-paid actress - double kick in the teeth.

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