Up-And-Coming Actors Who Backed Out Of Major Roles

Hollywood is filled with decades' worth of stories about actors turning down big parts that eventually go to other famous actors—like, you know, when Julia Roberts said no to The Blind Side. Sometimes, backing out of a project can work in an actor's favor; other times, it can cause the kind of regret that stays with an actor for the rest of their career. We've pulled together some shocking instances in which high-profile actors said "no" to equally high-profile parts, all at a time when they were poised to reach the top of Hollywood's ladder.

Leonardo DiCaprio - Boogie Nights

In the mid '90s, Leonardo DiCaprio was forced to choose between two of the biggest male roles that decade: Jack Dawson in Titanic and Dirk Diggler in Boogie Nights. DiCaprio, of course, chose James Cameron's multi-million dollar disaster epic, which turned him into the most popular and sought-after actor at the turn of the century. Still, DiCaprio regretted not going with Paul Thomas Anderson's disco drama, instead. "Probably the only film I was offered and turned down but now wish I had made is Boogie Nights," DiCaprio said in 2010. "The first time I met Paul Anderson to discuss that role, I hadn't seen any of his previous work. Now I've seen a lot of it and I really liked that film."

Charlie Hunnam - 50 Shades Of Gray

In 2014, Charlie Hunnam backed out of playing the coveted role of Christian Grey in 50 Shades of Grey mere weeks after being cast, citing intense scheduling conflicts. Hunnam later spoke to Moviefone about his abrupt decision to exit the high-profile project, admitting that filming 50 Shades, then Guillermo del Toro's horror flick Crimson Peak, while on hiatus from his FX drama, Sons of Anarchy, would have led to a "nervous breakdown." Funny—we had the same reaction after watching the final print.

Chris Pratt - Guardians Of The Galaxy

Yes, you read that correctly. Although Chris Pratt was eventually cast as Star-Lord in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy—you know, the movie that made him a bona fide global superstar—the actor initially turned down a chance to audition. "I didn't want to go and embarrass myself like I did when I auditioned for G.I. Joe a couple of years previously," he told Esquire magazine in 2014. "I went in there, and halfway through I saw the director's eyes just glaze over." Everyone, including him, is pretty glad he changed his mind.

Rachel McAdams - The Devil Wears Prada

After starring in two back-to-back hits in 2004 (Mean Girls and The Notebook), Rachel McAdams had her pick of the litter when it came to high-profile Hollywood scripts. Among the many projects she ultimately said no to: Mission: Impossible 3, Casino Royale and, perhaps worst of all, The Devil Wears Prada, which would have had her playing the role that made Anne Hathaway a superstar. Why was she so picky? "I'm not going to make movies just to make movies," she told Elle magazine in 2007. "I have to be passionate about it." Fine—but, then, how the heck do you explain why you said "yes" to True Detective's awful second season?

Gwyneth Paltrow - Titanic

Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow reportedly turned down the role of Rose DeWitt Bukater James Cameron's blockbuster epic, Titanic. (The role, duh, ultimately went to Kate Winslet.) Paltrow kept rather coy about the incident during a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, saying, "I know that the story is that I turned it down. I think I was really in contention for it—I was one of the last two." Riiiight.

Christina Applegate - Legally Blonde

By the time Married...with Children went off the air in 1997, co-star Christina Applegate was ready to take on the big screen. But she wound up turning down one of the biggest roles that came her way— Elle Woods in Legally Blonde—all because she didn't want to play the same role over and over again. "I got scared of kind of repeating myself," Applegate told Entertainment Tonight in July 2015. The part eventually went to Reese Witherspoon, who won numerous rave reviews and accolades for her performance. Applegate, meanwhile, was left feeling like, well, a blonde. "What a stupid move that was, right?" Correct.

Hugh Jackman - Casino Royale

In 2011, Hugh Jackman told TotalFilm that he passed on a chance to play James Bond in Casino Royale. The reason: bad timing. "I was about to shoot X-Men 2 and Wolverine had become this thing in my life," he confessed at the time. "I didn't want to be doing two such iconic characters at once." Jackman later reflected on his faux-pas two years later in an interview with Fabric magazine. "Of course, [now] I cry myself to sleep every night," he quipped.

Winona Ryder - The Godfather: Part III

Actress Winona Ryder backed out of the chance to play Al Pacino's daughter in The Godfather: Part III, citing an illness that had developed after filming three back-to-back movies. Of course, that didn't stop the tabloids from posing their own theories about Ryder's high-profile departure. In 1990, Even The Los Angeles Times joined in on the media circus, writing the headline "Will [Ryder] Regret Dropping Out of 'Godfather III'?" Given how mediocre the movie turned out to be, and the infamously bad performance given by Ryder's replacement, Sofia Coppola, we're pretty confident that Ryder regrets nothing at all.