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

By: Alia Hoyt
Estimated Completion Time
1 min
Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda: Guess What Roles These Actors Turned Down
Image: Paramount/Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/HowStuffWorks

About This Quiz

Whether they (stupidly) turned them down outright or got passed over at the last minute, some actors missed out on majorly iconic roles. Take our quiz to see how many of these you know.
Elvis Presley was in talks to star in which ultra-famous film?
"West Side Story"
"A Star is Born"
Hollywood lore tells us that the King of Rock and Roll was very interested in both films, but that his manager's crazy demands ruined both for him.
Which child star was originally the favorite to star in "The Wizard of Oz"?
Shirley Temple
Temple was long considered to be the front-runner for the role of Dorothy, but when push came to shove the studio went with Judy Garland because of her more impressive vocal range.
Natalie Wood
Jane Withers
Will Smith famously turned down the starring role in which comic-book-turned-film series?
"The Matrix"
Smith was originally approached for the role of Neo, played by Keanu Reeves. He turned down the iconic role, however, because he "didn't get it."
"Black Panther"


Harrison Ford was not the first actor considered for Indiana Jones. Who was offered the part?
Jack Nicholson
Tom Selleck
Believe it or not, both Nicholson and Selleck were offered the role before Ford, who was already a celebrity in his own right at the time. Selleck really wanted to do it, but his filming schedule with the show "Magnum, P.I." couldn't be changed.
Sofia Coppola took over for which actress (in the role of Mary, Michael Corleone's daughter) when she had to bow out of "Godfather III"?
Winona Ryder
Ryder had to drop out from exhaustion due to filming multiple movies back-to-back. Both Madonna and Roberts were considered for the role, too, but thought to be too old. Sofia Coppola was the daughter of the director Francis Ford Coppola and her performance as Mary was widely panned. Sofia became an accomplished director in her own right, apparently deciding acting was not her thing.
Julia Roberts
Which fellow "Avengers" actor was thisclose to landing the role of Captain America before he got passed over for Chris Evans?
Sebastian Stan
Even though Stan was favored by some production bigwigs, the producer eventually convinced them to cast Evans as Steve Rogers. Stan took solace in the role of Bucky Barnes, however, so it all worked out.
Jeremy Renner
Benedict Cumberbatch


Before Michael J. Fox stole everyone's hearts as Marty McFly in the "Back to the Future" franchise, another actor actually started filming the role. Who was it?
Tom Cruise
Eric Stoltz
Fox was originally considered for the part in the original 1985 film, but his "Family Ties" schedule didn't mesh with doing the movie. So, Stoltz (best known at the time for "Mask") was hired, and then was fired after six weeks of filming because he didn't have the necessary comic skills to pull it off. Somehow, Fox made his schedule work out, and the rest is history.
Rob Lowe
Which rapper almost played Matt Damon's part in "Elysium"?
LL Cool J
Word has it that Eminem wanted to film in Detroit, but the director wouldn't make that happen, so Slim Shady declined.
Who was the first choice to play Richard Gere's role in "Pretty Woman?"
Al Pacino
It's tough to imagine anyone other than Gere acting alongside Julia Roberts in that film, but the director originally wanted Pacino for the part. Pacino turned it down even though he felt the movie would be a big hit.
Edward Norton
Johnny Depp


John Travolta turned down the lead role in which '90s-era blockbuster?
"Forrest Gump"
That's right, Danny Zuko himself almost played the role that netted Tom Hanks an Academy Award for Best Actor. He hasn't said why he turned it down at a time when his career needed a boost. Travolta went on to star in "Pulp Fiction" instead so it all worked out.
"My Cousin Vinny"
You Got:
Paramount/Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/HowStuffWorks