Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and the lead actor was so good that you couldn’t imagine anyone else in that role? Believe it or not, they may not have been the first pick for the role and only landed it because another famous actor turned it down.
Did you know that Jennifer Hudson was approached to play the lead in Precious or Wesley Snipes was in talks of playing Lucious Lyon on Empire? We didn’t either, but we’re kind of glad they turned the roles down because Gabby Sidibe and Terrence Howard absolutely slayed their roles.
Take a peek below to see who may have some major regrets after turning down a major tv/movie role after it blew up in the box office.
Will Smith – The Matrix (1999)
Role played by: Keanu Reeves
Will Smith was the first choice for the role of Neo in The Matrix. He found the script too hard to follow, but did later remark he found Keanu Reeves perfect for the role.
“I watched Keanu’s performance — and very rarely do I say this — but I would have messed it up,” Smith said. “At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be. Whereas Keanu was smart enough to just let it be.”
Dave Chappelle – Forrest Gump (1994)
Role played by: Mykelti Williamson
Dave Chappelle turned down the role of Pvt. Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba’ Blue in Forrest Gump, thinking that the movie would bomb. The film went on to garner over $350 million at the box office. Dave expressed his regret in not taking the role, but he went on to become one of the most popular comedians of all time after the success of his sketch-comedy series “Chappelle’s Show.”
Halle Berry – Speed (1994)
Role played by: Sandra Bullock
Halle Berry turned down the role of bus driver Annie Porter opposite Keanu Reeves in the hit thriller Speed. The role went to Sandra Bullock and instantly cemented her as A-list status. However, Halle Berry had to keep it pushing until her 2002 Academy Award-winning role in Monster’s Ball introduced her into becoming one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood.
Denzel Washington – Se7en (1995)
Role played by: Brad Pitt
Denzel Washington definitely had one of those facepalm moments after he turned down the role of Detective David Mills in the film Se7en, which later was picked up by Brad Pitt. Denzel said he originally thought it was too dark.
“They offered me the Brad Pitt part, but I was like, ‘This is so dark and evil,’” Washington said. “Then, when I saw the movie, I was like, ‘Oh, shoot.’”
He instead opted to film the detective thriller Devil in a Blue Dress.
Angela Bassett – Monster’s Ball (2001)
Role played by: Halle Berry
Not wanting to fit a cliché, Angela Bassett rejected the role of Leticia in Monster’s Ball.
“I wasn’t going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.”
Halle Berry snagged the role and earned a Best Actress Oscar in 2002, making her the first African-American to receive the award.
Jennifer Hudson – Precious (2009)
Role played by: Gabby Sidibe
After winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in the film Dreamgirls, Jennifer Hudson says Lee Daniels approached her to play Claireece “Precious” Jones, an overweight mother of two trying to escape the hands of her abusive mother, but she refused because she didn’t want to gain the weight for the role.
“I had [gained weight] with Effie [in Dreamgirls] and as much as I was moved by this film, I wanted to try a role that had nothing whatsoever to do with my weight.”
Gabby came through at the final hour and put the smackdown on the role, which landed her a Golden Globe nomination in the category of “Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture Drama” and an Academy Award nomination for “Best Actress.”
Wesley Snipes – Empire (2015)
Role played by: Terrence Howard
Wesley Snipes wanted to leave the door open to allow movie opportunities to come knocking, so he chose to star in NBC’s “The Player” instead of taking the role as Lucious Lyon on “Empire.”
“The biggest concern is how much time I would have still to focus on feature films. Thankfully with these guys, they were able to work it out in a way where I can focus on this and still do some movie-star stuff every now and then.”
“The Player” was cancelled after its nine-episode run, while “Empire” has been renewed for season three and will return in the Fall. Guess Wesley should’ve found the time to focus on playing Lucious. Although we can’t see a better fit than Terrence for the role, Wesley probably would’ve done “Empire” some justice. After all, he was the “King of New York” in New Jack City.
Do you think these actors would’ve done a better job in the roles they turned down?
Written By: Nicole Cunningham