Here is part two of my investigative series looking at roles actors and actresses passed on that cost them millions of box office dollars, increased fame, and iconic characters and franchises. Let’s get right on with it!:
Johnny Depp – Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)
Depp’s career could have been launched years before he finally broke through, or perhaps it could have fizzled out much like Matthew Broderick’s has. We’ll never really know, as Depp passed on the role of Ferris Bueller and all of his ditching class hijinks. Had he taken the role, perhaps Depp would have never developed into the eclectic actor he is today and we would have missed out on characters like Edward Scissorhands and Capt. Jack Sparrow.
Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)
An Oscar could have been Pfeiffer’s prize if she had accepted the offer to play Clarice Starling in the wildly successful (both critically and financially) Silence of the Lambs. It’s not like Pfeiffer saw a drop in her career at that point, later playing Catwoman in Batman Returns, but she missed a rare chance to snatch up an elusive Oscar statue. It seems Pfeiffer made a career of turning down roles, including the female leads Pretty Woman, Basic Instinct, Thelma & Louise, and Evita, among others.
Jeremy Irons – Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
Sticking with Silence of the Lambs, Irons turned down the role of Hannibal Lecter because he found the script to be too violent. So, let me get this straight, it’s okay to voice an evil lion (Scar) who causes his own brother’s death and nearly his nephew’s, as well (in a kids movie, no less), but wearing the face of another human is not okay!? Irons missed out on a movie that swept the Oscars and is best remembered for being an animated kitty.
Hugh Jackman – James Bond (Casino Royale)
On top of playing everyone’s favourite adamantium-infused mutant, Jackman was also offered the role of iconic spy James Bond. He passed on the part, saying he wasn’t ready to hold down two so very notable characters at the same time… then went on to play freakin’ Jean Valjean! Okay, the Les Miserables protagonist isn’t on the same level as the other two, but I have to get something for sitting through that drudgery. On a positive note, Daniel Craig has been perfect as Bond, thus far.
Russell Crowe – Wolverine (X-Men)
Speaking of Wolfy, Crowe was originally pegged to play the age-unknown Logan/Wolverine. Rumour has it (or at least the rumour I made up) that Crowe was unable to grow the sideburns necessary for the character and therefore abandoned the project, not wanting to lose any legitimacy if he had used make-up or special effects instead. Crowe and Jackman would later play bitter enemies in Les Mis, with Crowe using his turned down role as inspiration for his hatred towards Jackman’s character.
Dave Chappelle – Bubba (Forrest Gump)
While he has since gone on to have a highly acclaimed TV show (as well as his highly-publicized meltdown and leaving said show), Chappelle was originally offered the role of Bubba in Forrest Gump. Had he taken the part, Chappelle would now have numerous restaurants around the United States in his honour. Perhaps he passed on the character because the slim comedian just couldn’t put back enough shrimp to justify Bubba’s obsession with the seafood.
Jake Gyllenhaal – Jake Sully (Avatar)
Gyllenhaal did finally get to play a cripple (spoiler alert) in Source Code, but he missed out on the Avatar money train and getting to be a computer animated blue guy fighting a mechanized army to save FernGully, the last rainforest. Sam Worthington snatched up the role, which he will reprise for 2016’s Avatar 2 (which has the working subtitle ‘Blue Man Group Rides Again’). It should be noted that Matt Damon also rejected the offer for Avatar.
Drink #273: The Wink
- 1 oz Gin (I used Tanqueray)
- 0.5 oz Triple Sec
- 0.25 oz Absinthe
- Splash of Simple Syrup
- Dash of Peychaud Bitters
- Garnish with Lemon Twist
With all the hype recently about who turned down the male lead in 50 Shades of Grey and who eventually accepted the role, it will be interesting to see if there are any regrets in the future. Menopausal women love this garbage, so I smell a big money franchise.
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (2 Sips out of 5):
This drink is pretty strong and bitter, with the Triple Sec and Simple Syrup only able to do so much to sweeten the mix. After some ice dilution, the cocktail tasted slightly better. It was nice to finally use the Peychaud Bitters Mrs. Sip picked up for me in New Orleans, but I hope to find better recipes to use it in, in the future.