Today’s movie and TV landscape might have looked very, very different if some of the world’s biggest actors hadn’t turned down famous roles. It’s downright mind-blowing to consider that Sarah Jessica Parker nearly never got to strap on those Manolos as Carrie Bradshaw because “Sex and the City” creators preferred Dana Delaney for the role, or that Sarah Michelle Gellar was thisclose to playing Amber in “Clueless.”
Similarly, major movie stars like Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, and Denzel Washington also passed up some pretty major parts throughout their careers, with some later saying they regret their decisions.
Obviously, iconic roles could have turned out very differently—and perhaps not so iconic—had every actor accepted every part offered to them, but it’s fun to see which flat-out said “no way” to now-famous parts.
That said, we compiled a list of celebrities who did just that—turned down star-making famous parts in classic movies and acclaimed TV shows.
Click through the gallery to see 50 famous movie and TV roles actors turned down, and let us know which shocked you most!