12 Stars Who Turned Down Iconic TV And Film Roles

No regrets. Er, for some...

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by Emma Firth |

Could you imagine any other actress playing Carrie Bradshaw? Cher Horowitz? Or Buffy? These career-making roles saw relatively unknown performers rise from being just another jobbing actor to achieving A-list status pretty much overnight. But some stars have seen roles of a lifetime slip through the net.

One actor's dream to put on a superhero cape is another’s nightmare (Jude Law, we’re looking at you). And some actresses just thought the script simply wasn’t up to scratch. Probably not anymore now though, huh?

Here’s our pick of the greatest TV and film roles ever that were rejected…

1. Ellen DeGeneres - Phoebe Buffay, Friends

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The TV talk show host and Finding Dory star admitted to BBC Radio 1 Xtra she had no doubts that turning down the chance to play the quirky cafe singer was the best decision she ever made. 'I went on to have a bigger career,' she says. That you did Ellen. That you did.

2. Rachel McAdams - Andy Sachs, The Devil Wears Prada

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Yup, thankfully for Anne Hathway, the Mean Girls actress turned down the opportunity to play our beloved Andrea Sachs. 'I had to be patient. I wasn't the first choice,' Hathaway revealed to Variety magazine.

3. Jude Law - *Superman *

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The 43-year old actor revealed that he turned down the chance to get into that suit over a decade ago. “This was a while ago...They rebooted Superman. Not this last time with Henry Cavill. They did it once before, like 2004.” With Brandon Roach and Kate Bosworth. Remember that one? Ummmm. He said at that point in his caeer "it didn't float my boat ...I'm an Englishman!" That and the whole wardrobe 'mare."And I was always worried about the outfit and I just didn't fancy it."

4. Dana Delaney – Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

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Sarah Jessica Parker played the writer we all wanted to be in the ‘00s: Carrie Bradshaw in SATC. But in fact, the iconic role was actually offered to Desperate Housewives actress, Dana Delaney. In 2011, she said she turned it down because she “didn’t want to be in a show about sex.” I think she may have missed the other major focal points in the long-time series: friendship and feminism.

5. John Travolta - Forrest Gump

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"Life is like a box of chocolates…" could have sounded a lot different. Tom Hanks' earnest performance as the lovable Forrest earned him his second Oscar, but the role was initially offered to John Travolta. The Grease actor maintains this was one of the biggest mistakes he made in his career. Um, yep.

6. Katie Holmes – Buffy, *Buffy The Vampire Slayer *

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Before she was romancing Pacey in Dawson’s Creek, a teenage Katie was offered the titular role in Buffy, but reportedly wanted to finish high school instead.

7. Molly Ringwald – Vivian Ward, Pretty Woman

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She may have found fame in ‘80s cult classics from Sixteen Candles to The Breakfast Club, but the Bratpack favourite was also in line to play Vivian Ward in the 1990 rom-com we've watched a million times over - Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts' Oscar-nominated performance put her on the map as one of the most sought-after Hollywood leads afterwards. “I don't think there's anyone who could have played that role better than she did,” Molly has since said. Aw.

8. Sarah Michelle Gellar - Cher Horowitz,* Clueless *

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Clueless is by far the most quotable film and our go-to source for ‘90s fashion inspiration. But our dream BFF, Cher Horowitz, was originally going to be played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Because the Buffy actress couldn’t commit to the role (as she was filming her TV show All My Children at the time) it was passed on to newcomer Alicia Silverstone. Although we could definitely see Michelle Gellar in this role too. Totally buggin' right now.

9. Will Smith – Neo, The Matrix

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You think of The Matrix, you think of Keanu Reeves in that long black coat. Right? Well, Will Smith was obviously not feeling that look. "The Matrix is a difficult concept to pitch,” Will has admitted. “In the pitch, I just didn’t see it. I watched Keanu Reeve’s performance – and very rarely do I say this – but I would have messed it up. I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix.”

10. Hugh Jackman – James Bond

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The name's Jackman…Hugh Jackman. In the early 2000’s there were whispers that the Aussie actor could play the 007 agent, but he made sure that would never happen. "I thought it would box me in too much," he says. "My natural instinct is to keep as many doors open as possible." Hmm, Hugh, you may want to have a word with Tom Hiddleston.

11. Michelle Pfeiffer – Clarice Starling, *The Silence Of The Lambs *

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The Silence Of The Lambs director Jonathan Demme actually admitted that he wanted to cast Michelle Pfeiffer, not Jodie Foster, as Clarice Starling in the disturbing thriller. Jodie won an Oscar for her role in the movie. No doubt that silenced him.

12. Charlie Hunnam – Christian Grey, Fifty Shades Of Grey

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The Sons of Anarchy actor was originally cast to play Christian Grey in the anticipated on-screen adaptation of 50 Shades, last year. He’s since expressed regret about walking away from the role that saw Irish actor Jamie Dornan replace him. “I bit off more than I could chew and it was painful," Charlie admitted later. "I loved the character and I wanted to do it … It was one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations.”

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