11 Oscar-Winning Roles Actors Turned Down
We all make mistakes, and actors are no exception, especially those who turned down roles that eventually won Academy Awards for their replacements. While the likes of Tom Hanks or Jack Nicholson probably didn't lose any sleep over an Oscar-winning role they’ve passed on since they’ve already got more than one of those 13.5-inch golden statuettes, other actors were probably kicking themselves in the head for declining parts that could have gotten them much sought-after Academy recognition. Here are some of those roles:
1. Viola De Lesseps, “Shakespeare in Love”
2. Gordon Gekko, “Wall Street”
Michael Douglas won the 1987 Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as the power-hungry Gordon Gekko, a role that both Richard Gere and Warren Beatty passed up.
3. Lisa Rowe, “Girl, Interrupted”
British actress Samantha Morton was approached to play ex-junkie Lisa Rowe in this 1999 film but turned it down. The role later went to Angelina Jolie, and won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
4. Carol Connelly, “As Good As It Gets”
Before the Oscar-winning role of “Carol the Waitress” went to Helen Hunt, it was offered to Holly Hunter and Melanie Griffith. Both passed, and Hunt went to on to get her trophy.
5. Loretta Castorini, “Moonstruck”
Nicolas Cage would have been romancing Sally Field in this 1987 hit romantic comedy had the latter accepted the part of Loretta Castorini. Cher got the role instead after Field turned it down, and the rest is film history.
6. Leticia Musgrove, “Monster's Ball”
It was all that nudity and sex that made Angela Bassett pass on the role of widow Leticia Musgrove in 2001’s "Monster's Ball". Thank heavens Halle Berry didn’t have any qualms about taking her kit off, and she got an Oscar for her trouble.
7. Hannibal Lecter, “The Silence of the Lambs”
It’s hard to imagine someone other than Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter, but the part of the cannibalistic psychiatrist was initially offered to Sean Connery, who turned it down. It eventually became Hopkins’ most famous role, as well as the shortest lead role to ever win an Oscar, appearing onscreen for just over 16 minutes.
8. Clarice Starling, “The Silence of the Lambs”
Michelle Pfeiffer was offered the part of rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling, but she declined because she reportedly got nervous about the movie's subject matter. Jodie Foster took over the role and collected her second Best Actress Oscar.
9. Forrest Gump, “Forrest Gump”
It probably would have been a little odd to hear that “Life is like a box of chocolates...” line coming out of John Travolta’s and Chevy Chase’s mouths, two actors who were both offered the role but passed. Tom Hanks instead dipped his hand into that box, and pulled out his second straight Best Actor Oscar.
10. Lester Burnham, “American Beauty”
Originally, the Lester Burnham lead role in the 1999 Alan Ball film was offered to Chevy Chase and Tom Hanks. Fortunately, both turned it down, and gave Kevin Spacey the chance to turn in one of the most memorable performances of his career.
11. Lt. Col. Frank Slade, “Scent of a Woman”
Jack Nicholson would have been the one who had to spend months on tango classes had he taken on the role of the blind, suicidal Lt. Col. Frank Slade in this movie. But he turned the role down after reading the script. Al Pacino picked it up and tangoed his way to his first and only Oscar.
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