Hindsight is 20/20 — especially in Hollywood, where stars can make the mistake of passing up the opportunity of a lifetime without even knowing it.
Scroll through to find out which successful celebrities previously turned down career-making roles.
Rachel McAdams - The Devil Wears Prada
In a June 14 oral history of the beloved 2006 fashion flick, director David Frankel revealed the 42-year-old nixed the role of Runway mag assistant Andy three times. “The studio was determined to have her,” Frankel said of the Mean Girls star. “And she was determined not to do it.” Eventually he cast Anne Hathaway, who had lobbied furiously for the part. “It spoke to me,” explained the 38-year-old of the script. “It made me feel.”
Matthew McConaughey - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
“I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was, ‘It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor,’” the 51-year-old said of his decision to pass on the highly profitable Marvel universe — and the role of Star-Lord's father, per Collider. “I’d feel like an amendment.” That didn’t stop Kurt Russell though!
Emma Watson - LaLa Land
A big song-and-dance! The Harry Potter alum complained that she was linked to the jazzy 2016 musical merely to create buzz. “It’s one of those frustrating things where names get attached to projects very early on as a way to kind of build anticipation or excitement,” the 31-year old griped, “before anything is really actually agreed on or set in stone.” Speaking of Stones, that other Emma wound up with the role — and an Oscar!
Will Smith - The Matrix
“This is one of those stories that I’m not proud of, but it’s the truth,” the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum began a 2019 YouTube confessional explaining his royally bad decision to turn down the role of Neo. Smith, 52, stated that the filmmakers behind the 1999 sci-fi hit did a poor job pitching him the project. “It turns out, they’re geniuses,” he admitted, adding that Keanu Reeves, who ultimately got the part, was “perfect.”
Michelle Pfeiffer - Silence of the Lambs
Chianti and fava beans? No thanks! During a recent interview with The New Yorker, the actress explained why she couldn’t take the role of FBI agent Clarice Starling that ultimately won Jodie Foster her second Oscar. “There was such evil in that film. It was that evil that won in the end,” said the 63-year-old of the serial killer drama. “I was uncomfortable with that ending. I didn’t want to put that out into the world.”
Christina Applegate - Legally Blonde
Bend and snap! With Legally Blonde 3 expected in theaters next spring, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing pink-loving legal eagle Elle than Reese Witherspoon. The Married... With Children alum can relate. Last May, Applegate admitted that she passed when the script for the 2001 comedy came her way. Asked if she had any regrets, the 49-year-old joked,“[Reese] now has way more money than I do and way more success, so why would I ever regret that?”