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As Idris Elba ‘walks away from James Bond’, FEMAIL reveals actors who have turned down movie roles

Idris Elba has become the latest star to walk away from a blockbuster movie role, with reports suggesting he has turned down the part of James Bond.

The star, 49, was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles – and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007.

A source told The Sun: ‘Fans and Barbara wanted Idris but he wants to create something for himself.

‘However, he’s put forward names to play 007. He’s ‘informally’ in the decision-making process as he’s been in talks with producers for so long.’

Idris Elba has become the latest star to walk away from a blockbuster movie role, with reports suggesting he has turned down the part of James Bond

Idris Elba has become the latest star to walk away from a blockbuster movie role, with reports suggesting he has turned down the part of James Bond

The star, 49, was the bookies' favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles - and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007

The star, 49, was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles – and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007

However he is far from the first actor to turn down a blockbuster role in a movie – with stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and John Travolta among those who have previously walked away from huge parts.

Meanwhile Meg Ryan opted against doing Pretty Woman, while Matt Damon chose not to star in Avatar. 

Here FEMAIL reveals the other stars who have turned down some of the film and TV world’s biggest roles…  

GWYNETH PALTROW (TITANIC)

Gwyneth Paltrow was first picked to play the part of Rose in James Cameron’s blockbuster hit Titanic

It became the highest-grossing film of all time

Kate Winslet went on to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic

Kate Winslet went on to star opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic which was to become the highest-grossing film of all time

It was the film that was nominated for 14 Oscars and won 11 of them – including best film – and there’s no doubt that this was predominantly down to its magnetic and utterly believable leads.

But before a young Kate Winslet, now 39, was cast as rich girl Rose DeWitt Bukater (and nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress) in 1997 iconic blockbuster Titanic, Gwyneth Paltrow was also in the running.

It also turns out that the blonde 42-year-old was actually director James Cameron’s favourite to star as the lead female.

When interviewed by radio presenter Howard Stern in January 2015, Paltrow admitted that she couldn’t change the past and that her choices were part of something greater.

MEG RYAN (PRETTY WOMAN)

Meg Ryan didn’t favour the dark nature of the script of Pretty Woman, and turned the role of Vivian down

Julia Roberts (pictured right) went on to star opposite Richard Gere (pictured left) in one of the most loved rom-coms of all time

Julia Roberts (pictured right) went on to star opposite Richard Gere (pictured left) in one of the most loved rom-coms of all time

It’s virtually impossible to imagine anyone other than Julia Roberts playing the lovable character of prostitute Vivian in the most celebrated rom-coms of all time, Pretty Woman.

But before she took on the role there were a slew of other big-name actresses in the works.

Notably Meg Ryan, 53, and Michelle Pfieffer, 57, were first in line, but felt uncomfortable with the script, which was originally much darker and included a depressing ending.

Roberts, 47, went on to star opposite Richard Gere and the pair made an irresistible on-screen couple.

The previously little-known actress also scooped a Golden Globe for her portrayal and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

JOHN TRAVOLTA (FORREST GUMP)

John Travolta turned down the lead role in Forrest Gump for unknown reason and has since expressed his regret

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

John Travolta turned down the lead role in Forrest Gump for unknown reason and has since expressed his regret (left, and right, Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump) 

A classic film, well-known for its memorable quotes, touching story and unforgettable perfornance from Tom Hanks  but at one point, actor John Travolta was in the running to play the titular character, Forrest Gump (1994).

However Travolta, 61, declined the part of the lead for unknown reasons, but since then has expressed regret at not taking the part, which is unsurprising, seeing as the film earned Tom Hanks his second Oscar award for Best Actor, making him the only person in history to have won the Best Actor Oscar two years in row.

CHRISTINA APPLEGATE (LEGALLY BLONDE) 

Christina Applegate (pictured) has previously spoken of how she turned down the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde

It went on to be played by Reece Witherspoon

Christina Applegate (left) has previously spoken of how she turned down the role of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde – before it went on to be played by Reece Witherspoon (right) 

She found fame as Kelly Bundy on the long-running sitcom Married… with Children.

The show ended in 1997 after a decade and Christina Applegate, then 26, focused on building her acting career as an adult.

While promoting her new Netflix series Dead To Me in March 2019, the actress revealed that she passed on the lead role of Elle Woods in the 2001 movie Legally Blonde, that helped make a star of Reese Witherspoon.

‘I wasn’t actually offered it, but the script had came to me,’ Applegate said during an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live. 

‘But I had just gotten off Married with Children and I felt like it was too close to what I had just been doing and I was very interested in removing myself from that.’ 

‘I don’t regret it because Reese Witherspoon did a much better job than I ever could and she has way more money and more success, and why would I ever regret that?’ she said. 

MEL GIBSON (BATMAN AND BOND) 

Earlier this year, Mel Gibson spoke about turning down a number of roles - including Batman, James Bond and Gladiator

Earlier this year, Mel Gibson spoke about turning down a number of roles – including Batman, James Bond and Gladiator

There have been a number of actors who have played Batman over the years, including Robert Pattinson

There have been a number of actors who have played Batman over the years, including Robert Pattinson 

Earlier this year, Mel Gibson spoke about turning down a number of roles – including Batman, James Bond and Gladiator. 

During his chat for An Experience with Mel Gibson LIVE at the Doubletree Hilton Mel in May, he revealed he’d turned down Batman three times after being offered the Batsuit.

He also turned down James Bond after Roger Moore because he was only 26 and felt too young, with Timothy Dalton taking on the role, as well as movies Rainman, Gladiator and the Patriot.

HUGH JACKMAN (BOND)

Hugh Jackman was asked to consider taking on the role as James Bond, but turned it down due to other commitments

Hugh Jackman was asked to consider taking on the role as James Bond, but turned it down due to other commitments

Daniel Craig went on to scoop the role of James Bond

Craig has enjoyed phenomenal success as the gun-toting agent

Daniel Craig went on to scoop the role and has enjoyed phenomenal success as the gun-toting agent

Australian actor, Hugh Jackman, has made a name for himself in films such as the X-Men and Wolverine films, but once upon a time, the 46-year-old nearly considered donning a British accent and playing the most famous gun-toting agent of all time.

After Pierce Brosnon’s film contract ended, Jackman turned down an offer to play James Bond.

Speaking to the British Press Association in 2011, Jackman said: ‘I was about to shoot X-Men 2 and Wolverine had become this thing in my life and I didn’t want to be doing two such iconic characters at once.’

The Aussie actor has since regretted his actions and has previously joked in a 2013 interview with Fabric magazine: ‘Of course, I cry myself to sleep every night.’ 

Brit actor, Daniel Craig, 47, went on to put on the killer tuxedo for Casino Royale (2006), which became the highest grossing Bond film of all time at $599,045,960 worldwide (approximately £379,617,539), until Quantum of Solace surpassed it in 2008, and also Skyfall (2012), as well as the upcoming Spectre (2015).

MATT DAMON (AVATAR)

Australian actor, Sam Worthington, 38, ended up with the career-boosting role, with the film going on to be one of the highest grossing of all time

Australian actor, Sam Worthington, 38, ended up with the career-boosting role, with the film going on to be one of the highest grossing of all time  

With Titanic (1997) as the highest-grossing film of all time until it was surpassed by Avatar in 2009, there’s no doubt that James Cameron has a knack for turning a film into a guaranteed blockbuster hit.

Actor Matt Damon was the first choice of director James Cameron to play ex-marine Jake Sully in the blue alien blockbuster, but had other filming commitments at the time, such as The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – the last of the three-part franchise in which Damon has starred as the lead.

In a 2012 interview with Playboy, Damon admitted: ‘I particularly wanted to work with James Cameron, and still do… He knew he was the star of that movie and that everyone was going to see it anyway. 

‘When he said, ‘Look, I’m offering it to you, but if you say no, the movie doesn’t need you,’ I remember thinking, ‘Oh God, not only do I have to say no because of scheduling, but he’s going to make a star out of some guy who’s going to to start taking jobs from me later.”

Australian actor, Sam Worthington, 38, ended up with the career-boosting role.  

LEONARDO DICAPRIO (AMERICAN PSYCHO)

Leonardo DiCaprio was originally set to play the character of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Leonardo DiCaprio was originally set to play the character of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

The role ended up going to Christian Bale

His portrayal is now iconic in popular culture

The role ended up going to Christian Bale, whose portrayal is now iconic in popular culture

There are very few people who could play a refined yet maniacal psychopath with such precision, but Christian Bale hit the nail on the head with his portrayal of Wall Street banker Patrick Batemen in 2000 flick American Psycho.

Although the lead role was initially offered to then little-known actor Christian Bale, the popularity of Leonardo DiCaprio following Titanic (1997) meant Bale was soon replaced.

Despite the discouraging development, Bale remained hopeful and refused to take on any roles for nine months, confident that DiCaprio would drop out.

After numerous disputes with the film’s director, Oliver Stone, about the direction and script, Leo did indeed drop out to film The Beach, and Bale returned to his promised role, which propelled him to fame, and the film to cult status.

Years later, DiCaprio would go on to play another financier character of note, real-life Jordan Belfort in Wolf of Wall Street (2014).

SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR (CLUELESS) 

A film that won the hearts of the Nineties generation, Sarah Michelle Gellar (pictured) turned down the iconic lead in Clueless

In Clueless (1995), Alicia Silverstone, 38, portrays makeover-doing spoiled teen, Cher Horowitz to perfection

A film that won the hearts of the Nineties generation, Sarah Michelle Gellar (left) turned down the iconic lead in Clueless (right) due to scheduling conflicts with her appearance in American soap opera, All My Children

In Clueless (1995), Alicia Silverstone, 38, portrays makeover-doing spoiled teen, Cher Horowitz to perfection, but the role was initially offered to Sarah Michelle Gellar, 38 – better known for her titular part in TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A film that won the hearts of the Nineties generation, Gellar turned down the iconic lead in Clueless due to scheduling conflicts with her appearance in American soap opera, All My Children.

Silverstone went on instead to scoop the part and donned the memorable outfits that are still referenced in popular culture to this day. 

EMILY BROWNING (TWILIGHT)

Emily Browning refused to audition at all for the role of Bella in the hit franchise Twilight because she didn't want to appear in a trilogy

Emily Browning refused to audition at all for the role of Bella in the hit franchise Twilight because she didn’t want to appear in a trilogy 

Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have gone on to enjoy phenomenal success

Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have gone on to enjoy phenomenal success

There’s very few people that would decline auditioning for a part all together – especially when it is the film adaptation of immensely popular young adult book franchise, Twilight – but that’s exactly what actress Emily Browning did.

In a 2011 interview with Metro, the 26-year-old actress admitted that she had refused to audition for the role of Bella as she had finished a horror film and was exhausted and not ready to be a part of a trilogy.

However, Browning has concluded that she did not regret her decision, adding: ‘The way the media treats the Twilight cast, I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle that attention at that age. I would have gone a little bit insane.’

Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson have gone on to enjoy phenomenal success. 

DANA DELANEY (SEX AND THE CITY)

Desperate Housewives actress Dana Delaney turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw in hit series, Sex and the City

Desperate Housewives actress Dana Delaney turned down the role of Carrie Bradshaw in hit series, Sex and the City

Sarah Jessica Parker, 50, went on to essentially make her career with the series, which ran between 1998 to 2004 on HBO, and has also enjoyed success from three spin-off films

Sarah Jessica Parker, 50, went on to essentially make her career with the series, which ran between 1998 to 2004 on HBO, and has also enjoyed success from three spin-off films

It might be hard to envisage anyone else in the role of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City – which is now inextricable from actress Sarah Jessica Parker, but it turns out that Dana Delaney, known for playing Katherine Mayfair in series, Desperate Housewives, was at one point in the running. 

In an interview with the MailOnline in 2011, Delaney, 59, admitted: ‘I didn’t want to be in a show about sex. 

‘The part went to Sarah Jessica Parker and it made her into a worldwide star, but I’ve got no regrets.’ 

Sarah Jessica Parker, 50, went on to essentially make her career with the series, which ran between 1998 to 2004 on HBO, and has also enjoyed success from three spin-off films. 

Idris Elba ‘walks away from playing James Bond’ despite being bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig

Idris Elba has walked away from ‘years of talks’ with movie bosses to take over the role of James Bond, according to reports.

The star, 49, was the bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig as the super spy, but is keen to pursue other roles – and has even put forward a list of proposed names to producer Barbara Broccoli of actors to play 007.

A source told The Sun: ‘Fans and Barbara wanted Idris but he wants to create something for himself.

‘However, he’s put forward names to play 007. He’s ‘informally’ in the decision-making process as he’s been in talks with producers for so long.’ 

'He's been in talks for so long': Idris Elba, 49, has reportedly walked away from playing James Bond despite being bookies' favourite to replace Daniel Craig

‘He’s been in talks for so long’: Idris Elba, 49, has reportedly walked away from playing James Bond despite being bookies’ favourite to replace Daniel Craig

MailOnline has contacted reps for Idris and James Bond producers for comment.  

While at the premiere of his movie The Harder They Fall in 2021, Idris said when asked if he’ll be considered as the next 007 he said: ‘No, I’m not going to be James Bond.’

He also told The Express about the rumours:  ‘I’m probably the most famous Bond actor in the world, and I haven’t even played the role.’

Idris then added: ‘Enough is enough. I can’t talk about it anymore.’ 

Despite this Ladbrokes awarded the actor 3/1 on taking on the role after Daniel announced 2021’s No Time To Die would be his last outing as the character. 

Not for me: Idris wishes to pursue other roles and has suggested other actors to producer Barbara Broccoli following Daniel Craig (pictured) quitting the role

Not for me: Idris wishes to pursue other roles and has suggested other actors to producer Barbara Broccoli following Daniel Craig (pictured) quitting the role

The bookmakers said: ‘We’ve seen a flurry of interest in Idris Elba and have slashed his odds accordingly, so much so that he’s now the clear favourite as far as we’re concerned to replace Daniel Craig as 007.’ 

Also rumoured to be in the running are Tom Hardy at 5/1, Rege-Jean Page 4/1 and Richard Madden 20/1.

James Bond producer Barbara previously admitted it will take a long time to choose Craig’s 007 replacement.

The filmmaker insisted it’s not as easy as picking an actor to take on the iconic role of the suave spy.

Speaking to Variety, Barbara said: ‘It’s a big decision.

‘It’s not just casting a role. It’s about a whole rethink about where we’re going.’

Earlier this year, the blockbuster franchise’s producer confirmed Idris was ‘part of the conversation’ to be the next 007.

In the running: Other famous faces reportedly being considered include Venom's Tom Hardy

In the running: Other famous faces reportedly being considered include Venom’s Tom Hardy

She told Deadline’s Crew Call podcast: ‘Well, we know Idris, we’re friends with him, and he’s a magnificent actor.’

‘And, you know, it’s been a part of the conversation, but it’s always difficult to have the conversation when you have someone in the seat.’

Barbara added that there is no rush from Bond bosses to name the actor as they wanted to let the cast and crew savour the Craig’s final movie No Time To Die.

She said: ‘I think we have decided that until No Time To Die has had its run and Daniel has been able to – well, we’ve all been able to savour, reap the benefits of Daniel’s wonderful tenure, we’re not gonna think about, or talk about anybody else.’

The producer also hinted at a reimagining of the franchise. explaining: ‘It’s a reinvention of Bond. We’re working out where to go with him, we’re talking that through.’

She added though that any casting announcements are a way off. ‘We’re reinventing who he is and that takes time,’ she continued. ‘There isn’t a script and we can’t come up with one until we decide how we’re going to approach the next film. 

Could it be: Bridgerton's Rege-Jean Page is also rumoured to be in the running

Action star: Following his stint in BBC's The Bodgygard Richard Madden is also in bosses sights

Could it be? Bridgerton’s Rege-Jean Page (left) and The Bodyguard’s Richard Madden (right) have also been rumoured to be in the running

‘I’d say that filming is at least two years away.’ 

One thing is for sure though, Bond won’t be a woman. Broccoli told the PA news agency in September: ‘James Bond is a male character. I hope that there will be many, many films made with women, for women, by women, about women.

‘I don’t think we have to take a male character and have a woman portray him. So yes, I see him as male.’

Daniel revealed that he was originally told he’d have to star in four films by boss Broccoli, leading him to ask if the character could be ‘killed off.’

The actor, who made his fifth and final appearance as 007 in No Time To Die last year, confessed it was ‘a lot’ being told he’d have to make such a commitment to the part, setting the stage for the agent’s surprise death many years later.

Speaking on the Awards Chatter podcast earlier this year, Daniel said that he felt Bond was ‘happy and fulfilled’ when he finally met his maker, while detailing the moment he became’ choked up’ during his final day of filming.  

Daniel explained that after his first Bond outing in Casino Royale in 2006 he had asked Broccoli how many he had to make.

He said: ‘I was sitting in the back of a black Mercedes driving away from the Berlin premiere of Casino Royale with Barbara Broccoli in the back – just me and her – everything was good, the movie was doing great, it was like ‘we’d done it, it was time for a bit of celebration’.

Speaking out: Daniel explained that after his first Bond outing in Casino Royale in 2006 he had asked Broccoli how many he had to make

Speaking out: Daniel explained that after his first Bond outing in Casino Royale in 2006 he had asked Broccoli how many he had to make

‘I said ‘how many of these movies do I have to make?’ And she was like ‘four’. And I was like ‘oh, really? That’s a lot?’

‘I said ”OK, if I make four can I kill him off at the end?” And she paused, and she just went ”yes”.

‘I had a sort of plan in my head, I don’t know what the plan was, that if we got it right and if we got it to a place, then they needed to re-set.

‘And to properly re-set you need to get rid of one idea of it and start another idea of it. And I just felt like ‘get rid of my version and someone else can start, and they can start their version’.

‘But it also meant that what I could do is there could be some sort of arc, emotional arc, that I could aim for, and that something he does or has to do means he has to end and that he can’t be around any more.

‘And that was a really, really difficult story to figure out, but I knew that if we got it right then it would be the ultimate sacrifice, but the ultimate sacrifice for a good reason.’

The latest movie in the long-running spy franchise was delayed three times due to the coronavirus crisis but still managed to become the biggest Hollywood title of 2021 

There had been much speculation about whether the star was finished as 007 after 2015’s Spectre but he revealed that there was one story thread from his first Bond film, 2006’s Casino Royale, that coaxed him to return for one last time as the iconic secret agent.

‘I thought I probably was physically not capable of doing another. For me, it was very cut and dried that I wasn’t coming back,’ Daniel told Total Film. 

Broccoli added that Craig was, ‘so exhausted after that film,’ adding they knew the actor needed a break.

Nearly two years passed before Barbara and her half-brother Michael Wilson, who run Eon Productions together, approached Daniel about doing one more Bond movie, when Daniel recalled a story thread from Casino Royale that he wanted to complete.

‘We started talking about it and I went, ‘There might be a story we need to finish here – something we started in Casino (Royale),” Daniel said.

”Something to do with Vesper, and Spectre, and something that was connected, in a way.’ It started to formulate. And I thought, ‘Here we go,” he added.

 

 

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