4 Huge Roles Actors Declined (And What They Chose Instead)

There’s probably an amazing missed opportunity from your past that you can’t help but cling to. Maybe you decided to stay in on the one Friday night all your friends ended up getting hammered with Lin-Manuel Miranda, or maybe someone made a sequel to Pacific Rim, but you decide to be in a silly prison escape movie instead. Either way, there are two options for dealing with regret: You can try to learn from your mistake so you don’t make it again, or spend millions of dollars on a vanity project to “correct” things.

OK, I guess you probably don’t have that second option. But rich Hollywood people do, because they live in an entirely different universe so utterly dissimilar from our own that they have literally forgotten what money is. So when they screw up, they just launch an artistic endeavor that dwarfs the lifetime earnings of most college graduates. But don’t be too hard on them — all the moon mansions in the world can’t stave off pangs of regret. And neither can a beautiful mustache, considering how …

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Tom Selleck Regretted Passing On Indiana Jones, So He Made Quigley Down Under

By the way, a lot of this column is going to be speculation. I don’t know if most of this is technically true. I, like Sherlock Holmes, am simply using evidence to draw conclusions that are 100 percent accurate.

If you didn’t know that Tom Selleck almost played renowned archaeologist and grave robber Indiana Jones, check out this clip of him and Sean Young doing Indy and Marion stuff.

Apparently, Selleck was offered the role, but had to turn it down to keep making Magnum P.I., a show about facial hair and cocaine.

Sure, it’s hard to imagine Jones as anyone other than Harrison Ford, but that might just be because I grew up watching Ford in those movies. If I were Tom Selleck and had decided to be a TV detective instead of one of the greatest action movie heroes of all time, I might feel differently. I might be very good at imagining myself as Indiana Jones, because maybe I do it every night … Right up until I make this movie:

If you haven’t seen Quigley Down Under, you should. It’s fun! Kinda dated, maybe racist, but Alan Rickman plays an evil Australian rancher obsessed with American cowboy stories, so all is forgiven. It’s also clearly an attempt by Selleck to create a character like Indiana Jones. Matthew Quigley is charming, rakish, a supernaturally good shot with his custom rifle, and has a cool hat. The movie also sets up lots of later adventures. Quigly is only “Down Under” because he takes a job in Australia — as a gun for hire, his adventures could take him anywhere. The next one could’ve been Quigley Up North, Quigley In Space, Quigley: Ragnarok, Quigley Jumps The Narrow Gap, and so on.

Of course, it didn’t work out. There are not, and never will be, any more Matthew Quigley adventures. And to this day, Selleck’s greatest pop culture contribution will be his Waterfall Sandwich song.*

*Hey everyone, remember when the most fun part of the internet was sharing insane, surreal humor stuff we found in the oddest places? I always liked that a lot more than articles about how the world’s ending, so let’s bring it back. OK? Back to my article about movies.

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Sean Connery Made The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Because He Passed On The Lord Of The Rings

Sean Connery declined to play Gandalf in The Fellowship Of The Ring because he “didn’t understand it,” and that is the most baffling thing in the entire world.

I can’t overstate what Tolkien’s books mean to me. I had read the entire trilogy five times through before I started high school. I learned to use the internet specifically to research Peter Jackson’s movies. I can speak a little bit of Quenya, which is only one of the languages the elves speak. I have read The Silmarillion all the way through more than once. And I’m just some kid from the Eastern Caribbean. Sean Connery is a proud Scotsman with a great snowy brow and deep black eyes set like coals that could suddenly burst into fire. I literally lifted that phrase from Lord Of The Rings, and it still seems accurate. He’s living the life of a character in this goddamn story; how did he “not understand it”?

Maybe Jackson’s scripts were overly detailed? I mean, Gandalf’s name is technically also “Olorin,” “Mithrandir,” “Lathspell,” “Stormcrow,” and “Icanus,” among others, and characters switch which one they’re using without any warning. It’s all there in the Return Of The King appendices, except when it’s not. Tolkien was kind of like a Russian novelist with less respect for your time.

Regardless, Sean Connery didn’t “get it,” so the next time he got a script he “didn’t understand,” he made it, even though that movie was …

Remember The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen? That adaptation of Alan Moore’s epic love letter to 19th-century literature which decided to add Tom Sawyer (so we could have an American character) and turn Moore’s confident, reserved interpretation of Mina Harker into a vampire (because vampires are cool)? The movie which takes place largely on a submarine and made Dr. Jekyll into the Hulk for some reason? Pretty much the same as Lord Of The Rings, right?

Anyway, Connery quit acting shortly after that movie came out, which is the funniest way to end your career. After being James Bond and Indiana Jones’ dad, Connery became so mad that two iconic movies didn’t feature him that he got revenge by making LXG. Then he yelled, “I don’t understand you kids anymore!” and retired to his gigantic money castle, which I am sure resembles an actual set from Lord Of The Rings.

Hey, speaking of Lord Of The Rings

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George Lucas Couldn’t Get the Rights to Lord Of The Rings, So He Made Willow

Full disclosure, guys: This one might be rumors all the way down. But I still think it’s convincing.

The idea that Lucas tried to get the rights to LOTR at some point is pretty persistent, and it’s easy to see why. The books were immensely popular during Lucas’ childhood, the director has admitted that they were a huge influence on Star Wars, and it would make sense that he’d be drawn to another ambitious, FX-driven trilogy. On top of all that, LOTR has a total dearth of female characters, and so does Star Wars, because Lucas has been terrified of women ever since it became clear his editor and ex-wife was the only person who understood Star Wars. So it’s a match made in heaven.

On top of that, Willow pretty much is Lord Of The Rings. It’s the story of a group of little people from a farm village who encounter a magical thing (a baby in Willow, a ring in Rings), and go on a quest until they meet a charming warrior and a charming warrior lady, battle some monsters, deliver the magical thing to the magical place, and explode the villain. This video goes into some depth about the similarities, and though I wouldn’t go so far as to say Lucas ripped off Rings, it’s clear he was heavily influenced.

This is a case in which we’re probably better off with the version we got. Willow, after all, features a villain named “General Kael,” after Pauline Kael, and a dragon called an “Eborsisk,” after Siskel and Ebert, because Lucas disliked their reviews of his massively successful and profitable movies. I don’t think Rings would’ve been improved by renaming Sam Gamgee “Steve Spielbergsio,” making Gollum a big Star Trek nerd, and changing Sauron’s name to “MyExWifeWho HadNothingToDoWithStarWars.”

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Will Smith Didn’t Do The Independence Day Sequel Because Of After Earth

Remember Independence Day: Resurgence? You don’t? It came out like two years ago or something. It had Jeff Goldblum, one of the Hemsworth brothers, there’s a base on the moon — OK listen, it happened, you’re just gonna have to trust me.

Part of the reason it’s not so memorable is the conspicuous absence of Will Smith, who Welcome-To-Earth’d his way into all our hearts way back in 1996. The ’90s were when we all realized that we loved seeing Will Smith punch aliens and rap about it, but hated seeing him punch cowboys and cripples and rap about it. We learned a lot about ourselves in the ’90s. It was an important time.

Smith originally wanted to return in the sequel, and the story would’ve been structured around his character and his son. But then After Earth bombed, and Smith decided to drop out because, according to director Roland Emmerich, he was skeptical to do another science fiction movie about a father/son duo.

I love that, OK? Smith thought that After Earth bombed not because it was such a transparent attempt to buy his son an acting career that M. Night Shyamalan was the only director desperate or gullible enough to be involved, but because we just weren’t ready for father/son sci-fi epics. And hey, maybe he’s right? Suicide Squad was a urinary cake sandwich that still managed to gross $745 million and set all kinds of box office records (it’s the biggest opening of Smith’s entire career!), because apparently audiences were dying to see Jared Leto in Joker makeup and Cara Delevingne do some funktown shuffles in front of a green screen.

So the running theme in this article is that it’s really hard to tell why audiences like some things but hate other things. There’s a kind of ineffable magic to why some movies — or, say, list-based internet articles — are successful, and it’s really tempting to chase that kind of magical success and try to relive times in your past when you’ve come close but missed it. But the point of learning from mistakes isn’t to dwell on them and to try to change the past; it’s about learning and making better choices in the future. Because otherwise, you just end up making The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And besides, there’s still a chance Pacific Rim: Uprising will be pretty good, even though Charlie Hunnam isn’t in it.

JF Sargent is a senior editor and columnist for Cracked and 2007 Hale Hall Super Smash Bros. Champion. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Netflix Daredevil won’t completely take away the deep, existential pain of 2003 Daredevil, but it’s close enough!

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