A-list celebrities see a ton of scripts come across their desk every year. They surely can’t accept every role, and while most of the time, it all turns out perfectly fine, there are some pretty big near misses. Matt Damon passed up several key roles, for example. Christine Applegate and Sarah Michelle Geller both missed out on parts that could have changed the trajectory of their careers, too.
Matt Damon passed on Brokeback Mountain
There have been plenty of films Damon has passed on during his career, and a few of them became massive hits. According to The Guardian, Damon said no to starring in Brokeback Mountain. To be fair, Damon wasn’t the only big-name actor to pass on the script.
According to the publication, Gus Van Sant thought it needed a star-studded cast to succeed, so he approached Hollywood’s hottest actors at the time. He passed the script to Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon, among others. All of them said no to the film. Eventually, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger signed on to star in Brokeback Mountain. Ang Lee ended up directing the Emmy Award-winning flick. Damon also passed on Avatar and The Dark Knight.
Christina Applegate could have been Elle Woods
Christina Applegate has had a successful career, but she is still kicking herself for passing on a movie that turned out to be a huge success. Shortly after ending her run on Married…With Children, Applegate received the script for Legally Blonde but passed up the role.
In 2015, Applegate recalled the massive mistake during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. She said that the script came across her desk, but she worried playing another “ditzy blonde” would further typecast her. Indeed, it was a massive mistake, but Applegate admits Reese Witherspoon made a much better Elle than she ever would have.
Sarah Michelle Geller was forced to turn down Clueless
While Sarah Michelle Geller eventually went on to massive success, when the script for Clueless was being developed, she wasn’t well known. She was regularly working, though. Geller was part of the cast of All My Children. Clueless co-producer, Adam Schroeder, recalled to Vanity Fair that everyone on the team wanted Geller to do the movie, and she was into it, too, but the team behind All My Children refused to let it happen.
Geller wasn’t up for the role of Cher or anything. Schroeder envisioned her in the role of Amber, the school’s wicked queen bee. The part ultimately went to Elisa Donovan, who was great. Still, the world could have gotten a completely different Amber if Geller was able to commit.