But on occasion, sometimes a plum role turns out to be less than promised. And for those who turned down the part, it was not such a loss. For example:

Brigitte Bardot turned down the Hollywood comedy “How to Murder Your Wife.” Italian sexpot Virna Lisi was imported in her place. No one noticed the film or Lisi, who never achieved Bardot’s level of success.

Lou Ferrigno rejected the part of the lumbering wrestler in Sylvester Stallone’s 1978 “Paradise Alley.” Lee Canalito (who?) took the part instead in that notorious flop.

Nathan Lane, fresh off his film star-making turn in “The Birdcage,” turned down the chance to repeat his Broadway role in the film version of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” because he did not want to be typecast in gay roles. Jason Alexander got his chance at a big screen starring role instead – to no avail, as the film flopped. Lane would later openly acknowledge his own homosexuality, which did not hurt his career.

Natalie Portman turned down the title role in the 1997 remake of “Lolita.” Dominque Swain secured the eponynous role instead. The film was a flop.

Michael Jackson turned down the role of Ari the Chimpanzee in Tim Burton’s widely denigrated remake of “Planet of the Apes.” The part went to Helena Bonham Carter (of course, one always thinks of Helena Bonham Carter when Michael Jackson is not available).

Posted on January 4, 2005 in Features by


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