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Actors Who Turned Down Roles In A Reboot

Signing up for a reboot of a popular movie (especially if it's a live-action revival of an animated Disney classic) seems like it would be a no-brainer for an actor. After all, it offers actors a chance to get more widespread recognition — and the huge paycheck that often comes with a major reboot certainly can't hurt.

Yet shooting a remake isn't for everyone. After all, there's much more to consider than just recognition and money. Countless actors have made it clear that they have no interest in participating in certain reboots and have even turned down lucrative offers to appear in such films. Some of these actors declined because they were only willing to work with the creators of the original film, while others seem like they might be reluctant to work alongside one of the original creators after that person's unprofessional behavior came to light.

Whether they're actors who appeared in the original IP or fresh blood, these folks all have one thing in common: they all declined a role in a remake. Let's look at the most notable performers (including a surprising number of music artists) who wanted nothing to do with these reboots.

Harry Styles in The Little Mermaid (2023)

For the live-action reboot of "The Little Mermaid," Harry Styles was considered for the role of Prince Eric, though he wouldn't be the first musician to be offered a role in a Disney remake. In fact, his would-be co-star, Halle Bailey, was known mostly for her music before she was cast to play Ariel. However, Styles later decided he didn't want to be a Disney prince, so the role went to Jonah Hauer-King.

Styles never directly explained his reasons for leaving the project, but director Rob Marshall offered some insight into the performer's motivations: conflicting career goals. "At the end of the day, he really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker," Marshall told Entertainment Weekly. Marshall added that Styles is hoping to branch out and prove to his fans that he can do more than just sing, but it's hard to show off his acting chops if everybody only knows him as a music artist (Lady Gaga had to undergo a similar struggle since Warner Bros. needed a little convincing before they gave her a leading role in "A Star is Born").

"That's why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself," concluded Marshall. Since Styles has already made a name for himself in more serious dramas like "Don't Worry, Darling" and "My Policeman," it makes sense for him to continue this strategy in the future.

Daniel Radcliffe in Max's Harry Potter TV series

Even before Max announced it would launch a TV series reboot of "Harry Potter" with an all-new cast, Daniel Radcliffe made it clear he had no intentions of playing Harry Potter again — at least for the foreseeable future. In a 2022 interview with The New York Times, Radcliffe admitted he was a little bit relieved that playing Harry Potter no longer consumed every waking hour.

"I'm getting to a point where I feel like I made it out of 'Potter' OK and I'm really happy with where I am now," said Radcliffe. He added that it feels way too soon; barely ten years have passed since the first franchise ended. "I'm not saying that I'll never go back into any franchise," Radcliffe told Variety, "but I like the flexibility that I have with my career now. And I don't want to get into a situation where I'm signed up for one series for years in advance." If Radcliffe joined the new "Harry Potter" project (not as Harry, but as another adult character from the Wizarding World), he would almost definitely need to make a decade-long commitment.

In any event, J. K. Rowling's outspoken stance on trans rights has shaken many Potter fans' faith in the author, including Radcliffe. He has publicly criticized Rowling and shown his support for trans-"Potter" fans. Knowing that Rowling will have significant involvement in the new Max series, it's unlikely Radcliffe will want to work with her under those conditions.

Ryan Gosling in Beauty and the Beast (2017)‌

Two popular musicals courted Ryan Gosling around the same time, because who wouldn't want him as their romantic lead? While hunting for the cast of the 2017 reboot of "Beauty and the Beast," Disney reportedly approached Gosling to play the Beast. Director Damien Chazelle must have had the same idea because he wanted Gosling for "La La Land." Both "Beauty and the Beast" and "La La Land" were filmed during the summer of 2015, and since Gosling couldn't be in two places at once, he chose the latter.

With Gosling out of the picture, Disney instead chose Dan Stevens for the Beast, and he turned out to be a perfect fit. Funnily enough, Emma Watson actually turned down a leading role in "La La Land" in order to play Belle in "Beauty and the Beast," so the two performers came awfully close to switching places. Still, we're glad that the stars aligned in the City of Stars, because it's impossible to imagine "La La Land" without Gosling.

Emma Watson in Cinderella (2015)

"La La Land" wasn't the only major role that Emma Watson turned down. She was also considered for the role of Cinderella in Kenneth Branagh's remake, though she wasn't interested. In 2013, Marc Graser from Variety announced on Twitter, "Emma Watson has decided NOT to star in Disney's CINDERELLA." Disney fans would only learn her reasons for this much later after Watson had gotten a starring role in another Disney reboot: "Beauty and the Beast."

"I didn't know they were going to make Beauty And The Beast at the time I turned down Cinderella," Watson told Total Film (via The Grazia Daily). She simply didn't think she was a good match for the character of Cinderella: "When they offered me Belle, I just felt the character resonated with me so much more than Cinderella did." Watson saw Belle as a much more inspiring role model for young girls; she admired the way that Belle bucks the orthodoxy in her village and refuses to let anybody tell her what to believe. "She's just so fierce and so smart. I just think she's the coolest!" Watson gushed in an interview for Lorraine. Naturally, Watson immediately seized the once-in-a-lifetime chance to play this Disney princess.

Alicia Keys in A Star is Born

The 2018 reboot of "A Star is Born" had a troubled production history spanning more than 15 years. As early as 2002, Hollywood was planning to adapt another version of the 1937 film, though, in its earliest iteration, it was nothing like the final film. Joel Schumacher had been attached to direct, while Will Smith hoped to play the leading man; Smith was considering leaning into Latin music as an influence for the reboot. For his co-star, Smith approached music artist Alicia Keys, but she ultimately said no.

Her manager, Jeff Robinson, explained to MTV why she changed her mind. "Her first movie shouldn't be a movie where she's basically playing herself," said Robinson. "I don't think that's real acting, playing yourself." Robinson insisted that Keys hoped to step a bit more outside her comfort zone and play a more complicated character. Of course, he added that Keys probably wasn't going to be too ambitious just yet.

He suggested that the Grammy Award-winning songwriter wanted to start out with a solid supporting role and then later step up to become a leading lady: "When you're the focal point of the movie and you're expected to carry a movie on your back, I think that's a mistake a lot of singers fall into." This was probably a wise career move, as even Lady Gaga started out with supporting parts in "Machete Kills" and "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" before stepping into center stage for "A Star is Born."

Beyoncé in A Star is Born

Alicia Keys was just one of many musicians considered for the reboot of "A Star is Born." However, one star holds the distinction of being offered the part and turning it down more than once: Beyoncé. For the longest time, she was courted to play the female lead even as the possible casting of her co-star changed from Russell Crowe to Leonardo DiCaprio to Bradley Cooper.

Beyoncé certainly seemed excited to take the role. "I know that it is the biggest opportunity of my life," the performer said in an interview with Reuters. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. In August 2011, Beyoncé announced she was pregnant. At first, it seemed like this would only delay the film's production, but a year later she decided to drop out of the project altogether, thanks to her busy schedule and the uncertainty of when Warner Bros. would actually begin filming.

In March 2016, Beyoncé was approached yet again for the role, which she was willing to consider with one crucial caveat. An anonymous source told Page Six, "Beyoncé wanted too much money, and Warner Bros. balked at her price." The deal fell apart, and that was the end of Beyoncé's involvement. This meant Warner Bros. needed to hunt for a female lead again, and they chose Lady Gaga.

Mads Mikkelsen in the proposed reboot of Another Round

After the Danish film, "Another Round," won an Oscar for best international feature film, Leonardo DiCaprio obtained the rights to create a remake in the English language. Many fans criticized the choice to reboot an international film so close to the release of the original. Regardless, director Thomas Vinterberg doesn't mind that his film is being adapted into an English-language remake, or that DiCaprio is likely to play the role originated by Mads Mikkelsen.

In fact, he believes it wouldn't make sense to cast the same actor from the original. Vinterberg told Indiewire, "Asking the same actor to do a different interpretation could be a little bit confusing." He added, "Mads is fluent in English and he's a brilliant actor who pulled this off really well, but this will have to be interpreted into something else." Vinterberg said that he enjoyed "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," and he trusts DiCaprio to do a good job.

In a later interview with Indiewire, Mikkelsen said to count him out of the remake. "I'm glad not to be part of it," he announced. "It's a tricky thing to replay the same character. It's better off in someone else's hands." Mikkelsen conceded that while actors give the same performance over and over again in the theater, cinema is a totally different medium, and attempting multiple versions of the same performance wouldn't lend itself well to film.

Will Smith in Dumbo (2019)

Although the protagonist of Tim Burton's "Dumbo" is played by Colin Ferrell, the part was almost given to Will Smith. Disney approached Smith for the role in January 2017, but it didn't amount to anything. One possible reason for this is that Smith was hoping to start production on "Bad Boys for Life" and that "Dumbo" would've conflicted with that. More noteworthy, however, is that Disney couldn't come to an agreement with Smith on his salary, who reportedly asked for $20 million for his part.

It turns out Disney didn't want to spend quite that much on a single actor, not even Smith, so they began looking elsewhere for their lead. After parting with Disney, Smith successfully struck an equally lucrative deal with Netflix; his payment for "Bright" was rumored to be at least $20 million. Of course, Disney courted Smith again for their reboot of "Aladdin," this time offering him $12.5 million upfront to play Genie. Smith agreed and the rest is history. Much like Emma Watson, Smith couldn't stay away from Disney for long.

Ron Perlman in Hellboy (2019)

Ron Perlman is convinced that "Hellboy" ain't "Hellboy" without Guillermo del Toro. He loved collaborating with del Toro on the first two films, and he loved the director's pitch for how he wanted the third movie to end, which Perlman considers a perfect conclusion to the trilogy. So when he caught wind that Hollywood was attempting to make a reboot instead of a third film, Perlman was frustrated and declined the invitation to work on the reboot.

This was because Del Toro was too busy with other projects to participate in the 2019 film, which was a deal-breaker for Perlman. In an interview with Empire, he summed up his feelings: "Without [del Toro] I have no interest in donning the make-up again." However, Perlman harbors no ill feelings toward David Harbour, the actor who replaced him in the 2019 film. "I wished them well, but it was not in my bailiwick," he explained to Comic Book Movie. Still, Perlman admitted that he not to watch the reboot, lest it gives him any more reasons to dislike it.

Unfortunately, the odds of seeing Perlman and del Toro team up again for "Hellboy 3" are slim as Perlman fears he would be physically unable to meet the demands of an action movie, due to his age. If it did somehow happen, he told Empire, "I would actually go down in history as being the oldest superhero!"

Sarah Michelle Gellar in the proposed Buffy reboot

For a while, it seemed like fans were going to get a "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reboot produced by Joss Whedon. But in 2022, the reboot was placed on hiatus, due to sexual misconduct allegations surrounding Whedon. If the project does start up again, however, Sarah Michelle Gellar probably won't be in it.

However, the actress has no problem with the idea of rebooting the series. "I think it's an important story," she told BuzzFeed News. "I think there's a way to modernize it and tell a different story now." There is one thing stopping her from reprising the role: Gellar says she's a teensy bit too old for the role. The whole point of the series is to show "the horrors of adolescence manifested as actual horrors, as actual demons," explained Gellar, so it would only make sense to cast a teenager in the role. "I'm also way too tired with it to put in that kind of work again," she admitted while appearing on the "On with Mario Lopez" podcast.

If Gellar could pick the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she would go with Zendaya, she said during an interview for the book, "Into Every Generation a Slayer Is Born: How Buffy Staked Our Hearts" (via ScreenRant). Seeing the actress's work in "Euphoria" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home," it's hard to argue with that hypothetical casting choice.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Anne Hathaway in Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Technically, Anne Hathaway actually does appear in the 2010 film, "Alice in Wonderland." However, she was originally asked to play a different (and arguably more coveted) role in the movie, which she turned down — the titular Alice. It seemed like an obvious fit since the actress had played similar heroines in "The Princess Diaries" and "Ella Enchanted." 

Yet the casting choice might have been a bit too obvious because Hathaway felt like she was being typecast. "I had been there, done that sort of pretty-girl-in-a-fairy-dress role," she told GQ. Nevertheless, Hathaway was still interested in participating in the reboot. There was another character from Alice's world that Hathaway found far more fascinating: "I told the studio, however, that if they found a director eventually, that I would be interested at a later date in playing the White Queen."

Hathaway almost didn't get the opportunity to play the character she wanted. "When Tim [Burton] came on board he had the cast he wanted and, of course, that didn't include me," she said. "But the other actress who was marked had scheduling conflicts, so the studio piped up and put me forward." It's a good thing they did because Hathaway gives a refreshing take on the character. The influences that she channeled while playing The White Queen were varied, ranging from Greta Garbo to David Bowie. Hathaway described the character as "a sort of psychotic bunny rabbit."

Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters (2016)

Despite his memorable turn as Louis Tully in the original "Ghostbusters" movie, Rick Moranis didn't return for the 2016 reboot. When asked about the film, Moranis told The Hollywood Reporter, "I wish them well," adding, "I hope it's terrific." Although Moranis was actually invited to reprise his character in a brief cameo, he turned down the offer. The actor saw no point in doing a cameo that was basically a repeat of a performance that he did just fine in the original.

That doesn't mean he's done with acting. Even though Moranis went off the radar for a while, going for more than a decade without any acting credits (aside from the occasional voice-over role), he is open to getting back in the game now that his kids are all grown up. It's just that the "Ghostbusters" reboot doesn't seem to interest him. "I'm happy with the things I said yes to, and I'm very happy with the many things I've said no to," he insisted. "Yes, I am picky, and I'll continue to be picky. Picky has worked for me."

"Ghostbusters" may not have been enough to lure Moranis back into the spotlight, but a certain "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" sequel did. The actor plans to reprise his role as Wayne Szalinski in the movie "Shrunk." And Moranis might possibly consider coming back in a future "Ghostbusters" movie. "I wouldn't not do it," he told Empire (via Indiewire), "but it's got to be good."