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Actors Who Refused Big DC Roles

We've seen a ton of superhero blockbusters over the last two decades, and there are even more on the horizon. At this point, it's no longer about who has starred in an entry from the genre, but rather who hasn't — and often more interestingly, who's decided not to. We've already run through the various actors who refused big Marvel roles, so now it's time to take a look at which actors and actresses refused offers to star in movies based on DC Comics.

We don't just mean the recent (and now rebooted) DC Extended Universe that came into existence around 2013 with the release of "Man of Steel." Going back to the 1970s, when the first superhero movies were on the horizon, actors have passed on the chance to show up in a cape, mask, and tights — sometimes to their relief, but also sometimes to the undying regret of themselves and their accountants. The reasons why have changed over the years, but there are still quite a few name-brand actors who have held off on either playing the likes of Batman and Superman, fighting alongside them, or plotting against them. 

Matt Damon

Longtime friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck got their start in Hollywood together by writing and starring in "Good Will Hunting" in 1997. Nearly 20 years later, Affleck joined the DCEU as Batman, and although he's since (mostly) left the role, he was initially scheduled to direct a solo adventure featuring the character. Considering their friendship, a lot of people think Damon should have had a role in Affleck's Batman movie, which is something Damon agreed with. "I'd consider anything with the right director, but I can't imagine there are any superheroes left, I think they're all taken at this moment," he said in 2016. "If [Ben] was directing me, I'd jump on it in a New York minute. I'd love to work with Ben." The thing is, Damon had his chance to star in a DC movie — and he turned it down.

It's hard to imagine anyone other than Aaron Eckhart playing Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face, in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight." However, Eckhart may not have always been the studio's first choice. In 2009, while doing press for "Invictus," Damon admitted he was once up for the role. "I couldn't [do it] — there was a scheduling thing," Damon told MTV News. "I'm a big Chris Nolan fan, but I never spoke to him." Damon believes the studio ultimately went with the right guy. "Look, Aaron is a great actor, so the movie didn't suffer for it. Every now and then you get one and you can't do it." Damon has since done small cameos in the last two "Thor" movies for Marvel. 

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio has spent the vast majority of his life in Hollywood, but before he achieved global fame in James Cameron's "Titanic" in 1997, Warner Bros. approached DiCaprio to star in director Joel Schumacher's "Batman Forever." Seeing how things turned out, we're inclined to say he made the right call in turning the studio down.

Warner Bros. wanted DiCaprio for Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, but DiCaprio wasn't feeling it. Contrary to rumors, DiCaprio said he never screen-tested for the role, though he did talk to Schumacher. "I had a meeting with Joel Schumacher," he told Shortlist. "It was just one meeting and, no, I didn't end up doing it." Despite meeting with the director, DiCaprio said he never wanted the role. "As I recall I took the meeting but didn't want to play the role. Joel Schumacher is a very talented director, but I don't think I was ready for anything like that."

The role ended up going to Chris O'Donnell, but interestingly, Robin wasn't the only superhero role Hollywood offered DiCaprio — Sony Pictures approached him to play Spider-Man for director Sam Raimi, but as with Robin, he said he just wasn't ready "to put on that suit" yet. At this juncture in his Oscar-winning career, it seems unlikely he's in any rush to change his mind.

Tom Hardy

After starring in Christopher Nolan's "Inception" in 2010, Tom Hardy boarded Nolan's third Batman film, "The Dark Knight Rises," as the villain Bane. When the time came for Warner Bros. to launch the DCEU, Hardy wanted to be a part of it. The studio approached him for a role in David Ayer's "Suicide Squad," but he turned down the project not long after receiving the final script for the film.

Considering the reaction critics had to "Suicide Squad," it might seem safe to believe the rumors that circulated in early 2015 that Hardy ended up turning down the role of Col. Rick Flag because he didn't like the "Suicide Squad" script. That couldn't be further from the truth, however: Hardy had previous commitments to Alejandro G. Inarritu's "The Revenant," which had tacked on an additional three months of filming in Calgary and later Argentina due to the lack of snow in Canada.

In fact, Hardy really loved the script, telling Collider, "Warner Bros. is my home studio, and I love them, so I was really bummed out. I wanted to work on ['Suicide Squad'] and I know the script is really f***ing alley ... that's gonna, I think, be a very important film for fans."

Jake Gyllenhaal

After Tom Hardy turned down the role of Rick Flag in "Suicide Squad," David Ayer and the studio started searching for his replacement, and their quest led them to Jake Gyllenhaal. As an established actor with a healthy background in blockbusters, Gyllenhaal seemed like the perfect candidate for the role. Unfortunately, he also passed on the opportunity to appear in the DCEU. Gyllenhaal never gave a reason for turning down the offer, fueling more speculation that the script was the issue.

As long as Gyllenhaal doesn't have any opposition to starring in a superhero movie, then perhaps there's still a chance to see him in the DCEU. After all, Gyllenhaal is no stranger to the genre: Sam Raimi almost cast him in "Spider-Man 2" after Tobey Maguire sustained a back injury. Of course, as fans are aware, they ended up keeping Maguire, and the result is widely considered one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. As for Gyllenhaal? Superpowers eluded him the first time around, but he finally joined the MCU to play the classic villain Mysterio in 2019's "Spider-Man: Far from Home."

Jon Hamm

Warner Bros. had been trying to get a "Green Lantern" film off the ground for well over a decade before Martin Campbell directed the character's first live-action outing in 2011, starring Ryan Reynolds. The studio approached Kevin Smith (per Ain't It Cool News) in 1997 to write a script for the film, but he turned down the offer, feeling he wasn't the right fit for the job. Then MTV News reported that renowned director Quentin Tarantino received an offer to helm the project, but he also turned it down, feeling he'd outgrown his adoration for comic books. When the studio finally settled on a director and screenwriter, they started searching for their Hal Jordan.

While Reynolds ultimately got the part, he wasn't always the top contender. Warner Bros. approached Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, and Sam Worthington, who either all rejected the project or weren't ultimately offered the part. Another one-time contender (per GQ) was "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm. "They came after me pretty hard for "Green Lantern." But I was like, 'Meh, that's not what I want to do,'" he recalled. "Never say never, but these aren't the kind of movies I like to go and see. They don't make the kind of movies I like to see anymore."

Josh Hartnett

Josh Hartnett was a rising star in his early 20s, thanks to films such as "Black Hawk Down," "Pearl Harbor," and "40 Days and 40 Nights." His status as a heartthrob in Hollywood at the time made him a prime candidate for Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man. Yes, Hartnett, at one point or another, was offered all three roles. Why did he turn them down?

"Spider-Man was something we talked about," Hartnett recalled to Details (via Daily Mail) in 2014. "Batman was another one. But I somehow knew those roles had [the] potential to define me, and I didn't want that. I didn't want to be labeled as Superman for the rest of my career. I was maybe 22, but I saw the danger." He reiterated the same notion a year later, telling Playboy, "I've definitely said no to some of the wrong people. I said no because I was tired and wanted to spend more time with my friends and family. That's frowned upon in this industry."

Being offered one of those roles is a miracle in and of itself — but all three? And to turn them all down? It certainly caused friction between his manager and agents. "I didn't have those agents for much longer after that. There was a lot of infighting between my manager and agents, trying to figure out who to put the blame on. It got to the point where none of us were able to work together." Maybe he'll accept the next super-offer — if one ever comes along.

Caroline Munro

English actress and model Caroline Munro is known for her horror movies with Hammer Films, where she got her big break starring in Alan Gibson's "Dracula A.D. 1972" and then later Brian Clemens' "Captain Kronos — Vampire Hunter." In addition to starring in numerous action movies, Munro is also known for being a Bond girl. She played Naomi in Lewis Gilbert's "The Spy Who Loved Me," with Roger Moore as James Bond. However, in order to join the cast, Munro had to forego the opportunity to star in Richard Donner's "Superman."

Donner and Warner Bros. offered Munro the part of Ursa, a villain and collaborator of the iconic Superman villain General Zod. "Yes, it's true, I was offered Ursa," Munro told House of Horrors. "My agent at the time, Dennis Salinger, said that I should go with the Bond film because it seemed the best bet. Superman at that time was untried, whereas there had been Bond films before and he felt that it was the best role to take." Honestly, Salinger has a point, from a managerial viewpoint. In hindsight, however, going for Donner's "Superman" movie might have elevated her status in geekdom.

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan has had a prolific career, though his four-film tenure as James Bond will undoubtedly remain a highlight. At one point, though, Brosnan had the opportunity to star in a comic book movie that would have, in all likelihood, not only altered his chances for Bond but also changed the landscape of the genre as we know it. Imagine, for a second, that Michael Keaton didn't play Batman in Tim Burton's 1989 film — and instead, the part went to Brosnan.

In a Reddit AMA, Brosnan admitted to meeting Burton for the role. "Yes, I did. I went and met with Tim Burton for the role of Batman," he wrote. "But I just couldn't really take it seriously, any man who wears his underpants outside his pants just cannot be taken seriously. That was my foolish take on it. It was a joke, I thought. But how wrong was I?" Brosnan stressed that he doesn't hate Batman, but just couldn't see himself playing the character in a movie. "Don't get me wrong, because I love Batman, and I grew up on Batman. As a kid in Ireland, we used to get our raincoats and tie them round our neck and swing through the bicycle shed."

It appears that, just like Caroline Munro with "Superman," Brosnan passing on Batman led him to James Bond, and thus the defining role of his career. Plus he did get his shot at DC superhero glory years later, when he played Justice Society member Doctor Fate in 2022's "Black Adam."

Anthony Hopkins

There aren't many actors more highly regarded than Anthony Hopkins, who still manages to impress us at this late stage in his career. Known to many as Hannibal Lecter from "The Silence of the Lambs" and its sequels, Hopkins allegedly had the opportunity to perform in a comics adaptation — but he declined. Before Michael Caine boarded Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" as Bruce Wayne's butler, Alfred Pennyworth, Nolan reportedly offered Hopkins the role. He turned it down, for reasons unknown. Thankfully he did, because without Caine as Alfred, Nolan likely never would have developed the close relationship with Caine that's led to the duo working together on multiple films.

Despite reportedly being turned down for the role of Mr. Freeze in Joel Schumacher's "Batman and Robin" (a role he lost to Arnold Schwarzenegger), Hopkins maintained his interest in DC movies. Not long after refusing the role of Alfred in "Batman Begins," he finally joined the DC universe as Jor-El in J.J. Abrams and Brett Ratner's "Superman: Flyby." Things didn't work out, though, and the project mutated into Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns." "I was going to do the movie with Brett, and I don't know what happened," Hopkins told MTV News. "I think Brett was out of line with something and they said thank you very much. I never heard from Brett since then, but I was all set to do it." Is Hopkins secretly a huge comic book fan, and we just didn't know about it? At least he got his chance to play Odin in Marvel's "Thor" movies.

Katie Holmes

Katie Holmes played the original character Rachel Dawes in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" but opted not to return for the film's sequel, "The Dark Knight," despite reportedly being offered a hefty sum for the role. Nolan said he was sad to see Holmes go, but felt lucky that they managed to nab Maggie Gyllenhaal as her replacement. "Katie wasn't available for the role, which I wasn't very happy about, but these things happen," he admitted. "And I was very, very fortunate that Maggie was able to take it over." Before accepting the role, Gyllenhaal made sure to get Holmes' approval first. "I wanted to be sure, first of all, that I had her blessing," said Gyllenhaal. "And I was assured that I did. I'm a big fan of hers; I think she was really great in the first movie."

In hindsight, looking back at the box office grosses and critical acclaim for "The Dark Knight," one might imagine that Holmes would wish she hadn't passed on the film. But when asked if she had regrets, she told MTV News, "Not at all. I had a great experience working with Chris Nolan [and] I'm sure it's going to be a great movie. [But] I chose to do this movie ['Mad Money'], and I'm really proud of it."

Jude Law

Jude Law's an excellent actor, but he's not a huge movie star. After the disastrous performance of "Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow," Law was probably nervous about headlining another action franchise — especially when the character is the greatest superhero of them all. On "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert," Law revealed that director Bryan Singer offered him the role of the Man of Steel for 2006's "Superman Returns." Singer even sent Law the suit to try on: "I take the suit into the bathroom and I'm putting it on and I look around and I look in the mirror and suddenly I'm Superman," Law recalled. "And the music kind of comes in. Then I have this picture of me in that costume in posters all over the world and I was like, 'No way!' And I unzipped it. But I was Superman for two minutes, that was enough."

Law turned down the role, which went to the unknown Brandon Routh. After the lukewarm reception to "Superman Returns," the series was rebooted with Law's fellow Brit, Henry Cavill. "I'm an Englishman and, I don't know, it just didn't seem to fit," said Law. "I was always worried about the outfit. I just didn't fancy it." Law presumably had no such qualms about the wardrobe for Yon-Rogg, the Kree warrior he played in 2019's MCU blockbuster "Captain Marvel."

Will Smith

Movie stars didn't come much bigger than Will Smith at his peak. This was especially true in the mid-2000s, when he turned just about every genre into a goldmine. But one major genre he hadn't touched at that point was superhero films. It seemed like the perfect fit: Will Smith in a big-budget, CGI-heavy action flick was about as close to a sure thing as you were going to get. Add an iconic character and any studio would kill for the chance to produce that. Well, according to Smith in an interview with MTV (via CBM), he wasn't just offered any superhero, but the mightiest of them all: Superman.

Apparently Bryan Singer also asked Smith to play the big blue boy scout in "Superman Returns." Smith didn't even need to see the suit. He rejected the part because he didn't want to repeat what was then his biggest career mistake: "There is no way I'm playing Superman!' Because I had already done Jim West [in 'Wild Wild West'], and you can't be messing up white people's heroes in Hollywood. You mess up white people's heroes in Hollywood, you'll never work in this town again!" Smith would go on to play his own superhero in "Hancock" and would eventually join the DC franchise as Deadshot in "Suicide Squad," but he has since departed that role.

Heath Ledger

Imagine living in an alternate universe where Heath Ledger played Bruce Wayne/Batman and Christian Bale played the Joker. It's not that far-fetched. In 2005, Ledger was the gravelly-voiced king of cool, while Bale was most known for playing the maniacal murdering psychopath Patrick Bateman (watch the chainsaw scene in "American Psycho" ... it's so Joker). We're happy with the way things turned out, but according to "The Dark Knight" director Christopher Nolan, it was almost Ledger, not Bale, who donned the cape and cowl.

In an interview with the Daily Star, Nolan revealed that he offered the part of Batman to Ledger but was turned down: "He was quite gracious about it, but he said, 'I would never take a part in a superhero film.'" Thankfully, Ledger changed his mind, presumably after he saw "Batman Begins" and realized Nolan was going for a grittier, more realistic take. Fortunately, there were no hard feelings on Nolan's end, as he clearly was a great admirer of Ledger's work. "The Dark Knight" would become one of the highest-grossing movies of the decade, as well as the first film to earn $500+ million domestically since "Titanic," largely due to Ledger's performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. Ledger tragically died before the film's release, but his work won him his first and only Oscar. Still, how cool would it have been to see Ledger growl, "Swear to me!"? The answer: really cool.

Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke also turned down the opportunity to don Batman's cape and cowl. However, it was not in Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy," but in the Burton-Schumacher "Batman" series. When Michael Keaton declined to return following Tim Burton's departure from the director's chair, Hawke told Details (via CBM) that he was approached to take on the role.

Was Hawke, like Ledger, just not interested in being in a superhero movie? Well, you could put it that way. But Hawke was worried he wouldn't get to enjoy the things he loved: "I just didn't want to go to the Knicks game and have everybody go, 'Wow, you were a great Batman!' That wasn't my f***ing goal in life," he explained. The part went to Val Kilmer, and then George Clooney, who co-starred with Hawke's future wife Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy in "Batman and Robin." Did Uma's experience make the actor glad he dodged a bullet (and Bat-nipples)? Surprisingly, no. "Now I wish I'd done it, because I could have used it to do other things." Hey, not everybody is born with Bruce Wayne's billions, right?

Kate Beckinsale

If you Google "actors who almost played Wonder Woman," it seems like everybody was considered for the part, from Sandra Bullock to Megan Fox, though it's doubtful many of these actresses were ever formally approached for what most would consider a dream role. One actress who was approached for the role — and turned it down — was Kate Beckinsale. With her lead role as vampire death dealer Selene in the successful "Underworld" franchise, Beckinsale would have been a perfect fit for the Amazonian warrior in the mid-2000s. Alas, the most recent female superheroes on film during that time were Halle Berry in "Catwoman," Jennifer Garner in "Elektra," and Charlize Theron in "Aeon Flux." Not the best track record, and it sounds like this proposed Wonder Woman vehicle wasn't going to be much better: "The incarnations that I was seeing were ... They weren't this one [the 2017 film]," Beckinsale told Yahoo! Movies.

But even if the script was better, it sounds like Beckinsale would have been hung up by the same thing which has worried actors playing superheroes forever: the suit. "I don't know if I was desperate to be in a leotard," said Beckinsale. "I'd already done the rubber trousers. You have to take in that you have a child at some point and how much could you possibly embarrass them?"

Kristen Stewart

Director Zack Snyder apparently felt "slighted" when Kristen Stewart rejected the role of Lois Lane in 2013's "Man of Steel." According to sources close to the director, he and his wife/producing partner Deborah met with Stewart about playing the iconic reporter. While Snyder was interested in Stewart, he apparently never formally offered her the part. Stewart made clear that she was not interested, evidently surprising Snyder. Stewart herself had been caught "off-guard" by the blockbuster success of the "Twilight" films and the spotlight it put on her personal life, especially her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson. Why she didn't realize a wildly successful young adult fantasy book series would become a monster box office hit is uncertain, but the sudden onset of fame is a funny thing.

Stewart was still working on the "Twilight" series and wanted to focus on smaller, more independent films, which "Man of Steel" most definitely was not. Snyder wasn't upset for long, as he hired A-lister Amy Adams for the role. However, Adams may have wished she'd turned down the part too. Stewart's focus on smaller films gave her career a renewed vigor, while Snyder's DC films started with poor feedback and continued on a downward slide. Perhaps Stewart should warn her ex, Pattinson, who has taken on the role of Batman.


It's a material world, and Madonna is a material girl (or so we've heard). So we were a little surprised to find out that "The Queen of Reinvention" didn't want to reinvent herself as the Dark Knight's arch-rival-slash-love-interest Catwoman in Tim Burton's hugely anticipated "Batman Returns" in 1992. After all, the film was the sequel to the record-breaking, undisputed summer 1989 champ "Batman," which earned $411 million worldwide, in large part due to Jack Nicholson's iconic take on The Joker. Wouldn't Madge playing the super-famous villain Catwoman in the sequel be "Vogue"? Ms. Ciccone didn't seem to think so. 

Madonna confirmed the longstanding rumor that she turned down the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman in an interview on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," saying: "I regret that I turned down Catwoman. That was pretty fierce." Thanks to Michelle Pfeiffer, who famously played the femme fatale in the film, it certainly was fierce. While we're happy with the way Pfeiffer's performance panned out, we can't help but wonder what Madonna would have done in the role. Madonna didn't really elaborate on why she turned down Catwoman, though we can speculate it was because she'd just starred in another comic-based property, Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy," in 1990. Or maybe she just got "Hung Up" (okay, we'll stop now) about black leather, as she revealed to Jimmy Fallon that she also turned down the role of Trinity in "The Matrix." 

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin is known for playing Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Cable in "Deadpool 2," so he's no stranger to superhero movies. Yet he had the opportunity to play Batman in Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and decided against it. Ben Affleck wound up portraying the billionaire-turned-vigilante, although Affleck's tenure in the cowl initially proved divisive among fans.

Brolin talked about turning down the role during a 2014 interview with Yahoo! Movies, implying that he did so because he and Snyder had disagreements about the character. "Me and Zack had a conversation about it," he explained. "And there were several reasons why we said it wasn't the best idea on both sides. I had mine and Zack had his." He went on to say that he'd love to play an iconic role like Batman, but he'd also be okay if that never ended up happening: "To me it's not about being cool and all that stuff ... I do roles that aren't necessarily all that cool. All my stuff is a little off."

James Caan

James Caan has wowed audiences over the years with his roles in movies like "The Godfather," "Misery," and "Brian's Song." His success led Warner Bros. executives to offer him the role of Clark Kent/Superman in the 1978 film "Superman: The Movie," but Caan didn't think it was the right fit for him. While considering the role, he read an earlier version of the script that was much more comical than the final version. Although "The Godfather" author Mario Puzo and three other writers worked on it, director Richard Donner was dismayed that it leaned into a campier portrayal of the character.

Donner told The Hollywood Reporter in 2016, "I'm reading this thing and Superman's looking for Lex Luthor in Metropolis, and he's looking for every bald head in the city. And then he flies down and taps a guy on the shoulder and it's [Kojak's] Telly Savalas, who hands him a lollipop and says, 'Who loves ya, baby?'"

One of the reasons Caan turned down the role was because of all the absurd comedy in the script. "You have to understand, that when 'Superman' was made, it was written by Mario Puzo, and it was all tongue-in-cheek. It was hysterical," he said on "The Howard Stern Show." Another reason he wasn't interested was due to the fact that he'd have to film "Superman: The Movie" and "Superman II" one after another. The part ended up going to Christopher Reeve.

Keanu Reeves

From "The Matrix" to the "John Wick" movies, Keanu Reeves has been in some incredible films throughout his career. However, when he had the chance to play Dr. Manhattan in Zack Snyder's "Watchmen," he refused the role. In 2008, he told MTV that he was very interested in the opportunity, but had to turn it down because it just, in his words, "didn't work out." Since he was filming "The Day The Earth Stood Still" around that time, it was possibly due to schedule conflicts.

Even though he couldn't be in "Watchmen," he still visited the set. "They were shooting in Vancouver while we were filming, so I went over to the set to say, 'Hi.' They showed me some stuff and it looks amazing! I can't wait. It's going to be so killer, man!" While Reeves would have made a great Dr. Manhattan, Billy Crudup got the role and absolutely nailed it, according to fans.

Paul Walker

Sometimes when an actor portrays the main character in a popular movie, they end up being remembered for only that role for the rest of their life, much to their dismay. That was the main reason Paul Walker decided against playing the role of Superman. Walker, who had been in the "Fast and Furious" movies, "The Lazarus Project," and "Into the Blue," was offered the part sometime between 2001 and 2003.

According to Express, he spoke with director Richard Donner while considering whether or not he should accept the part. "By the end of it, the closing thing I said, 'Do you think I need it, should I do it?'" Walker recalled. "[Donner] said, 'For what sake?' I said, 'Financially.' He said, 'No kid, you do it if you want to do it.' I said, 'Well, I don't think I want to die as Superman.' And [Donner] said: 'Well there's your answer, don't do it.' And that was it."

Walker added that he respected Donner's opinion enormously and looked up to the legendary director almost as a father figure, saying, "You won't find anyone who tells it straighter than Richard Donner in the industry anyhow, I'll tell you that." While Superman went through several more years of development, it's likely that the role Walker was offered went to Brandon Routh, who portrayed the Man of Steel in 2006's "Superman Returns."

Warren Beatty

During his long and successful career, Warren Beatty appeared in numerous films, including "Bonnie and Clyde," "Heaven Can Wait," and "McCabe and Mrs. Miller." However, the seasoned actor refused the role of Superman back in the 1970s. "I was offered it, but I didn't think it was a good idea to put a comic strip into a movie," he said (via Express). "They were insistent I think about it."

Even though he was leaning toward saying no, he humored executives by doing one more thing before making his decision. He asked his assistant to buy some long underwear that resembled Superman's signature costume so he could get a feel for the outfit he'd have to wear during production: "I put them on, looked at myself in a full-length mirror, and picked up the phone to say, 'Just forget it!'"

Considering the timeframe, the role presumably went to Christopher Reeve, who first portrayed the iconic superhero in the 1978 film "Superman." Meanwhile, Beatty apparently changed his feelings about movies based on comic strips, since he directed, produced, and starred in 1990's "Dick Tracy." 

Ray Liotta

After starring in "Goodfellas," Ray Liotta wanted to avoid getting typecasted as a gangster, so he turned down a role in "The Sopranos" — but that wasn't the only big role he passed on. In 2016, he said that Tim Burton was considering casting him as the Joker in the 1989 film "Batman," but he turned down the audition.

"I thought, 'Batman? That's a stupid idea,' even though he'd just done one of my favorite movies of all time, 'Beetlejuice.' So yes, I regret not auditioning for that," he told Irish News, adding, "My career could've taken off in a different kind of way." He expressed a similar sentiment during an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2017. "I think Tim Burton is such a great, great director, and I've always regretted not going to meet him," Liotta said. "Just to meet him, just to talk — whether I agreed with playing it — because I couldn't wrap my head around and understand."

Jack Nicholson ended up portraying the Joker in the film. Despite missing out on the role, Liotta still had a successful career, earning an Emmy Award in 2005 for his performance in "ER."

Charlize Theron

"Mad Max: Fury Road," "Prometheus," and "Monster" are just a few of the movies that Charlize Theron has starred in over the years. She even had the opportunity to be in the 2017 film "Wonder Woman," but turned it down. On "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen," a fan asked her if she regretted her decision since the movie ended up being very successful.

"This is a great of example of how Hollywood slaps you in the face when you start aging," she replied. "So somebody had said to me, 'Oh, there's action on this thing, 'Wonder Woman.' We just want to make you aware of it.' And I was like, 'I'm just not familiar with it ... I mean, what does Wonder Woman do?' And this person said, 'No, it's for Wonder Woman's mom.'"

Ouch. Gal Gadot played the role of Wonder Woman, despite only being nine years younger than Theron. Connie Nielsen, who is 10 years older than Theron, was cast as the superhero's mom, Hippolyta. Amazonian women are highly regarded for their ageless beauty, so Hippolyta was never supposed to look especially elderly, but it doesn't sound like Theron regrets refusing the role.

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling has been an immensely popular actor for years, starring in huge hits like "The Notebook" and "La La Land." He can afford to be picky about the roles he accepts, so he (wisely) chose not to play the Joker in the 2016 movie "Suicide Squad." According to The Wrap, Gosling passed on the role because he did not want to be tied down to a franchise in which he might be contractually obligated to appear in several additional movies.

The film went on to get terrible reviews from both critics and audiences as of 2023, so Gosling dodged a bullet by refusing to be in it. Unfortunately, that meant Jared Leto snagged the role of the Joker, which some view as one of the worst casting choices of all time. Oddly enough, in addition to being offered the same role in "Suicide Squad," Gosling and Leto starred alongside each other in the movie "Blade Runner 2049" not long after that. We're just glad Leto left the flashy silver grill behind for that role.

Dave Bautista

Dave Bautista collaborated with James Gunn on the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies, so when Gunn started looking for actors for the 2021 film "The Suicide Squad," it makes sense that he turned to his old friend. Unfortunately for Gunn, the actor passed on the opportunity because he wanted to work with Zack Snyder on the movie "Army of the Dead." "I had this chip on my shoulder and was looking for juicy [dramatic roles]," Bautista told EW. "Then I read the script and it was a lot deeper and had more layers than I thought. And also, to be quite frank, I wanted to work with Zack."

Bautista definitely doesn't have anything against DC roles, though — quite the opposite, actually. During Justice Con (via Collider), he revealed that back in 2021, he was so interested in playing Bane in one of the "Batman" movies that he went to Warner Bros. executives to pitch himself for the role. In 2022, Gunn and Peter Safran took over DC Studios, so Gunn and Bautista talked about whether or not the actor would be able to portray the notorious mask-wearing villain.

"I have had conversations with James about that, but I think the direction he's leaning in, completely rebooting that whole universe, he's starting from scratch and starting younger and fresher and I think you need to do that," Bautista told Insider in 2023. "You need to start to plan for the next 15 years, and I just don't think you can do that with me."

Michael Rosenbaum

Michael Rosenbaum is no stranger to comic book adaptations, having played Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor for many years on the series "Smallville." On top of that, he's friends with James Gunn and has worked with him on multiple projects, including "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2." Considering all of that, we can see why Gunn offered him a role in "The Suicide Squad," but the actor had to pass on it.

"I supposed to be in it, but I had neck surgery and I couldn't do a role," Rosenbaum said during an episode of Comicbook.com's "Talking Shop" in 2020. "I couldn't do the role because it was too physical at that time, and I couldn't jeopardize my neck." Fans were curious what role he was offered, but the actor has remained tight-lipped about the details, saying, "For now, this role is going to remain a secret." Maybe this means there's a possibility of him taking over the role later on, but only time will tell.

Sam Rockwell

With his portrayal of the evil businessman Justin Hammer in the 2010 movie "Iron Man 2," Sam Rockwell proved he was great in comic book adaptations. It makes sense that Warner Bros. executives offered him the role of the psychopathic crime boss Black Mask in the 2020 film "Birds of Prey," but the actor ultimately passed on it. He didn't explain the reason why he ruled himself out of the running.

After that, executives were split between who they wanted to portray the villain: Ewan McGregor or Sharlto Copley. McGregor is best known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in several "Star Wars" projects and Copley appeared in "Elysium" and "District 9," so both actors were solid choices, but they decided that McGregor was a better fit for the role. As for Rockwell, he went on to star in two movies in 2022: "The Bad Guys" and "See How They Run."

Scott Eastwood

You may have seen Clint Eastwood's son, Scott Eastwood, in movies like "The Fate of the Furious" and "Pacific Rim Uprising." He also played Lieutenant GQ Edwards in director David Ayer's "Suicide Squad." His character was a Navy SEAL who helped Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), but he didn't have much screen time in the theatrical release of the film. Eastwood told Insider in 2022, "I have talked to David, and I know my character got a lot more love in the Ayer cut." By "the Ayer cut," he means the director's first edit, which the studio changed drastically before the releasing the final cut.

When Eastwood had the chance to be in James Gunn's sequel-reboot, "The Suicide Squad," he was on the fence about it. "They didn't want to pay me any money for those next movies and ... they didn't have another script for the other movie, so I didn't know what I was going to be signing myself up for."

Since his father has a lot of experience in Hollywood, he called him for advice. "I said, 'They don't want to pay me.' He said, 'If it feels like they really need you and if it's a good part, then do it. If not, then don't.'" His decision was probably for the best since many of the characters from Ayer's version of the movie were killed off in Gunn's version anyway.