Top 10 Stars Who Turned Down an Iconic Disney Role

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Top 10 Stars Who Turned Down an Iconic Disney Role

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
Script written by Clayton Martino

These celebrities were offered iconic Disney roles but chose to turn them down for other projects! Can you imagine Emma Watson as Cinderella? Beyonce as Tiana? Ryan Gosling as Beast? Jim Carrey as Captain Sparrow? How about Anne Hathaway as Alice Kingsleigh? Though they seem pretty perfect for these roles, we're glad these iconic characters were filled by the actors they ended up with today!
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Top 10 Stars Who TURNED DOWN An Iconic Disney Role


Even one of the biggest and most popular film studios on the planet doesn’t always get the star they first wanted. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stars Who TURNED DOWN An Iconic Disney Role.

For this list, we’re looking specifically at stars that turned down a role in a Disney film. As such, we are not including people who left the project after already accepting the role, like Reese Witherspoon as Merida.

#10: Joe Pesci & Danny DeVito as Iago
“Aladdin” (1992)


You know you’re a popular character when you spend the entire first film as the sidekick to the main villain, only to return as part of the main cast for the sequels and television series. One main reason for Iago’s popularity was his voice, provided by the legendary Gilbert Gottfried. Things could have been drastically different, however, as Disney was also considering Joe Pesci and Danny DeVito for the part, while Warren Beatty reportedly turned down the role. Though all are talented, Iago would have been an entirely different character had the part not gone to Gottfried.

#9: Anne Hathaway as Alice Kingsleigh
“Alice in Wonderland” (2010)


Anne Hathaway did end up playing a part in Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland,” as she was cast as the White Queen. That wasn’t the part Disney originally had in mind for the award-winning actress, however. The studio initially offered her the role of Alice, but she turned it down, as she had already played somewhat similar characters in “The Princess Diaries,” “Ella Enchanted,” and various other Cinderella stories. So Tim Burton ended up casting Mia Wasikowska as Alice, effectively launching the young actress’ career.

#8: JoJo as Hannah Montana
“Hannah Montana” (2006-11)


While some people may recognize the name Joanna “JoJo” Levesque, pretty much everyone knows Miley Cyrus. One of the main reasons for this is the television show, “Hannah Montana.” The show was an instant hit for Disney and launched a number of careers, but nearly featured JoJo as the titular character, not Miley. Disney executives pushed hard to cast JoJo, but she turned it down, claiming that she wanted to become a legitimate artist on her own. The role went to Miley and the rest, as they say, is history.

#7: Billy Crystal as Buzz Lightyear
“Toy Story” (1995)


“Toy Story” is one of a handful of movies to earn the 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, and is responsible for launching the Pixar universe, which has given us many outstanding animated films over the years. One of the best parts of “Toy Story” is the relationship between Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks, and Buzz, voiced by Tim Allen. Except, it almost wasn’t. The studio actually offered the part to Billy Crystal, but he turned it down. He would later state that it was the only regret he had in the business in regards to turning down a role, and the next time he was given the chance to voice a part in Pixar, he immediately said yes.

#6: Jack Nicholson as Hades
“Hercules” (1997)


Arguably the most memorable part of “Hercules” is James Woods’ smooth-talking Hades. Although the character was supposed to be quieter and more menacing, the script was changed to suit Woods’ mile a minute way of speaking, and the actor ad-libbed much of the dialogue. The original version of the character would have suited Jack Nicholson, however. The studio initially pursued Nicholson and the actor liked the role and the film, but couldn’t work out a contract, as he wanted the studio to give him a cut of the merchandising proceeds. Disney ultimately refused, Nicholson walked, and Woods was given the role.

#5: Bill Murray as James P. ‘Sulley’ Sullivan
“Monsters, Inc.” (2001)


One of the most celebrated actors of this generation, Bill Murray has starred in a number of famous films. He has also missed out on numerous iconic roles for a long list of strange reasons. Murray was actually offered the part of Buzz in the first “Toy Story” film, but turned down the part. Undeterred, Pixar went after Murray again to cast him as Sulley in “Monsters, Inc.” When the studio tried to contact him, however, no one answered the phone. Thus, the role of Sulley went to John Goodman instead.

#4: Jim Carrey as Captain Jack Sparrow
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003)


One of the main reasons why Disney was able to turn a theme park ride into a massive film franchise was because of Johnny Depp. He owns the role of Captain Jack Sparrow and was even nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal back in 2003. This nearly never happened, however, because Disney initially wanted Jim Carrey for the part. Carrey turned it down because of a scheduling conflict with “Bruce Almighty.” Carrey no doubt would have provided an interesting take on the character, but it’s pretty clear that the studio struck gold when they cast Depp.

#3: Ryan Gosling as Beast
“Beauty and the Beast” (2017)


Back when Disney announced they were remaking “Beauty and the Beast” into a live-action film, rumors began swirling about who would be cast in the lead roles. Various news outlets reported that the role of Beast was actually offered to Ryan Gosling. Gosling turned down the role, however, choosing to star in “La La Land” instead. The move worked out pretty well for Gosling - he won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of the struggling jazz artist Sebastian.

#2: Beyoncé as Tiana
“The Princess and the Frog” (2009)


Casting the first African American princess in Disney history, the studio wanted to give the role of Tiana to a big-name star. Naturally, Beyoncé was right at the top of the list. The studio was prepared to give Beyoncé the part, but in order to be formally considered for the role, she needed to audition. This was a problem, because Beyoncé does not audition. As such, she couldn’t receive the role, and the studio decided to pursue Beyoncé’s “Dreamgirls” co-star, Anika Noni Rose, who ultimately landed the part.


Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honourable mentions:

Selena Gomez as Mitchie Torres
“Camp Rock” (2008)

Shiloh Jolie-Pitt as Little Aurora
“Maleficent” (2014)

#1: Emma Watson as Cinderella
“Cinderella” (2015)


When Emma Watson was cast as Belle in the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” it seemed like a match made in heaven. It likely wouldn’t have happened, however, had Watson not turned down the role of Cinderella just a few years earlier. She was offered the part in the live-action remake of “Cinderella,” but the role didn’t call out to her and it went to Lily James instead. Watson herself has stood by this decision, stating in an interview that she feels Belle is a better role model than Cinderella. She still likely would have been a great Cinderella, but there’s no denying that she was the perfect choice as Belle.
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Buzz Lightyear was to%u2019ve had a Brooklyn Accent? Who%u2019d have ever imagined?
Bill Murray%u2019s brother would eventually voice Don Carlton in Monsters University.