10 actors who almost turned down very famous roles

1. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER // THE TERMINATOR (1984)

To promote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2012 memoir, amazingly named Total Recall, The Sydney Morning Herald published an excerpt of the book, in which the living legend detailed how he almost turned down the lead role in The Terminator. Recalling his conversation with director James Cameron, Schwarzenegger wrote: “I told him that being cast as an evil villain wasn’t going to help my career. It was something I could do later on, but right now I should keep playing heroes so that people would get used to me being a heroic character.” Fortunately, Cameron was able to win Schwarzenegger over by promising that he’d make the Terminator the kind of hero Ah-nold was interested in exploring.

2. RICHARD DREYFUSS // JAWS (1975)

 According to an old BBC documentary on Jaws, Richard Dreyfuss wasn’t interested in playing oceanographer Matt Hooper in what would become Hollywood’s defining “blockbuster.” However, after seeing—and hating—his performance in 1974’s The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Dreyfuss reportedly begged Spielberg for another shot.

3. JULIE ANDREWS // THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

Fresh off the success of Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews was hesitant to take on another musical—especially one in which she would play the same kind of character: a nanny. “Having done The Americanization of Emily between Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, I hoped that would show I didn’t only play nanny roles,” she said.

4. LEONARDO DICAPRIO // TITANIC (1997)

 Does anyone even want to imagine Titanic without Leonardo DiCaprio? There’d be no Leo and Kate BFF-ship! According to People, DiCaprio wasn’t interested in playing a romantic leading man. However, James Cameron convinced him otherwise. “His character doesn’t go through torment, and Leo previously and subsequently in his career was always looking for that dark cloud,” Cameron told the magazine. “It became my job to convince him that it was a challenge to do what Gregory Peck and Jimmy Stewart did in previous generations, to stand there and be strong and hold the audience’s eye without seeming to do very much. [It was] only when I convinced him that was actually the harder thing to do that he got excited.”

6. UMA THURMAN // PULP FICTION (1994)

 The Pulp Fiction posters on the bedroom and dorm room walls of cinephiles everywhere could’ve looked vastly different if Uma Thurman hadn’t agreed to star in the film. In Vanity Fair’s sweeping oral history of the film, Thurman opened up about why she initially turned down Mia Wallace. “I was 23, from Massachusetts. [Tarantino] wasn’t this revered demigod auteur that he has grown into. And I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it, because I was worried about the Gimp stuff,” she said. “We had very memorable, long discussions about male rape versus female rape. No one could believe I even hesitated in any way. Neither can I, in hindsight.”