Marvel Studios upcoming “Thor” and “Captain America” look to be huge hits, but there’s no way of knowing before the films are released into theaters. No one wants to be known for an unsuccessful film, which can potentially follow them their entire careers (John Travolta, no matter what he does, cannot shake the sheer, unrelenting badness that is “Battlefield Earth“). So, while there’s no such thing as a sure thing, many actors won’t venture outside their comfort zone for projects. For example, Clint Eastwood was originally considered to play Superman in Richard Donner’s 1978 film, but didn’t accept the role.
He was also offered James Bond, which he too refused.
Will Smith was offered the role of Neo, from “The Matrix”, before Keanu Reeves, but turned it down.
Both men are perhaps the exceptions because they came out well despite declining career-defining roles.
Though it doesn’t work that well for everyone.
For, according to the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) Tom Selleck was Steven Speilberg’s second choice for the fedora-wearing archeologist, Indiana Jones; Harrison Ford was his first, though George Lucas did not want him because he had just played in two of his films, American Grafitti and Star Wars, so he wanted a new face. Various actors were considered, such as Bill Murray, Nick Nolte, and even Steve Martin.
Harrison Ford finally got the part, and the rest is history.
Tom Selleck was more successful on the small screen than the large, though his career never reached the heights of Harrison Ford.