Everyone knows that Disney is one of the biggest—if not the biggest—production companies in the whole world. Whether this is a Disney Channel television show or a feature film from Walt Disney Studios, many talents would never pass on an opportunity to be part of such projects. In fact, Hollywood’s biggest stars such as Selena Gomez, Justin Timberlake, and Ashley Tisdale all got their start through Disney.
However, some are not aware that there have been a handful of Hollywood actors who rejected Disney roles. There were those who made the crucial decision of rejecting now-iconic characters and most likely the handsome paycheck that came with it. While we may never know if some of them regret their choices, it is safe to say that they all managed to find success without the help of Disney.
5 Actors Who Rejected Disney Roles
1. Jack Nicholson
James Woods did a stellar job in bringing Hades to life in the 1997 animated feature Hercules. But did you know that the role was originally written for Jack Nicholson? The hearsays that Nicholson is one of the famous personalities who rejected Disney roles were confirmed by the film’s writer and director, John Musker, in a blog post. The studio even went as far as meeting with Nicholson and his children, who were completely on board with the project at first. However, the actor needed to drop out after his deal with Warner Bros. prevented him from working with Disney.
Joanna Levesque, more popularly known by her stage name Jojo, was just starting out with her music career when she was approached by Disney executives to do Hannah Montana. Unfortunately, Jojo did not want to take the part, and she remained firm with that decision up to this day. In a post written online, Jojo stated that she was “more concerned with being a legitimate artist. . . . I wanted to do it on my own—the old-fashioned way—with talent, determination, and hard work.”
3. Emma Watson
Emma Watson may be riding the Disney wave of success right now after her film Beauty and the Beast broke box office records, but apparently, the movie was Disney’s second attempt at wooing Watson to work with the studio. The first time was when they asked her to play Cinderella, a role that ultimately went to British actress Lily James. Watson spoke out about her decision, stating that she felt more connected to the character of Belle. Clearly, everything worked out for both actresses as they delivered great performances in their respective roles.
4. Michael Douglas
Frozen was a mega hit for Disney when it invaded theaters in 2013. The film not only shattered box office records, but it would also go on to win two Academy Awards. Frozen featured the voices of Josh Gad, Kristen Bell, and Idina Menzel.
It may be hard to believe, but Michael Douglas was supposed to be part of that roster! Douglas confirmed this long-running rumor when he visited The Late Late Show with James Corden. Although the actor could not recall what role was offered to him, many are speculating that he could have been attached to voice Alan Tudyk‘s Duke of Weselton.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio
Have you ever gone through Halloween without catching Hocus Pocus? Well, you might be amused to find out that Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio was once tapped to play Max, a role that would later go to Osmi Katz. At that time, DiCaprio was waiting for a callback for the lead role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. He may have passed on the opportunity to be part of a cult classic, but DiCaprio did manage to earn his first Oscar nomination with What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.