For instance, she points out that Harrison Ford wasn’t the director’s first choice for any of his seminal roles. Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Star Wars… it is impossible to imagine these game-changing cinema classics with anyone else in the lead role. But, Ford only scored the plum part of the whip-cracking archaeologist, Indiana Jones, in Steven Spielberg’s action fantasy Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) after Tom Selleck failed to obtain a leave of absence from Magnum PI.
And Dustin Hoffman was the actor Ridley Scott had in mind to play retired police Rick Deckard in his genre-redefining 1982 adaptation of Philip K Dick’s sci-fi classic, Blade Runner. The pair eventually parted ways because the actor couldn’t see himself in the role, which went to Ford.
And then there was the first and biggest break Ford got in Star Wars. Burt Reynolds blames his agent for what he now acknowledges as the biggest mistake of his career: turning down the role of Han Solo in George Lucas’ ground-breaking space opera. Thereafter, it too went to Ford.
But Ford isn’t the only A-list actor to turn other people’s rejects into gold.
Tom Hanks won an Oscar for Forrest Gump, a character John Travolta wasn’t inspired by at the time. Speaking of Tom Hanks, he was the filmmakers’ first choice for the role of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption; but he turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with Forrest Gump (1994). Kevin Costner also opted out, deciding to work on the critical and commercial flop Waterworld instead. Tim Robbins got the part and made the most of it.
Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were all considered for the part of Red (described in the original Stephen King novella as an Irishman with greying red hair). The part was rewritten for Morgan Freeman; and he scored an Oscar nomination for his trouble.
Julia Roberts’ star finally got a chance to sparkle when Molly Ringwald turned her nose up at Pretty Woman. Her on screen beau, Richard Gere, as well as Warren Beatty, were both Oliver Stone’s first two choices for the role of Gordon Gekko in Wall St.
And missing out on career defining roles is certainly nothing new in Hollywood. Way back in 1939, David O Selznick’s epic civil war drama, Gone with the Wind, would have been a very different film had Bette Davis played Scarlett O’Hara, as was originally mooted. According to one famous Hollywood legend, Davis turned down the role, thinking that her co-star would be Errol Flynn (in the role of Rhett Butler), an actor with whom she refused to work.
Of course, all of this raises the inevitable question: what life-changing roles have you and I missed out on?
For my part, I fill several roles. In my personal life, I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a son-in-law, and a father-in-law. In my professional life, I am a pastor, a teacher, an administrator, a speaker, and a writer. Along the way, I have been a student, a player, a coach, a team member, a board member, etc… And these are but a few of the scores of other roles I have embraced throughout my life.
I have no regrets in any of these roles. I believe that they have each been provided by God; and that my assumption of each of them, in turn, has been in accordance with His will for my life. Moreover, I do not want to come to the end of life’s trail and have any regrets. I want to be confident that I was both receptive and responsive to Hill divine will in my life. And that, in spite of my frailties, He nonetheless used my faithfulness to change someone else’s life, for both this word and the next.
Jesus Christ was more focused on doing God’s will than anything else in this world. In the fourth chapter of John’s New Testament Gospel (verses 31-34), the following conversation unfolds between Jesus and His Disciples: “Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’”
Later (in Matthew’s Gospel, 6:10), Jesus taught His Disciples how to pray. As he did, He included in that famous prayer this key phrase (from the New Living Translation): "May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”
And there you have it. Given that God’s Kingdom will surely come one day in the future, it behooves us to follow the example of Jesus and seek above all else to discover and to do God’s will here and now.
Little wonder then that the writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews includes in his closing remarks (in 13:20-21) the following statement: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Each and every day, as you rise, take time to pray that God will show you His will for you. And as He opens doors of opportunity for you, don’t pass them up. It is one thing for actors to come to the end of their acting careers and realize what big mistakes they made by passing up famous fictional roles in this world. It will be something far more heartrending to stand before Almighty God and have recounted for us the times and opportunities we were given to make an eternal difference for Him, but turned them down instead.