For any actor or actress, trying to pick the right roles to stay on top is a tough task.

Most of the Hollywood A-listers receive hundreds of scripts every year. Naturally, they are unable to read so many scripts and so delegate that to their agents who then shortlist the most suitable scripts.

However, this can still mean actors reading lots of scripts every year in order to try to find the ones they want to do.

Sometimes, actors get it wrong and overlook roles that become iconic throughout the ages.

Let’s take a look at the 10 actors who turned down great roles.

1. Molly Ringwald – Pretty In Pink

After becoming the darling of Generation X, Molly Ringwald was flying high.

A promising career dominating Hollywood for the 1990s seemed assured.

Unfortunately, Ringwald turned down the role of Vivan Ward in the smash-hit blockbuster Pretty Woman.

The role, which was later taken by a relatively unknown Julia Roberts, gained an Oscar Best Supporting Actress nomination.

While Ringwald has never commented publicly on the decision, soon after, she vanished into obscurity, never to be heard from again.

2. Tom Hanks – Jerry Maguire.

Say the words Jerry Maguire and people shout “show me the money.”

We all now think of Tom Cruise in this iconic role, however, the director originally wanted Tom Hanks to star.

Sadly, Hanks was too busy with his directorial debut That Thing You Do and so had to turn down the role.

That Thing You Do received mild critical aclaim as well as performed modestly at the box office.

Today the movie has been forgotten, unlike Jerry Maguire.

3. Jack Nicholson – The Godfather

Jack Nicholson is one of the best actors ever.

While Francis Ford Coppola wanted the misbehaving Marlon Brando to star as Don Corleone from the beginning, the studio suggested Jack Nicholson take the role.

Nicholson could have pulled off the role although there is certainly no way he could have measured up to Marlon Brando.

4. Tim Roth – Harry Potter

Tim Roth recently commented, “I wasn’t ready to be on a lunchbox” regarding turning down the role as Snape in Harry Potter.

Instead, the actor appeared in Planet Of The Apes, a movie that crashed and bombed.

5. Cristina Applegate

Just after finishing her role in Married With Children, Christina Applegate feared being typecast as a dumb blond by taking the starring role in Legally Blonde.

The film went on to rocket Reese Witherspoon to international fame while also spawning a recent sequel.

Applegate would later state that it was one of the dumbest decisions of her career.

6. John Travolta – Forest Gump

Tom Hanks might have missed out on Jerry Maguire but he scored big agreeing to play the role of Forest Gump. This time he was not the first choice, instead, John Travolta was offered the part.

Travolta was hot stuff after playing the role of Vincent in the smash hit Pulp Fiction. However, finding the idea of playing the slow-witted Gump less than appealing, he turned down the role.

7. Mel Gibson – Gladiator

You have to admit, the leading roles of Gibson’s earlier movie Braveheart and that of Maximus in Ridley Scott’s Gladiator are quite similar.

Not wanting to typecast in this kind of role, Mel Gibson turned down the part. The role later went to Russel Crowe, while the movie went on to win 5 Academy Awards.

After the movie, Crowe went on to become one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood while Gibson’s career went into steep decline.

8. Michelle Pfeiffer – Silence Of The Lambs

Like actress Molly Ringwald, Michelle Pfeiffer was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood during the late 1980s.

She had appeared in a bunch of high profile movies that had done extremely well at the box office. Some of her roles, such as Catwoman in Batman Returns, and Elvira Hancock in Scarface, were also critically acclaimed.

However, when a script about an FBI agent tracking down a serial killer came across her desk, she turned it down.

The role went to Jodie Foster and won her an Academy Award for best actress. Whoops!

9. Eric Stoltz – Back To The Future

Michael J Fox was always sought after to play the role of Marty McFly in back to the future.

Unfortunately, scheduling clashes with the TV show he was already contracted to perform in meant that the producers had to look elsewhere.

The producers choose actor Eric Stoltz and cast him in the role. However, things would not go well. Stoltz was replaced after just 4 weeks of shooting and the producers went back to the original choice of Michael J Fox.

The role of Marty McFly was to catapult Fox into the Hollywood A-list. The film would spawn two more sequels, something which would provide a significant payday for Fox.

Back To The Future remains one of the most iconic and well known Hollywood movies. Even today, Christmas would not feel like Christmas without screening of at least one of the movies in the series.

10. Russel Crowe – X-Men

Just a few weeks after completing the smash hit movie Gladiator, Russell Crowe was offered the role as Wolverine in the new X-Men movie.

Stating that he didn’t want to get associated with playing roles related to wolves, Crowe turned down the role, which was later picked up by Hugh Jackman.

Jackman went on to play Wolverine in numerous blockbuster sequels, something which earned him 10s of millions of dollars.

While Crowe may not need the money, it certainly must pain him to think that he turned down such a successful and iconic role.