Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
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Famous Roles That Almost Weren't

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1. Julia Roberts as Vivian Ward in "Pretty Woman"
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Molly Ringwald, one of the famous Hollywood Brat Pack, turned it down. The part went to the relatively unknown Roberts, and it very effectively launched her to superstardom. [Photo by David Shankbone]

If an actor is lucky, he or she will have that one star-making and unforgettable role. It's the kind of performance that leaves the audience speechless, and movie lovers come back again and again.

Sometimes it's a matter of hoping for the best and timing to land these roles. And, more often than you might think, it lands in your lap when someone else bows out or turns it down.

Hard to imagine anyone else in these twelve roles, but they almost didn't happen. Successfully picking a great role - or job, career, anything - is as much blind luck as anything else. But the potential payoff is fantastic. One can only imagine how the actors who turned these roles down feel in hindsight. 

We may never know why they turned them down (except in rare cases like Sean Connery's admission that he just "didn't get" the Lord of the Rings films). But celebrities are no different from any of us. What makes anyone refuse something that has the potential to give them a major career, or life bump? A gut instinct? A hunch? Bad advice from someone you trust? Scheduling conflict (although this one feels more like an excuse...if you really want something, you find a way to make it work)? Ultimately, as it all-too-often does, it comes down to fear.

Perhaps the actor was afraid that they couldn't reliably portray the character. They didn't want to look bad. Or maybe they were afraid that the finished film, wouldn't be very good, or worse, an absolute embarrassment. Why? Maybe an unproven scriptwriter, or a first-time director, but it's entirely likely, that the actor was unwilling to take a risk.

So, what does this all mean to you and your career, or life? Kick fear to the curb. Take calculated risks. Don't be afraid of the unknown, or working with an, "unproven" individual, or company (remember that everyone from Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Facebook were all "unproven" at one point). It's a cliche, but you don't want to be lying on your death bed decades from now, full of regret over the job or promotion you didn't take, or the new city you didn't move to, or not switching careers when an opportunity came along. It's perfectly acceptable to stay the same, but when you're faced with a dilemma, or decision, never let fear be the deciding factor. Never let fear, or worry about what others might think of you, influence doing what is best for you, even if it's risky. If you never take a risk, you'll never fail. But you'll never really succeed, either. 

These actors let fear deny them an iconic role. Don't let the same thing happen to you.

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