Woody Harrelson’s One Big Career Regret Involved Turning Down An Iconic Tom Cruise Role

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Woody Harrelson often isn’t recognized for being the national treasure that he is. Despite an incredible career spanning four decades (kicked into high gear by his Cheers bartender), younger folks know him as Haymitch from the Hunger Games franchise, but it’s cool. His true followers will never forget his turns in countless films like Kingpin, No Country For Old Men, and Indecent Proposal, among others. You really can’t start talking about any of them without feeling bad about not including the rest (and that’s not useful to do here), but the good news is that the long-awaited Zombieland: Double Tap will arrive on October 18. In the process of promoting that movie, Harrelson has opened up about the movie that he regrets turning down, and it could have been a career changer.

During an interview with Esquire (which is an engrossing read, partially because writer Lili Anolik went into the room with laryngitis and left with a contact high from Harrelson’s actual high), Harrelson spilled this tidbit while munching on a black bean-pumpkin seed burger:

“I was offered–what’s the ‘Show me the money’ movie? Jerry Maguire? I was offered Jerry Maguire, and I said to Jim [James L. Brooks, one of the film’s producers], ‘Nobody is going to give a shit about an agent’.”

The 1996 Tom Cruise-starring movie ended up grossing $273 million worldwide and only added to the incredible year Cruise was having with the first Mission: Impossible movie and Interview With The Vampire. For Harrelson, it would have been one hell of a heel turn after Natural Born Killers, but the Surfer, Dude star did earn an Oscar nomination in 1996 for The People vs. Larry Flynt, so yeah, his career did not suffer. Still, it’s worth wondering how he would have fared in Jerry Maguire‘s most famous scene or while staring at Renee Zellweger and uttering, “You complete me.” That last bit doesn’t sound so believable, does it?

The rest of the Esquire interview is illuminating (read it here) and includes Harrelson admitting that he almost didn’t sign onto the first Zombieland movie. “My agent sent me the script,” he said. “[A]nd I said, ‘Zombies, dude? Really? Has it come to this?’” Yes, and don’t forget the Twinkies.

(Via Esquire)