The star says he lost ‘hundreds of millions’ turning down ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Sheryl Sandberg also passed on major job offers.
Here’s a major case of career FOMO.
Macaulay Culkin lost “hundreds of millions” by turning down a starring role in the hit CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” he revealed on an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast Thursday.
The former “Home Alone” child star didn’t specify which role he was up for — but admitted he turned down the network three times during the initial casting for the show.
“I couldn’t see myself doing a sitcom or a television show kind of a thing. They pursued me for ‘The Big Bang Theory,’ And I said, ‘Noooo,’” he said. “I’d have hundreds of millions of dollars right now if I did that gig. At the same time, I’d be bashing my head against the wall.”
After all, “The Big Bang Theory” stars are among the top-paid actors on television. Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar and Kaley Cuoco made $1 million per episode last season, according to Forbes. (The five main cast members are reportedly taking a voluntary $100,000 pay cut, however, so their co-stars can get a raise). The show, now in its 12th season, has been renewed for two more years and has earned 10 Emmys since its 2007 debut.
While Culkin may have missed out on big money, career experts say that there’s no point in mourning regrets when it comes to losing out on a big job opportunity.
“We never know if we do accept that offer whether or not we would be equally successful,” career expert Roy Cohen told Moneyish. “Macaulay Culkin may have been offered that role, but could he have been as good or as memorable as Jim Parsons? That sense of loss needs to be examined honestly and with crystal-clear clarity, because if you don’t, you may be presuming that you’re going to be as successful in that role.”
Career coach Kathy Caprino agreed that it’s best to move on, noting that the decision to say no was probably the right one at the time.
“What you have to remember is that you’re making the best decision that you can make with the information available at that time,” she told Moneyish. “We often think, ‘Oh gosh, I should have done that,’ but we have no idea how that experience would have been; we’re looking at what someone else’s experience has been.”
And as long as you’re keeping up your work ethic and excelling in your field, an equally good offer — if not a better one — will come your way, Cohen said. “When we are presented with an amazing opportunity and we turn it down, we should expect that we’ll continue to be presented with amazing opportunities as long as we’re doing everything we need to be doing to remain valuable, exciting and relevant in the marketplace,” he said.
Here are some other stars and CEOs who missed out or passed on lucrative job opportunities, for better or worse:
The producers of “Crazy Rich Asians” turned down a crazy rich Netflix deal
It’s poised to be one of the most anticipated comedies of the summer — but it could have settled for a smaller screen. Kevin Kwan, author of the international best-selling novel “Crazy Rich Asians,” and Jon M. Chu, director of the forthcoming film, made a deal with Warner Bros. for the movie distribution instead of taking a “gigantic payday” from Netflix, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“I could have moved to an island and never worked another day,” Kwan told the Hollywood Reporter of the deal he turned down. The push for inclusivity in film was more important — the film featuring an all-Asian cast is the first one to do so since Disney’s 1993 movie “The Joy Luck Club.”
Sheryl Sandberg leaned away from LinkedIn
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg could have become CEO of LinkedIn in 2006, but turned down the gig, she revealed in her career credo “Lean In.” She was 37 at the time, and while she was interested in the new opportunity, she passed because she wanted to have another kid. It worked out: Sandberg joined Facebook’s executive team in 2008. Sandberg took home a salary of $25.2 million in 2016, Variety reported.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Ryan Phillippe missed out on starring in “Brokeback Mountain”
They shouldn’t have quit these roles. This squad of some of Hollywood’s most famous male actors turned down starring in 2005’s “Brokeback Mountain,” according to director Gus Van Sant, who eventually walked away when he couldn’t lock in a cast. Ang Lee went on to direct the film, casting Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger as the male leads in the critically-acclaimed tale of two gay ranchers battling their feelings for each other. It moved viewers, raking in more than $83 million in the U.S., and more than $178 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The film was up for eight Oscars in 2006, including best picture, with Ledger taking home the statue for best actor.
The former Blockbuster CEO passed up an opportunity to buy Netflix
In 2000, Netflix founder Reed Hastings approached former Blockbuster CEO John Antioco asking for $50 million for Netflix, which was then still a DVD mailing service, according to Variety. The streaming service is now valued at $152.7 billion, surpassing Disney and Comcast, according to Forbes.
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