Over 30 seasons, Dancing With the Stars has paired hundreds of celebrities—a current tally of 351, to be exact—with professional ballroom dancers and then pitted them against each other in a battle for dance floor dominance. The competition series is a reality TV staple that’s courted all manner of famous folks, from former child actors to beefy NFL players to pop stars with huge followings to Carole Baskin. But you have to figure that it takes a lot of invitations to put together a season cast, and not everyone who’s approached by the show says yes. Keep reading to learn about 22 celebrities who turned down Dancing With the Stars and what we know about why they passed.
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In 2018, rumors were flying that Dancing With the Stars producers were trying to lock down former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner. But a representative for the star told Us Weekly that she wasn’t planning on entering the ballroom anytime soon.
Back in 2010, a DWTS source spilled to The Hollywood Reporter (THR) about some of the highest-profile invitees to decline offers to join Season 11 of the reality show. That list reportedly includes (per The Atlantic) Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, who’s never commented on his potential dance career.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback and husband to Ciara, Russell Wilson, has put off Dancing With the Stars a couple of times already, but don’t count him out just yet.
“I need to focus on my football career right now,” he told Access Hollywood in 2014 (via ABC News). “I’m trying to do as much as I can in terms of winning football games for the Seattle Seahawks and our franchise. But I will do it at some point, for sure.”
While that time hasn’t come yet, Wilson seemed pretty confident speaking about his prospects. “I’m gonna definitely do it,” he said. “I love Dancing with the Stars. I love watching it. I love dancing myself. So hopefully I can win it.”
Rumer Willis had countless fans cheering her on to secure that Mirrorball trophy in Season 20, but no one offered more vocal support than mom Demi Moore. E! News even reports that Moore was “close” to following in her daughter’s foxtrot steps and joining the cast of Season 21, but ultimately didn’t sign on the dotted line.
“I’ve been asked a few times, but my response to that is that I am an actor, not a dancer,” Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210 star Tiffani Thiessen told HuffPost in 2011. That hasn’t stopped a lot of people from trying to learn the jive, but we respect her choice!
After Ben Higgins proposed to Lauren Bushnell in her season of The Bachelorette, rumors swirled that he would be competing on Dancing With the Stars. In an interview with Bushnell for Variety, Higgins said that he was focused just on enjoying their engagement and wasn’t taking on other projects right away. (The two didn’t end up getting married; they split up in 2017.)
Asked specifically whether DWTS had come calling, he hedged a bit.
“Right now, a lot of those requests come down through the ABC pipeline so, I don’t want to call it offers, but just people asking if I’m interested comes down from a group that is separate that me,” he explained. “Was I asked? I’m sure it was talked about.”
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay set the record straight after gossip sites reported that he’d be competing on Dancing With the Stars. He told Zagat in 2013, as reported by Eater, that he didn’t want to “be known as that guy on Dancing With the Stars” and that his “wife would divorce” him if he went on the show. He sat it out, but he and Law & Order: SVU actor Stephanie March split a couple years later anyway.
According to a 2013 report from RadarOnline, Lindsay Lohan was offered more than half a million dollars to put on her dancing shoes. So why didn’t she join the cast? The same report states that the troubled actor’s team didn’t think that she could keep to the reality show’s rigorous schedule.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Comic songwriter “Weird Al” Yankovic was invited to be on the dance competition show, but, according to what he told Billboard in 2011, he wasn’t even tempted.
“They asked me, and I said no,” he said. “It’s not my thing, you know? It wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for me. I’m frankly not a big fan of reality TV. I know there’s a zillion people who watch the show, and it would probably be ‘good for my career,’ but I don’t know, it’s just not my thing.”
Dancing With the Stars producers seem to have their hearts set on cyclist Lance Armstrong, despite his doping scandal. “Lance has been offered the show each and every year since its inception,” his team told Entertainment Weekly in 2013. “Although flattered he has passed on their generous offers.”
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Don’t expect to see CBS This Morning host and Oprah Winfey BFF Gayle King partnering up with a DWTS pro anytime soon. Back in 2010, she gave a pretty resolute answer as to why she’s declined the show’s offers. “I think it’s good to keep my public humiliation to a minimum,” she told Us Weekly. “I would never want to embarrass my children ever…or myself! I can’t dance.”
In 2013, it was reported that Ann Romney—wife of former presidential candidate, Senator Mitt Romney—had declined an invite to Dancing With the Stars. She confirmed the report in 2015, revealing during a SiriusXM interview (via The Washington Post) that she wasn’t sure that her multiple sclerosis and other physical issues would allow it.
“I don’t think I have the stamina,” she said. “I know what would happen—two weeks in, I’ll be flat on my back.”
DWTS winner Alfonso Ribeiro told E! News that a producer asked if he could deliver one star in particular as a personal favor. Too bad ’80s heartthrob Ricky Schroder wasn’t up for it.
“The one that she wanted I couldn’t get,” Ribeiro said. “She wanted Ricky Schroder, and Ricky Schroder was like, ‘Eh, I don’t dance!'”
Jamie Lee Curtis
In 2011, legendary Scream Queen Jamie Lee Curtis seemed primed to join DWTS having supported pal Jennifer Grey in person at several live shows. But she didn’t mince words when E! News asked her ballroom future. “Never in a million years,” she said. And then she added a caveat: “I’ll tell you how I would do Dancing With the Stars. If they gave me a million dollars to give to charity…I would only do it if there was a big charity component.” Ball’s in your court, DWTS!
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A source told Us Weekly back in 2014 that country star Clint Black was approached to dance on the show, as was Travis Tritt. Both singers evidently declined, but Black showed up on The Masked Singer last season, performing as a part of the Snow Owls duo with wife Lisa Hartman Black.
Lifestyle queen Martha Stewart was also reportedly on the Season 18 wishlist, per Us Weekly.
In 2011, Queen Latifah directly responded to rumors that she’d be strutting her stuff in the ballroom—as a contestant, that is. She’s performed on the show as a musical guest twice.
“No truth to the rumors of me doing Dancing With The Stars,” she tweeted. “Love the show though so I’ll be watching just like you!”
THR also reported back in 2010 that Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, was one get the producers really wanted.
Also in 2010, national treasure Betty White confirmed to an Associated Press reporter that she’d been asked to do DTWS. “I thanked them very much, and I said, ‘No, I think Cloris Leachman took care of our age bracket,'” she explained. The late Leachman was the show’s oldest contestant at 82.
Former president Bill Clinton has turned DWTS down a few times, but perhaps not for the reason you think. “You know you actually go out there and you train, you really work at it,” he said in an interview with Rachel Ray. “So I had to pass. But I think it’s a hoot.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also passed on her chance to compete, according to the aforementioned THR piece.
Echoing Jamie Lee Curtis, “never in a million years” is what Rosie O’Donnell said to Access Hollywood regarding joining DTWS.
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