In films from X-Men to Lord of the Rings, there are some roles that just belong to certain actors. Imagine if Hugh Jackman didn’t play Wolverine, or even if Michael J. Fox didn’t star in Back to the Future. They would be completely different movies and there’s no way of knowing if it was these important casting changes that made these films as legendary as they are. Still, there was a moment in time where things could have been way different in the films – that is, if these actors hadn’t gotten fired from their roles!
You can’t imagine a charmer like Ryan Gosling getting fired from anything. But soon you’ll see what he ate that made him lose a role!
Eric Stoltz: Fired From Back To The Future
The team behind Back to the Future originally wanted to cast Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, but he was busy filming Family Ties. Instead, they went with up-and-coming actor Eric Stoltz, whose method acting became an annoyance on set.
Stoltz was a great dramatic actor, but he failed to deliver comically. The producers knew they wanted to recast him right away, but they still made him film most of his scenes. After Stoltz was fired, they brought in Michael J. Fox, who they wanted all along. Stoltz was crushed, but later said it was a "freeing" experience.
Samantha Morton: Replaced In Her
There’s an undeniable challenge in trying to create a character strong enough to only be known by her voice. Such was the case for Spike Jonze when he made his 2013 flick Her. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore, who purchases a computer operating system originally voiced by Samantha Morton.
It wasn’t until the editing process that Jonze realized Morton’s work didn’t quite mesh with the character of Theodore. Jonze decided to replace Morton’s voice completely with that of Scarlett Johansson, who had to record her parts in the midst of filming Captain America.
Ryan Gosling: Fired From The Lovely Bones
Imagine a heartthrob like Ryan Gosling getting fired from a role because he was too fat. Seem impossible, right? Well, that’s exactly what happened when he was dismissed from Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. Gosling was set to play the father, Jack Salmon, who the actor genuinely believed should be overweight.
To prepare, Gosling intentionally put on some pounds – even drinking Häagen-Dazs ice cream when he was thirsty! But when he showed up to set, Jackson wasn’t pleased. “Then I was fat and unemployed,” Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter. He was replaced by Mark Wahlberg.
Coming up, see which actress cites her firing as “the most uncool day in Hollywood” for her.
Kevin Spacey: Replaced In All The Money In The World
Kevin Spacey was set to star in All the Money in the World as J. Paul Getty. Not only had he finished principal photography, but trailers had already been released with Spacey in the role by the time a scandal broke. In the fall of 2017, Spacey was one of the men in Hollywood accused of sexual misconduct. As a result, the disgraced actor was dropped from many of his projects.
Director Ridley Scott had no choice but to follow suit. He completely replaced Spacey with actor Christopher Plummer, scrambling to reshoot all of the Getty parts within less than two weeks.
Harvey Keitel: Fired From Apocalypse Now
Martin Sheen was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor for playing Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now, but perhaps it should have been Harvey Keitel. Numerous actors were considered for the part before Keitel was cast and shortly after filming began, he was fired.
Keitel, who in real life joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 16, wanted to contribute his experience to the character. However, director Francis Ford Coppola didn’t agree and wanted Willard to be more passive. They couldn’t come to a compromise, so Coppola flew to Los Angeles to hire Martin Sheen as Keitel’s replacement.
Lori Petty: Fired From Demolition Man
Lori Petty was one of the breakout actresses of the ’90s, starring in hits from A League of Their Own to Point Break. She was originally cast as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley in the 1993 "anti-buddy" flick Demolition Man alongside Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.
Unfortunately, Petty and producer Joel Silver had too many "creative differences," which caused her to get ousted from the role and replaced by Sandra Bullock. Petty didn’t elaborate exactly what happened, but later said to The Daily Beast, "It was the most uncool day in Hollywood for me."
Coming up, see which actor was fired because he was reportedly “intimidated” by the movie’s star.
Sean Young: Fired From Dick Tracy And Other Films
Sean Young made headlines in August 2018 when she was accused of stealing $12,000 worth of property from the production offices of the film Charlie Boy, from which she was fired as the film’s director. It wasn’t the only time Young was fired from a film either.
In 1990, Young was cast as Tess Trueheart in Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy but was fired after just seven days of filming. Young alleged she was fired for denying Beatty’s sexual advances, an accusation he denied. She told Los Angeles Times at the time, “I don’t think I could have survived working with Warren Beatty.”
Robert Downey Jr.: Fired From America’s Sweethearts
Before Robert Downey Jr. became Iron Man, he was one of those actors whose career you were sure was almost over. This was especially true in the year 2000, when Downey Jr. was fired from America’s Sweethearts, starring Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The romantic comedy was supposed to be the actor’s comeback film until he was arrested again after reportedly falling off the wagon following his stint in prison. Despite the fact he’d checked himself into rehab, he was reportedly “getting loaded.” The producers feared that he would return to prison, so they replaced him with actor Hank Azaria.
Kel O’Neill: Fired From There Will Be Blood
You might recognize Kel O’Neill from films like XX/XY and Domino, or you might know him as the guy who was fired from Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 drama There Will Be Blood. O’Neill was cast as Eli Sunday but a few weeks after production began, he was fired by Anderson.
At the time, it was reported that O’Neill “suffered from intimidation” at the hands of the film’s star, method actor Daniel Day-Lewis. For his part, O’Neill told Vulture in 2017 that at that point he wasn’t entirely sure acting was what he wanted to do and had a feeling he’d get the boot.
Coming up, see which actress was replaced after executives decided to change the gender of her character…
James Remar: Fired From Aliens
You might recognize James Remar as Samantha’s on-and-off boyfriend on Sex and the City, but you might have known him from the 1986 flick Aliens – if he hadn’t gotten fired. Remar was originally cast as Corporal Hicks but was fired a week into filming.
At the time, it was reported that he left due to “urgent matters at home,” but in recent years he admitted on the podcast Sidebar that he was fired due to drug possession. “I had a great career and personal life, and messed it up with a terrible drug habit,” Remar said.
Jean-Claude Van Damme: Replaced In Predator
After a successful martial arts career, Jean-Claude Van Damme decided to transition into acting. He does have a successful filmography to his name, but it only happened after he was fired from a film he thought would be his big break.
He was originally cast as the titular monster in 1987’s Predator but wasn’t pleased to discover he’d spend the entirety of the film in a costume. Apparently, there was miscommunication on his part and that of the producers in regards to what the role entailed. He was eventually replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.
Holly Hunter: Replaced In Chicken Little
You might recognize Holly Hunter’s voice as that of Elastigirl in The Incredibles, but few people know that she was originally cast as the voice for the titular character of Chicken Little? In its early stages, Disney’s Chicken Little was centered around a girl chicken who is sent to camp.
Disney executives told director Mark Dindal that he should change the protagonist to a boy, which prompted an entire story change. Even though Hunter had already recorded for Chicken Little, she was eventually replaced by Zach Braff, whose voice was pitched up in post-production.
Coming up, see the actor who was supposed to be Wolverine, but replaced by Hugh Jackman…
James Purefoy: Fired From V For Vendetta
James Purefoy was originally cast as V in V for Vendetta, but eventually was released from his role and replaced with Hugo Weaving. At the time of his departure, there weren’t any specific reasons given for why Purefoy left the project, but many speculated he was upset over having to wear a mask.
Producer Joel Silver reportedly cited Purefoy’s inability to sound menacing as the reason for his termination. In 2010, Purefoy told Total Film, “It was genuine creative differences. It was genuinely about the way to approach that character, which is why creative differences are all about.”
Richard Gere: Fired From The Lords Of Flatbush
Richard Gere was fired from the 1974 film The Lords of Flatbush because he didn’t get along with co-star Sylvester Stallone. Gere was originally cast in one of the lead roles of Chico Tyrell but was later replaced by Perry King.
According to Stallone, he and Gere “never hit it off.” In a 2006 interview, Stallone recalled Gere was “impossible to deal with.” There was also an incident in which Gere spilled his lunch on Stallone’s leg, at which point Stallone lost it. The director knew that one of them had to go and apparently, it was Gere.
Dougray Scott: Replaced In X-Men
It’s hard to imagine any other actor besides Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, but for a brief moment in time, that’s where movie history was headed. Before Jackman landed the role, Scottish actor Dougray Scott was cast as Wolverine in 1999’s X-Men.
Scott was already busy filming Mission: Impossible II and was scheduled to take on X-Men right after. But M:I:2’s production ran late and soon it became clear that Scott wouldn’t be able to show up for his job. The producers scrambled to look for a replacement but luckily they found Hugh Jackman in the nick of time.
Keep reading to see which actor was fired after he collapsed on the first day of filming!
Judy Garland: Fired From Valley Of The Dolls
In the late ’60s, Judy Garland was in the final years of her career and decided to take a roll in the film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls. A month into production, Garland was “fired” from the film, although it was reported that she “resigned for personal reasons.”
While press reported that she was difficult to work with, Garland said she left by “mutual agreement.” Though there are different versions of the story, most agree that Garland wasn’t too satisfied with the script and that the actress was treated horribly by director Mark Robson.
Stuart Townsend: Fired From Lord Of The Rings
Irish actor Stuart Townsend may have been on the brink of a major Hollywood career until he got fired from Lord of the Rings a day before filming began. Townsend was set to play the role of Aragorn before director Peter Jackson dismissed the actor and replaced him with Viggo Mortenson.
Townsend told Entertainment Weekly, “I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began… I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relieved to be leaving until they told me I wouldn’t be paid.”
Gig Young: Fired From Blazing Saddles
Some of Gene Wilder’s most iconic work is in Blazing Saddles, but what if the Waco Kid was played by someone else? Actor Gig Young was originally cast as Jim, the “Waco Kid,” after he’d won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?
Unfortunately, this was around the same time the actor succumbed to alcoholism. Young collapsed while filming his first scene due to alcohol tremors. Gene Wilder, who begged Mel Brooks for the part from the get-go, boarded a plane to take over for Young right away.
Lee Coleman: Fired From Jason Takes Manhattan
Lee Coleman isn’t a name you know right off the bat and it’s probably because he was ousted from his first major film role. The actor was cast as student Sean Robertson in Jason Takes Manhattan, the eighth installment of the Friday the 13th movies.
The filmmakers weren’t sure they made the right casting decision a few days into production and replaced Coleman with Scott Reeves. Writer-director Rob Hedden said in a documentary, “[Coleman] seemed a little uncomfortable… [the producers] said, ‘There’s a problem here, and if we don’t correct it now, we’re going to have a bigger problem.”
Colin Firth: Replaced In Paddington
2014’s Paddington was a live-action animated comedy based on the Paddington Bear character created by Michael Bond. Actor Colin Firth was set to voice Paddington and had even completed all his recordings. But as the movie was finishing up production, director Paul King realized that Firth’s voice was too mature for the little bear.
There were no hard feelings, though. Firth later said, “It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realisation that he simply doesn’t have my voice. After a period of denial, we’ve chosen conscious uncoupling.”
It’s one thing to get fired from set after production began, but next you’ll see some actors who were fired from their roles years after they had become famous for them!
Charlie Sheen Leaving Two and a Half Men Was Long Overdue
Charlie Sheen is a celebrity with a past full of addiction and public meltdowns. So it wasn’t surprising that his character Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men met his death at the beginning of season 9. Along with Sheen’s wild antics, it was his negative comments about the series producer and creator Chuck Lorre finally led to him being fired from the show.
At the beginning of season 9, his death is reported by his lover Rose who said he was hit by a train. This way, Sheen’s body didn’t even have to be in the casket but instead, just a bowling shirt and pair of cargo shorts.
T.R. Knight Was Forced Off Grey’s Anatomy Under Some Questionable Circumstances
T.R. Knight played Dr. George O’Malley on the ABC show Grey’s Anatomy. After five seasons on the show, Knight was let go and his character killed for what he described as being a “breakdown of communication” with show creator Shonda Rhimes.
Knight claims that he was forced out after he had come out as gay, yet Rhimes flat-out denies these accusations. However, it’s not like he his character received a clean death either, his O’Malley was severely disfigured after being in a bus accident only to die a rather terrible death not long after.
Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros Partied Too Hard While Filming Lost
There can be a lot of temptations while filming in Hawaii. It’s easy to start living on “island time” and forget the responsibilities you have as an actor. While filming for Lost, Michelle and Cynthia were spending a little too much time partying. They both ended up receiving DUIs.
The show’s creators and producers found this to be a massively embarrassing, and also pinned both actresses as a liability. So, it wasn’t long after that their characters — police officer Ana Lucia Cortez and Libby Smith — were both killed off the show.
The South Park creators had one of their characters savagely killed on-screen after the voice actor was offended by the content of the show.
Desperate Housewives’ Nicollette Sheridan Had Troubles Off Screen
While most of the actresses on Desperate Housewives made it through all eight seasons, Sheridan’s character was dead by season 5. There was just as much drama off screen as there was on the show. Apparently, the series creator, Marc Cherry, was being pressured to cut costs. Since Sheridan was making as much as $200,000 per episode and her character’s story felt like it has run its course, she got cut.
After Sheridan’s character was killed, however, she filed a lawsuit against Cherry claiming he assaulted her. This assault proved to be just a tap on the head and a judge threw out the case.
Dominic Monaghan Thought His Character Deserved More On Lost
Dominic Monaghan played the troubled Charlie Pace on the series Lost. His character died heroically in season 3, sacrificing himself to help fellow survivors on the island. Although Charlie may have been killed for the greater good, the reason for his character dying wasn’t as glamorous.
Monaghan had been having issues with co-star Matthew Fox and was outspoken about the direction of his character. However, Monaghan said that he was relieved to learn that his character was going to die because he was frustrated playing a smaller role in a large cast.
South Park Crossed The Line With Isaac Hayes
Isaac Hayes voiced the character of Chef for many years on the Comedy Central animated series South Park. The show is well-known for always pushing the boundaries for television while simultaneously pushing people’s buttons. However, at one point, the show’s creators went so far as to offend Isaac Hayes enough to the point that he quit.
He didn’t appreciate how the show made fun of the Scientology religion. Because he was mad and quit the show, the creators of South Park gave him an extremely gruesome death on the show.
Coming up, see which character from Scandal was killed off because of his actions outside of the show.
Michael Pitt’s Attitude Got In The Way Of Filming Boardwalk Empire
At the end of season 2 of Boardwalk Empire, Michael Pitt’s character Jimmy Darmody is unceremoniously shot in the face and killed. Although this may have helped the plot move forward, it was also a way to get Pitt out of the show. He was known to have a casual work ethic, an unenthusiastic attitude, and was always forgetting his lines.
He was also known to go off-script, all of which cost production money and led to him being released from the show. Even his own agent told Deadline that UTA fired Pitt as a client because he’s really difficult on set.
Mandy Patinkin Didn’t Agree With The Content Of Criminal Minds
Mandy Patinkin played Special Agent Jason Gideon in the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds. Although he was in the show from the start, he was killed off for two reasons. Gideon has admitted to New York Magazine that “I thought [Criminal Minds] was different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.”
For that reason, he became a terrible employee, not showing up for work until he was killed off and both sides got what they wanted.
Jay Thomas’ Mouth Got Him Kicked Off Cheers
Jay Thomas played the hockey star Eddie LeBec on the sitcom Cheers between 1982 and 1993. While working on Cheers, Thomas was also a morning DJ for KPWR-Power 106 in Los Angeles. When asked on air what it was like working on Cheers, he responded by complaining about having to kiss Rhea Perlman who played his wife Carla Tortelli on the show.
Supposedly, Perlman was listening to the show at the time and Thomas was never seen on-screen on Cheers again. In the show, his character was killed in a freak Zamboni accident out on the ice.
Issues With The Writer Killed John Rhys-Davies Character In Sliders
John Rhys-Davies starred as Professor Maximillian Arturo in the sci-fi series Sliders between 1995 and 2000. However, his character was eventually shot and killed after the writers and creators of the show were fed up with his disrespect. Rhys-Davies called the scripts to the show “incomprehensible gibberish” and would continually clash with the writers, calling them unintelligent and useless.
After he was killed off in season 3, he claimed it was because the writers “screwed up because they didn’t have the vision,” yet it seems that the writer envisioned killing him off for years.
Columbus Short Had Some Scandals Of His Own
Luckily, for the creators and crew of Scandal, Columbus Short didn’t cause any direct problems for the show. However, they were forced to let him go from the show and have his character Harrison Wright assassinated by the Secret Service.
Short had been having personal issues and had been arrested for attacking his then-wife in front of his children, assaulting a man in a bar fight, and threatening his wife with a knife. Although he hadn’t been a problem on-set, the show’s creators felt it was best to let him go and even helped to send him to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction.
John Amos Was Fired Before He Could Quit
Back in the 1970s, John Amos starred as James Evans on the show Good Times. The show featured an African-American family living their best lives while living in the projects. At the beginning of the second season, Amos threatened to leave the show, claiming that it was negatively portraying African American culture.
However, the showrunners beat him to the punch and killed his character off in a car accident. He admitted later in an interview that he did not quit and was fired after being labeled as a disruptive factor. The show’s creators didn’t even talk to him in person. Instead, they just called him on the phone.
See why “McDreamy” from Grey’s Anatomy was killed in a car accident.
Shannen Doherty Went from Beverly Hills: 90210 to Charmed
After being fired from Beverly Hills: 90210, it became clear that Shannen Doherty was not the easiest actress to get along with. So, it came as no surprise when her character Prue killed in the show Charmed. Her character’s death wasn’t so much a plot point, but rather because Doherty had been feuding with her co-star Alyssa Milano.
In an interview on Watch What Happens Live, Milano admitted “I can tell you that we were on the air with her for three years and there were some rough days. Not only was the feud known to the public, but the reason for her character’s death was quite noticeable.
Patrick Dempsey’s Off-Screen Affair Got Him Killed In Grey’s Anatomy
One of the most beloved characters of Grey’s Anatomy was Patrick Dempsey’s character Derek Sheperd, better known as “McDreamy.” Sheperd was killed in a fatal car accident at the end of season 11 which shocked fans around the world. However, Sheperd’s death may not have just been for shock value.
It has been rumored that Dempsey’s exit from the show was prompted by the affair he was having with one of the show’s younger staff members. An informer said that “It got very messy and emotional on set and became a huge liability.” Although it hasn’t been fully confirmed, the general consensus was that this was the reason for his character’s death.
Mischa Barton’s Attitude Got Her Killed Off The OC
Actress Mischa Barton scored her breakout role as Marissa Cooper in the series The O.C. She was a very well-liked character of the show, so audiences were heartbroken when her character died in a car accident in season 3. While fans were wondering why she was killed, the showrunners reported that they couldn’t put up with Barton anymore.
She thought that she was too good for TV and her attitude drove the creators up the wall. Her co-stars also thought she had a bad attitude but didn’t wholeheartedly agree that she should have been killed off since her character was so well-liked.
Raymond Cruz Asked To Be Killed In Breaking Bad
Raymond Cruz played the psychopathic meth-fueled drug dealer Tuco Salamanca in the AMC hit series Breaking Bad. However, opposite of Tuco, Cruz is a relatively laid back person who actually asked to be killed off from the show. He said he wasn’t looking forward to returning to the show because the part was incredibly hard to play.
This is because Cruz’s character’s energy was violent, uneasy, and through the roof. The showrunners asked if he could do eight more episodes which he declined. When they said they’ve never heard of somebody wanting to be killed off he said they didn’t understand what it took to pull that part off.
Maggie Roswell Didn’t Want To Pay For Her Plane Tickets For The Simpsons
Maggie Roswell was the voice actor of the character Maude Flanders on the animated series The Simpsons. However, she threatened to leave the show because she didn’t want to commute from Denver to Los Angeles anymore since the travel was too expensive. She claimed to make much less than she actually did and said she couldn’t afford the flights on her salary.
Fox refused to pay for her travel expenses, and she left the show. Her character was taken over by a few other actors until her character was finally killed off. Fox preferred to have the character gone rather than pay for Roswell’s travel.
Valerie Harper Was Killed Off Her Own Show
Valerie Harper starred in her own show called Valerie. However, her character was killed off and replaced by actress Sandy Duncan. The show was renamed Valerie’s Family and eventually The Hogan Family. Apparently, Harper was killed off because of a contract issue surrounding compensation and creative input.
Yet, the show’s lawyers argued that it was her behavior that got her booted. In response, Harper sued the production company and won, receiving a large payout from the show’s later success. She got all the money with no work.
Jon Polito’s Outburst on Homicide: Life on the Street Got Him Written Out For Good
John Polito played Steve Crosetti on Homicide: Life on the Street. When the producer informed him that he was going to be temporarily written off the show, he overreacted and went on to make harsh comments about the shows and its creators.
Because of these comments, the next season, his character graphically committed suicide with his body being discovered after floating in the bay for days. Polito went on to admit that he was wrong and made amends with the producer. The two even went on to work together again on a different project.
Brett Butler Wasn’t Just Fired, Her Show Was Cancelled
From 1993 until 1998 Brett Butler starred in Grace Under Fire on ABC. When she became addicted to Vicodin and was unreliable, the network made the decision that she had to go.
Unlike most shows where an actor gets fired, however, Butler was the lead actress in the show. Unable to come up with a solution to remove Butler and keep the popular show on the air, Grace Under Fire was canceled. She was escorted off the ABC lot by armed security guards!