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.”