Every actor wants that big break. That major success to push them to huge fame and make them a serious star. A lucky few are able to get it, to launch themselves up and enhance their standing in the town big time. It’s better when the movie turns into a much bigger hit than expected, defying odds to win over audiences and even critics and become a huge deal. Thus, you figure that when a guy is lucky enough to land a major hit, they’ll return for the sequel, right? Not so fast.
Sometimes, it’s bad scheduling and that causes someone to force to drop out despite how they may want to return. Other times, it’s the actor acting up somehow or rubbing the wrong way and then getting fired (Crispin Glover in Back to the Future II comes to mind as does Terrence Howard for Iron Man 2). But now and then, no matter how much the studio tries, how much money they throw and such, the star just doesn’t want to come along. Maybe it’s ego or wanting more cash or such or the famous “wanted to try new things” excuse but for various reasons, they just don’t show up and often the sequel suffers as a result. A possible upcoming case could be Independence Day Resurgence as the studio didn’t want to go with Will Smith’s request of $50 million to return. Here are 10 famous cases of a star refusing to come back for the follow-up and why it can affect the final product.
12. Katie Holmes
True, her role as Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins wasn’t huge but many noted how good Holmes was bringing a much needed dose of light to the otherwise grim movie. The reasons for her lack of returning for The Dark Knight vary, the most common being that then-husband Tom Cruise refused her to do it and also talk of Holmes wary of any sequel at all. She chose the comedy Mad Money and Maggie Gyllenhall played Rachel instead. Holmes continues to say she doesn’t regret the choice, feeling big budget blockbusters aren’t really her thing and seems to be moving on well yet it remains a notable decision for the otherwise firm Dark Knight cast.
11. Alec Baldwin
Baldwin was establishing himself as a real star when in 1990 he played Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October, the first and perhaps best of the movies based on Tom Clancy novels. A huge hit, plans were quickly made for the sequel, Patriot Games but Baldwin (infamous for his trashing of Hollywood ways), had issues with the producers and not liking the shoot at all and thus decided instead to do some stuff on Broadway. He was replaced by Harrison Ford in that movie and a hit sequel with Ben Affleck later taking on the role as well. In fact, during a Saturday Night Live appearance, Baldwin told Alec that “I wanted more money so I told them screw it! I call that my Irish negotiation tactic!” He has a good record since but still notable how Baldwin never came back to one of his better characters.
10. Matthew McConaughey
Maybe it’s not a total surprise. Magic Mike came in the middle of the “McConaissance,” that period when McConaughey finally escaped endless rom-coms to become a serious actor, scoring an Oscar and numerous other awards for Dallas Buyers Club and then True Detective. With this new-found respect and credibility, you can understand McConaughey being a bit wary of reprising his role as a male stripper, despite how huge a hit the previous film was. The producers were eager with almost everyone else coming back but McConaughey preferred to keep to other works and take advantage of his newly found credibility to do more unique projects. The sequel was successful but not as huge and the lack of McConaughey may have worked against it but you can understand how the now legitimate McConaughey was so unsure of taking on the slick pants again.
9. Kirstie Alley
Alley was boosted to stardom due to her role as Vulcan Saavik in Star Trek II, quite popular with audiences. She was naturally sought for a sequel but reports had it that her agent wanted her to have a pay on equal with stars William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and larger than most of the rest of the cast. Alley herself claims she was unhappy with the script and also dealing with the death of her mother and needed the time off. She was replaced by Robin Curtis whose take on the character was nowhere near as great as Alley’s had been. Alley would go on to star in Cheers and when Star Trek VI was produced, she was approached to reprise Saavik once more. Alley was interested until she read the plans to make Saavik a traitor and hated the very idea and so bowed out with the producers then creating a new character to fill it out. A shame as many a Trek fan enjoyed Alley’s time and it would have been nice to see her continue in it.
8. Bill Murray
You don’t think of funnyman Murray as a guy who gets into conflicts a lot but reportedly, his tenure on Charlie’s Angels was filled with tension. Cast as bumbling Bosley, Murray clashed repeatedly with director McG with the urban legend that the actor head-butted the director although Murray denies that. Also, Murray and Lucy Liu had major beef as well with Liu bitchly pointing out she was one of the real stars. Plus, Murray’s part was savagely cut down in the editing room to remove most of his antics. Given all that, it’s no surprise that when they asked him to return for Full Throttle, Murray answered with a blistering “Hell no” despite the big money offer. He was replaced by Bernie Mac with the storyline being Murray the adopted white son of the Bosley clan and forgotten about. Given the sequel was a big disappointment, Murray made the right choice not wanting another go.
7. Marlon Brando
The only thing larger than Brando’s talent was his ego and that combination meant studios would have to shell out plenty for him at his height. For his role as Jor-El in Superman, a part that lasted only 15 minutes, Brando was paid $3.7 million with a cut of the profits, a grand total of $19 million overall. That was coupled with Brando’s notoriously difficult behavior on set that had Richard Donner grousing. The movie was shot back-to-back with a sequel, Brando doing footage for both but Donner had a falling out with the studio and was replaced by Richard Lester. The studio wanted Brando to do new footage of Jor-El for the reshoots only to have Brando hit them with an even larger pay request, reportedly a million for every minute he was on screen. The studio thus cut out all footage of Brando, new and old, replacing him with other actors and cheap stand-ins. He may have been a great actor but Brando’s immeasurable ego is what most remember him better by.
6. Rachel Weisz
An actress with some minor credits, Weisz was pushed to stardom for her role as Evelyn, the librarian turned adventurer in the smash hit The Mummy. She returned for the sequel and seemed to enjoy both so when buzz was made of a third movie, she expressed interest. By the time production began, however, Weisz had won an Oscar, giving her a bit more standing and had also recently given birth. Those, combined with her concerns on the script for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, made Weisz decide to bow out of the project. Maria Bello was cast in the role itself with almost everyone agreeing she was a poor substitute for Wiesz and while the movie was successful, it wasn’t as huge as hoped. While Weisz has gotten her own success, a shame she couldn’t return to the role that made her a star.
5. Edward Norton
For all his talent, the reason Norton hasn’t gotten as far as he could in Hollywood is because of his reputation as an incredibly difficult guy to work with. His intensity aids his craft but also makes him a pain in the rear on sets and The Incredible Hulk was no different. Norton had cut a deal that allowed him to rewrite much of the script, which meant giving his Bruce Banner a lot more time and focus than other characters. Marvel was not happy with the cut of the film, wanting something a bit more commercially viable and thus ordered major cuts and reshoots. Norton argued every step of the way and fought but was outvoted and very vocal over not liking the final product although the director’s cut released on Blu-Ray didn’t seem that much better. Norton had expected to reprise his role of Banner for The Avengers and met with Joss Whedon but word came up on him wanting not just a higher pay but also more “creative input” that according to rumors, would have made the Hulk the main character. Instead they went with Mark Ruffalo and Norton was quite upset about the change. It ended up working as Ruffalo was seen as the perfect Banner for that movie and its sequel and Norton’s slams went as just sour grapes from a guy who’d basically sabotaged his own turn.
4. Jim Carrey
1994 was the year Carry exploded as a star thanks to Ace Ventura, Dumb and Dumber and The Mask all becoming huge hits. A sequel to the story of a guy who’s turned into a zany hero by a magic mask seemed a no-brainer but Carrey seemed to balk. In an interview, he revealed he was offered $10 million to reprise the role but his experiences on the second Ace Ventura movie had convinced him that playing the same character didn’t offer much challenge. Numerous starts and stops followed until in 2005, Son of the Mask was released with Jamie Kennedy filling in for Carrey and the movie a total disaster. Carrey continued that by turning down another huge payday to replay his lead from Bruce Almighty so the producers had to elevate Steve Carell’s character for Evan Almighty which ended up being one of the biggest flops ever. Carrey finally agreed to return for a sequel for Dumb and Dumber 2 which didn’t live up to expectations, showing Carrey may have been onto something with the “not doing it twice” idea.
3. Sean Connery
The Scottish actor was launched to international stardom for his role as James Bond, imbuing this classic action movie hero with charm, humor and sex appeal that made the first five Bond movies monster box office hits. But Connery was getting tired of the pressures of the role and being too identified with it as well as conflicts with producers. After You Only Live Twice, Connery announced he was stepping down from Bond which was serious news. After George Lanzby’s debut failed to set the world on fire, the producers talked Connery into one more appearance in Diamonds Are Forever ,which he agreed to for a hefty fee before retiring from the part again. That wasn’t the only case for Connery as Lucas and Spielberg truly wanted him to reprise his role of Indiana Jones’ father in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. However, Connery had retired after the disastrous League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and despite all the money and begging, he refused to return. A shame Connery couldn’t give a proper capper to his career.
2. Keanu Reeves
Reeves is often slammed as being as dim in real life as he has played in movies but sure showed his smarts here. In 1994, Reeves had what some consider one of his best roles as the SWAT unit member in Speed, which launched Sandra Bullock to stardom. Audiences loved it thanks to its breakneck pace and power so a sequel was inevitable. Director Jan de Bont decided to set it on a cruise ship off a dream he had, not noticing the tiny fact that cruise ships don’t go that fast. It was expected Reeves and Bullock would go along easily and Bullock did agree. Reeves was offered $12 million but decided he didn’t like the script and felt another action movie was too taxing for him. They kept pressing but Reeves was firm in his decision. Thus, they had to say the two characters broke up between films with Bullock’s Annie now taking on the lead role. Fox was angry, putting out stories of Reeves refusing so he could tour with his band which wasn’t true as Reeves instead filmed The Devil’s Advocate and de Bont shrugging that most anyone could be the lead with Bullock. The baffling choice for her new partner was Jason Patric, hardly a marquee name to be sure and the chemistry between them was truly lacking. Despite heavy push, the movie was a hefty disappointment at the box office. Reeves, meanwhile, would go ahead and film The Matrix to show he really made the right choice here.
1. Vin Diesel
This is an interesting case of a guy bailing on not one but two big hit sequels. In 2001, Diesel was thrust to stardom as he and Paul Walker co-starred in The Fast and The Furious, which surprised many by becoming a huge hit. Diesel would follow it up with another smash, XXX, and seemed poised to be the star of two major franchises. However, Diesel decided not to come back for 2 Fast and thus they had to relocate and reshuffle the picture to just Walker, which ended up working. Diesel also reportedly demanded a bit too much for a XXX sequel and walked on concerns over the script so they threw a line into Enemy of the State to say his character had been found dead. Diesel did show up for the sequel The Chronicles of Riddick which was a huge flop and floundered a bit afterward. In 2009, more humble, Diesel reunited with Walker for Fast and Furious and the reunion was a huge hit that spawned three sequels, each bigger than the last. Diesel has also made up with producers to return for a third XXX film. Still, the fact he was willing to walk on two big sequels in the past shows Diesel had a bit of an ego in his youth that age (and a few bad movies) had to temper.