When you think of gruelling jobs, you think of people toiling with their hands in blistering heat, every hour of the day. Cleaning toilets, tending to animals or being Donald Trump’s P.R. guy are just some of the things that spring to mind. What you don’t think about is acting in a massive Hollywood blockbuster. So what would make someone earning thousands (even millions) hate their job so much that they want to leave the set of a film?
You would assume that there are no hazardous materials that they have to handle and, aside from a few jumps and spins, the majority of the stunts are handled by trained professionals. You might say that, once you’ve made it in the acting business, it’s a pretty cushy deal. We all know that A-Listers can be divas, take Christian Bale losing his head with the poor lighting guy on the set of Terminator: Salvation as an example, but what happens when there are genuine problems on set? And how much could some classic films have changed if one iconic character was played by a different actor? Imagine Harrison Ford losing his sh*t on the set of Indiana Jones and then looking for a replacement… No-one else would be fit to run from that boulder!
So, whether it was a disagreement with the director or getting fed up with the green screen, here are fifteen instances that almost caused some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities to walk out of a movie during production.
15. Carl Weathers – Rocky IV
Let’s be honest, even the idea of pretending to go toe to toe with the monstrous Russian Ivan Drago is daunting. During filming for Rocky IV, Carl Weathers donned the stars and stripes to take on The Siberian Express himself Dolph Lundgren. Despite the punches being fake, Dolph’s physique certainly wasn’t and Weathers found this out the hard way. During the filming for Apollo Creed’s final fight, Lundgren picked Weathers up and threw him across the ring into the corner. Carl Weathers took real offence to this and immediately left the ring, demanding to speak to his agent and threatening to quit. Fortunately Sly Stallone was directing the scene and managed to talk Weathers back into the ring to finish the fight. Clearly, Weathers wasn’t happy with being thrown around like a rag doll but was smarter than try and confront the Swedish black belt.
You would think that upsetting a fellow cast member would make Dolph calm himself down but he was clearly engaged in some serious method acting. During a sparring session, Lundgren left Sly in intensive care with dangerously high blood pressure. Obviously Apollo didn’t have much left to do in the movie but what if Carl Weathers had walked completely? A body double with cheesy reaction shots in the ring? An untelevised fight? We’ll never know…
14. Native American Extras – The Ridiculous Six
The Ridiculous Six… It’s in the name. This film was never going to be an Oscar winning drama that tugged at the heart strings but the last thing Adam Sandler expected was to be embroiled in a racial insensitivity scandal. When a group of Native American extras read the script they were instantly offended and walked off the set, taking with them the film’s cultural adviser. This was spurred by jokes in the script, most of which were based on spoofs of Native American names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra. This was coupled with lines like, “How about after this, we go some place and I put my peepee in your teepee?” that drove the actors from the set. The Ridiculous Six has since held various number one spots on Netflix and Sandler himself has addressed the issue as a “misunderstanding.”
Knowing Sandler’s style of comedy and the type of film this is, there doesn’t seem to be any maliciousness on his part. Is this just oversensitiveness on the actors’ part or should Sandler be more aware of what he writes and who it will upset?
13. Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four: The Silver Surfer
Before Robert Pattinson made it cool to hate the film you’re acting in, Jessica Alba was starting the trend with Fantastic Four. The 2005 Fantastic Four films were a difficult experience for all involved but no-one felt the squeeze like Sue Storm herself. Alba’s problems with the films are well documented and lengthy but there is one incident that stands out that almost made Jessica Alba leave the set of the Fantastic Four sequel. It wasn’t the terrible standard of script or the fact that the first film was universally ripped to bits by critics and fans alike. It was that Alba actually tried to act.
Actors are paid to act so when the script called for Sue Storm to become emotional, Alba would have thought that crying and showing emotion would be the thing to do, right? Wrong. Director Tim Story wanted it more “flat” to ensure she looked prettier. He claimed Alba’s performance was too real. After all, Jessica Alba is there to look pretty and that is it. Not to portray a character to the best of her ability… Maybe if Story treated his actors better and allowed them to actually act, the film wouldn’t have dive bombed in the way it did.
12. Lauren Cohan – The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is not exactly a light and breezy affair is it (and yes, we know it’s not a movie)? In every episode there is either a plethora of undead “walkers” being hacked, slashed and shot at or we lose another beloved member of the cast (don’t worry I won’t be that guy if you haven’t seen the latest, earth shattering episode). So, what could push an actor to the edge of almost quitting the show? When Lauren Cohan’s Maggie appeared on our screens she was a welcome addition to the cast. She was an unexpected big player in the show (for those of us that haven’t read the comics) and would be a real miss if she was no longer a part of the show.
This was nearly the case when she confessed to her onscreen husband Steven Yeun “I have to leave the show. I can’t do it.” This was brought on by the scene in which Maggie has to give Lori an emergency C-section to save her child, ultimately killing her. To put a cherry on the extremely morbid cake, Lori’s son Carl has to shoot her in the head to ensure she can never come back as a walker. Cohan struggled with the realism on display, but ultimately decided that she had to do the scene. It wasn’t easy to watch by any means but the character development on display made this one of the more striking scenes in any episode of The Walking Dead.
11. Michelle Rodriguez – The Fast & The Furious
The Fast & The Furious franchise has been absolutely massive. Even after the tragic passing of the series’ lead Paul Walker, there are plans for around three more films to be added (depending on box office success obviously!). Michelle Rodriguez has been confirmed to be in Fast 8 (which is currently in post production), but it almost wasn’t going to happen. Letty has always been a part of the franchise, with growing roles since the first film back in 2001 but it almost came to pass that she walked out on the gang during the first film.
Rodriguez felt she knew her character well, so when the script called for her to cheat on big bad Dominic (Vin Diesel) with pretty boy Brian (Paul Walker), she protested. Along with the fear her character would “look like a slut” in front of millions of viewers, Rodriguez felt this wasn’t in keeping with Letty’s character. Considering this was Rodriguez’s first blockbuster role it took some guts to confront the writing and directing team but it ended with the plot of the first Fast & Furious changing. Michelle has since threatened to leave the franchise again because of a lack of strong female roles. We will see when Fast 8 is released as to whether she has been listened to.
10. Russell Crowe – Robin Hood
Everybody knows that Russell Crowe is a man with a serious ego. What many people don’t know is that he has the ability to change the entire direction of a film. This is not some very specific super power that he has developed, more the swing of an actor that directors want in their film.
Originally, Robin Hood was to centre around the Sheriff of Nottingham and his investigations of the criminal Robin Hood. This is a concept that has never been touched so you would think this was a no brainer to go ahead with. Well, Russell Crowe disagreed and when Russell Crowe disagrees you listen. The team behind Robin Hood proceeded to hire three writers to completely shift the focus of the movie to make Robin Hood the hero. The most baffling thing about this whole scenario is that Crowe joined the project ready to work on the Sheriff of Nottingham script. It wasn’t until he said that he wanted nothing more to do with it that the wheels were set in motion to change the direction of the film.
9. Zoe Saldana – Pirates of the Caribbean
Zoe Saldana is a well known actress and is best known for her roles in the likes of Avatar, Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s safe to say that Saldana takes on roles of female characters that take no sh*t and this seems to have been carried over from her personal life. Before she was taking arse kicking lead roles, Saldana took a small speaking role in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film that tempted her to leave the elitist Hollywood officials behind.
Before anybody starts jumping on the likes of Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, Saldana expressed her joy with the cast. What she really had an issue with was how disrespectfully she was treat on set by the production team running the show. Zoe Saldana felt that she was seen as a number on a call sheet and that she was unimportant. It was this elitist feeling that left Saldana wanting out. Like many of the people on this list it was fortunate that she stuck with the role at the tender age of 23, as it opened doors to the fantastic and strong roles she plays today.
8. Brad Pitt – Interview With A Vampire
Do you have a spare $40 million just lying around to get you out of your job? No? Neither did Brad Pitt when he attempted to leave the set of Interview With a Vampire and buy out his contract. After claiming that the movie was the one of the worst experiences of his life, it’s understandable that Pitt would want to leave.
There were a number of issues with the movie that almost pushed Pitt away from the movie. Pitt only received the script, which was adapted into a screenplay by author Anne Rice, two weeks before filming began. Upon reading it he discovered it had dismantled everything that made his character “spectacular” and left him passive. He had to film in England in the dead of winter where it was miserable from morning till night, including in the studios (although I have very little sympathy with this as I have lived through many, many English winters and I’m not looking to buy out a $40 million contract!). All jokes aside, this was when Brad Pitt was still building himself up in the world of Hollywood to be the mega star he is today and must have been a bit of a culture shock. Throw in the tragic death of River Phoenix days before filming and you can see the difficulties that Pitt went through with Interview With a Vampire.
7. Al Pacino – The Godfather
Al Pacino has graced our screens for nigh on fifty years. Whether you like the movies that Pacino has starred in or not, you cannot deny his talent. The likes of Serpico and Scarface were huge in their day and have stood the test of time, largely down to his performances. So why is it that when Al Pacino took to our screens as Michael Corleone in The Godfather trilogy there was a chance that he could have left the set during production?
Admittedly Michael was one of Pacino’s earliest forays onto the big screen but it still sticks with him as one of the most challenging parts he has ever played. It didn’t help that the studio were ready to fire him from the part because they didn’t feel he was right for Michael. Without the backing of legendary writer, producer and director Francis Ford Coppola we may have had a different Michael and a very different career for Al Pacino as this truly was his breakaway role. All of this left Pacino feeling ready to not show up to filming one day as he didn’t want to be where he wasn’t wanted. We have a lot more than one of the greatest ever trilogies to thank Coppola for!
6. Sir Ian McKellen – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The progress and development of special effects in film is truly mind blowing. From the early stop motion skeleton warriors in 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts to the astoundingly realistic dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, special effects really have changed the film industry for the better. Well… For the majority of us.
This wasn’t the case for Sir Ian McKellen during the filming of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In the film, Sir Ian’s character Gandalf towers over the diminutive hobbits, when in real life he is mere inches taller than the likes of Martin Freeman, who plays the lead hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Because of this, Sir Ian spent most of his time in a room, in front of a green screen, acting on his own. Forget about almost leaving the set, Sir Ian broke down during filming and thought about leaving acting for good. He felt that if he couldn’t keep up with this kind of acting he probably shouldn’t be in the business. Thankfully, Sir Ian McKellen has carried on with his roles on stage and screen and, as audiences, we are better off for it!
5. Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, it left many people feeling like a kid at Christmas waiting for that gift they knew was coming but had to wait forever for (especially after the last three Christmases being a bit of a Jar-Jar Binks shaped let down). A lot of people were also very unaware about a certain Daisy Ridley, the gift you hadn’t really asked for or expected but were thrilled about once it was out of the wrapping paper. She was outstanding as Rey but it nearly all came to an abrupt end for Daisy on the first day of filming!
J.J. Abrams doesn’t look like the kind of man that would intentionally intimidate or upset a member of his cast but it was his way of giving feedback that nearly drove Ridley to leave the set of Episode VII. Abrams had told Ridley in front of a myriad of cast and crew that her performance was wooden, on the first day. Daisy admitted that the pressure of the entire situation made her feel like she was going to have a panic attack. Imagine this being your biggest break in one of the biggest film franchises ever, you’d feel a bit of pressure too! Fortunately since the incident Daisy has felt supported by the cast and crew and will reprise her role in Episode VIII.
4. Shelley Duvall – The Shining
Stanley Kubrick’s psychological horror classic The Shining is a gruelling experience by anybody’s standards. There are stark images from The Shining that stick in the mind of even the most seasoned horror fan. Whether it was the image of Jack (wonderfully portrayed by the psychotic Jack Nicholson) hacking through the door in one of the most iconic horror scenes of all time or the blood pouring out of the elevator, there is one thing that often gets overlooked. That is the image of Shelley Duvall, as the tormented Wendy Torrence. Shelley’s performance has been met with criticism from the likes of Nicholson, Kubrick and the original author of the novel, Stephen King. All of this took its toll during the filming of the movie.
Stanley Kubrick has been described as a bully towards Duvall. Stories report that Kubrick isolated Duvall, prevented other cast members from sympathising with her and even began cutting her from the film. The height of her struggle during the film is well documented. During the infamous baseball bat scene, Kubrick called for 127 new takes (a world record that still stands today). The scene used in the film contains genuine emotion and exhaustion from Duvall who even presented Kubrick with the hair that had fallen from her head to prove the torment she had gone through. Jack Nicholson eventually described Shelley’s time on the set as the toughest job of any actor he’d ever seen.
3. Jim Carrey – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
Dr Seuss’ classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas was always going to be adapted into a live action film but it would take somebody spectacular to pull off the green anti-Santa and it would take one hell of a make-up team to make him look authentic. Who better to call upon than the king of physical comedy Jim Carrey? Carrey’s performance had something for everybody in a film that could have gone either way. Looking back, there isn’t another actor that could have done what Carrey did with The Grinch, so why did it almost go very, very wrong?
Every day of filming Jim Carrey would have to sit through three and a half hours of “make-up.” That term is used very lightly as it wasn’t just a bit of mascara and eye liner. Carrey had prosthetics attached to him to make sure he truly became The Grinch. The icing on the cake was the contact lenses he had to wear that were “Frisbee like” according to producer Brian Grazer. Carrey was ready to return the $20 million he was paid for the film when Grazer had a brainwave. He asked Carrey to spend with weekend with an expert in withstanding torture, who convinced him to do the movie. So not only is Jim Carrey one of the greatest comedy actors, he will also be able to keep a bloody good secret, regardless of how much you torture him (Disclaimer: Please do not try to torture Jim Carrey, he seems like such a lovely bloke).
2. Emma Watson – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Emma Watson first donned the Hogwarts robes at the age of nine and the series has shaped her life since then. For better and worse. At one point, Emma was the highest paid woman in Hollywood, with a guaranteed job for the entire Harry Potter franchise. Even people who weren’t fans of the series saw just how much talent this girl has and she became an inspiration to young women everywhere as a U.N. ambassador. Things could have been different if she had turned down her contract extension during the filming of Order of the Phoenix.
Emma had lots to contend with during the filming, including passing her A-Levels and getting into university. This was obviously very difficult with such a heavy a lengthy filming process but what Watson found most taxing was the ability to be free during her time on the set of Harry Potter. She was told when she could do even the simplest of things like going to the toilet or having food, things she said made her smile once filming had ended. There is no doubt that Emma Watson is grateful for her time as Hermione but it was not without its challenges. You couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the plucky know-it-all, millions of fans have become so familiar with.
1. Mike Myers – Wayne’s World
Regardless of the type of film, when you think back through cinema there are iconic scenes that stand out in everyone’s minds. One of these is undoubtedly Bohemian Rhapsody from comedy classic Wayne’s World. I imagine that for many, like me, this was the first experience of head banging and it was encapsulating. Everyone already had a love affair with the song (don’t lie and say you hate it, if that song is played every single person within ear shot is singing along at full volume), but the brilliance of Wayne, Garth and company made it so much better. So why did this scene nearly cause Wayne himself to leave the set?
That’s right, Mike Myers got into a dispute with the studio over which song would be used in the scene. The studio argued that Guns N’ Roses should have been used in the scene as they were arguably more popular at the time, as Queen had quietened down due to Freddie Mercury‘s tragic illness. Myers pushed for Queen’s obscure classic to be included in the scene. Not wanting to lose the star of the film, the studio agreed for the more pricey option of Bohemian Rhapsody. Six months after the world lost one of it’s greatest front men and entertainers, Wayne’s World was released and Bohemian Rhapsody subsequently climbed to number one in the charts seventeen years after its release.
So, have these fifteen actors just been prima donnas or did they have a good reason to try and leave the movie they were filming? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!