There are some iconic stories about directors or studios who cut ties with actors at the right time and for the right reasons. Think about Lord of the Rings or Back to the Future and how the casting changes seemed to make the movies what they were. There are other shows and films that are applauded for separating themselves from their controversial stars, like Scandal letting go of Columbus Short because of his violence or the Food Network getting rid of Paula Deen because of her racism. We hear a lot about these stories, but what about the ones that never got this far?
We decided to do some digging and look at stars (both current and former) that should have been fired from certain films or TV shows. Some of these entrees should have been fired for controversy that surrounded them at one time, whereas others should have been fired because of their actions on set. What we have is a collection of actors who we feel were/are lucky to have kept their jobs. Now, we’re not saying that these actors should be canned and banned from all films, just that they were not very compatible with that one specific platform. While some of the films and shows benefited from keeping the stars, many ended up failing because of the star and the controversy. Here are 15 Actors Who Should Have Been Fired On Set (But Weren’t).
15. Danny Masterson – The Ranch
At this point, it’s unclear if the allegations against the former That ’70s Show star, Danny Masterson, have any merit, but there are three women accusing Masterson of s*xual assault dating back to the early 2000’s. According to reports, the three women were convinced not to report the assaults by the Church of Scientology (of which Masterson and the three women were a part of). Masterson’s representatives have denied the allegations and said that this is all coming up because of Leah Remini‘s new show that attempts to uncover the secrets of the church that she used to be a member of. We’re not saying Masterson is guilty yet, but we would expect that Netflix will try to distance itself from the star if there’s any indication the reports are true. They have not yet commented on the ongoing investigation, but we expect a statement at some point soon.
14. Christopher Lee – Dracula: Prince Of Darkness
Christopher Lee has a legendary status. Many of the stories of his life and career are so wild and adventurous that they seem fictional. Truthfully, Lee did live in a strange and alien world compared to our time. Yet, most of the extraordinary stories that follow him around have been verified as true. The tale of the 1966 film Dracula: Prince of Darkness has been disputed, but Lee insisted it was true. Legend has it that Lee was fed up with the Dracula character when he was offered the starring role in the film. He was eventually convinced to return by the people at Hammer Films. If you’ve seen the film, you might note that there’s something interesting about the role. Dracula doesn’t speak at all. According to Lee, the reason was simple, “I read the script and saw the dialogue! I said to Hammer, if you think I’m going to say any of these lines, you’re very much mistaken.” Even though the writer of the script denies this, the story goes that Hammer Films decided to allow Lee rebellion and just had him hiss and yell throughout the film.
13. Kevin Costner – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
To say that Kevin Costner should have been fired from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves might suggest that we think the film is bad. We don’t. We love it. But we also love it for the same reason that many fans of the film do, reasons that might not amuse the director, Kevin Reynolds nor Costner. One of the most amazing things about the film is Costner’s (and Christian Slater’s) awful and hilarious attempts at an English accent. Apparently, Costner was asked to put on the accent, so he hired a dialect coach and the show was on. When Reynolds first heard Costner try it out, however, he was flabbergasted. How could someone be so terrible at speaking English? They tried to work through it, but it was no use. Costner was a lost cause. The dialect coach was fired and Costner was asked to ditch the accent, a decision that caused a bit of a turmoil on set. Amazingly (though arguably untrue), you can pinpoint the moments when Costner and Reynolds were said to be bickering the most because those are the scenes in which Costner really hams up his dodgy English accent just to piss his director off.
12. Drew Barrymore – Wishful Thinking
Right before the film, Wishful Thinking, came out, Drew Barrymore, the star, did an interview in which she gave a little insight into how the studios work multi-film deals. It started with her talking about her new film and how she wasn’t happy about it. She compared her film deal to the one Gwyneth Paltrow had with Miramax studios, saying that Paltrow “had to make The Pallbearer to get Emma.” Barrymore followed in Paltrow’s footsteps saying, “it’s so funny because she totally busted Harvey Weinstein in an interview. So I’m like, not only hats off to Gwyneth Paltrow but I’m going to do it, too! I got f***ing manipulated into doing a goddamn movie I hated!” Sometimes, forcing an actor to do a film works out. But if you watch Wishful Thinking, you can see right away that it suffers from actors who hate what they’re doing.
11. Christian Bale – Terminator Salvation
At almost every step, Terminator Salvation looked like it was destined to fail. There were massive pre-production issues, script issues, on-set injuries and, worst of all, controversy. The big controversy started when an audio leaked from the set of the film’s star, Christian Bale, losing his mind on the director of photography, Shane Hurlbut. The audio captured Bale in an insane tirade that made him look like a total basket case in the eyes of pretty much everyone. Despite his heartfelt apology, Bale was criticized in many circles and that criticism followed the film through to its release. Even if we suggest that fans and reviewers ignored Bale’s actions when judging the film, which we don’t exactly think happened, it still was a catastrophe. Bale should have never been in this film. He was a distraction to say the least and his performance was lackluster. Almost every review criticized his acting in the film and it became harder and harder to justify his appearance. Really, after Bale’s ridiculous antics were revealed, the film should have done itself a favor and cut ties with the actor.
10. Phil Robertson – Duck Dynasty
After 11 seasons, Duck Dynasty finally ended its run on television, but many critics of the show argue that it should have been cancelled a long time ago. Maybe that’s true, but we argue that only Phil Robertson, the homophobic star, should have been fired. The show’s ratings dropped significantly after a 2013 interview with Robertson came out. In it, he was asked what was sinful in his mind. His answer was, “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.” The A&E network suspended Robertson, but after the CEO received death threats, the network reversed the suspension. The man never missed an episode.
9. Lena Dunham – Girls
Lena Dunham found herself answering quite a few questions that she probably never intended to raise after she released her collection of essays, Not That Kind of Girl. One of the big issues readers had was with her descriptions of what she would do with her little sister when they were children, s*xual things that many readers found disturbing. Plenty of people tossed around the term s*xual abuse, but there’s a danger in putting that label on children (which Dunham was at the time). She even describes herself doing “anything a s*xual predator might do” in order to get a kiss from her sister. Dunham was also accused of being a r*pe-hoaxer after she accused an anonymous man of r*pe. Many critics have suggested that what is described is consensual, albeit bad, s*x. Admittedly, it would be tough to fire Dunham from her own show, Girls, but many fans have decided to stop watching the show because of Dunham’s recent controversies. It hasn’t had a major effect yet, but the growing dislike of Dunham could end bad for the HBO show.
8. Brandon Victor Dixon – Hamilton
Even though the Broadway musical, Hamilton, isn’t in our wheelhouse, we decided that actor Brandon Victor Dixon’s actions were bad enough to warrant inclusion on this list. Though it didn’t make news until the cast of Hamilton lectured Mike Pence during their show, Dixon came under fire for a few Tweets he sent out and re-Tweeted in 2012 and 2013. Dixon’s worst offense (if only because he wrote it) came in a Tweet that read, “St. Patty’s day weekend is like Christmas for black dudes who like white chicks. Happy holidays boys.” This Tweet seems to condone the r*pe of white women, which people didn’t like. Another Tweet suggested that the reason football players end up getting themselves in trouble is because they don’t sleep “with hos” anymore. Dixon responded by writing, “the problem is ho’s aren’t what they used to be. If ho game would step up, cats wouldn’t get distracted.” After that, Dixon re-Tweeted and added “The. Best” to “@jleefilm: 4 every racist comment I get about Trayvon Im going 2 turn 1 white married suburban housewife & mother n2 a jump off.” This guy seems like he’s the last person who should be a spokesperson for diversity.
7. David Cross – Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked
When David Cross appeared on the Conan O’Brien show, he had exactly zero nice things to say about the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise that he was a part of. Having just finished the third film in the series, Cross was done with the franchise and really laid into it with criticism after criticism. He started by saying, “This last film was literally, without question, the most unpleasant experience I’ve ever had in my professional life.” He then described that he had basically been held at gunpoint to dress in a bird costume. Apparently, there had been numerous problems on set and the filmmakers should have picked up on this and cut their losses. Cut Cross and get a new villain. It’s easy. This would have saved them from the all the bad press the film got after Cross refused to shut his mouth about the experience.
6. Piers Morgan – Good Morning Britain
Piers Morgan has plenty of fans out there. He drums up quite a bit of controversy whenever he opens his mouth, and there is a huge portion of the population who suggest that Piers’ honesty, even when it’s hateful, should be celebrated. Uhuh, sure! Still, some fans were calling for Morgan to be sacked from his gig on Good Morning Britain after he criticized the women’s march in the United States. His remarks against the march were aided by strong language that called the women man-haters and rabid feminists. Shortly after, Morgan tried to backtrack and describe himself as a feminist, which didn’t get the laughter we expected it would. Morgan’s remarks about women got him in some hot water, but it also put the show on the hot seat. Not long after, expected guest Ewan McGregor no-showed his appearance because of Morgan. While his rancid and uneducated opinions do drive up ratings, Morgan has lost the respect of many, which makes being the host of a talk show difficult.
5. Scarlett Johansson – Ghost In The Shell
Ghost in the Shell faced a controversy long before it was ever released. By casting Scarlett Johansson in an historically Japanese role, the film brought unnecessary and unwanted criticism upon itself. Even though the filmmakers argue that the role in question was not Japanese, the character’s name and look are both obviously Japanese-inspired. Add in that the fact that they apparently tried to make Johansson look more Japanese trough CGI and the whole story just looks bad. Once again, like others on this list, most of the harsh criticisms on this film are about the content of the film being subpar and not the casting choice, but going into a film with a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t do the final review any favors. Ghost in the Shell could have nipped this talk in the bud right away and cast one of the many incredible Asian actors in Hollywood.
4. Chevy Chase – Community
Even though Chevy Chase was eventually let go from Community (or he walked off depending on who you ask), it was too late. Since the very beginning, Chase and his character, Pierce, were the worst thing about the show. After Chase left, more and more stories came out about how he hated the show from the very beginning and was not afraid to show it, which made the set a difficult place to be. Chase should have been let go in season three when he became a hindrance to the show and the creator, Dan Harmon. In the final day of shooting in that season, the last great season, Chase refused to shoot the final scene and walked off set. Harmon flipped out on him and would later get a now-famous voicemail from the comedian. Harmon leaked the message online and was fired for it. The next season was unloved by almost everyone and Community lost a lot fans. Chase stayed on for another season after Harmon was gone. Eventually, things boiled out of control when Chase demanded that his character use the N-word, claiming “that Richard Pryor said it was okay for him to call him that.” The show and Chase went their separate ways and Harmon was brought back but, sadly, the damage had already been done by that point.
3. Finn Jones – The Iron List
There’s a question that we want to entertain here about racially-motivated casting criticism and if films that make mistakes should own them and respond with action or defend them and change nothing. As soon as the white actor, Finn Jones, was cast as Danny Rand in Iron Fist, critics voiced their displeasure. The original comic had made the error of whitewashing an Asian story with a white character and the show was given the opportunity to right those wrongs. It missed the chance. Both the show and the comic exploited the “white savior” concept and the results are pretty awful. Since its release, the show has received terrible reviews. Sadly, the question has become, “Is the show actually bad or are critics and fans being spiteful?” Maybe it’s a bit of both, but Netflix and Marvel will now never really know. They should have recast the part and moved forward with their best foot. That being said, we can be honest and impartial. The show is boring and would be boring with an Asian lead as well.
2. James Franco – Your Highness
If you watched Your Highness, you probably thought to yourself, this is James Franco mailing it in. Everyone thought it. Franco’s performance was about as half-a*sed as it gets. But even if he was excellent, the film would have still stunk. It had one good scene. You know, the one. Thank you, Natalie Portman. When Franco appeared on the Comedy Central Roast, he revealed what we all kind of expected. He didn’t like the movie and obviously didn’t have his heart in it. Here’s what he said, “I agreed to do this roast because I wanted to do something I’ve never done before—something that has zero artistic value, something nobody will remember three months from now, something that’s offensive, homophobic and stars horrifically untalented people and something that’s only a big deal to a handful of teenage stoners on Twitter. You might say, ‘James, didn’t you just describe Your Highness?’ I wouldn’t know, I didn’t see Your Highness.”
1. Wesley Snipes – Blade Trinity
Obviously, Blade Trinity was a pile of trash. But who’s fault was it? Basically, the entire thing was bound to fail, but the stories that came out after the film make it pretty clear that the star, Wesley Snipes, had a big part in the film’s failure. Co-star Patton Oswalt claimed that Snipes “wouldn’t come out of his trailer and he would smoke weed all day.” Oswalt said that Snipes “would only communicate with the director [David Goyer] through Post-it notes. And he would sign each Post-it note ‘From Blade'” which obviously made the process incredibly difficult. Snipes and Goyer both insisted that the other one quit, but neither would give in. This all came to a head one day, tells Oswalt, when Wesley came down to the set. Another black actor (the only other black actor) was wearing his own shirt which had the word “garbage” written on it. When Snipes saw this, he freaked out on Goyer saying, “There’s only one other black guy in the movie, and you make him wear a shirt that says ‘Garbage?’ You racist motherf****r!” and then “tried to strangle the director.”