When I was in high school, I worked as a cashier at the local supermarket. Highlights of the job included, but were certainly not limited to, minimum wage pay, flexible hours, and free candy. Downsides included me having to mop up human poop one time, having to work on holidays and weekends, and being fired for stealing candy.
I wasn’t shoving Skittles into my pockets or anything like that. I would just under weigh the bags of self-serve candy my friends would bring to my register. Anyway, I was caught, reprimanded, and promptly let go. But I think it made me a better person. After all, it’s these types of things that build character. However, if I had been at risk at losing a paycheck of, say, $3 million as opposed to my weekly $156.25, I think I may have been more likely to respect the rules and honestly, I probably would have been cooler about the whole poop on the floor thing. And although I do consider myself to be a parlance of our times, I can’t speak for everybody, especially after hearing about another prima donna getting pulled off of a multimillion-dollar project because they couldn’t hack it.
Oftentimes, it’s easy to forget that celebrities are people too. They seem immune to the everyday tribulations and consequences of the working world, but even though being an A-list actor is a fun job, it’s a job, nevertheless. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting paid $7 an hour to bag groceries or $7 million to appear in this summer’s biggest blockbuster, if you’re lacking enthusiasm on the clock, or more often in their case, a pain to work with, chances are you’re going to get the axe. And although a celebrity’s P.R. team typically does a good job at making sure tales of their client getting canned are covered up, it happens more often than you think. I’ve put together a short list of some notable Hollywood heavyweights that have had to apply for unemployment for various reasons over the years. I hope you enjoy reading about the misfortune of these wealthy jerks as much as I did writing about them.
15. Robert Downey Jr. Steals Terrence Howard’s Iron Man 2 Paycheck
Terrence Howard had a noteworthy start to the new millennium. In 2004, he starred in two Academy Award-winning movies, Crash and Ray, and he followed them up by being nominated for an Oscar himself for his performance as Djay in 2005’s Hustle and Flow. By 2008, he was ready to close out the decade with a bang and took on the role of Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes, the best friend and would-be superhero partner of Tony Stark in Iron Man, a career move that, due to the upcoming Avengers movies, would ensure a steady paycheck for the next ten years or more…or so he thought. Howard had signed a three-picture deal with Paramount. He was to receive $4.5 million for the first film, $8 million for the second, and an undisclosed amount for the third. But when it came to start shooting Iron Man 2, the studio realized that they were going to rake in mounds of loot with or without Howard. They changed their offer to $1 million, reportedly gave the other $7 million to Robert Downey Jr., and told Howard to take it or leave it. As we all know now, he chose to leave it and was promptly replaced with Don Cheadle before he ever had the chance to step foot in the War Machine costume.
14. Ryan Gosling Was Too Fat For The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones is a movie from 2009 about a grieving father searching for the killer of his young daughter. It’s based on the best-selling novel of the same name and had quite the buzz surrounding its production. So when it came time to cast a leading man, director Peter Jackson thought Ryan Gosling would be the perfect actor to fill the role of mournful dad, Jack Salmon. But unfortunately, he “filled” the role a little too much. Apparently, Gosling envisioned the character being overweight and committed himself to gaining 60 pounds for the part (a goal he achieved by drinking melted Haagen Dazs ice cream whenever he was thirsty). The problem was he hadn’t run the idea by anyone else on the project, so when he showed up for filming looking like a moon bounce with hair rather than a Hollywood superstar, everyone on set was rightfully shocked (but also probably excited the studio had ordered a moon bounce). With only a few days left before shooting, Jackson made the executive decision to give Gosling the boot and replaced him with Massachusetts’ favorite blue collar son, Mark Wahlberg. “We didn’t talk very much during the preproduction process, which was the problem,” Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter, “then I was just fat and unemployed.”
13. Sylvester Stallone Tries To Rewrite Beverly Hills Cop
It’s difficult to consider now, but back in the early ’80s, Eddie Murphy was just “that funny guy from Saturday Night Live.” He wouldn’t write the script for the always hilarious Coming to America until the end of the decade. And by 1984, he had yet to land a movie that would graduate him from SNL breakout star to Hollywood royalty. Around the same time, producers cast Sylvester Stallone in Beverly Hills Cop as Axel Foley, a witty freewheeling Detroit police officer who finds himself in a constant state of culture shock when he tracks a murderer to Los Angeles. Stallone has gone on record saying that he didn’t think he was right for the role and while his agent agreed that the cheeky dialogue wasn’t exactly his client’s strong suit, he encouraged Stallone to see it through. However, Sly had different plans and took it upon himself to rewrite the script to fit his tough guy persona more accurately. The Rambo star reportedly nixed a high percentage of the comedy and replaced it with the type of villain-bashing-gore audiences had become accustomed to stomaching during a Stallone flick. Unfortunately, the studio wasn’t pleased and chose to say bye-bye to Sly before production began and went through almost twenty potential leading men (including Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis) before settling on Eddie Murphy, which proved to be the right move for everyone involved. Beverly Hills Cop went on to not only be the highest grossing movie of 1984, but the highest grossing R-rated film until The Matrix Reloaded took the title 19 years later. In fact, if you account for inflation, Beverly Hills Cop is the third highest grossing R-rated movie of all time just behind The Exorcist and The Godfather. And THAT, my friends, is how Eddie Murphy became Eddie Murphy.
12. Stuart Townsend Is Too Baby-faced To Be In Lord Of The Rings
If you’re not a nerd, you probably don’t know that Aragorn is supposed to be 87 years old in The Lord of the Rings. It’s mentioned briefly, but unless you’re listening carefully, it’s a little factoid that’s easy to miss. The explanation behind the character being a fully-functioning Orc slayer and not a decrepit old man shopping for diapers is simple—Aragorn is a Dunedain, a race of Men descended from Numenoreans who, after surviving the sinking of their home island, immigrated to Middle-earth in search of a new life. They’re tall, have gray eyes, and live three times longer than the average man. Simple, right? Good, let’s move on. In 1999, Peter Jackson had originally cast a little-known actor by the name of Stuart Townsend as Aragorn. The actor underwent two months of rigorous training in preparation for the star-making role only to show up to New Zealand for filming and have his dreams swiftly cut down. Jackson took one look at the then 27-year-old Townsend and decided he was too young for the part regardless of the character’s heritage. Townsend was replaced with Viggo Mortensen faster than you can say “one ring to rule them all,” and the rest is history.
11. Megan Fox Tells The World Know What She Thinks Of Michael Bay
It’s never a good idea to bad-mouth your boss. It’s an especially poor idea to bad-mouth your boss during an interview with an international publication that he’s sure to read. In 2011, while preparing to film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Megan Fox told British magazine, Wonderland, that her director, Michael Bay, was something of a dictator on set saying, “He’s like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous madman reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.” Obviously, Bay wasn’t too thrilled to find out that the actress he pulled from obscurity four years earlier, had nothing but disparaging things to say about him. However, he swallowed his pride and decided to stay the course. That is until producer Steven Spielberg got wind of the unpleasant quote. After all, this is the man who produced Schindler’s List so he’s probably not too keen on one of his subordinates comparing his friend to Adolf Hitler. Spielberg advised Bay to not only fire Fox from the movie but write her character out completely. Bay followed instructions and, in return, we got a boatload of crappy Transformer sequels.
10. Eric Stoltz Is Too Much Of An Actor For Back To The Future
Back to the Future is an absurd movie to pitch when you think about it. A disgraced nuclear physicist makes a time machine out the hottest sports car known to the 1980’s and sends his 17-year-old best friend thirty years into the past. The script was rejected forty times before finally getting the green light. And when it did, director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale wasted no time casting the now classic roles. They gave the part of Marty McFly to then up-and-comer Eric Stoltz, who you may remember best as the adrenaline-syringe-wielding drug dealer from Pulp Fiction. Although Stoltz was a hot ticket at the time, his approach to the role didn’t settle well with the cast and crew. A method actor by trade, Stoltz went all-in on the role insisting to be called “Marty” on and off the set and nearly breaking Thomas F. Wilson‘s (Biff) collarbone during the cafeteria scene despite being told repeatedly to dial it back. Eventually, Zemeckis and Gale agreed that although Stoltz had the chops to be a successful dramatic actor, he lacked the comedic goofiness required to bring Marty McFly to life. But by the time the duo decided to replace Stoltz with Michael J. Fox, they were already deep into production and even had to continue shooting him while they were secretly signing the contracts to bring Fox on board. Of course, in the end, Zemeckis and Gale delivered one of the greatest movies of the century with Fox starring in his most memorable role. But if you look hard enough, you’ll find a few scenes online with Stoltz acting out your favorite BTTF scenes.
9. Spike Jonze Speaks Up And Fires Samantha Morton From Her
Samantha Morton is a lesser-known British actress whose biggest credit, until being cast as the voice of the computer operating system, Samantha, in Her was probably as the voice of the girl bunny in Max & Ruby. Well, Spike Jonze must have seen an episode and thought, “That’s it! That’s the voice I want seducing Joaquin Phoenix in my new movie,” because he spent the next several months of his life and $23 million of company money centering an entire movie around her vocal capabilities. Jonze kept Morton in a four-by-four plywood booth painted black and covered in carpeting so she could perform her lines on set without being seen. In fact, he wouldn’t let Phoenix and Morton interact whatsoever while filming was taking place in hopes that the tension would translate on screen, and I guess it didn’t work quite as planned. When it came time to edit the film in post-production, Jonze listened to what he and Morton had created and decided it just wasn’t what he wanted. To remedy this problem, he did what any sound-minded artist would do. After months and months of filming, he replaced his leading lady with Scarlett Johansson. You might think this was a ballsy audible, but these are the types of benefits you get when your lead actress isn’t seen on screen for even one minute.
8. Anne Hathaway Can’t Be In Knocked Up Because She’s Not A Mom
At the end of this past decade, we were able to bear witness to the solidification of Judd Apatow‘s bromance empire with the release of 2007’s Knocked Up. Sure, Apatow had hit it big two years earlier with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but it wasn’t until he filmed Seth Rogen coming to terms with being a father that audiences were ready to pay to see anything that had his name attached to it. The film also made Katherine Heigl a household name, but her portrayal of Alison Scott, the career-driven women who gets…well…knocked up, almost didn’t happen. Apatow originally wanted Anne Hathaway to play the role, but his idea of using actual birth footage during the hospital scene didn’t sit well with The Devil Wears Prada star. “My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself,” Hathaway said in a 2011 interview, “I didn’t know how I was gonna feel on the other side about giving birth.” That’s right, Anne Hathaway didn’t think it was right to act as though she was giving birth having not experienced the pains of motherhood firsthand. The part went to Katherine Heigl (who, at the time, was a mother of 0) who had no problem with the footage whatsoever which really didn’t make much of a difference in the end, seeing as the footage was scrapped in post-production anyhow.
7. Dougray Scott Doesn’t Have Enough Time For The Role Of A Lifetime In X-Men
This story starts in 1996 with the film adaptation of the 1960’s espionage-based hit television show, Mission Impossible. The movie starred big names like Tom Cruise and Jon Voight and ended up being a critical and box office hit. So, when producers cast Scottish actor Dougray Scott in the 2000 sequel, he didn’t exactly have to think twice before taking the part. But as promising as the role sounded (he would be starring alongside Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, and Thandie Newton and directed by the legendary John Woo), it paled in comparison to the next project he had signed on for—the part of Wolverine in the first X-Men movie. Unfortunately for Scott, once you’re paid for a job, you’re legally obligated to see it through. So when filming for MI:II went over schedule, he was forced to drop out of X-Men and pass the role of the tormented claw-slashing Wolverine over to some unknown Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. Scott claims he has no hard feelings about losing the role, which is surprising considering that MI:II wasn’t well-received by critics, and Hugh Jackman ended up doing six more X-Men movies, three spin-offs, and became one of six celebrities in this paragraph you don’t have to Google.
6. Jean-Claude Van Damme Doesn’t Realize He Won’t Be Seen In The Predator Costume
Back in the early 1980’s, Jean-Claude Van Damme was relatively unknown. He had a few background roles, and up until 1986, his only actual credit was as “Gay Karate Man” in 1984’s Monaco Forever. So, when he was told he landed the part as the villain in 1987’s Predator starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers (two of the biggest action stars of the era), needless to say, he smelled his big break coming. The problem was that nobody informed Van-Damme that to play the extraterrestrial antagonist, he would have to wear a heavy rubber costume that he could barely breathe in. Van-Damme spent two days on set in the sweltering Mexican jungle before complaining of heat exhaustion but it wasn’t until the director told him to lose the suit so they could shoot Predator’s invisibility scenes that Van-Damme really threw a fit. They swapped the rubber costume for a head-to-toe bodysuit in order to add the cloaking effect in post-production. And when the now-famed action star realized that he wouldn’t be seen on camera at all, he threw in the towel. Fed up with trying to talk some no-name Flemish actor into a Predator costume, producers said “so long” to Van-Damme and replaced him with Kevin Peter Hall.
5. Marvel Studios Decides Edward Norton Isn’t Worth Avengers Money
There have been two Hulk movies released to date, not counting the hero’s appearances in the Avengers movies. The first was Ang Lee‘s universally hated Hulk in 2003 starring Eric Bana as Bruce Banner, the genetics researcher turned monstrous green giant, and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, which saw Edward Norton take up the reigns of the role. While the first movie was a box office flop, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the reboot. Marvel Studios had cast one of the most critically-acclaimed actors of the past decade, and they were confident that he’d have no trouble carrying the character into their upcoming Avengers franchise. However, when it came time to assemble the actors set to play the comic book crime fighters, Norton had been replaced by Mark Ruffalo, a decision he claimed was all his own. “My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to,” Norton said, “I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences.” Which basically means that he wanted to make Wes Anderson movies without any scheduling conflicts, but when he heard Marvel Studios go out of their way to say their decision to recast Norton was “definitely not one based on monetary factors,” the actor wasn’t too pleased. He barked back at Marvel claiming their choice to mention money at all was “low, unprofessional, and cheap.” While there have been claims that Marvel has low-balled actors in order to afford other actors (see Terrence Howard’s Iron Man story above), I’ve heard just about as many stories regarding Norton’s stubbornness on set, so let’s lay the blame on both parties involved.
4. Frank Sinatra Is Too Limp-Wristed To Play Dirty Harry
It’s nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Clint Eastwood playing rough-neck police detective Harry Callahan in 1971’s Dirty Harry, but that’s exactly what almost happened. Director William Friedkin had originally cast velvet-voiced crooner Frank Sinatra in the famous role. The director and producers invested six months of their lives preparing Sinatra for the part only to toss the Rat Pack leader to the curb once they found out he couldn’t even hold a gun. Apparently, Old Blue Eyes had suffered a broken wrist while filming The Manchurian Candidate eight years earlier, and when it came time for him to lift Harry’s legendary .44 Magnum, his hand simply couldn’t support its weight. After realizing their grizzled main character wouldn’t be able to aim his weapon, Friedkin scrapped the idea and instead made The French Connection. It wasn’t until Clint Eastwood, known almost exclusively for doing Westerns at the time, became interested in the title role that the project grew legs once again. The rugged leading man not only produced the film but he also brought on his pal, Don Siegel, to direct and ended up making what could be called the defining role of his career.
3. Christian Bale Wasn’t Marketable Enough For American Psycho
Back in 1997, Leonardo DiCaprio was riding the wave of Titanic, a movie that would go on to become the third highest-grossing movie of all time and subsequently make him the hottest ticket in Hollywood. As you can imagine, being the most sought-after actor on planet earth comes with the benefit of being able to pick your next project. DiCaprio reportedly wanted to steer away from his teeny-bopper image by starring in something far from the romantic epic that made him an international sensation. So when Lionsgate announced he’d be starring as Patrick Bateman, the serial-killing investment banker in their upcoming thriller American Psycho, most people weren’t surprised. “Most people” meaning everyone except Christian Bale and director Mary Harron, who had offered the role to the British method actor only a few months earlier.
Apparently, the studio thought Bale, with only a few dramatic credits to his name at the time, wouldn’t be a big-enough draw for theater-goers. They wanted someone with an established fan base, like DiCaprio, to ensure every seat was filled. Oddly enough, these were the exact reasons why Harron didn’t want Leo in her movie. “Leonardo wasn’t remotely right [for the part]. There’s something very boyish about him,” Harron said in an interview, “I did not want to deal with someone who had a 13-year-old fan base. They shouldn’t see the movie.” Alas, Lionsgate pressed on, working through countless script rewrites and cast/crew replacements until DiCaprio had had enough. He dropped out of the project and went on to do The Beach instead, which gave Harron an opportunity to get Bale back on board and make one of the most beloved cult films of recent memory.
2. Bruce Willis Can’t Remember His Lines For Cafe Society
Woody Allen has put out a movie a year, every year, since 1982. Take a minute to contemplate that and realize how unreal that statistic is. We’re talking 35 full-length feature films all written and directed by (and often starring) Woody Allen, and even before then, he had already made a handful of films, including Annie Hall, which took home the best picture Oscar in 1978. With that amount of workload, it’s no surprise to hear rumors that his casting process is a “wham, bam, thank ya, ma’am” kind of process in which an actor shows up, reads a line, and if Allen thinks the sentence sounded good, you’re in. However, not screening your actors thoroughly can cause problems later on, as was the case in Allen’s 2016 romantic-comedy Cafe Society. The director had originally cast Hollywood vet Bruce Willis as the secretary-lusting Hollywood super agent, Phil Stern. But when it came time to begin shooting, Willis couldn’t remember any of his lines. The crew tried everything from rehearsals to cue cards but nothing was able to pull the correct words from the actor’s mouth. After that, Allen wasted no time in recasting the part with Steve Carell. And this isn’t the first time Willis has battled rumors of on-set difficulty. Director Kevin Smith went as far to describe Willis’ awful behavior on the set of 2010’s Cop Out as “awful enough to ruin all perceptions Smith had of the iconic actor from his youth.” Willis released a statement, claiming that he dropped out of Cafe Society due to scheduling conflicts, but anyone with an internet connection knows the true story.
1. Stallone Gets Richard Gere Kicked Off Of The Lords Of Flatbush
If you’ve never seen The Lords of Flatbush, or have never heard of it for that matter, don’t worry, not too many people have too. But, it’s the birthplace of one of Hollywood’s greatest feuds. TLOF is a coming-of-age story about a gang of street-toughs growing up in 1950’s Brooklyn. It starred a little-known Henry Winkler, a lesser-known Sylvester Stallone, and an even lesser-known Richard Gere. When you’re that low on the totem pole, it’s best to tread lightly around the higher-ups. So when Gere started acting like he was the cock of the walk, Stallone wasn’t having any part of it. The two nearly came to blows several times before Stallone reached his boiling point while rehearsing on a frigid day at Coney Island. “The only place that was warm was in the backseat of a Toyota,” Stallone said of their final encounter, “I was eating a hotdog and he climbs in with a half a chicken covered in mustard with grease nearly dripping out of the aluminum wrapper. I said, ‘That thing is going to drip all over the place.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘If it gets on my pants you’re gonna know about it.’ He proceeds to bite into the chicken and a small, greasy river of mustard lands on my thigh. I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car. The director had to make a choice: one of us had to go, one of us had to stay. Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me.” While that is a humorous tale, what really dips this whole story in gold is that Gere believes it was Stallone who started the rumor about him having to get a gerbil medically removed from his anus in the early ’80s. For more on that, I advise you to seek out answers elsewhere on the internet.
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