These days, thanks to social media, we know about a recasting in a major movie franchise before the studio, actors, or even directors and producers have any chance to announce it themselves. Whether they were fired or simply walked away because it wasn’t a good fit for them at that time, many actors and actresses did not continue with a franchise they began with long before it became a hit. Interestingly enough, it’s clear that the same holds true for television shows who replace actors and actresses without blinking (i.e Janet Hubert still has lots to say after getting the boot from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air).
From bad egos and attitudes to simply not getting along or just experiencing the harsh realities of working in Hollywood, some of our favorite actors and actresses have gotten the boot in a major way. If anything, this list could be considered an encouraging one, as readers potentially have a “Well look at them now!” moment. But for others, there’s a major question of whether they would be even more well-known today had they gone through with completing the franchise that could have easily kicked off their career. Fortunately, they didn’t get canned and still star in the franchise, or did for quite a while anyway. Ultimately, the lesson here is probably to just accept life for what it is and to consider that what is meant to be will be. Of course it’s easier said than done. So take a look at 15 stars who were almost fired from major franchises.
15. Shia LaBeouf From Transformers
Okay so LaBeouf risked his gig with Transformers when he fired shots at the director, Michael Bay, during an interview. He spoke out on a main piece of the films, Bumblebee, when he said, “Bumblebee never sounds real. It’s just a name. The name alone you can never make real, no matter how much you put into it, because on the other side you have a director who doesn’t believe in it either.” Ouch. That was clearly a close one for LaBeouf, especially when you think about how Megan Fox was fired from her role in the franchise after she had a few words to say about Bay as well. Let’s just say she compared him to Adolf Hitler on the set and pretty much accused him of being a madman. Bay said it was Steven Spielberg who suggested he fire Fox, so he did. Fortunately for the Even Stevens star, he didn’t have the same fate.
14. Robert Pattinson From Twilight
It looks like Team Jacob would have had a pretty shocking lead over Team Edward thanks to the almost firing of Robert Pattinson from the mega hit Twilight Saga. As a member of Team Edward myself, I couldn’t imagine any of the movies being made without Pattinson. But it was almost a reality — and happened before anyone knew him as the beautiful vampire, Edward Cullen. Apparently his out of control behavior was to blame while filming the first installment back in 2008. His agent even had to come out to the set in hopes of calming him down. Thankfully it worked and Pattinson ended up enjoying the group of people he worked with (so much so that he dated Kristen Stewart for years, but that’s another topic). Pattinson told The New York Times, “it was amazing luck, as well, to just have fallen into it with the group of people I worked with on it. I didn’t have to kiss anybody’s [rear end] the entire time.”
13. Taylor Lautner From Twilight
So who knew that Lautner‘s role was in danger for the Twilight franchise as well? We did! Yes, Pattinson wasn’t the only one who would lose out on creating this amazing franchise that was one of the first of its kind. But unlike Pattinson, it wasn’t Lautner’s bad attitude that almost got him the axe. Instead, it was his scrawny physique. Yes ladies, Lautner was almost fired because he was too skinny. The director, Chris Weitz, wanted to cast a different actor for New Moon to reflect Jacob’s change from a skinny dude to pretty much a hulk look-a-like — just how it is in the book. But Lautner convinced Weitz that he could amp up his muscles too. And that he did. In fact, the stud gained 29 pounds to do so. Talk about committed. Thankfully, both Pattinson and Lautner were able to do what they needed to keep their parts. Team Jacob and Team Edward are proud gents!
12. Johnny Depp From Pirates of the Caribbean
So we almost didn’t see Depp deliver his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It’s no secret that Depp’s character was pretty odd and peculiar to begin with. But word is Disney wasn’t a fan of his acting skills in the first installment of the mega popular franchise. Apparently Disney had trouble really grasping a hold of what it is Depp was attempting to do. Depp has been said to have been inspired by Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones as he fulfilled his interpretation of Sparrow. But Disney thought it wouldn’t sit well with its viewers and even said it could come across as Sparrow being homosexual. Depp once said he got, “as close to getting fired as anyone could be.” Disney decided to wait until the movie was released to see how Depp would do and clearly he worked. In fact the franchise would not have been the same without him, that’s for sure. He is probably the one to credit for it coming to life the way that it did with Sparrow’s quirky sayings and hilarious body language.
11. Michelle Rodriguez From The Fast and Furious
Rodriguez almost lost her role on The Fast and Furious franchise after she had creative differences with the director and writer. Apparently, she didn’t like the direction they were taking her character and was ready to walk away for good. “It was more of a ‘Point Break’ idea. They just followed the format without thinking about the reality of it. Is it realistic for a Latin girl who’s with the alpha-est of the alpha males to cheat on him with the cute boy? I had to put my foot down. I basically cried and said, I’m going to quit and, ‘Don’t sue me, please — I’m sorry, but I can’t do this in front of millions of people. My whole point in being an actress is that I thought I got to live a dream. And I don’t dream about being a slut. Do you?!” Rodriguez learned the hard way that she couldn’t just talk to the director to get him to change the script in her favor. Interestingly enough, it was Vin Diesel who reportedly calmed things down and got her to stay on board.
10. Judd Nelson From The Breakfast Club
While it only had one film to date, The Breakfast Club is certainly a major one, so we think it deserves a spot on our list. But Judd Nelson almost wasn’t a part of it thanks to his attitude. (Paging Robert Pattinson…) Nelson’s character was known as the troublemaker and all-out “criminal” in the film, John Bender. But he, like many of his peers on this list, stayed into character a little too much even after the director yelled, “Cut!” His ways of trying to make things work out didn’t sit too well with his co-stars, including Molly Ringwald, who was said to have expressed her concerns to the director John Hughes. Word is Ringwald and Hughes had a close father-daughter type relationship so she might have really had some pull. The film’s casting director, Jackie Burch, said next thing she knew, “I got this phone call from set saying, ‘You better get Judd under control or I’m getting rid of him!'” Looks like he got under control.
9. Tom Cruise From Mission Impossible
Yes, you read that correctly. Can you believe Paramount tried to axe Cruise from the franchise that he arguably made? It happened ladies and gents. Chairman of Paramount’s parent company, Viacom, Sumner Redstone said in a statement, “We don’t think that someone who effectuates creative suicide and costs the company revenue should be on the lot…His recent conduct has not been acceptable to Paramount.” Keep in mind this was 14 years after Cruise signed on to do the first film. This was also around the time Cruise had been extremely open about his Scientology background and came for Brooke Shields. It was also when he jumped on Oprah Winfrey‘s couch. Mission: Impossible III ended up bringing in less than $100 million and the studio blamed Cruise and his unusual behavior for the low numbers. But then Paramount turned around and invited Cruise back when it needed a breakthrough movie after Disney bought Marvel. Cruise was signed on for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.
8. Al Pacino From The Godfather
Could you imagine The Godfather without THE Al Pacino? Well, it almost happened because the studio, Paramount, didn’t think he was the right actor for the iconic role of Michael Corleone. Go figure, huh? They went as far as trying to recast him when he was shooting for the first movie because Pacino was a completely different person than Corleone. He was quiet and a little reserved and clearly the most underrated person in the cast because Paramount wanted someone who was more rough and tough with tons more street cred and apparently that wasn’t Pacino. Or so they thought. Thankfully he proved them wrong when he filmed the scene when Corleone goes into the bathroom, gets a gun, then returns to shoot his worst enemy, Sollozo, inside of a restaurant. It was clear this was all it took for Pacino to prove he is the Godfather and the Godfather is him.
7. George Clooney From Batman and Robin
It’s clear this wasn’t Mr. Clooney‘s best work. And he knew it too. Clooney starred as Batman in the popular franchise in 1997. While he was allowed to finish out his role as the film was released in theaters, Clooney still says that he should have never played the part to begin with. “I thought at the time this was going to be a very good career move,” he said before confirming, “Um, it wasn’t.” He went as far as adding, “I actually thought I destroyed the franchise.” But Christopher Nolan ended up coming in and possibly rescuing the franchise for the Dark Night trilogy, which ended up winning an Oscar. Funny how things work for the best. And no worries George, everyone has roles they wish they could take back. Thankfully the studio decided to stick with him so he could realize that. What’s meant to be will be.
6. Hayden Christensen From Star Wars Prequels
Christensen‘s delivery in the series of the Star Wars franchise was lackluster to say the least. And it almost cost him his job and entire acting career. He received so much backlash from fans it was clear that there was more than a possibility that he just simply wasn’t right for the role. Interestingly enough, Christensen agreed that it probably wasn’t the best idea — but not just because fans were giving it to him left and right. “I felt like I had this great thing in Star Wars that provided all these opportunities and gave me a career, but it all kind of felt a little too handed to me. I didn’t want to go through life feeling like I was just riding a wave.” That’s probably not the best thing to say when you have millions of fans wondering how you got the role to begin with. But hey, it’s your world, Anakin Skywalker.
5. Linda Larkin From Aladdin
Yes, we almost heard a different Princess Jasmine in this Disney classic. Here’s Linda Larkin’s story. She tried out for the part of the beautiful princess when she happened to attend a casting session with a friend. How cool is that? Well, after she inked the deal, there was disagreement on set about her actual voice. Obviously her voice is pretty vital considering that’s all she can deliver to the role. Some thought it was “too high” and that she sounded too juvenile to be the Princess Jasmine that fans would soon fall in love with. The two directors, Ron Clements and John Musker, actually went to bat for her to stay on board after the producer Jeffrey Katzenburg said she needed to be recast. Larkin was able to get Katzenburg on her side after a very rigorous recording lesson in the studio and ended up voicing Princess Jasmine in the sequel Return of Jafar. I can only imagine what he’s thinking now.
4. Christian Bale From American Psycho
Now, this story is actually pretty funny in context. So Christian Bale signed on to be Patrick Bateman in the American Psycho film. For the original, he was actually fired before he got a chance to really deliver, and replaced with none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. It looks like the Titanic star didn’t want to play such an ugly and disturbing role. So the studio offered the role to Ewan McGregor. Apparently he didn’t want the role either so he simply said no. Who did the studio go with then? None other than Bale. Talk about being an afterthought. As for Bale, maybe he thought he was meant to be the American Psycho because he said yes, even after being rejected twice. The film ended up having a sequel but Bale didn’t play the role of Bateman. Instead, it was Michael Kremko who reprised the role. Funny how things work out that way.
3. Rachel McAdams From The Notebook
This one is worth mentioning because it absolutely could have become a franchise if there wasn’t so much drama on set. You’d think that Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams would have gotten along great. But instead, news of Gosling trying to get McAdams fired from the film only proved to show how rude he (or she) possibly is and how great of actors they both are. If only they could use it for more good! As for Gosling, the director of the iconic film, Nick Cassavetes, said that he had reached his breaking point with McAdams while they were taping. “He’s doing a scene with Rachel and he says, ‘Would you take her out of here and bring in another actress to read off camera with me?’ I said, ‘What?’ He says, ‘I can’t. I can’t do it with her. I’m just not getting anything from this.'” Who died and made you king, Gosling?
2. Jay Pharoah From SNL
Sorry, we’re stretching! Jay Pharoah’s personal views almost cost him his coveted spot on NBC’s long-running comedy series, Saturday Night Live. He has already walked away from the show but he confessed in an interview years before that he was almost fired because he said that the show needed to hire more African-American females. “I think me speaking up, you know, they were ready to get rid of me in 2013 in September…,” he said in an interview. “When I said what it said, it got on The Grio and it went viral, I almost freaking lost my job.” Interestingly enough his former co-star Kenan Thompson spoke on the issue. “It’s just a tough part of the business,” he said. “Like in auditions, they just never find ones that are ready.” As for Pharoah, he said all is well between him and Lorne Michaels. “We on good graces and everything. It’s just that there have been some shaky times, and that time was a shaky time.”
1. The Olsen Twins from Full House
No, Full House is not a film, surprisingly not yet anyway. But it is certainly a franchise. And Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen almost didn’t make the cut. Fans only know thanks to a scene in Lifetime’s The Unauthorized ‘Full House’ Story that spilled the details of what it was really like to work with the now very famous twins. Apparently it was John Stamos, who played the beloved Uncle Jesse, who wanted the twins out. Can you believe it? I feel so betrayed. In his defense, it was when the twins were infants so he wasn’t necessarily attached to them yet and neither were we. But it was said that he was extremely irritated when they couldn’t pick up on a scene. “It was very difficult to get the shot,” he said. “So I [gesturing], ‘Get them out…!’ That is actually 100 percent accurate.” It worked for a little bit and the twins were replaced with two “unattractive redheaded kids.” So the twins were back in. Now, Stamos said he was “heartbroken” that they had decided not to appear in the Fuller House reboot on Netflix.