Since the Hollywood Gods have the power to giveth and to taketh away, oftentimes things said or done off-screen can be the reason an actor is never seen onscreen again. Job security isn’t exactly guaranteed in the entertainment industry, and this becomes blatantly clear when characters are inexplicably killed off or there’s an announcement of an actor change mid-season.
Public perception can be a fickle thing, and Hollywood execs often take their cues from how celebrities are perceived by the public. If an actor is seen as “America’s Sweetheart,” she will inevitably be popular selling ticket at the movie theaters. So, it would definitely be appealing to the Hollywood execs doling out the job offers. However, blunderous words or actions can make the public turn on a celebrity, and even get them fired from a steady paying gig.
There aren’t unlimited great roles in the entertainment industry, and the constant award shows every year definitely reminds everyone that it is highly competitive in Hollywood. When one actor finds themselves losing a coveted role, there is always another actor quick to vie for that spot. So, the fact that a celebrity would put their job in jeopardy can be mindboggling.
Job security is a huge factor, in more than just the entertainment industry, and many people would kill to collect those types of paychecks. From characters in film to those sitting back collecting royalties, check out our list of 15 celebrities that got fired from steady paying gigs and remember- a celebrity's off-screen character can get them in trouble.
15 Alec Baldwin
The success of 30 Rock seemed to be reinvigorating for Alec Baldwin’s career, and led to his own show with MSNBC, Up Late With Alec Baldwin. However, an altercation on the street was the first spark in what was soon to become a windfall of bad publicity. Accused of calling out a homophobic slur to a paparazzi photographer, Baldwin was suspended but was slated to return to film the rest of the show. During the suspension, outrage from the LGBT community began to escalate the accusations and both Baldwin and the network released a statement saying that the show would be canceled.
14 Andrew Garfield
When Andrew Garfield became the newest Spider-Man, audiences seemed to resonate better with a darker character than the previous Spider-Man played by Tobey Maguire. Andrew seemed to have more swagger, and his celebrity began to rise even more when he became romantically linked with co-star Emma Stone. Sony chief, Kaz Hirai, was hosting a Sony gala in Rio de Janeiro where he was planning to announce publicly that Garfield would continue on to star as Spider-Man for the third installment of the franchise. However, Garfield didn’t even bother to attend the event, and the result of snubbing the gala was that he did not keep his role for the third film.
13 Suzanne Somers
Hollywood has been known for being biased when it comes to actors' salaries. Even in today’s society, women are often still paid less than their male counterparts. So, when Suzanne Somers became the true breakout star of the hit show, Three’s Company, it’s not too surprising that she wasn’t making equal salary as her male cast member, John Ritter. This was the 1980’s after all, and it’s not as if there were a million female Hollywood execs making all the rules.
When Somers asked for a pay increase to something comparable to John Ritter or other male actors on less highly rated shows, contract negotiations didn’t go well and she only received a minimal raise. In protest, she famously pulled a few stunts during taping to halt production, but the joke was on her when management decided to cut her out of the majority of the season. After that, she was released from her role and promptly replaced with two other actresses, and she hasn’t received a substantial acting role since.
12 Pee-Wee Herman
There aren’t many comedic stage actors that have had the success in television and film as Paul Reubens. Performing the Pee-wee Herman character on stage seems like humble beginnings compared to his long-running CBS show, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, not to mention two Pee-wee movies on the big screen. While it seemed like Pee-wee would become akin to other quirky comedians like Robin William’s Mork character from Mork and Mindy, something happened in 1991 that got his series canceled and crippled his film career. After being arrested for indecent exposure in an adult theater, there was public outrage since he represented a children’s character.
However, there were also pro-Pee-wee rallies that felt this was a “victimless occurrence,” and didn’t feel he should be persecuted by the law or the industry. In the meantime, CBS canceled the remaining five reruns they had of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and it’s safe to say he will never again have a children’s show on television.
11 Curt Schilling
Oftentimes when a star athlete retires, they don’t exactly disappear from the limelight. From going on to managing or being a sports commentator, many sports take care of their own once their players retire. Curt Schilling was a big part of World Series teams in 1993 and 2001, and then became a legend with the Boston Red Sox, winning two titles.
Covering baseball for ESPN seemed like a dream job for this ex-ball player, but his tendency to seek out controversial topics on his social media sites landed him in hot water. Sharing a meme comparing Muslim-extremist with Nazi Germany, and another meme that addressed transgender bathrooms caused ESPN to release a statement shortly after saying, “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”
10 Jennifer Esposito
Hollywood isn’t exactly known for being the most accommodating when it comes to an actor’s personal life. When an actress calls off sick, she is labeled with a “poor work ethic,” and celebrities are often hospitalized for “exhaustion” due to grueling work schedules. Jennifer Esposito knows this all too well, since losing her role on the CBS show Blue Bloods. When Esposito divulged doctor’s orders for a reduced workload due to her Celiac disease, CBS gave a statement to The Hollywood Reporter that “[Esposito] is unable to perform the demands of her role, and we regretfully had to put her character on a leave of absence.”
9 Neal McDonough
Oftentimes, the biggest perk to being a television star is the opportunity to film sex scenes with beautiful starlets. However, Neal McDonough didn’t see this as a positive. When he first appeared on Desperate Housewives, he was alleged to refuse sex scenes with his costar Nicolette Sheridan, and his character was then killed off.
He was offered $1 million for a new role on the series, Scoundrels, but refused to perform sex scenes with his co-star Virginia Madsen. He was promptly released from the series after only three days of shooting. Neal McDonough is known to be a devout Catholic and family man, and many think this was the reason behind his sex scene refusals.
8 Paz de la Huerta
Paz de la Huerta is best known for her role as Lucy Danziger from the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. Completely believable as the aloof, often intoxicated, skin-revealing showgirl, it wasn’t until audiences saw her on the red carpet did they realize that she wasn’t exactly acting. Often photographed stumbling, with smeared makeup, and not really coherent, she created a reputation of being difficult to work with on set. Her character was on the cusp of a huge growth, going from a showgirl to a new mother, but HBO decided not to pick up the actress’ Season 3 contract option. The plot line literally showed her walk out of a door, never to be seen again.
7 Patrick Dempsey
While it’s understandable for those outside of Hollywood to have a few gripes about their jobs, there are some instances where it’s better to just keep those reservations to yourself. A hushed conversation between husband and wife is one thing, but posting it for all to see is another. Yet, that’s what Patrick Dempsey did when he allegedly made some comments about how the only reason he was continuing to act on Grey’s Anatomy was “for a steady paycheck.”
That isn’t exactly what show creators and writers want to hear from their actors. Rather than appreciation for the role and enthusiasm for their craft, comments like those don’t often bode well with Hollywood execs. Soon after these comments were made public, Dempsey’s character was unexpectedly killed off the show, leaving fans wishing Dempsey would have just kept his mouth shut.
6 Columbus Short
Columbus Short seemed to have it all going for him, since he was on the hit television series, Scandal, and an integral part of the show. One of Liv’s most-trusted “Gladiators,” Short’s Harrison character could have lived out his days going from one season to the next. However, after three seasons in, he was unexpectedly and unceremoniously killed off.
Well...Columbus Short was charged with battery after he reportedly attacked and threatened his wife during an alleged “violent” altercation. When details emerged about the altercation, there was public outrage over his actions, and a call for his termination. He was then let go from the show, and the latest news has dealt more with his legal problems than his acting skills.
5 Isaiah Washington
Grey’s Anatomy is one of those shows that seems to have a cast full of drama, no matter which members come and go. Isaiah Washington was another beloved member of the cast, but an alleged altercation on set caused his early termination from the show. During an altercation between Isaiah and another cast member, Isaiah allegedly made a homophobic comment that called out cast member, T.R. Knight.
The LGBT community tried to put pressure on show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes and soon thereafter he was fired from the show. This seemed like a decision that didn’t quite sit well with those connected with the show. Many felt that it was not legitimately “hate” speech, and instead something that was regrettably said in the heat of the moment. However, the public seemed to force the show’s hand on this, and Isaiah lost his gig with Grey’s Anatomy.
4 Gilbert Gottfried
Gilbert Gottfried wasn’t exactly a comedian that had people lining up to see him on stage. However, he did manage to land some cushy voice-over jobs over the years. From Jafar’s parrot sidekick to the Aflac duck, Gottfried seemed like he had found his niche in Hollywood. However, when one of the worst earthquakes and tsunamis hit Japan in 2011, Gottfried made some “jokes” on Twitter that weren’t exactly his best material. Not everyone must share his humor of necrophilia with the many victims of this horrific tragedy because Gottfried was promptly fired by the insurance giant shortly after his tweets went live to the site.
3 Shannen Doherty
Oftentimes, it’s all about who you know in Hollywood that gets you the best roles, but it’s also who you anger that gets you fired from the best roles. When Shannen Doherty was at the height of her popularity from Beverly Hills 90210, there were numerous reports about how difficult she was on set. Although there were many incidents that outlined her diva behavior, it was an altercation with Tori Spelling that ultimately signed her fate. Tori allegedly got Shannen fired by talking with her father, Aaron Spelling, who was the creator and producer of the show. This was just a long list of professional debacles by the actress and it seems her attitude made it difficult for her to hold onto a job, no matter how successful the series.
2 Hank Williams, Jr.
When Hank Williams, Jr. was featured on an episode of FOX & Friends, it seemed like a light and casual political conversation until something went horribly wrong. Comparing Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, he immediately issued an apology for the statement but the damage had been done. ESPN severed all ties with him and pulled his vocals from the Monday Night Football intro. During the 2011 CMA Awards intro, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley made up a monologue about this controversy, which was met with laughter which grew even bigger when Hank Williams, Jr. ended up joining them up on stage at the end. The song/monologue seems to forgive him for the comments he made, blaming it on the fact that so many country stars are known to indulge with drink and smoke. The song ends with, “You can get drunk and start carrying on, but you can’t compare the President to Hitler.”
1 Kevin Clash
If someone were to turn to you and tell you they want to be a puppeteer when they grow up, your inevitable response would be an eye-roll at this “dreamer” who thinks they are actually going to make a living with a puppet. While Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy seem to be doing well for themselves, there doesn’t seem to be much room for new puppets to become the next big thing. However, when Elmo became a standing member of the Sesame Street cast, he was met with joy and acceptance which quickly grew into commercial obsession.
The voice behind the Elmo puppet, Kevin Clash, was introduced to audiences through The Oprah Winfrey Show and was made to look like the modern day American success story. However, when three separate sexual abuse allegations came forward, Clash quickly lost his role on Sesame Street. Being connected with sexual abuse with underage boys isn’t exactly the sort of thing Sesame Street wants to be associated with, and Elmo hasn’t been the same since.