Hollywood is a cutthroat business, that’s for sure. One minute you might be on top of the film industry, with everyone wanting you in their movies. The next, you could find yourself completely forgotten, with nobody really remembering your name or what you were famous for. Sometimes, talented actors never even get their chance to shine and are always being cast aside at the last minute. But perhaps the biggest disappointment for these hardworking individuals is when they’re forced to quit massive movies through no fault of their own.
Of course, sometimes it is their fault, and the things they did or didn’t do make the directors look for an excuse to fire them. But it’s never really clear whether the directors are actually firing them or the actors are leaving on their own accord. Most of the time, reasons for actors leaving movies are summed up as “creative differences,” which is an obvious excuse for something else that made them impossible to work with. Sometimes they just get a better opportunity somewhere else. Sometimes they get injured. And sometimes they’re just not right for the part, plain and simple.
But whatever the case, it’s always interesting to think about what some of our favorite movies would’ve been like if the lead roles had been played by other actors.
15. James Remar Was Forced To Quit Aliens Because Of A Drug Problem
One of the most famous actors to quit halfway through filming was James Remar. He was originally slated to play the iconic role of Corporal Hicks in James Cameron’s Aliens, but was forced to quit due to “creative differences” between him and the director. Generally, this phrase is usually used as an excuse for something else, and this was later revealed to be true by Remar himself.
He once admitted, “I had a terrible drug problem, but I got through it… I was initially cast as Corporal Hicks, and I was fired after a couple weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me.”
But it was probably a blessing in disguise that Remar was pressured into quitting, as he was replaced by an amazing actor, Michael Biehn. It’s hard to imagine Corporal Hicks being played by any other actor, and he definitely brought this character to life in the best possible way.
14. Zendaya Quit Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B Because She Didn’t Have Aaliyah’s Family’s Blessing
Another actor who was forced to quit a major movie was Zendaya. She barely got through a few rehearsals and some test shots of the movie Aaliyah: Princess Of R&B before she decided to quit the lucrative role. Many people had ridiculed her after she landed the role, and some even said she “wasn’t black enough.” So when she backed out, people immediately thought it was because of the public backlash she received. But she later revealed that it had nothing to do with that, and that she actually felt bad because she didn’t get the blessing of Aaliyah’s family.
She explained the reasons for her departure in a video, saying, “The main reasons were the production value wasn’t there, there were complications with the music rights, and I just felt like it wasn’t being handled delicately considering the situation. I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own and I wrote a letter, but, I was unable to do so. Therefore, I felt not really morally okay with moving forward with the project.”
13. James Purefoy Allegedly Quit V For Vendetta Because He Didn’t Want To Wear The Mask
Yet another actor who bowed out of a massive film production partway into filming was James Purefoy. He was all lined up to play the lead in V For Vendetta, a film that has reached cult status since its release. The iconic mask later went on to become a symbol for the hacker group “anonymous,” and was worn by cringe-worthy self-described “political activists” the world over. But it was this same mask that was allegedly the cause of Purefoy’s exit from the movie. After shooting several scenes, it is rumored that he left the movie because he didn’t like wearing the mask. He still appears in several scenes, however, and was dubbed over by the voice of Hugo Weaving in many cases.
But if you ask James Purefoy, he denies the mask-related rumors. He once said in an interview, “I don’t really talk about it much because we agreed not to. The only rumour I can scotch is that if anybody thinks I was too [scared] to wear a mask, they’re completely wrong. It was nothing to do with wearing the mask… It was genuine creative differences. It was genuinely about the way to approach that character, which is what creative differences are all about – and sometimes they become intolerable.”
12. Nicole Kidman Had To Quit Panic Room Because Of Her Knee Injury
Nicole Kidman was originally supposed to play the lead in Panic Room, but a strange set of circumstances forced her to bow out. Previous to this film, she worked on Moulin Rouge, during which she suffered a ligament injury in her knee. The physically demanding role of Panic Room involved her running frequently, fighting, and generally being put through the gauntlet. It was during one of these many scenes that she aggravated one of the injured ligaments in her knee, forcing her to exit the movie after only a few weeks of filming.
This was a major blow to production, as there were literally no other alternatives at the time. Most of the other actresses who would’ve fit the role were busy with other projects, and so the production team seriously considered scrapping the whole movie altogether. But luckily Jodie Foster became available, and the rest is history.
11. Eric Stoltz Was Insufferable While Filming Back To The Future And Was Forced To Leave
Eric Stoltz was originally slated to play Marty McFly in Back To The Future, before he was forced to quit due to creative differences. He was not even the first choice, as the original actor slated to play the role was of course Michael J. Fox. But when circumstances changed and Fox suddenly became available for the movie again, a decision was made to eventually let Stoltz go. In all honesty, though, Stoltz apparently didn’t make it a hard decision to swap him out. In the weeks he spent filming the movie, he started to annoy a lot of the crew. This included hurting other actors on purpose during fight scenes, and adhering to a strange method acting technique:
“Stoltz adhered to his method acting instruction and refused to answer to his real name, to the frustration and eye-rolls of many on the crew,” said one of his co-actors.
One of the producers admitted: “We almost always called him Marty. We thought it was silly, but we figured if it helped him do his job, it was harmless. There were a few people on the crew who’d worked on Mask and they called him Rocky, the name of his character in that film.” The simple truth was that they needed a comedic actor to play the part, and Stoltz was a dramatic actor.
10. Stuart Townsend Was Forced To Quit The Lord Of The Rings Because He Wasn’t The Right Fit For Aragorn
Here is another interesting tale of an actor forced to quit partway into filming involving Stuart Townsend. You’ve probably never heard of this guy, but he’s actually a fairly well-known Irish actor. If things had gone differently, everyone would have known his name, though, because he was so close to being Aragorn in Peter Jackson‘s Lord Of The Rings. After first deciding that he was perfect for the part, Peter Jackson changed his mind pretty quickly. After a little over a week of filming, Jackson told Townsend his services were no longer needed, citing creative differences, and a lack of director-actor chemistry.
After than, Viggo Mortensen came along and truly made the role his. We can’t even imagine the role being played by anyone else, but who knows what it would have been like if a different actor had taken the role? One thing’s for sure, though. Townsend wasn’t too happy about the whole debacle, and said that he wasn’t even paid for months and months of rehearsals and training for the role.
9. Ryan Gosling Gained A Ton Of Weight For Lovely Bones But Was Then Told He Was Too Fat
One of the most bizarre tales of an actor leaving a major film involved Ryan Gosling and a movie called Lovely Bones. Ryan Gosling is of course a major star these days, but this movie came out back when he was still trying to get a major foothold on the film industry. When he was cast in the role by Peter Jackson, he had the idea to make the character overweight. But after gaining 60 pounds, the director thought that was the wrong choice and pressured him into leaving the movie barely a day into shooting.
Speaking about the experience, Gosling admitted: “We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed he should be 210 pounds. We didn’t talk very much during the preproduction process, which was the problem,” Gosling said. “It was a huge movie, and there are so many things to deal with, and he couldn’t deal with the actors individually. I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong. Then I was fat and unemployed.”
8. The Entire Cast Of Cursed Left Because Production Was Stalled For A Year
Cursed was a movie that really fit its title, because everything seemed to go wrong with this film. Director Wes Craven was already famous for titles such as Scream and other classic horror movies, and this was supposed to be his best movie yet. But a number of problems made this movie take way longer to film than it should have, and as a result, many actors and actresses were forced to jump ship.
It all stemmed from an issue that the production company had with the script, and they demanded production be shut down for over a year while changes were made. Over half the cast was not about to stick around while they could be working on other projects, so they left. And that’s why this movie is probably the best example of actors having to quit a movie halfway through filming.
7. Samantha Morton Had Filmed All Of Her Before Being Replaced By Scarlett Johansson
Similar to the case of Paddington Bear, Samantha Morton was hired to play the role of the computer AI in Her, shot the whole movie, and then was replaced after the director decided she didn’t fit the character. She was never actually seen on screen, but this was still a major overhaul because all of the character’s lines had to be re-recorded. Luckily for everyone, Scarlett Johansson stepped in and did an amazing job, and everyone involved with the movie did everything they could to help her succeed and find the right character for the role.
Speaking about the decision, director Spike Jonze admitted: “When we shot, we initially had cast Samantha Morton [in the role]. So Samantha was really involved in giving Joaquin [Phoenix] a lot to work from. And then when we got into editing, we realized that what Samantha and I had done together wasn’t working for what the character needed, and so we ended up having to recast at that point in time.”
6. Jean-Claude Van Damme Was Forced To Quit Because He Hated Wearing The CGI Suit In Predator
Another huge name that quit a major movie halfway into filming was none other than Jean-Claude Van Damme. This action movie star needs no introduction, and he played many iconic heroes in countless 80s action flicks. But you probably didn’t know that he was originally cast in the movie Predator. This time, however, he wasn’t the hero but the enemy. He was actually supposed to be the mysterious alien species that hunts the elite team of soldiers, eventually killing every single man except for one.
Except that it didn’t work out that way. Jean-Claude didn’t like wearing the massive pink suit that was necessary for the character. Whenever the hero was invisible, which was most of the time, those effects needed to be done in post-production. So Van Damme was forced to wear a large CGI suit for most of the scenes, something that frustrated him to no end within a few weeks of filming. So he quit the movie, and was promptly replaced.
5. Harvey Keitel Was Not The Right Fit For Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made, but it’s the behind the scenes antics that really make this movie stand out. Anyone who has ever seen the documentary Heart Of Darkness knows exactly how hard this movie was to make, and how many setbacks Francis Ford Coppola experienced while making this film. One of the first major halts in filming came when Francis Ford Coppola realized that Harvey Keitel was not right for the role of Willard. After a few weeks of filming, he was replaced with Martin Sheen, who added a whole new element of insanity to an already nosediving movie.
Why was Harvey Keitel forced to bow out? It had a lot to do with Willard’s character. Francis Ford Coppola wanted Willard to be a silent observer of the events going on around him, someone who was affected by the war but powerless to do anything. He felt that Keitel’s persona didn’t fit this mold, and instead he went for the wide-eyed Martin Sheen, who was struggling with some deeply personal issues in real life at the time.
4. Colin Firth Basically Filmed All Of Paddington Bear Before Realizing His Voice Was Wrong For The Character
Another actor who was forced to part ways with his project was Colin Firth. He was pegged as the voice of Paddington Bear on the movie with the same title, and voiced almost the entire movie before hitting a major block in the creative process. As it turned out, both Firth and the movie’s producers agreed that his voice was too regal for a little bear. This was a mutual decision reached by both parties, but it’s still insane that the movie was essentially finished before they decided to change such a major part of the film.
Firth made a statement about the incident, saying: “It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn’t have my voice. I’ve had the joy of seeing most of the film and it’s going to be quite wonderful. I still feel rather protective of this bear and I’m pestering them all with suggestions for finding a voice worthy of him.”
3. Mark Salling Was Forced To Quit Gods And Secrets Because He Was Caught After Committing A Disgusting Crime
One big name that has been shrouded in controversy as of late is Mark Salling. This famous actor from Glee was ostracized and indicted for being caught in possession of disturbing child content. This obviously affected his career negatively, and he will probably never work again. He actually cut his wrists shortly before he was charged for the offence, although he survived this apparent suic*de attempt. He is now obliged to register as a s*x offender and faces 4 to 9 years in jail. All of this happened fairly recently, and he plead guilty in October.
As a result of these developments, he was fired from the cast of the mini-series Gods And Secrets, with the director releasing the following statement: “‘Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets will be moving forward without Mark Salling. He has been cut from the mini-series. I will personally be paying for the reshoots, and I hope that Mark finds inner peace.”
2. Kel O’Neill Claims He Was Fired From There Will Be Blood, But Others Disagree
There Will Be Blood is a film that most of us remember, and it was definitely one of the best films in recent memory. Part of the reason it was so enthralling was of course the use of some amazing actors, most notably Daniel Day-Lewis. The film also featured strong performances from young actor Paul Dano, who played the iconic role of Eli. But you might not know that Dano was not the first choice for this role, and for many weeks of filming it was Kel O’Neill that was acting as Eli.
He was replaced by Dano halfway into filming for reasons that are a little muddled. Some say it was creative differences. Others believe the rumor that Daniel Day-Lewis intimidated the actor with his method style of acting, something that Day-Lewis doubted but apologized for anyway. And others, most notably O’Neill himself, claim that he was fired by the director. “If [the director] hadn’t fired me from There Will Be Blood I would probably still be an actor dreaming of making my own films someday,” O’Neill famously said.
1. Gerard McSorely Was Let Go From The Departed For Unknown Reasons
Another hugely popular film that was released in the last few years was The Departed. This movie starred acting greats such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, and was directed by the extremely talented Martin Scorsese. Also slated to appear in the movie was Irish actor Gerard McSorely, but this never actually materialized. He had already filmed multiple scenes as a high-ranking police officer in Boston. At the time of his exit from the movie, he had been researching the Boston police and speaking with people in Boston.
Some say it was a result of him being ill-prepared for the role. He had previously dedicated a huge amount of time and resources into filming a movie about an IRA bombing. That might have cut into the time he needed to spend on The Departed. “I just don’t know and I don’t even know what I’m going to do right now,” said McSorely after he found out that he was being cut from the film.
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