Film casting is a difficult process. It’s extremely hard to get the right actors and to know that these actors will do a good job, will not whinge on set, and will not suddenly decide to leave for another role. This latter point is especially important when it comes to films that have sequels.
After all, no one likes to see one actor play a specific character in part one of a specific film and then another actor play the exact same character in the second part. It’s just too confusing for the fans – we do get attached to certain actors, characters, and their quirks.
Of course, it is also frustrating for the production and casting teams. It takes a lot of effort and time to find a suitable replacement and to get that replacement to understand the role. Still, the recasting of characters is inevitable and happens way more frequently than you might think (or notice!). Here are 15 Actors Who Were Replaced In The Sequel And Why.
15. Rachelle Lefevre: Replaced By Bryce Dallas Howard In The Twilight Series For No Apparent Reason
The actress Rachelle Lefevre played the vampire Victoria in the first two instalments of the Twilight series, Twilight and New Moon. However, when it came time to film the third movie, Eclipse, Lefevre was abruptly replaced by the actress Bryce Dallas for no apparent reason.
Lefevre was obviously quite upset and did not attempt to hide her disappointment from her fans – “I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules.”
Summit Entertainment, however, claimed that Lefevre had a conflicting filming schedule – “Ms. Lefevre took a role in the other film [Barney’s Version] that places her in Europe during the required rehearsal time, and at least ten days of ‘The Twilight Saga: Eclipse’s’ principal photography.”
14. Katie Holmes: Replaced By Maggie Gyllenhaal In The Dark Knight Because Tom Cruise Got Jealous
Batman Begins fared extremely well and was Holmes biggest role since Dawson’s Creek. However, to the shock of many, the actress decided not to return to the 2008 sequel The Dark Knight. At first, people thought that she was simply recast since as a character, she wasn’t memorable and was easily replaced by the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal.
However, the director Christopher Nolan dispelled these rumors by admitting that he wanted Holmes for the sequel – “Katie wasn’t available for the role, which I wasn’t very happy about, but these things happen, and I was very, very fortunate that Maggie [Gyllenhaal] was able to take it over,”
In a later interview, Holmes said that she did not regret her decision but she hoped that she would get to work with Nolan in the future nonetheless. No one knows why she declined the role but some suggest that it was because her then-husband, Tom Cruise, was jealous of her scenes with Christian Bale.
13. Rachel Weisz: Replaced By Maria Bello In The Mummy Possibly Because She Didn’t Like The Script
The actress Rachel Weisz played the role of Evelyn O’Connell, a Cairo librarian who is also an aspiring Egyptologist, in the 1999 The Mummy as well as in The Mummy Returns. However, in the third instalment, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Weisz was replaced with Maria Bello.
No one knows for sure why Weisz decided not to continue playing the character of O’Connell. Some suggest that she simply did not want to be away from her family while shooting, others have said that she didn’t like the idea of playing a mother to a 21-year-old and still others claim that she just didn’t think the script was good enough.
12. Richard Harris: Replaced By Michael Gambon In The Harry Potter Series After Passing Away
Every Harry Potter fan noticed that Professor Dumbledore’s appearance suddenly changed in between films. In the first two Harry Potter films it was the Irish actor Richard Harris who played the role of Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts’ quirky principal. Harris apparently took on the role because his granddaughter was a great fan of the series.
However, Harris died of Hodgkin’s disease in 2002 and thus had to be replaced. Some of the actors who were considered for the role of Dumbledore included Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen and Peter O’Toole. However, it was the Irish-born actor Michael Gambon who was eventually chosen to replace Harris.
11. Josh Dallas: Replaced By Zachary Levi In Thor: The Dark World Due To Conflicting Schedules
In 2011 the actor Josh Dallas was cast as Fandral in Thor. Apparently, the role was supposed to go to the actor Zachary Levi instead but the latter withdrew days before filming began due to his commitment on the NBC show Chuck.
However, interestingly, when it came time to film the sequel, Thor: The Dark World, Dallas was not available for the role due to his commitment on the ABC show Once Upon A Time. But since Chuck had finished, Levi was available for the role.
Most people actually preferred Dallas in the role of Fandral due to his charisma. Before he took on the role in 2011 Dallas said – “I tried to bring out that little bit of Flynn-ness in it. Flynn had a lot of that boyish charm and Fandral’s got all that in him.”
10. Claudia Wells: Replaced By Elisabeth Shue In Back To The Future Due To An Illness In The Family
The actress Claudia Wells played Marty McFly’s girlfriend Jennifer in the first part of Back to the Future. She did a great job of portraying the character and was well loved by the fans.
However, when it was time to film the sequel Back to the Future II Wells was unable to return due to her mother’s illness – “My mother had fourth stage lymphoma. I had so much happening personally that deep down, I never considered reprising my role and deep in my soul, I knew this was the right choice for me.” Wells was thus replaced by the actress Elisabeth Shue.
9. Terrence Howard: Replaced By Don Cheadle In Iron Man 2 Because They Didn’t Offer Him Enough Money
The 2008 Iron Man film was extraordinarily successful and launched many of its actors, such as Robert Downey Jr., who played Tony Stark, into stardom. Downey’s co-star in the film was the actor Terrence Howard who played Stark’s best friend James Rhodes.
However, despite the film’s success, Howard never returned to film the 2010 sequel Iron Man 2. Instead, he was replaced by the actor Don Cheadle. No one knew the reason for the sudden change. However, eventually, Howard decided to come forward and explain why he no longer played James Rhodes.
According to Howard, Downey Jr. pretty much stabbed him in the back – “It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man … when it was time to re-up for the second one, (he) took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out.”
8. Jennifer Smith: Replaced By Jessie Cave In Harry Potter Because J. K. Rowling Described Lavender Brown As Pale
Initially, the role of Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter series was played by the black actress Jennifer Smith. However, in Half Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2, the role was suddenly given to the actress Jessie Cave instead.
Naturally, the series fans were initially outraged claiming that once the role turned from non-speaking to speaking, the production team suddenly decided to go with a white actress instead.
However, the reason Smith was replaced by Cave is far more complex. In The Half Blood Prince, J. K. Rowling describes Lavender Brown as pale. In addition, Smith never continued her acting career. Plus, it is said that Smith never even intended to continue with the role. After all, it’s easy to land a non-speaking role as an extra but it is much harder to get a speaking film role.
7. Aaliyah: Replaced By Nona Gaye In The Matrix After Her Passing
The character Zee in The Matrix was initially played by the singer and actress Aaliyah. Aaliyah was probably better known for her music but who knows what could have happened to her career if she hadn’t died in a plane crash.
You see, back in 2001 Aaliyah and eight other people were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas. Toxicology tests later revealed that the pilot of the plane, who was unlicensed, had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system.
6. Verne Troyer: Replaced By Warwich Davis In Harry Potter, Who Did The Character’s Original Voice
Over the years the Harry Potter series recast numerous characters. That is to be expected when you consider the fact that the series was filmed over a ten year period. Remember the character of Griphook? He was the cranky goblin who worked at Gringotts Wizarding Bank in Diagon Alley.
Initially the character of Griphook was played by the actor Verne Troyer. However, he was dubbed by the actor Warwick Davis, who also played Professor Filius Flitwick. Davis eventually took over the role of Griphook in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, possibly because it was easier to just give him the role instead of asking him to dub Troyer.
5. Judith Hoag: Replaced By Paige Turco In TMNT Because She Complained About The Gruelling Filming Schedule
The 1990 science fiction film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was extraordinarily successful, as were its sequels. No doubt many actors at the time wished they had landed a role in the iconic movie. One actress that did manage to land a role was Judith Hoag who played the role of the reporter April O’Neil.
However, even though Hoag performed her role extremely well she was not asked to return for the sequel. Apparently, the team had had enough of her complaining about the long working hours as well as the violent, intense action scenes and the numerous on-set injuries – “Everybody was beating everybody up. I thought the movie suffered because of that. It was something I spoke to the producers about, I think they thought I was too demanding, and moved on.”
Hoag was replaced by the actress Paige Turco, something the fans were not too happy about. Apparently, the fans asked Hoag if she’d return for the third instalment of the film. Hoag said she’d like to but the production team did not want to confuse the fans even further.
4. Edward Norton: Replaced By Mark Ruffalo In The Avengers Because He Was Difficult To Work With
The actor Edward Norton, probably best known for his role in Fight Club, also played the superhero Hulk in the 2008 The incredible Hulk. The film did not fare very well among viewers and was even described as boring.
Still, everyone expected Norton to play the green monster in the 2012 film The Avengers. But the role went to the actor Mark Ruffalo instead. Norton must have been terribly disappointed by the fact that The Avengers team did not even ask him to play the role, though there were rumors of his bad behavior on set.
Norton later said however that even if they had asked him to play the Hulk would have said no – “There were just a lot of things—I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters.”
3. Crispin Glover: Replaced By Jeffrey Weissman In Back To The Future Because He Fell Out With The Director
The role of Marty’s dad George McFly in the 1985 film Back to the Future went to the actor Crispin Glover. However, Glover decided against portraying the character in the 1989 sequel Back to the Future II.
As a result, Glover was replaced by the actor Jeffrey Weissman. The latter, however, was forced to wear prosthetics to make him look more like Glover. As you can probably imagine, Glover was not too pleased with this and sued the team for using his characteristics without his permission.
So why did Glover decide against appearing in the sequel? Well, apparently he had a fight with the co-writer and co-producer Bob Gale – “Me asking the questions that I asked [about the film’s ending] infuriated [the filmmakers], and they were angry and they wanted to do something that was cruel, which they accomplished.”
2. Gloria Foster: Replaced By Mary Alice In The Matrix After She Passed Away
The actress Gloria Foster was cast as the all-knowing Oracle in The Matrix. She was perfect for the role and was thus recast in the sequel, The Matrix Reloaded. However, before the third Matrix film was produced Foster passed away due to complications from diabetes.
Foster was thus replaced by the actress Mary Alice. However, to explain the changed appearance of the Oracle in The Matrix, the script was rewritten to accommodate the change. According to the story, Sati’s parents decide to smuggle Sati into the matrix which causes the termination of the Oracle’s original shell.
1. Kirstie Alley: Replaced By Robin Curtis In Star Trek Because Of Conflicts Over Payment And Scheduling
The actress Kirstie Alley first appeared in the Star Trek series in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan where she played Lieutenant Saavik. Almost immediately, fans fell in love with Alley and her character.
However, when it was time to film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Alley decided to abandon her now iconic character. Instead, she was replaced by the actress Robin Curtis.
It is said that the reason Alley decided against playing Saavik in the third Star Trek instalment was that she was offered less money for a larger workload. In addition, she did not want to be typecast.
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