Hollywood is a constantly changing environment, with new projects and ideas popping up to replace old ones. Scripts get rewritten, locations get changed, sometimes whole movies even get scrapped. People argue and fight and just like with any other working environment folks sometimes rub each other up the wrong way. With all the egos flying around a place like a movie set this is hardly surprising. So people do get fired. What is surprising though are the reasons why some actors lose their amazing roles.
It seems like luck certainly has a role to play in Hollywood and it's a constant factor throughout these stories. Some of the actors and actresses on our list lost out on epic roles, which probably would have changed their careers, simply because they were passed over for someone else. Others were replaced during the filming because of the poor quality of their work. There are even some who were fired because of their unacceptable behavior on the set. And it’s impossible not to wonder how things might have turned out if different decisions had been made.
Hollywood can be a harsh place and to prove it, here are 15 stars who landed amazing roles only to get fired…
15 Eric Stoltz Was Fired From Back To The Future
When director Roberts Zemeckis started casting for Back to the Future he wanted Michael J. Fox to play the role of Marty McFly. However, Fox was filming the series Family Ties at the time and could not get time off in order to do the movie so he passed on the role.
Zemeckis then selected Eric Stoltz to play the role instead, but after a month of filming, he fired him. He felt that although he tried Stoltz could just not achieve the comedic sense that the film required.
In the end, Michael J. Fox was able to find a way to work Back to the Future into his hectic schedule and the rest is history. The following year Eric Stoltz received a Golden Globe nomination for starring as Rocky Dennis in Mask but who knows what he might have done if he had managed to crack the role of Marty?
14 Christian Bale Was Originally Fired From American Psycho Because He Wasn’t Famous Enough
American Psycho was Christian Bale's breakthrough movie, but he very nearly didn’t get the chance to play Patrick Bateman.
Bale was originally offered the chance to play the corporate serial killer and accepted, but the studio fired him shortly afterward because they wanted to try and get Leonardo DiCaprio instead. They felt that Bale simply wasn’t a big enough name to carry the movie. Can you imagine Leo in that role? Nope, me neither. Anyway, DiCaprio initially took the role, but then dropped out to do The Beach instead. The studio then offered the role to Ewan McGregor, who also turned them down.
Finally, seemingly out of options they approached Bale again and offered him the leading role which he graciously accepted. We think this one turned out for the best, don’t you?
13 Ryan Gosling Was Fired From The Lovely Bones For Gaining Too Much Weight
When Peter Jackson hired Ryan Gosling to play the role of Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones the actor weighed 150lbs, but on the day that filming commenced the actor showed up on set 60lbs heavier. He felt that the character, a father grieving over the death of his young daughter would look a certain way and be overweight, and hoped to impress Jackson with his transformation. But Jackson wasn’t impressed at all and the two seemed to have very different ideas about what the character should look like. Jackson fired Gosling and cast Mark Wahlberg in his place.
Gosling later stated that he gained the weight by melting ice cream and drinking it whenever he was thirsty. He thought he was doing the right thing, but ended up fat and unemployed. Ouch.
12 Did James Purefoy Leave V For Vendetta Because He Couldn’t Wear The Mask?
James Purefoy (who you’ll remember from his roles in series like Rome and The Following) was originally cast to play the role of V in the 2006 film V for Vendetta but he was replaced by Hugo Weaving about six weeks into filming.
There are many rumors as to why he left this iconic role, but no one knows for sure. The official story is that he had “creative differences” with the production team, but some sources claim that he spotted an opportunity to play James Bond in Casino Royale and left to pursue this role instead. Another rumor was that the director felt he didn’t have a "dynamic enough presence" and that his voice wasn’t right for the part. Another story is that Purefoy complained about wearing the mask and said he couldn’t do it for the entire film.
11 Shannen Doherty Wasn’t “Charmed” About Getting Fired – Twice!
Shannen Doherty was a relatively unknown name in Hollywood until the actress landed the role of “bad girl” Brenda Walsh in the teen drama Beverly Hills 90210. Things went well until her relationships with her co-stars started to deteriorate. She argued constantly and almost came to physical blows with co-star Jennie Garth. Things got so tense and uncomfortable that she was let go from the show by producer Aaron Spelling. And it wouldn’t be the last time either…
Spelling hired her again a few years later to play Prue Halliwell in Charmed, a role that won her praise from fans and critics but once again Doherty couldn’t seem to get along with her co-workers. After disagreements with Spelling and her co-star, Alyssa Milano, Doherty was written out of the show.
10 Anne Hathaway Was Too Demanding For Knocked Up
Anne Hathaway was initially chosen to play the role of Alison in the film Knocked Up alongside Seth Rogen but dropped out of the movie because she couldn’t agree with the director. According to writer and director Judd Apatow the actress “didn't want to allow us to use real footage of a woman giving birth to create the illusion that she is giving birth".
Hathaway said in a later interview that she didn’t believe that it was necessary to the story. Considering that the movie is based on pregnancy and childbirth this does seem a little strange but then again it is Hollywood.
Hathaway was replaced with Katherine Heigl, who we feel was a much better fit for the film anyway. Hathaway moved onto her back up project Becoming Jane which didn’t fare nearly as well with audiences as Knocked Up.
9 Megan Fox Compared Michael Bay To Hitler And It Got Her Fired
Did you ever stop to wonder why Megan Fox was in the first two Transformers movies but not the third one? It’s because she got fired!
Fox was hired for the third instalment of the franchise but got herself fired before filming even began after she compared Michael Bay to Hitler during an interview with Wonderland magazine. She joked that the director was “like Hitler” on his movie sets and that he was a nightmare to work for. Of course, this didn’t go down well with Bay at all and Stephen Spielberg was so enraged that he immediately called for her to be fired from the film.
The off-handed remark could easily have ruined her Hollywood career, but she seems to have made amends with Bay now and worked with him again in the 2014 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
8 Dougray Scott Missed Out On The Chance To Play Wolverine
To be fair Dougray wasn’t fired from the set of X-Men, he was forced to back out. Here’s what happened: the role of Logan/Wolverine was first offered to Russell Crowe, but his salary demands were too high for the filmmakers so Dougray was offered the role instead. He accepted, but then realized that the contract included a sequel. He had already been handpicked by Tom Cruise to play in Mission Impossible II, so he was forced to back out of X-Men. Three weeks into filming, he was replaced with a relatively unknown Australian actor named Hugh Jackman. The film made Jackman an instant star.
Scott was also rumored to be among the candidates for the new James Bond after the release of Die Another Day in 2002. There were numerous reports that he was one of the favorites for the role, but it went to Daniel Craig in the end.
7 Stuart Townsend Almost Played In The Lord Of The Rings
It’s hard to think of any other actor playing the role of Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings besides Viggo Mortensen but it almost happened.
The role was originally cast to Irish actor, Stuart Townsend, who spent months training for the demanding role, only to be replaced by Peter Jackson the day before filming began. The director suddenly decided that Townsend (then 26) was too young for the role and fired him. He wasn’t even paid for his time. This was a crushing blow to his acting career and left him very bitter.
He appeared in a few high profile films, including Queen of the Damned, as the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as Dorian Gray but his career never really took off in a big way.
In 2010, he once again missed out on a blockbuster movie part when he was replaced on the set of Thor (he was hired to play Fandral) due to “unspecified creative differences”.
6 Robert Downey Jr. May Have Been Fired But He Made A Brilliant Comeback
The Robert Downey Jr. that you know and love today is very different from the actor from the late 90s who was once fired from Ally McBeal.
Downey struggled with drug addiction from a young age and was fresh out of rehab when he joined the cast of Ally McBeal. Before he even finished filming season one of the series, he was arrested under the influence with drugs in his possession. Even though he was facing five years in prison for this incident, he signed on for a further eight episodes. However, shortly afterward he was arrested again on drug-related charges and the show's executives fired him.
Downey managed to clean up his act, turn his life around, and become the Iron Man we all love. Good on you Robert!
5 Charlie Sheen’s Bad Behavior Got Him Booted Off Two And A Half Men
By season 8 of the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men Charlie Sheen was earning $1.8 million per episode making him the highest earning TV actor to date. The role earned him three Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and an ALMA award for his performance. It was the very definition of a good job, but Charlie threw it all away…
After season 8 the producers and executives of the show started to grow increasingly tired of the troubled actor's behavior. When Charlie was admitted to rehab for the third time in twelve months the show's creator Chuck Lorre made the decision to kill off his character. Sheen didn’t take the decision well at all and made such derogatory comments about Lorre that he was eventually banned from entering the Warner Bros’ production lot.
4 Gary Busey’s Antics Were Just Too Much For Mansion Of Blood
Oddball Gary Busey is a prolific actor who has appeared in over 150 films, including Lethal Weapon, The Firm, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Piranha 3DD. The man is obviously hard working; he’s been acting nearly non-stop since 1973! But his zany on-set antics and difficult nature aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and have gotten him into trouble more than once.
Back in 2011, Busey was fired from the set of the horror flick Mansion of Blood after a number of his co-workers complained about his erratic behavior and inappropriate remarks, some of which were of a sexual nature. Even though he had shot almost half his scenes the producers made the decision to fire him, which meant that the script had to be re-written.
3 Gary Dourdan Lost The Role Of Warrick Brown Because Of “Personal Problems”
Gary Dourdan was a firm CSI: Las Vegas fan favorite and played the role of Warrick Brown for eight years. In 2008 Dourdan was arrested for the possession of cocaine and ecstasy and this was around the time that it was announced that his contract would not be renewed. But why was our favorite forensic investigator “let go” from CSI?
The official line from the studio said that they had parted ways with Dourdan due to “creative differences” but an insider allegedly reported that it was the actor's “personal problems” that led to the split, adding that he was “basically fired”.
Without the show's paychecks the troubled actor's finances dried up and he filed for bankruptcy in 2012. He’s also been arrested for drug possession and felony battery since he departed CSI. Let’s hope he can turn it around.
2 Isaiah Washington Should Have Watched His Mouth
You need to choose your words wisely in a work environment and Isaiah Washington really learned this life lesson the hard way.
In 2005 Washington was hired to play the role of superstar surgeon Dr. Peston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy. The role won him much praise from the critics and his career looked set to take off until an unfortunate on-set incident sent him in a very different direction.
During the filming of season three of the show Washington and his co-star, T.R. Knight got into an argument and Washington insulted him with a homophobic slur. He made things even worse by denying the incident occurred and then admitting it publicly on The Ellen Show a short time later. The studio, growing tired of the controversy, then informed him that his contract would not be renewed for the fourth season.
1 Harvey Keitel Was Captain Benjamin In Apocalypse Now – Until He Got Fired
Apocalypse Now is such an iconic movie and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Martin Sheen playing the now infamous role of Captain Benjamin L. Willard but he wasn’t their first, second or even third choice!
Initially, the role was offered to Steve McQueen, but he wasn’t keen to leave the country to shoot the movie so they tried Al Pacino instead. Pacino refused, saying he couldn’t spend 17 months in the jungle filming so they offered the part to James Caan and Jack Nicholson who both declined as well.
The role was then offered to Harvey Keitel, who accepted, however, six weeks into filming, he was fired when they decided that he didn’t fit the character. Only then was Martin Sheen selected to take on the part.