Landing a role in a movie or TV series doesn't necessarily guarantee an actor a permanent job. In fact, they could be fired and replaced at any given time before, during, or even after production. Sometimes directors realize halfway through that the star isn't right for the part, and sometimes actors get themselves fired for too much drama on—and off—set. See why some of your favorite celebrities got booted from the project they were working on.
Project: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Reason: Moore was originally signed on to star as writer Lee Israel in the film that ended up earning Melissa McCarthy an Oscar nomination for the same role. The swap seems to be pinned to the age-old Hollywood excuse of creative differences (with director Nicole Holofcener). Moore explained to Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, "I didn’t leave that movie, I was fired. Nicole fired me. So yeah, that’s the truth. I think she didn’t like what I was doing. I think that her idea of where the character was, was different than where my idea of where the character was, and so she fired me."
Richard E. Grant, one of the film's co-stars, provided a little more info on the firing while chatting with the Daily Mail revealing that Moore wanted to wear a fat suit and fake nose to look more like Israel but Holofcener didn't want that to distract from the story.
Project: House of Cards
Reason: Actor Anthony Rapp revealed in an interview with Buzzfeed in 2017 that he allegedly had an unwanted sexual encounter with Spacey back when he was underage working in the theater. Within weeks, over 10 more accusers came forward with similar stories. Spacey initially claimed to be "horrified" by Rapp's version of events and took the opportunity to publicly come out of the closet. Needless to say, the whole scandal brought Spacey's acting career to a screeching halt. Frank Underwood was killed off Netflix's House of Cards and the show's final season focused on Robin Wright's character, Claire, and the aftermath of Frank's death.
Spacey was also edited out of the film All the Money in the World and replaced by Christopher Plummer.
Project: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Reason: The original Aunt Viv was reportedly fired after the show's third season because she didn't get along with star Will Smith. Smith addressed the re-cast back when it happened telling an Atlanta radio station, "I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be 'The Aunt Viv of Bel Air Show' because I know she is going to dog me in the press. She has basically gone from a quarter of a million dollars a year to nothing. She's mad now but she's been mad all along. She said once, 'I've been in the business for 10 years and this snotty-nosed punk comes along and gets a show.' No matter what, to her I'm just the Antichrist." Decades later, Hubert still calls out her former co-star on social media for ruining her career.
Project: Knocked Up
Reason: Back in 2007, Hathaway was initially offered Katherine Heigel's role in the movie Knocked Up. It was rumored that she was replaced before production started because she and Judd Apatow had different views about the explicit birth scene—but Hathaway cleared the air.
In an interview with Allure, she said, “I thought about that…Judd [Apatow] was right to include the shot. I didn't disagree with the shot. My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself, I didn't know how I was gonna feel on the other side about giving birth.”
Project: Two and a Half Men
Reason: After making "inflammatory comments" and failing to continue a drug rehabilitation program, producers ultimately decided it was time to let Sheen go—and they did so in an 11-page letter, describing the actor as being sick.
“At the outset, let us state the obvious: Your client has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive behavior and appears to be very ill," the letter to Sheen's lawyer read. Ashton Kutcher joined the cast in place of Sheen but as a new character, Walden Schmidt.
Project: American Psycho
Reason: The studio went through a lot of other actors before deciding to go with Bale for the lead role. But after a lengthy hiring process, Bale was let go when Leonardo DiCaprio became available. However, Bale kept training at the gym because he believed the part would eventually end up back in his lap—and it did.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bale described his persistence with the role. “I’m English, so I never go to a gym, but for that role it was part of the whole deal that I had to go. I still kept going down to the gym every day because I was going, ‘Oh, I’m making the film.’"
Project: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Reason: In 2009, after she made a few choice comments about the film's director, Micheal Bay, Fox was fired from the third installment of Transformers and replaced by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. In an interview with British magazine Wonderland, Fox said that Bay wanted "to be like Hitler on his sets" and that he's "a nightmare to work for."
Bay took care of the "work for" part by firing her after he was given the order to do so by the film's executive producer Steven Spielberg.
Project: Beverly Hills, 90210
Reason: Doherty can thank Tori Spelling for getting her kicked off the show—though Doherty was the root of the problem. The actress was known for getting into physical fights on set. Once punches were thrown, Spelling called her dad—who created and produced the series. Aaron Spelling ended up firing Doherty for bad behavior, per his daughter's request.
Reason: In April 2016, it was announced that Katic would not be returning to Castle for season nine. A month later, the show was permanently canceled. At the Television Critics Association's press tour, ABC's network president Channing Dungey opened up about the decisions that were made.
"We were always very upfront with the studio and the producers about the possibility that we might not be bringing the show back for a season nine," Dungey said. "But the studio has to do what they need to do in order to prepare for the possibility of a season nine." Apparently the studio didn't need Katic for what they thought would happen in season nine.
Project: Anger Management
Reason: Blair played Charlie's girlfriend, Kate Wales on the FX comedy show before she was forcefully fired in June 2013. The actress allegedly slapped a $1.2 million lawsuit on lead actor Charlie Sheen and the production company, Lionsgate Entertainment, demanding the money she would have earned had she not been fired. She believed she was wrongfully terminated after she complained about Sheen holding up filming because he was still in his dressing room learning lines.
Project: The Avengers
Reason: Norton played Bruce Banner (a.k.a The Hulk) in a stand-alone film in 2008, but wasn't asked back to be part of The Avengers. This statement from Marvel Studios' President of Production Kevin Feige says it all: "We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in the Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members." Oof.
It continues: "The Avengers demands players who thrive working as part of an ensemble, as evidenced by Robert, Chris H, Chris E, Sam, Scarlett, and all of our talented casts. We are looking to announce a name actor who fulfills these requirements, and is passionate about the iconic role in the coming weeks."
Project: Grey's Anatomy
Reason: Washington was immediately fired from Shonda Rhimes' hit TV show Grey's Anatomy after using a homophobic slur toward his co-worker, T.K. Knight (R.I.P. George O'Malley). He made a reappearance on the series in 2014, which sparked lots of controversy among fans.
Project: Three's Company
Reason: Somers was let got after asking for a raise that would match her co-star John Ritter's salary. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "When it came time for fifth-season negotiations in 1980, Somers asked for a pay hike from $30,000 an episode to $150,000," noting the salary increase would be "equal to what her Three's Company co-star John Ritter was receiving and comparable to salaries M*A*S*H*'s Alan Alda and All in the Family's Carroll O'Connor were being paid on lower-rated shows."
She did get a $5,000 raise from this, but it was not what she wanted. Instead, she boycotted the network, and they wound up terminating her contract.
Project: The Lovely Bones
Reason: Gosling, who was supposed to play the dad Jack Solomon in The Lovely Bones, was shockingly fired by film director Peter Jackson because of his 60-pound weight gain. Gosling put on the weight because he envisioned the character being heavy-set. He told The Hollywood Reporter that he believed the dad should have weighed about 210 pounds—which is why he reportedly drank melted Haagen Dazs ice cream when he was thirsty.
Jackson and Gosling didn't talk about the character beforehand. "I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong," Gosling said. "Then I was fat and unemployed."
Reason: During his time playing Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the show, Penn was offered a job as an associate director for the Obama administration's Office of Public Liaison—one he couldn't pass up. But when it came time to finish his role, the writers killed him off by having his character commit suicide. Though Penn and the writers insist they were on good terms, his role in the series was permanently over.
Project: Gossip Girls
Reason: Like her good-girl-gone-bad character Jenny Humphrey, Momsen was let go for her “unreliable and erratic behavior” on set. After four seasons in Gossip Girl, her character's storyline was cut.
During the filming of season four, Momsen was always absent, one insider said. "Taylor wasn’t on set filming much this season, but when she did show up she wasn’t very level-headed," explained the source."The show’s executives didn’t trust that she was really giving it her all, so they dismissed her as a regular."
Project: Criminal Minds
Reason: Gibson played the role of Aaron Hotchner since the series first aired in 2005, but he that didn't stop the studio from quickly firing him in 2016 after an on-set altercation. He had an issue with a line and brought it up with a producer, but the criticism was not received well. After asking nicely to change it, writer-producer Vigil Williams came at Gibson, who can best describe the scene.
“He came into that room and started coming towards me. As he brushed past me, my foot came up and tapped him on the leg,” Gibson recalled in an interview with Variety. “If I hadn’t moved, he would have run into me. We had some choice words, for which I apologized the next day, and that was it. It was over. We shot the scene, I went home—and I never got to go back.”
Project: Iron Man 2
Reason: Howard got ahead of himself when he signed a three-picture deal before the production of the first Iron Man. He was to be given a set salary for each movie, but when when it came time for the second installment, the actor was told he'd be given one-eighth of the money he was originally offered.
Since the directors said they could do the movie without Howard, and he refused to accept the pay decrease, he was fired and replaced with his Crash co-star Don Cheadle in 2010.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Reason: In the animated movie, 11-year-old Moretz played Penny, Bolt's human owner. She fully recorded the part before Disney decided to recast Miley Cyrus in the role. However, Moretz's voice was still used in the film for the younger version of Penny, and she is credited for that.
Reason: After he finished recording the lines for the character Paddington, producers thought the British actor's mature tone wasn't the right voice for the youthful, innocent bear. Firth was fired and replaced by Ben Whishaw.
Reason: Short was fired from the hit Shonda Rhimes TV series Scandal due to his own real-life scandal involving allegations of domestic violence. The actor's wife got a restraining order after claiming he put a knife to her throat and threatened to kill her.
He released this statement confirming his departure from the show: "At this time I must confirm my exit from a show I've called home for 3 years, with what is the most talented ensemble in television today."
Reason: Unfortunately for Morton, filmmaker Spike Jonze realized during post production he didn't like her in the lead role. Jonze confirmed with Vulture that Scarlett Johansson would be taking over the voice of the operating system in the movie.
"Samantha was with us on set and was amazing. It was only in post-production, when we started editing, that we realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and I had created together," Jonze said in a statement. "So we recast and since then Scarlett has taken over that role."
Project: Chicken Little
Reason: The character Chicken Little was originally envisioned as a girl, which is why Hunter spent months recording the lines for the role. Amidst pressure from the studio, the character was re-written as a boy and Hunter was out of a job. Scrubs star Zach Braff was her replacement.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Reason: There's been many theories as to why Van Damme was fired from playing the role of The Predator, and the most infamous one is because he couldn't stop kickboxing. Apparently he really wanted his character "to be a kickboxer alien from outer space," but producer Joel Silver didn't like the idea.
Another rumor was that he was fired was for breaking a $20,000 Predator head, but it's been said that Van Damme never stepped foot on set—so this one might not be true. Whatever the real reason is, he was let go and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall.
Project: The Cosby Show
Reason: From 1984 to 1991, Bonet played Denise Huxtable, the oldest daughter of Cliff (Bill Cosby) and Claire (Phylicia Rashad) Huxtable. The director of the show reportedly let Bonet go after season seven because of "creative differences." The actress had recently participated in a nude photo shoot for a magazine that got a lot of media attention.
Project: Back to the Future
Reason: It's hard to think of anyone else other than Michael J. Fox playing the beloved role of Marty McFly—but Stoltz was the actor originally cast to play the part. A few weeks into filming, the directors realized Stoltz wasn't giving them the energy they wanted to bring to the character. They planned to fire him and replace him with Fox, but it couldn't happen right away. Poor Stoltz continued working for four weeks without knowing his days as Marty McFly were numbered.
Reason: Remar was originally cast as Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens, but after one week of filming he was fired. It wasn't until years later that Remar explained his departure from the film, which he admitted was due to a drug problem. Having been caught and arrested for illegal drug possession, he was dismissed from the movie.
Project: The Talk
Reason: The Emmy-nominated executive producer was fired from CBS' The Talk in 2012, and blamed her co-host Sharon Osbourne for it...at first.
However years later, during an interview with Howard Stern, Remini said she just wasn't the right fit. "If I wanted to be in this kind of show I need to shut my mouth and do what my bosses tell me to do," she said. "I can’t do that. That [was] maybe not a good fit in that way.”
Project: Lord of the Rings
Reason: Townsend, who was set to play Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, got the boot the day before filming began. Director Peter Jackson was reportedly unsatisfied by the actor and fired him for no specific reason after he'd endured weeks of intense training and rehearsing. Viggo Mortensen was his replacement, and the role of Aragorn gained him his popularity.
Project: Beverly Hills Cop
Reason: The role of Axel Foley, played by Eddie Murphy, was originally offered to Stallone—but he sabotaged his own chances of playing the character. After getting the script, Stallone attempted to re-write his role, and the studio didn't like that.
This movie was one of Murphy's biggest, bringing home $234 million at the box office. It seems like Stallone may have missed out losing this gig.
Project: Blue's Clues
Reason: In 2002, Burns left the beloved cartoon show, leaving people clueless (yay puns). He recently shared why he made the decision to quit.
“I left the show because it was just simply time to go. I was pretty much playing a boyish, older-brotherish kind of character on the show. I was getting older; I was losing my hair; a lot of the original gangsters on the show, like the people who created it, were all moving on to other careers. It just felt like time. I just had a gut feeling like it was time to go,” Burns said.
Project: Kevin Can Wait
Reason: Hayes was caught off-guard when it was announced that her character, Donna James (Kevin's wife) would be killed off after season one. Actress Leah Remini joined the cast in her place as a season two regular.
In a tweet, she expressed her sadness for leaving so soon. "True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans," she wrote.
Project: Valley of the Dolls
Reason: The actress, best known for her character Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, didn't make the same kind of positive impression while filming this movie. She was reportedly nerve-wracking to work with and wound up being fired after refusing to come out of her dressing room.
Adam is a writer based out of New York City who loves video games, horror movies, and cats (the musical and the animal.)
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