It’s hard out there for any actor to land stellar roles, even those actors who are well established in Hollywood. They are initially cast in a great movie or a TV show, but something happens – maybe it’s the wrong look or creative differences or financial issues – and just like that, they are replaced by another actor who cements themselves as that character forever.
Sometimes a director will rethink a casting for reasons that are completely out the actor’s control – just a matter of vision and taste. Other times, financial negotiations can break down and the actor gets booted out of their role. Even an injury can ruin an actor’s chance at a role. Then there are those who badmouth their bosses to the press and massive public meltdowns. Finally, there are the truly scandalous reasons an actor can lose their jobs – something we are see more in Hollywood these days.
Here are 16 Actors Who Were Replaced For Shocking Reasons
16. KEVIN SPACEY – ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Kevin Spacey’s career has always been on a high trajectory, from his Oscar-winning performances in The Usual Suspects and American Beauty, to his searing turn as Frank Underwood in the Netflix series House of Cards. However, it all came crashing down last month when multiple allegations of harassment and assault, dating back 30 years ago, were leveled against the actor.
First, Netflix fired Spacey from House of Cards and also dropped the biopic Gore from its slate, in which he played Gore Vidal. But the biggest shock to his crumbled career was director Ridley Scott’s announcement he was replacing Spacey in his upcoming film All the Money in the World, which centers on the kidnapping of J. Paul Getty’s grandson in the 1970s.Wearing facials prosthetics, Spacey played the miserly billionaire in the completed film, but now Christopher Plummer will step into the role in re-shoots.
15. SEAN YOUNG – DICK TRACY
Sean Young started her career with a bang in the ’80s, starring in films like Dune, Stripes, and Young Doctors in Love, and she totally steamed it up with Kevin Costner in No Way Out. But her biggest claim to fame was her pivotal role as the replicant Rachel in Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner.
Things started going downhill for the actress, however, in the 1990s. She had to bow out of playing Vicky Vale in Tim Burton’s Batman after injuring herself in a horse-riding accident, and also saw several run-ins with directors and co-stars, including a publicized legal conflict with actor James Woods.
Young was set to play Tess Trueheart in Warren Beatty’s 1990 Dick Tracy but was fired after only a few weeks of filming. She claims it’s because she refused Beatty’s sexual advances, but Beatty has denied that. Glenne Headly stepped in to play the part instead.
14. STUART TOWNSEND – LORD OF THE RINGS
Talk about a bummer. Irish actor Stuart Townsend — whose most notable role was playing the Vampire Lestat in the 2002 The Queen of the Damned, along with once being Charlize Theron’s boyfriend – was originally cast as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. We know, it’s hard to imagine anyone else by Viggo Mortensen.
Townsend went through extensive training and prep work for the role, which would have certainly catapulted him into fame. If we’re being honest, Townsend could have probably pulled it off, but Jackson thought differently. A few days before shooting was to commence, the director believed the actor looked too young for the part and replaced him with Mortensen, who became the Aragorn we now all know and love.
13. CRISPIN GLOVER – BACK TO THE FUTURE SEQUELS
We all fondly remember the quirky Crispin Glover as Michael J. Fox’s father, George McFly, in Back to the Future. Unlike the rest of his cast mates, however, Glover did not appear in the following two blockbuster sequels, mostly because he balked at his much lower salary.
But that’s not what really irked Glover. It was the fact that while a new actor, Jeffrey Weissman, played the role, director Robert Zemeckis used a mold of Glover’s face (made during the first movie for the older-age makeup) as a prosthetic on Weissman. Coupled with previous footage of Glover, Zemeckis made it seem like Glover was actually in the sequels. Glover ended up winning a lawsuit that now prevents this from happening to other actors.
12. MEGAN FOX – TRANSFORMERS 3
After a few short-lived TV shows, the lovely Megan Fox made her big-screen splash in the 2007 Transformers – and a movie star was made. She went on to reprise her role as Shia LaBeof’s love interest and resident tough girl Mikaela Banes on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – but then she found herself in a bit of trouble.
While gearing up to star in the third Transformers installment, Fox was suddenly fired by Michael Bay and producer Steven Spielberg after the actress made some disparaging comments about the director, telling a British magazine that Bay “wants to be like Hitler on his sets” and that he was “a nightmare to work for.” Fox was replaced by model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
11. JAMIE WAYLETT – HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS
Through the Harry Potter series, young actor Jamie Waylett played Crabbe, one of Draco Malfoy’s trusted flunkies and a big lug who loved to eat loads of cake with his best pal, Goyle. But in the final installment, the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Crabbe was noticeably missing from Draco’s entourage, replaced by Blaise Zabini (Louis Cordice). In the books, Crabbe plays a big part in the final battle sequences, so what happened?
Apparently, Waylett got into trouble with the law. In 2009, Waylett was arrested for growing marijuana in his mother’s London home and plead guilty to possession of cannabis. Then, in 2011, he participated in the London riots and was caught looting (a bottle of champagne) and sentenced to two years in prison for violent disorder, including a concurrent sentence for handling stolen goods.
10. TERRENCE HOWARD – IRON MAN 2
Terrence Howard has had a long and fruitful career, which includes an Oscar nomination for his soulful turn in the rap indie Hustle & Flow, and of course, his dramatic music mogul in the TV series Empire. Then there was the brief moment when he was part of the Marvel Comics Universe, playing Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes in the original 2008 Iron Man. Cut to the follow-up, Iron Man 2, and Howard was suddenly replaced by Don Cheadle, who has since made the character his own.
For years, Howard was been bitter and vocal about his ousting, which basically boiled down to money. He claimed he was the one instrumental in getting Robert Downey Jr. the coveted role as billionaire playboy Tony Stark, which gave Downey a major career boost. But then when the sequel rolled around, Howard said he was asked to take less money due to Downey’s rising star, and Howard refused, thus paving the way for Cheadle.
9. ERINN HAYES IN KEVIN CAN WAIT
This does seem a little unfair. After one season of playing Kevin James’ wife on his new CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait, actress Erinn Hayes was let go in favor of bringing Leah Remini on board as a full-time cast member. The weirder part is the showrunners decided to kill off Hayes’ character, Donna.
James admitted in a recent interview with the New York Daily News that Donna was killed off because the show needed a push forward, creating more opportunities for James’ character, Kevin Gable, as a single dad.
We’re thinking it might also be that the actor just has mad chemistry with Remini, who guest starred as Kevin’s former partner on the police force in season 1. She was, after all, James’ TV wife in the long-running series The King of Queens – and while Remini isn’t playing his wife this time around, the sparks will still probably fly.
8. NICOLE KIDMAN – PANIC ROOM
Nicole Kidman was originally cast in David Fincher’s tense thriller Panic Room, playing a mother who attempts to shield herself and her daughter after intruders break into their home, but she had to drop out after 18 days of filming due to a lingering knee injury she suffered while making Moulin Rouge!
Fincher wanted to close down the production altogether, but the studio wanted the film to move forward, and so Jodie Foster was brought in as Kidman’s replacement. The actress was still able to be part of the movie, though; she’s the voice of the girlfriend of Foster’s husband in the movie, heard answering the phone when Foster’s character calls him in a desperate attempt for help.
7. RACHEL DRATCH IN 30 ROCK
Tina Fey wanted to include her good friend and SNL alum Rachel Dratch on her new TV show 30 Rock and so cast Dratch as Jenna DeCarlo, the best friend of Fey’s Liz Lemon and star of the fictional sketch comedy show “The Girlie Show.” But after they shot the pilot (which never aired), Fey decided to rewrite the character of Jenna to make her more of an over-hyped, glamorous diva type, and cast Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney.
Dratch didn’t see it as a big deal. She explained to New York Mag, “I think the big thing was — at least what they told me — that at first they wanted to have more comedy sketches in the show. Then they decided they weren’t going to focus on the sketches, so they needed more of a sitcom actress, as opposed to a character actress.”
6. RYAN GOSLING IN THE LOVELY BONES
Did you know Ryan Gosling was originally cast at the grieving father in Peter Jackson’s big-screen adaptation of The Lovely Bones? We didn’t either, but apparently Gosling didn’t last long in the role.
The story goes Gosling thought he might be too young to play the character, and he decided that if he maybe gained weight, it might make a difference. So, he showed up on set 60 pounds heavier than he was when he was hired. Jackson didn’t agree with this change at all. Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter, “We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed [he should be 210 pounds]. I’d gotten it wrong. Clearly. And then I was fat and unemployed.”
5. JAMES REMAR – ALIENS
James Remar has enjoyed a great career as a character actor. Gaining notice as the villain in the 1982 48 Hours, Remar has gone on star in a number of great movies and TV shows, with a few standout performances, including playing Dexter Morgan’s adoptive father, Harry, in the Showtime series Dexter. Early in his career, however, he had a misstep when he was cast as Corporal Hicks in James Cameron’s classic 1986 thriller Aliens but got fired a few weeks into filming.
At the time, not much explanation was given for the abrupt departure, except that Remar had to address personal issues. But years later, Remar opened up about it and admitted he had a “terrible drug problem” during that time and had been arrested for possession of drugs. Michael Biehn, who had starred in Cameron’s The Terminator, took over the role.
4. JANET HUBERT – THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR
Janet Hubert played the original Aunt Viv for three seasons on the hit ’90s series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but after a run-in with the show’s producers – and star Will Smith – Hubert was fired in 1993 and replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid.
Hubert has been continually vocal about her firing, pretty much blaming Smith for the whole thing, calling him an immature “egomaniac” and claiming he did awful things to her while on the show. She also had strong words to say about Alfonso Ribiero, who played her son, Carlton, on the show, saying he was an “a**wipe for Smith.” Will Smith has countered by claiming Hubert thought the show should be about her and not some “snotty-nosed punk” who didn’t have any experience.
3. MEG FOSTER – CAGNEY AND LACEY
The role of Christine Cagney was actually played by a few different actresses. Loretta Swit first portrayed the detective in the 1981 CBS TV movie, opposite Tyne Daly as Mary-Beth Lacey. But when it was decided to turn it into a series in 1982, Swit couldn’t do it because she was still contracted to the long-running show M.A.S.H. Meg Foster was hired instead to play Cagney.
After only six episodes, CBS canceled the show, due to low ratings, but upon further data, it looked like the show might have a chance. CBS gave it another shot, with one caveat: Foster had to go. At that time, an anonymous network executive told TV Guide that the feeling was Foster and Daly were too tough as female cops and came across as lesbians.
Actress Sharon Gless replaced Foster, and the show went on for several seasons and many Emmy wins for its two stars.
2. HARVEY KEITEL – APOCALYPSE NOW
Imagine Harvey Keitel playing the compromised young Captain Willard in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War masterpiece Apocalypse Now. Not easy, right? Apparently, Coppola had asked a number of leading men at the time to play the part, including Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, and Jack Nicholson, but settled on Keitel after he impressed Coppola in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets.
Several weeks into production, however, Keitel butted heads creatively with Coppola over Willard’s passivity in the film and was given the boot. Martin Sheen stepped into the role of Willard, heading into the heart of darkness to find a monster, and clearly embraced the character.
1. CHARLIE SHEEN – TWO AND A HALF MEN
Charlie Sheen’s very public, epic and “winning” meltdown in 2011 was quite the spectacle. It actually started in late 2010, when Sheen was arrested on domestic violence charges against then-wife Brooke Mueller and trashed a hotel room. The producers of Sheen’s hit CBS show Two and a Half Men were concerned but mostly stuck by the actor, putting the show on hiatus so Sheen could enter rehab.
Then Sheen’s behavior became increasingly more erratic, and he started giving interviews in which he bashed the show’s creator Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros. Television. Not the best choice. The suits decided to scrap the rest of the season, which only incurred more wrath from Sheen and more outrageous statements. The actor’s relationship with his bosses became irreparable.
Sheen was finally replaced on the show by Ashton Kutcher, and Two and a Half Men ran another four seasons.
Any other outrageous role replacements we missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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