Hollywood contracts can make people rich and famous, but they can also trap people in roles that they don’t want to play. There have been many young actors and actresses who have signed the first deal that was offered to them, without considering the long-term repercussions of what was expected of them.
As such, there have been instances when actors became famous and were offered numerous exciting roles, but were forced to turn them down in order to fulfill their prior commitments. The only other option is to break their contract, which will not only get them sued, but will also earn them a reputation as someone who won’t keep up their end of the deal. Therefore, a lot of actors just have to grit their teeth and bear it, staying in the roles that they may despise.
We are here today to read the rap sheet for the actors who were imprisoned in movies and TV show roles, with no escape in sight. From the Queen of Westeros to the fake detective who was destined to play James Bond, here are the 15 Actors Who Were Trapped In A Role That They Couldn’t Escape.
15. Natalie Dormer – Game Of Thrones
Margaery Tyrell was introduced in the second season of Game of Thrones, where she was played by Natalie Dormer. She was the wife of Renly Baratheon, who married her as part of a pact with her family.
After Renly is assassinated, she is betrothed to Joffrey Baratheon, who then dies on their wedding day. Margaery has one final wedding to Tommen Baratheon before she is killed by Cersei’s wildfire plot at the Great Sept of Baelor.
It seems that Margaery may have ended perishing in another way, as Natalie Dormer had asked to be written out of the show a season earlier. She wanted to leave Game of Thrones in order to pursue a different project. The creators of the show refused to allow her to leave early, though they did assure her that Margaery was only going to last another season.
14. Burt Ward – Batman
There have been several screen adaptations of Batman, with numerous different actors playing the lead role. While there are many strong arguments over which actor was the best Batman, you rarely see any arguments over who played the best Robin. This may be because his character hasn’t appeared as much. However, most people would suggest Burt Ward, who played Robin in the Batman TV show, as the most likely candidate, as he held the most appearances as the character.
Burt Ward was actually offered the lead role in The Graduate, which would have made him a much bigger star than he already was, and may have helped him escape his strong associated to the Robin role. Unfortunately, he was forced to turn down the role by the producers of Batman, as they didn’t want to see him in more adult roles that may have diluted the Batman brand.
13. Channing Tatum – G.I. Joe
The modern G.I. Joe movies are not critical darlings, but they do make a lot of money at the box office. Channing Tatum plays the role of G.I. Joe in the movies.
Tatum never actually wanted to appear in the G.I. Joe movies. He revealed in an interview with Howard Stern that he was forced to take the role as part of a three-picture deal he had signed with Paramount.
He was told in no uncertain terms that refusing the role would have meant a lawsuit, which he likely would have lost. Tatum has publicly criticized the movies on several occasions, and has repeatedly said that he never wanted to take on such an iconic role that was being bastardized.
It seems that Tatum’s opinion of the franchise cooled* over time, as he reprised the role of G.I. Joe in the sequel, which was another smash hit at the box office. It was either that, or Paramount had one more movie left on his deal to threaten him with.
12. Emily Blunt – Gulliver’s Travels
Black Widow was the first female Avenger, and is the character who fans have been repeatedly asking Marvel to give a solo movie to. Scarlet Johansson was cast as the Black Widow, who debuted in Iron Man 2. She would go on to become one of the founding members of The Avengers and would appear in numerous other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
Scarlet Johansson wasn’t the first actress chosen to play Black Widow, however. Numerous websites and news outlets reported that Emily Blunt had been chosen for the role. It was later reported that Blunt had to back out of playing Black Widow.
She has since confirmed that the reason she had to leave Iron Man 2 was due to a prior commitment to Gulliver’s Travels, which was a horrible Jack Black comedy movie. Blunt was unable to get out of her Gulliver’s Travels role, which meant abandoning the MCU.
Emily Blunt missed out on a huge multi-picture deal with one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, as she had to appear in a film that was savaged by critics and barely broke even at the box office.
11. Dean Norris – Breaking Bad
Dean Norris played Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad. He was Walter White’s brother-in-law, and was also a DEA agent. Hank unwittingly investigates Walter’s drug dealings, which Walter was performing under the pseudonym of “Heisenberg.”
The final season of Breaking Bad was split into two halves, with the finale of the first half ending with Hank discovering Walter’s secret. The two would oppose each other in the second half of the season, with Hank ultimately being killed by Walter’s neo-Nazi associates.
Dean Norris had originally planned to star in a comedy pilot that would begin filming after Breaking Bad had finished. However, when the decision was made to split the final season in two, it prevented Norris from filming the pilot.
He asked Vince Gilligan to kill Hank off during the first half of the season… and was denied. Norris was forced to turn down the pilot, in order to finish filming Breaking Bad.
10. Marlon Brando – Désirée
Marlon Brando was once considered to be the hottest property in Hollywood. He was being offered roles by every major studio in America, who were desperate for Brando to star in their latest movie.
Brando once made a deal with Fox to appear in one of their upcoming movies, called The Egyptian. This was a film about a doctor in ancient Egypt, which was released to critical acclaim. Brando wasn’t there, however, as he refused to star in the movie. He had read the script and thought it was garbage, so he refused to participate.
Fox threatened to sue Brando for two million dollars, since he had already signed a contract to appear in the movie. In the end, they settled out of court. Brando had to play the role of Napoleon Bonaparte in Désirée, or risk losing a lot of money. Marlon Brando kept to his side of the bargain, and filmed Désirée without any further issues.
9. Jennifer Garner – Elektra
The Daredevil movie is considered to be a mixed bag by fans. It has a lot of recognizable elements from the comics, but it didn’t quite get them right. This wasn’t helped by the PG-13 rating, which forced several major edits to the movie at the last minute and turned off a lot of fans of the comic, who were expecting a dark and violent story.
Ben Affleck managed to escape the role of Matt Murdock after only a single movie. The same cannot be said for his co-star, Jennifer Garner, however, who played the role of Elektra. Despite the lukewarm reception to Daredevil, Fox decided to give Elektra her own spin-off movie. Jennifer Garner was unable to turn down the role due to a stipulation in her contract which kept her on board for a sequel.
Elektra managed to tank even worse than Daredevil did, which killed the franchise for almost a decade until Netflix revived it as a TV show.
8. Roy Scheider – Jaws 2
There are some famous cases of actors choosing roles in awful movies over ones that would end up being classics. Will Smith once turned down the role of Morpheus in The Matrix to appear in Wild Wild West, which is a decision he likely regrets.
One of the worst role choices of all time was actually forced upon an actor, due to him bailing out on a previous opportunity. Roy Scheider was originally asked to star in The Deer Hunter, which would go on to earn critical acclaim and five Academy Awards. He backed out at the last minute, as he felt that the story was implausible, and Robert DeNiro ended up taking his role.
The executives at Universal Pictures were angry at Scheider for backing out of The Deer Hunter. They forced him to star in Jaws 2, which made him the only returning lead from the first movie. Jaws 2 would go on to be savaged by critics.
7. Natalie Wood – The Searchers
The Searchers is considered to be one of the greatest movies ever made, with John Wayne giving one of the best acting performances of his career. Not everyone was on board with The Searchers, however, as Natalie Wood had misgivings about appearing in the film, but was forced to take the role by her mother.
Natalie Wood was a child star, who had grown up in the movie industry. She was seventeen when The Searchers began production. Wood originally felt that she wasn’t right for the role, as she thought that she was too old to play the character.
However, she was still under contract with Warner Brothers, which meant that they could have forced her to take the role if necessary. It turned out that they didn’t need to, as Wood’s mother was able to sign her up for the movie since Wood was underage.
The main reason that Wood’s mother agreed for Wood to do the movie was because she wanted her other daughter to also become a star. One of the stipulations for Wood appearing in the movie was that her younger sister Lana would also have a prominent role.
6. Whoopi Goldberg – Theodore Rex
It took another famous actress losing a lawsuit to force Whoopi Goldberg to do a movie that she hated.
In 1993, there was a movie released called Boxing Helena. This was a film about a surgeon who amputates the arms and legs of a woman that he loves so that he could keep her in captivity. Boxing Helena took a while to finish production, as several actors pulled out. Kim Basinger left the film while under contract, which opened her to up to a lawsuit. Basinger lost the suit and was sued for eight million dollars, which forced her to declare bankruptcy.
Whoopi Goldberg agreed to do a movie called Theodore Rex. When she finally read the script, she tried to back out of the film. However, the Boxing Helena lawsuit had set a precedent for actors being liable when they tried to leave movies, which forced Goldberg to settle out of court and do the film.
5. Keanu Reeves – The Watcher
There were some actors on this list who tried taking the legal route in order to escape their movie contracts. Keanu Reeves did the same thing, though he had a bizarre excuse for trying to worm his way out of his obligations.
In 2000, Keanu Reeves starred in a movie called The Watcher. He had previously tried to get out of doing the film by claiming that a friend of his had faked his signature on the contract. Reeves only appeared in the movie in order to avoid a lengthy court battle, as he was unable to prove that the signature wasn’t his.
He was also legally prevented from telling this story until a year after the film had been released. The Watcher was released to awful reviews, with Reeves being nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor.
4. Val Kilmer – Top Gun
Top Gun is a silly, yet beloved movie from the ’80s. It stars Tom Cruise as a fighter pilot in training, which involves a lot of beach volleyball and people wearing of sunglasses. Top Gun is a dumb movie but it has an infectious enthusiasm about it that makes it hard not to love.
Val Kilmer plays the role of Iceman in Top Gun, who is the top student at the academy. Kilmer had never wanted to appear in Top Gun but was forced to due to a multi-picture deal with Paramount that he was still honoring. Top Gun went on to become a massive hit at the box office and even won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, which was given to “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin.
3. Edward Norton – The Italian Job
Edward Norton has earned a reputation for allegedly being difficult to work with. His behavior on the set of The Incredible Hulk is what led to him being kicked out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and replaced with Mark Ruffalo.
It seems that Norton may also be difficult to work with off the set, as he was trapped in a five year long legal battle with Paramount Pictures, due to his refusal to fulfill a multi-picture deal he had signed with them years before. The case was finally settled when Norton agreed to star in The Italian Job, which would act as the fulfillment of his final movie obligation to the studio.
The Italian Job was a remake of a classic British heist movie, where a group of thieves steal millions of dollars worth of gold during a football game. The American remake has almost nothing in common with the original, except for the name.
2. Anne Hathaway – The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement
Anne Hathaway’s movie debut was in The Princess Diaries. This was a film about a teenage girl who discovers that she is actually a member of the Genovian royal family. The Princess Diaries was a huge hit at the box office and it helped to kick start Hathaway’s career in the movie industry.
A sequel to The Princess Diaries was planned to be released in 2004. Anne Hathaway originally wanted to appear in Phantom of the Opera but was forced to refuse the role in order to appear in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Director Garry Marshall noted in his book My Happy Days In Hollywood: A Memoir that Hathaway wasn’t happy with having to do the movie, so he did his best to make sure that the process of making The Princess Diaries 2 was as enjoyable as possible for her.
1. Pierce Brosnan – Remington Steele
Remington Steele was the show that turned Pierce Brosnan into a star. The show was about a female private detective who hires a former con man to take on the false identity of Remington Steele, as no one would hire a woman to solve cases. Remington Steele started out as a hit, but its ratings dipped as the series progressed to the point where the show was canceled after the fourth season.
Pierce Brosnan’s performance in Remington Steele made him the top choice to take over the role of James Bond. With Remington Steele over, he was approached to play Bond in The Living Daylights.
The news him taking over the role of James Bond inspired new interest in the series, however, which caused NBC to renew the show. This meant that Brosnan now had to turn down the role of Bond, as he was still contractually obliged to appear in Remington Steele. The role of James Bond would ultimately go to Timothy Dalton.
The revival of Remington Steele might have been a blessing in disguise, as The Living Daylights is considered to be one of the more forgettable Bond movies. Pierce Brosnan had to wait seven years, but he finally got the chance to play James Bond in the popular Goldeneye. This means that Pierce Brosnan is the actor a lot of people think of when they hear the name James Bond.
Can you think of any other actors who were trapped in roles that they couldn’t escape? Let us hear it in the comment section!
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