Why isn't Aaron Eckhart in Angel Has Fallen? Gerard Butler is back in action as Mike Banning for Angel Has Fallen, and for the third installment of the Has Fallen franchise, he finds himself on the run after being framed for an attempted assassination on the US President. Returning alongside Butler is Morgan Freeman, who's played Allan Trumbull in the two previous films and has now been promoted to President of the United States, having been Speaker of the House and Vice President in Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen, respectively.
Conspicuously, Eckhart, who played US President Benjamin Asher in the aforementioned Angel Has Fallen prequels, is missing from the sequel. Eckhart, Butler, and Freeman were thought to be the core of these movies, a trio that would feature in each one to form a cohesive throughline fans can follow from film-to-film. While Eckhart isn't quite a Hollywood star on the same level as leading man Butler and beloved veteran Freeman, he's still recognizable enough in his own right, most famously playing Harvey Dent aka Two-Face in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Having been prominently featured in the first two movies only to be dropped for the third is definitely odd, but it isn't without logic.
The simple answer here is that, because Asher's term as president was up, he didn't need to be involved in the story. These are political thrillers centering on terrorist attacks targeting currently-elected state officials. The elevator pitch for Angel Has Fallen is that a hero is blamed for trying to kill the president and now must fight for his innocence. The central characters are Butler's Banning, Freeman's President Trumbull, and whoever the main antagonist is revealed to be.
What's more, the plot here starts five years after the events of London Has Fallen. Asher, as a former president, doesn't comfortably fit into that paradigm. There's no reason for him to be intimate with any of these moving pieces anymore, because not only is it not his job, but it hasn't been his job for quite a while by the time things kick off either. He did his time, having survived two major catastrophes, and is probably living a quiet life off the grid.
Eckhart himself revealed the news three years ago when Angel Has Fallen was announced, stating that President Asher was retired. Eckhart was never involved in the production, for whatever reason. When this happens, where a main cast member drops out between movies, it can suggest some sort of disagreement behind-the-scenes. Maybe a contract dispute, Eckhart not believing he's getting his due, or a disagreement between he and some of the producers, or other actors. Maybe he just didn't feel like doing another of these films. We don't know, and there's no smoke to suggest anything untoward or nefarious.
It's likely as simple as it looks - they always had the concept for Angel Has Fallen set for the third film, and Asher was never to be included. It's a shame, as it was nice to see another actor get the rub of being around Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. At least the film was still in very capable hands.
- Angel Has Fallen (2019) release date: Aug 23, 2019