Disney is known for discovering and fostering famous talent. Whether it’s a future teen heartthrob or a director finally given their big break, working for Disney can propel people’s careers to heights they never even imagined. Stars from Britney Spears to Zendaya have all been able to use their time on Disney to move up in the world of show business.
Unfortunately, that dream job doesn't always work out as planned. While there have certainly been a lot of success stories from Disney, there are also many people who saw their relationship with the mega-company cut short. Sometimes their firing was very public, allowing anyone with an opinion to weigh in on what could have happened. Others, many people weren’t even aware that there was a possibility that person had been working with Disney in the first place.
Curious? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up fifteen of those stars here for you. Of course, Disney Channel isn’t the only place where people have been fired by Disney. Since the House of Mouse also owns studios like Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios, we’ll be including stars who were fired there as well. Disney World isn’t the happiest place on earth for everyone.
Read on to find out 15 Stars Who Were Fired From Disney.
15 Terrence Howard
We’re so used to seeing Don Cheadle as Rhodes/War Machine in the MCU that it can be easy to forget that he wasn’t the actor originally cast in the role. Terrence Howard was Tony Stark’s good friend in the first Iron Man, but, by the time Iron Man 2 hit theaters, he had been replaced by Cheadle. What gives?
According to Howard, he was pushed out. Disney had originally offered him a reported eight million dollars for Iron Man 2 when he signed a three-movie contract at the beginning of the trilogy. When it came time to film, though, eight million became one million. Howard wasn’t okay with that, so Disney let him go and found someone else who would take a million dollars...who happened to stay for the rest of the mega-franchise.
14 Steve Whitmire
You might not know Steve Whitmire’s face, but you definitely know his voice. He was the man behind the iconic Kermit the Frog for nearly thirty years after Jim Henson died.
It seems like Whitmire wanted to keep bringing the Muppet to life, but Disney decided that was not about to happen.
In July 2017, news hit the Internet that Matt Vogel was replacing Whitmire. Whitmire then came forward to say that the studio had fired him way back in October and was only just then making it public. The studio wasn’t apologizing, though. They said that he was fired due to “unacceptable business conduct” that they’d asked him to ditch for months, like not coming to set if he didn’t think it was important and sending emails attacking the writing and director.
13 Ryan Gosling
Remember when Ryan Gosling was a Mouseketeer with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake all those many moons ago? Apparently twelve-year-old Gosling had a bit of an attitude, because it got him fired by Disney early on.
When he was promoting his movie Lars and the Real Girl back in 2008, he said that he was apparently considered such a bad influence on his co-stars that their mothers actually complained to the studio. That got him hauled to the proverbial principal’s office, where he was told that he wasn’t Disney material for constantly educating the other tween Mouseketeers about mature topics (Gosling says he didn’t know what the studio expected from a twelve year old boy).
We’d say his career didn’t suffer.
12 Phil Lord & Chris Miller
Lucasfilm seems to have issues keeping directors attached to films, even though sometimes it looks like every directing duo in Hollywood is going to get their own Star Wars film to play with. Phil Lord and Chris Miller won’t get that opportunity anymore, though they were originally tapped to direct the Han Solo standalone film.
The directors didn’t think they were given enough creative freedom, while Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy didn’t think they were doing enough work. The executive producer and screenwriter apparently wasn’t impressed, either. Being super laid-back and improvisational works on a movie like 21 Jump Street, but not so much on a Star Wars movie that the studio and fans are very invested in.
There were rumblings of trouble for awhile before the duo was finally fired last June.
11 Patty Jenkins
Patty Jenkins shot to fame last year as the director of the uber-successful Wonder Woman.
Before she gave DC a much-needed win, however, she was supposed to be part of the MCU.
She’d signed on to direct the second Thor way before the cameras started rolling, but she quickly figured out that the direction Marvel wanted to go wasn’t the same creative vision she had for the movie. They weren’t able to work out their differences, and so Marvel quietly let her go to hire Alan Taylor instead. Natalie Portman, who had really pushed for Jenkins to be part of the film, was reportedly furious that she wouldn’t be part of the movie anymore. Given that fan response to Thor: The Dark World was pretty lukewarm, maybe Marvel would have been better off listening to Jenkins and Portman.
10 John Lasseter
Everyone loves a good comeback story and John Lasseter filled that need for years. Lasseter scored a job working at Disney right out of school and helped work on some successful movies. He pushed for the studio to work more with computer animation, though, and was fired because of it. Lasseter was initially devastated that he lost his job at Disney, but he then went on to help found Pixar Animation and helped to create Toy Story, so…
Of course, Pixar was eventually bought by Disney and Lasseter was welcomed back as a pioneer of animation. Unfortunately, Lasseter now has the unfortunate distinction of being pushed out by Disney twice. He’s currently on "sabbatical" after being accused of sexual misconduct last year.
9 Megan Mullally
Depending on how old you are, you might know Megan Mullally from a few different TV shows. Younger fans probably recognize her as Tammy, Ron Swanson’s life-wrecking ex-wife on Parks and Recreation. Older fans, however, know her for being Karen Walker on Will & Grace.
Most people aren't aware that she was attached to a Disney project during her time on Will & Grace. She was hired to provide the voice of an unknown character for Finding Nemo. The studio apparently said she could use whatever voice she wanted, but as soon as she started working, that turned out to be code for “please use your super high-pitched Karen Walker voice.” When Mullally refused, she was fired from the movie.
8 Harlan Ellison
Not every star made their name on the silver screen. Some, like Harlan Ellison, worked with the written word instead. If you’re not into genre fiction, you might not know who he is, but he’s a huge name in speculative fiction and sci-fi. He’s written short stories, novels, and TV scripts for shows like Star Trek and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Although he’s won basically every award there is to win for science fiction, he could have become even more successful when he was hired as a writer for Disney.
We’ll never know what he would have produced, though, since he was fired on his first day for jokingly suggesting they make a more risque, adult Disney movie. Maybe look around to see if the Disney studio heads are nearby before you joke like that...
7 Teo Halm
Boy Meets World was part of childhood for many nineties kids. When its spinoff Girl Meets World was announced, Disney knew that it would bring in both older and younger viewers. It was a big deal for any up and coming actor to be cast on the show, and no doubt Teo Halm thought it would be his big break, too. Halm was cast as the main character's older brother, and filmed the pilot episode with the rest of the cast.
Unfortunately for him, Disney decided the show worked better with just a younger brother, so he was cut from the cast and the pilot was re-shot.
He and the rest of the cast still seem to be on good terms, even if he couldn't be officially part of the show.
6 Chloe Grace Moretz
Actors have been forced out of Disney, too. You might remember the 2008 Disney movie Bolt for having stars like John Travolta and Miley Cyrus attached to the project. However, Cyrus wasn’t originally supposed to provide the voice of Bolt’s owner Penny. That role had gone to a young Chloe Grace Moretz, who was only eleven at the time.
Moretz had done the work of recording the entire movie before Disney decided to replace her with Cyrus, who was still Disney’s pride and joy back then. She’s still credited as “Young Penny” in the movie, but most of her hard work was wiped out without debate. Years later, she was also attached to the live-action Little Mermaid film, but she left that of her own accord because she was too busy.
Fans of the Disney Channel in the early 2000s are sure to remember the popular show Lizzie McGuire, which helped make Hilary Duff a star. Lizzie, Gordo and Miranda were the trio of friends that kids wanted to be.
Viewers noticed, though, that Miranda was oddly absent for the show’s last few episodes and its feature length movie. What gives?
Rumors flew that Miranda wasn’t in the movie because the actress had been arrested for felony charges. That would have explained her sudden absence, since it would have made sense for her character to be in the last few episodes and the movie. Since the charges didn’t come until 2007, though, and the movie was released in 2003, that’s likely not the answer. Her disappearance is still cloaked in rumor for now.
4 Mitchel Musso
People got to know Mitchel Musso after his role as Oliver on Hannah Montana. He turned that success into the providing the voice of Jeremy Johnson on Phineas and Ferb, and then moved over to Disney XD to work on Pair of Kings. He was a valued talent at Disney for awhile, but eventually things went south.
Even though he would have eventually left Pair of Kings anyway, Musso was forced to leave earlier than planned after he was arrested for a DUI in 2011. Not only was his blood alcohol level way over the limit, but he was also only 20 at the time -- not quite old enough to be drinking yet. Disney removed him from the show immediately and his career hasn’t been the same since.
3 Jake T. Austin
Selena Gomez is the most recognizable star from Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place, but the supporting cast was also able to use the show to further their careers. Jake T. Austin, who played Max Russo, left Waverly Place on good terms and jumped over to ABC Family, another Disney property. He was the original actor who played Jesus Foster on The Fosters.
He seemed to have been followed by the child star curse, though, because he eventually got into trouble with the law.
He narrowly missed a DUI charge as an underage drinker and then was involved in a four-car hit and run crash the following year. Austin and his legal issues were too much for ABC Family, who recast his role after two seasons.
Even if you’re not into the gaming life, if you’ve spent any amount of time online, you’ve probably heard of PewDiePie. He’s the richest and most subscribed YouTuber of all time, mostly known for his Let’s Play videos. He turned that into sponsorships and deals with some major companies, including Disney...and then promptly lost them.
Note to anyone who wants to become a major YouTube star -- maybe don’t post videos with anti-Semitic content and expect everything to be fine. After PewDiePie came under fire for the offensive nature of the jokes, corporations decided to cut ties. Disney, who owns the studio who helps to promote his videos, said that he went too far and quickly cut ties with him.
1 Jake Paul
If you’re over the age of twenty, you had probably never even heard of Jake Paul until his controversies made major news stories. The former Vine star made the jump over to YouTube, where he posted daily vlogs and continued to amass a huge following.
His California neighbors did not ask to have a front row seat to the Team 10 antics, though, and called the police on Paul multiple times for disturbing the peace and filming stunts at home. He also gave out his home address to some “Jake Paulers,” which resulted in a horde of teenage girls in front of the house at all times.
Disney, who had hired Paul to be part of their show Bizaardvark, said that they had decided to part ways after the controversy.
Jake Paulers maintain that Paul left on his own. We’ll let you decide the truth.
Are there any other stars that we missed? Who else was let go by the House of Mouse? Let us know in the comments!