Actors Who Were Fired From A TV Show Or Movie
Hollywood isn't all sunshine and roses.
Acting is a hard gig and sometimes, for some entertainers, certain roles just don’t stick.
For one reason or another, things just don’t work out between an actor and studio executives. In some cases, it’s because the celebrity doesn’t quite fit the role in the movie or series as the creator imagined. In others, they missed the mark completely — and even may have been the cause of their own undoing.
From Suzanne Somers to the embattled Kevin Spacey, here are actors who got fired from a film or television show.
Erinn Hayes’ departure from the CBS sitcom “Kevin Can Wait” in 2017 stirred lots of controversy. Hayes’ character, Donna Gable, was suddenly killed off and replaced by Leah Remini, Kevin James’ former TV wife from “The King of Queens.” The actor was surprised by the decision and addressed the news on Twitter.
“True, I’ve been let go from the show,” she wrote. “Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans.”
It’s hard to imagine “American Psycho” without Christian Bale, but the English actor was once fired from the lead role during the hiring process. Why was Bale let go? Because Leonardo DiCaprio became available. But the star was persistent, and the part landed right back in his lap like he thought it would.
“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,” Bale told the Wall Street Journal. “I still kept going down to the gym every day because I was going, ‘Oh, I’m making the film.’”
Selma Blair played Charlie Sheen’s girlfriend, Kate Wales, on “Anger Management” for two seasons before she was fired from the FX comedy in 2013. The actor threatened to file a retaliation lawsuit against Sheen and Lionsgate Entertainment, demanding $1.2 million in lost wages.
Rumor had it that Blair was terminated after she complained Sheen was taking too long to learn his lines, but Sheen claimed in an interview that her character was “written out because [the show] was not about our relationship,” according to the Daily Mail.
Back in the 1980s, Lisa Bonet had a very public fallout with her television father, Bill Cosby. At the time, Cosby was vocally opposed to career decisions that Bonet had made and ultimately forced the actor out of her role as Denise Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.” She ended up taking a role on “The Cosby Show” spin-off, “A Different World,” after her departure.
Actor Leah Remini only appeared on one season of “The Talk” before she was let go in 2011. At first, Remini blamed her co-hosts for her departure, but later admitted in a 2015 interview with Howard Stern that her outgoing personality just wasn’t the right “fit” for “The Talk.”
“If I wanted to be on this kind of show, I needed to shut my mouth and do what my bosses tell me to do,” she told Stern. “I can’t do that.”
But it turns out that one specific “90210” star is responsible for the termination: Tori Spelling. Spelling revealed back in 2015 that she called her dad, Aaron Spelling, who created and produced the show, and asked him to fire Doherty. He obliged.
“I feel like it took years to make a good reputation and a minute to damage it,” Gibson told People that year. “My pride and reputation are hurt, but in the end I know the good work is what people will remember. I just need more opportunities to do good work and be a good guy.”
In 2007, Isaiah Washington was fired from his role on “Grey’s Anatomy” after he used an anti-gay slur during an altercation with fellow cast member Patrick Dempsey the year prior. Washington had apologized a few weeks after the argument, saying in a statement, “I sincerely regret my actions and the unfortunate use of words during the recent incident on-set,” according to People.
“Both are beneath my own personal standards,” he added. “I have nothing but respect for my coworkers and have apologized personally to everyone involved.” Washington did return to the hit ABC medical drama as a guest star in 2014.
The gender wage gap in Hollywood is not a new issue. Suzanne Somers was fighting against the income disparity between male and female actors back in 1980 — and that’s what got her canned from “Three’s Company.” During fifth season negotiations, Somers asked to be paid equal to what her “Three’s Company” co-star, the late John Ritter, made, but ABC instead offered a $5,000 salary bump. She reportedly boycotted the network as a result and was eventually fired.
You may remember Scarlett Johansson’s voice as Samantha in Spike Jonze’s film “Her.” But actor Samantha Morton was the original voice behind the A.I. machine in the 2013 sci-fi drama. Jonze, though, let Morton go during post-production when he realized she didn’t quite fit his vision.
“Samantha was with us on set and was amazing,” Jonze said in a statement provided to Vulture. “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.”
Edward Norton hulked out in Marvel’s 2008 film “The Incredible Hulk,” but was let go by the time ‘The Avengers’ was made in 2012. Turns out, Norton didn’t have the charisma or team spirit needed to play Dr. Bruce Banner in the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in ‘The Avengers,’” Marvel Studios’ President of Production Kevin Feige said in a statement. “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.”
Megan Fox appeared in the first two installments of the Transformers films but was fired from the third entry after making some disparaging remarks about director Michael Bay. Fox told Wonderland in 2009 that, although she enjoys his personality when Bay is out of the director’s chair, “he’s a nightmare to work for.” She further added that, “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is.”
Last year, Fox told Cosmopolitan UK that getting fired from the series was “absolutely the low point of my career.”
In 2009, Kal Penn accepted the offer to work as President Barack Obama’s associate director of public engagement. That meant he would have to give up his role as Dr. Lawrence Kutner on the hit medical drama “House.” But before he could wrap up Kutner’s storylines, the writers decided to kill his character off by having Kutner die by suicide — a shocking ending that fans didn’t see coming.
In a lot of ways, Stana Katic made ABC’s “Castle” a hit. But in spring 2016, news broke that Katic wouldn’t return to the crime dramedy, and a month later, the show was canceled officially. Turns out, studio executives thought that they could produce a ninth season of “Castle” without one of its leads.
“We were always very upfront with the studio and producers about the possibility that we might not be bringing back the show for season nine,” Channing Dungey, ABC’s network president, said during the Television Critics Association’s press tour that year, according to TV Insider. “The studio has to do what they need to do to prepare for the possibility of Season Nine. So, they did what they felt what they needed to do in order to be ready if they got the nod.”
Terrence Howard is another actor who faced resistance over a paycheck. Howard had originally signed a three-piece deal before production began on Marvel’s first “Iron Man” installment, in which he played Tony Stark’s pal James Rhodes. Each movie came with a set salary, but when it came to the sequel, Howard ended up getting far less than initially offered. He wouldn’t accept the pay decrease and was ultimately fired.
“It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man … when it was time to re-up for the second one, [he] took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out,” Howard told Andy Cohen on “Watch What Happens Live” in 2013. Howard was replaced by Don Cheadle in the subsequent films.
Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme has to have the best termination story on this list. Van Damme was originally cast to play the title alien in “Predator,” but was fired from the role because he just couldn’t stop doing what he loved: Kickboxing.
“I was in Joel Silver’s trailer, and he had called for Jean-Claude to come see him. And he comes in the trailer and Joel starts saying, ‘You gotta stop kickboxing!’ — because [Jean-Claude] wanted to kickbox,” Joel Hynek, the movie’s visual effects supervisor, told The Hollywood Reporter last year. “He was telling him, ‘Look, the Predator is not a kickboxer.’ And Van Damme was like, ‘I must do that; that’s how I see the Predator.’” Silver, the film’s producer, fired the Belgian actor on the spot, according to Hynek.
Anne Hathaway was once up for the role of Alison Scott in Judd Apatow’s 2007 romantic comedy, “Knocked Up.” But the “Ocean’s 8” star was replaced before production because of issues over the film’s infamous birth scene.
“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,” Hathaway told Allure in 2012. Katherine Heigl took over the part.
When Disney was first developing “Chicken Little,” the main character was envisioned as a girl. And Holly Hunter was providing the voice. But as the animated movie was being reworked, so was Chicken Little the character. The little chicken who thought the sky was falling was reimagined as a boy, which meant Hunter was out of the role. Zach Braff replaced her as the lead.
Ryan Gosling was originally tapped to play Jack Solomon in the movie adaptation of “The Lovely Bones,” but was let go following a disagreement over the character’s appearance. Gosling gained 60 pounds, without consulting director Peter Jackson, because he envisioned Solomon as a 210-pound man.
“I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong,” Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter in 2010. “Then I was fat and unemployed.”
“Taylor wasn’t on set filming much this season, but when she did show up she wasn’t very level-headed,” an inside source told Hollywood Life that year. “The show’s executives didn’t trust that she was really giving it her all, so they dismissed her as a regular.” Momsen’s storyline was cut as a result.
James Remar of “Warriors” fame was originally cast as Corporal Hicks in the blockbuster sci-fi thriller “Aliens.” But executives fired Remar a couple of weeks into filming after a run-in with the law.
“I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me,” the actor told the Sidebar podcast in 2010, according to io9.
Brett Butler was fired from her hit ABC sitcom “Grace Under Fire” in the late 1990s after struggling with a substance use disorder. She had once again entered rehab during production and was subsequently dismissed from the lead role. The show was then canceled in 1998.
Chloe Grace Moretz
Chloe Grace Moretz recorded the entire part of Penny in the animated movie “Bolt” before she was replaced by Miley Cyrus. Disney felt that Moretz, who was 11 years old at the time, didn’t fit the character of Bolt’s human owner. But her work wasn’t all for naught — the studio did use her voice in the movie as the younger version of Penny.
Nowadays, Eddie Murphy is synonymous with “Beverly Hills Cop,” but the lead role was originally offered to Sylvester Stallone. Stallone, though, sabotaged the opportunity by rewriting the script, despite being told not to. Needless to say, the action star was fired from the film.
Actor Stuart Townsend was set to play Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy but was fired the day before filming began, despite undergoing weeks of intense rehearsal and training. It’s not clear, though, why Townsend was let go. Rumor has it that director Peter Jackson wasn’t satisfied with his acting chops. Viggo Mortensen replaced Townsend in the role at the last minute.
Colin Firth is another actor who was let go after recording all of his lines. Firth had originally been cast as Paddington in the recent live-action movies, but producers reportedly felt that his voice was too mature for the young bear. So the English actor left in the middle of production.
“After a period of denial, we’ve chosen ‘conscious uncoupling,’” he said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly in 2014. British actor Ben Whishaw — who is 20 years Firth’s junior — eventually took over as the voice of Paddington.
In 2011, the producers of “Two and a Half Men” gave star Charlie Sheen the ax after they claimed the embattled actor “engaged in dangerously self-destructive behavior.” In an 11-page letter to Sheen’s lawyer, a Warner Bros. Television attorney alleged that the star made “inflammatory comments” and failed his rehab program.
“It is clear that [Sheen] has no intention of agreeing to the intensive evaluation and treatment that his condition requires,” the letter read, according to People. “It is also clear he does not believe he has a problem and that he will continue to conduct himself in a destructive manner.”
Columbus Short was fired from the hit ABC drama “Scandal” after multiple allegations of domestic violence surfaced in 2014. Short had been previously arrested for alleged domestic abuse, as well as faced charges for domestic violence and child abuse.
“At this time I must confirm my exit from a show I’ve called home for three years, with what is the most talented ensemble in television today,” the actor said in a statement at the time, according to TMZ. “Everything must come to an end and unfortunately the time has come for Harrison Wright to exit the canvas. I wish nothing but the best for Shonda, Kerry and the rest of the cast…”
Kevin Spacey was famously ousted in 2017 from his acclaimed lead role in Netflix’s political drama “House of Cards” after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor surfaced. In the wake of the reports, the streaming platform had put production on the award-winning series on hold as it processed the news.
“Netflix will not be involved with any further production of ‘House of Cards’ that includes Kevin Spacey,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement at the time, according to TV Line. “We will continue to work with [production company] MRC during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show .”
Judy Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in the movie adaptation of the 1966 novel “Valley of the Dolls” by author Jacqueline Susann. But Garland was abruptly fired from the 1967 film production reportedly because of difficult behavior and addiction issues. She was replaced by Susan Hayward.