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Top 10 Times Disney Has Feuded With Actors

Top 10 Times Disney Has Feuded With Actors
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Zachary Siechen
These feuds weren't becoming of the happiest place on earth. For this list, we'll be looking at the most notable times actors clashed with the Disney company and film studio. Our countdown includes Dave Bautista, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson, and more!

#10: Dave Bautista

We should all know better than to upset Drax the Destroyer. “Guardians of the Galaxy” actor Dave Bautista took issue with the Walt Disney Studios’ decision regarding the franchise’s director, James Gunn, back in 2018. After a series of Gunn’s controversial tweets surfaced, the filmmaker was taken off the “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” production. Real-life superhuman Bautista rallied to Gunn’s defense, expressing intention to leave the “Guardians” project if Gunn’s script went unused. He also took to twitter, claiming that Disney had validated a “smear campaign” against a person he greatly admired. Though Gunn was reinstated and both men returned for “Guardians 3,” Bautista’s future involvement with the MCU remains questionable. Disney probably didn’t appreciate being called “nauseating” to work for.

#9: Bella Thorne

Using “Bella Thorne” and “feud” as search keywords will most likely produce results about her issues with former co-star Zendaya. As a grown woman, however Bella sings praise of Z’s achievements. Her attitude towards her previous employer, the Disney Channel, isn’t quite so positive. She’s expressed that she felt unable to be herself, and that she and Zendaya felt “pitted” against each other. After being photographed in a bikini at age fourteen, Thorne claims that Disney threatened both her status on “Shake It Up” and her future career. Since the show’s cancellation, Thorne has been vocal about the freedom she’s felt about leaving Disney. She’s even gone on to become a successful musician, author and adult film director: quite a ways from her Disney Channel roots.

#8: Steve Whitmire

Puppeteer Steve Whitmire stepped into the webbed feet of the iconic Kermit the Frog after Jim Henson’s tragic passing. For nearly thirty years, Whitmire lived his lifelong dream as a muppet, until Disney replaced him with actor Matt Vogel in 2017. To hear Whitmire tell it, the termination was unexpected and done over “minor” issues that were “easily resolved.” The Walt Disney Company, however, reported that Whitmire was extremely difficult to work with, hostile to feedback, and consistently uncooperative. Henson’s son, Brian, also supported Disney’s decision. Whitmire has vocalized hopes to reach a resolution and return to his muppet family, but only time will tell. It truly “isn’t easy bein’ green.”

#7: Hilary Duff

With golden hair and golden star status, Hilary Duff won the hearts of many-a-fan as “Lizzie McGuire,” the eponymous hero of Disney Channel’s hit show of the 2000s. “Lizzie” was a cash cow for Disney, kickstarting Duff’s career and spawning a feature film. Heated negotiations between Duff’s lawyers and mother-slash-manager over the actress’s pay ultimately grounded plans for a film sequel. Duff’s representation claimed that Disney attempted to force her into a deal with insultingly low salary offers. Recently, Duff and Disney reunited for a potential “Lizzie McGuire” reboot, but Disney was reluctant to comply with the actress’ vision for a more adult angle. Instead, the closest we’ll likely get to seeing Lizzie as a 30-year-old woman is Duff’s Hulu spinoff, “How I Met Your Father.”

#6: Gina Carano

“Star Wars” fans got a rockin’ good treat when MMA star-turned-actress Gina Carano joined the cast of “The Mandalorian.” She portrayed mercenary and Alderaan native Cara Dune, bringing a strong and admired female presence to the show. Carano’s lifespan as a cast member ended swiftly, after a series of controversial social media posts bathed her in a negative spotlight. The hashtag “Fire Gina Carano” rose like the Galactic Empire, and in 2021, Lucasfilm obliged. The company announced that Carano would not be involved in any future projects. The actress has expressed that she felt unfairly targeted due to her differing political views, and she believes that no one should live in fear of cancellation. She’s since moved on to other projects, and Cara Dune’s future remains clouded.

#5: Kirk Douglas

We had to reach into the Disney vault for this one. You may know of Hollywood-leading-man Kirk Douglas’s time with Disney from his role in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” but did you know he once nearly sued Walt himself? During a visit to the Disney estate, Douglas and his two sons took a ride on Walt’s model train and were unknowingly filmed. When the footage appeared on a Disney television show, Douglas considered it an invasion of privacy. After footage of his sons appeared again on a rerun, the actor sought legal action. The case never saw trial, as its plaintiff changed his mind about the likelihood of a positive outcome. “You can’t sue God,” as Douglas put it…even if you are Spartacus.

#4: Adriana Caselotti

It takes some serious pipes to bring a classic Disney princess to life, and Adriana Caselotti did so for the very first one. She provided the immortal voice of Snow White, and having just the right sound for that character came with an unexpected price. Rumors still circulate about Walt Disney having contractual ownership of Caselotti’s voice, going to great lengths to keep it from being heard anywhere else. Many claim that she was kept from interviews and even blacklisted from Hollywood. She was uncredited and paid extremely lightly for the role, and has few credits following “Snow White.” After a reputedly failed lawsuit, she did eventually speak fondly of her opportunity to play the princess, so perhaps there is somewhat of a happily ever after.

#3: Johnny Depp

It seems the reach of the “Depp v. Heard” trial goes as far as World’s End, putting a black spot on the handshake between Disney and Jack Sparrow. Depp asserts that, even before he’d staked his legal claims of defamation against Heard, Disney was ready to sever their ties. Indeed, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has stated that the actor will not be reprising his role. In a post-#MeToo Hollywood, it’s not surprising that Disney would keep its distance, although Depp has noted that the company continued to use his image for theme parks and merchandise. Despite wishing for a proper sendoff for Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny has affirmed that he would not return to Disney for “three hundred million dollars” and “a million alpacas.”

#2: Scarlett Johansson

She’s an Avenger, one of the highest paid actresses in the world, and the voice that managed to make an operating system attractive. It’s safe to assume that ScarJo commands power. When her marvel character got a solo film in 2021, Covid-19 had complicated the movie-going experience. Disney began making use of streaming services, and the “Black Widow” theatrical run was coupled with availability on Disney+. Johansson promptly lawyered up, on grounds that this was a contractual violation that would affect tickets sales and compensation to which she was entitled. Disney representatives claimed no violation and called the action a “callous disregard” towards the global crisis. Both parties have recently reached a settlement, but the conflict could signify a new evolution of Hollywood/actor feuds.

#1: Robin Williams

Robin Williams and animation were a marriage made in Hollywood heaven, birthing one of the most memorable characters of all time. It’s surprising to learn that things between Disney and Williams were not so sympatico behind the scenes. Williams revealed that he had agreed to voice the Genie with the understanding that his voice would not be used for subsequent product marketing or, broader still, “to sell anything.” When the comedian saw advertisements that he believed betrayed this accord, he threatened never to work with the company again. Though never admitting infringement, Disney did apologize by sending Williams a genuine Picasso, of all things. The late actor eventually reprised his role in the third “Aladdin” installment: a sign that perhaps this feud took a ten thousand-year slumber.