Top 10 Actors Who Got Fired from Movies



Top 10 Actors Who Got Fired from Movies

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Alex Durkee

The roles might've made these actors Hollywood megastars; but it wasn't meant to be. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who were fired from blockbuster movies. For this list, we're looking at actors and actresses that were due to star in a big Hollywood production, but were ultimately asked to leave the project.

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Script written by Alex Durkee

Top 10 Actors Who Were Fired From Films

The roles might’ve made these actors Hollywood megastars; but it wasn’t meant to be. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who were fired from blockbuster movies. 

For this list, we’re looking at actors and actresses that were due to star in a big Hollywood production, but were ultimately asked to leave the project. Some of them started filming, and others even finished their work before they were shown the door. Whatever the reason, these actors were all kindly (or maybe not so kindly) asked to hit the road.

#10: Harvey Keitel
“Apocalypse Now” (1979)

Set during the Vietnam War, this movie follows Captain Willard on a covert mission to kill the reportedly crazy Colonel Kurtz. Adapted from the Joseph Conrad novella “Heart of Darkness,” the epic war flick became an instant hit. However, the drama onscreen couldn’t match the drama off of it as production problems mounted. Not only was there tension between cast members, the director almost reached his breaking point, ultimately having second thoughts about his original leading man just three weeks into shooting. Coppola soon realized that Keitel didn’t come across as passive enough for his central character, so the “Mean Streets” actor was let go. Martin Sheen, who was the director’s top choice to play the lead, was then brought in to save the day.

#9: Richard Gere
“The Lords of Flatbush” (1974)

A movie about teen gangs in 1950s Brooklyn - think Happy Days crossed with Grease, with a dash of The Warriors thrown in for good measure. But as fraught with conflict as gang life is, this movie had more problems off screen than on it. Richard Gere was due to join Henry Winkler and Sylvester Stallone as the drama’s main street teens. However, Gere just couldn’t get along with anyone, Stallone in particular. They clashed about everything, with Stallone claiming Gere just took himself too seriously, and things finally came to physical blows over a particularly messy chicken sandwich! That incident pretty much sealed it for the director, who was forced to choose between his two stars. Stallone stayed, Gere took a hike.

#8: Anthony Michael Hall
“Full Metal Jacket” (1987)

He made his name as the ultimate ‘80s teenage geek, but Anthony Michael Hall wanted to break free from type casting. He was given the opportunity to do that in this Stanley Kubrick war flick. Hall’s tough and edgy role in this drama, which focused on U.S. marines during Vietnam War, was far-removed from his previous work in teen movies like “The Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science.” However, following an eight-month argument with Kubrick, which focused mainly on money matters, Hall was asked to leave the project. His career subsequently took a nosedive from which he never really recovered.

#7: Judy Garland
“Valley of the Dolls” (1967)

Already an icon of the silver screen, thanks largely to her role as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” Judy Garland could seemingly do no wrong. With two Academy award nominations under her belt and an army of adoring fans, Garland was a sure thing at the box office. Or at least she was until the production of “Valley of the Dolls.” The title of this film is a slang term for drug use, which is fitting as the main character becomes addicted to prescription drugs. In what many see as a case of miserable irony, Garland was actually fired from the movie for not only missing many rehearsals but also allegedly turning up onset drunk and possibly on drugs. 

#6: Mark Salling
“Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets” (2017)

There are many reasons for an actor to get fired from a film, but few are as serious as those that cause Mark Salling to leave “Adi Shankar’s Gods and Secrets.” The former “Glee” actor was set to star in this dark re-imagining of the superhero genre when he was arrested for possessing indecent images of children. Salling was immediately dismissed from the project, even though he’d begun filming. Executive producer, director and storywriter Shankar opted to recast Salling’s role, paying for re-shoots out of his own pocket, and to donate some of the profits from the show to children’s charity. As a result, there have been multiple issues surrounding the production, such as when the new release date will be, as well as whether it’s actually going to be a film or a mini-series.

#5: Megan Fox
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011)

Famous as much for her looks as she is for her acting ability, Megan Fox had her first regular role on the sitcom “Hope & Faith” before landing her breakout movie role in the first “Transformers” film. When the movie became a box office success, a sequel was planned and Fox was asked to reprise her part. “Revenge of the Fallen” was another hit. But, while shooting the 3rd instalment, Fox became angry with director Michael Bay, comparing him to Hitler and Napoleon in a magazine interview. It appears that Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg didn’t appreciate these comments and Fox was asked to leave (though the actress’ reps said she left the project on her own terms!). Comparing your director to evil dictators is a sure fire way to get replaced!

#4: Samantha Morton
“Her” (2013)

When the film you’ve worked on is finished and in the can, you should be able to sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done, right? Well, that was not the case for Samantha Morton and the futuristic rom com “Her.” Unlike many actors who are replaced, Morton was a joy to work with and did everything director Spike Jonze asked of her. However, in postproduction, Jonze decided that he wanted something else from the character and flew in Scarlett Johansson to re-do Samantha’s lines. The female lead in this movie is an artificial computer, so only the voice needed to be replaced, which was lucky for the director but not so lucky for Morton.

#3: Stuart Townsend
“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)

After being hired to fill the role of Aragorn in the epic fantasy trilogy “The Lord of the Rings,” Stuart Townsend went all out. In preparation for the part, he spent months training with swords and combat. He even learned to ride a horse, and studied the mythology of the magical world he was going to inhabit. But the day before principal photography was set to start, director Peter Jackson told Townsend to pack his bags and go home. The reason he was fired? Townsend himself claimed Jackson wanted someone older to play the character, but that begs the question of why he was hired in the first place. We’ll just chalk it up to that elusive element called “creative chemistry”.

#2: Eric Stoltz
“Back to the Future” (1985)

Marty McFly is an icon of cinema. The time-traveling teenager entertained fans with his adventures into the past, no doubt thanks to Michael J. Fox’s skilful portrayal. However, this movie would’ve been mighty different had Eric Stoltz, the original actor cast as McFly, been allowed to finish it. Though Fox was their first choice for the role, he was unavailable due to his commitment to the sitcom “Family Ties.” Stoltz had already filmed for about a month when the director and producer realized that Stoltz just wasn’t their leading man – and Stoltz agreed. Fortunately, Fox was able to save the day. Of course, that meant Melora Hardin was also fired from her role as Marty’s girlfriend, since she was too tall for MJF.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Terrence Howard
“Iron Man 2” (2010)
- Lindsay Lohan
“The Other Side” (2011)
- James Purefoy
“V for Vendetta” (2006)

#1: James Remar
“Aliens” (1986)

An underrated character actor who is best known for playing bad guys or supporting roles in TV shows like “Sex and the City” and “Dexter”; James Remar never reached movie star status. But things could have been very different had he not been fired from James Cameron’s sci fi sequel “Aliens.” Set to play Corporal Hicks, a heroic marine who battles the alien creatures, Remar was on the path to become an action star when he was canned. The reason behind his dismissal was originally cited as creative differences, but it was later revealed that he and Cameron actually clashed over his erratic behavior and drug abuse. Not wanting to stand for this, the director quickly replaced Remar with Michael Biehn.

Do you agree with our list? Are there any other actors fired from a film that are worth a mention? For more entertaining top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to 

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