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Top 10 Actors Who Wanted out of Franchises

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden

Script written by Garrett Alden

When the director said cut, they wanted to run. From Matt Damon, to Channing Tatum, to Edward Norton, these actors have all wanted to leave a movie franchise at one point of another. WatchMojo counts down the top actors who wanted out of franchises.

Special thanks to our user MattW128 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Actors%20Who%20Wanted%20out%20of%20Franchises


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Script written by Garrett Alden

Top 10 Actors Who Wanted out of Franchises

Even great films can feel like gilded cages. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Wanted out of Franchises.

For this list, we’ll be discussing actors who left or desired to leave film franchises they appear or have appeared in. Because we’ll be talking about some of these actors’ characters’ exits from said franchises, there may be some spoilers ahead.

#10: Matt Damon

“Bourne” franchise (2002-)

Matt Damon is practically synonymous with Jason Bourne, an amnesiac former spy attempting to uncover his past. The role arguably helped cement Damon as a movie star, and the franchise helped popularize frenetic action and has kept practical stunt work relevant in the age of CGI. However, Damon did not appear in the franchise’s fourth film, declining due to the franchise’s usual director, Paul Greengrass, not being at the helm. Damon later reappeared in the fifth film, which saw Greengrass return, but he has claimed that he, and the public, may be done with Jason Bourne, or at least Damon’s interpretation of the character.

#9: Natalie Portman

“Marvel Cinematic Universe” (2008-)

Superhero love interests are rarely the meatiest of roles. Natalie Portman's Jane Foster, a human romantically involved with the mighty Thor, is no different. After appearing in the first two “Thor” films, Portman did not return for the third, though she was reportedly interested in leaving the MCU even before filming the second film; only going through with the part at first due to Patty Jenkins being initially attached to direct it. Portman appears to be finished with Marvel, at least for now, but she's apparently open to returning someday.

#8: Channing Tatum

“G.I. Joe” franchise (2009-)

Sometimes, actors can’t choose their roles. Such was the case with Channing Tatum, who played Duke in the live action adaptations of the “G.I. Joe” franchise. Having signed a three-film deal with Paramount, Tatum was forced to appear in the action franchise, or else he would have had to face legal action. Although Tatum loved the cartoon as a child, he didn't like the script and felt trapped by the project, as it came just when he was starting to be offered more interesting roles. It might have been some small consolation then that his character was killed off early in the franchise’s second movie.

#7: Kim Cattrall

“Sex and the City” (1998-2004; 2008-)

Since portraying the fierce Samantha Jones in the “Sex and the City” show and sequel movies, Kim Cattrall has stated to be finished with the role. Cattrall has repeatedly denied that she has any interest in the long-rumored third film, and rumors also abound of a poor relationship with her fellow cast members – chiefly Sarah Jessica Parker. Still, Cattrall has not explicitly stated any specific reason for her desire to retire from the role, although it's understandable if she's just tired of the part. 20 years is an awfully long time to be associated with a character, after all.

#6: Daniel Craig

“James Bond” franchise (1962-)

The sixth actor to officially play the titular superspy, Daniel Craig has helped reinvent James Bond for a new millennium, and a whole new generation of moviegoers. Even so, Craig has repeatedly claimed to want to leave the role, especially during the promotional tour supporting 2015's “Spectre”. Additionally, his relationship with director Sam Mendes has apparently become strained, given that they’ve worked together on both “Skyfall” and “Spectre”. Still, as of 2018 Craig set to continue as 007 for at least one more film, while Mendes will not be directing the next installment in the franchise.

#5: Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightley

“Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise (2003-)

It's never a good thing when two of your stars want to abandon ship. Beginning with the first film, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley played the two romantic leads of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. But, after three films, both of them wanted to move on and try other things – things not involving ships, pirates, and Johnny Deep channeling Keith Richards. While both Bloom and Knightley have returned for a cameo in 2017's “Dead Men Tell No Tales”, each has set sail elsewhere, seemingly for good.

#4: Edward Norton

“Marvel Cinematic Universe” (2008-)

Edward Norton “smashed” all expectations by delivering a great, believable performance as Bruce Banner, the man within “The Incredible Hulk”'s titular green rage monster. Yet, Norton did not return after his first film in the MCU, instead being replaced by Mark Ruffalo in “The Avengers.” Initial reports at the time suggested that Norton’s departure was because of a contract or money dispute, but he has since explained that he didn’t want to be tied to one role for a long period, instead preferring to have the freedom to take whichever project he wanted.

#3: Harrison Ford

“Star Wars” franchise (1977-)

Even a franchise as storied as “Star Wars” has had actors who wanted out of it… though not for the reasons you might think. Harrison Ford played the famed roguish smuggler turned rebel hero Han Solo. Ford reportedly wanted his character to die as early as “Return of the Jedi” – the last in the original trilogy. Ford's desire for Han’s death was due to his wish to be a part of the franchise’s more dramatic side. After over 30 years, Ford did eventually get his wish in “The Force Awakens”, when Solo had his swan song.

#2: Michael Keaton

The Burton/Schumacher Era “Batman” franchise (1989-97)

Fans of the “Batman” comics were initially worried about Michael Keaton donning the cape and cowl, given that the actor was best known for his comedic roles. But Keaton soon proved to be the darkest, most complex Dark Knight seen onscreen at that point. That probably fed into his disagreements with incoming director Joel Schumacher's intended vision for “Batman Forever”, and his decision to depart from the franchise. As time would prove, Keaton was just the first of many who disliked Schumacher’s campier interpretation of the caped crusader.

#1: Sean Connery

“James Bond” franchise (1962-)

Sean Connery, the first man to utter the words “Bond, James Bond”, was also the first to leave the role behind. After five films, Connery had become weary of the static nature of both the character and the stories - as well as the attention he received because of part - and feared being type cast. Still, when his own replacement, George Lazenby, vacated the role, Connery was lured back for a sizable payday, before stepping down once more and handing the role off to Roger Moore. However, Connery would later go head to head with Moore, playing Bond in the unofficial but aptly-named Bond-film “Never Say Never Again”.


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