Acting is a job that people can be fired from just like any other and being a famous actor or even signing a contract doesn’t guarantee that they’ll make it into the end product. Some actors even do the work of the whole movie and still end up being replaced in the twilight hours of post production. As the saying goes, there’s no business like show business.
Here is a list of twenty actors who were fired, replaced or dropped out of major movies:
1. Judy Garland – Valley of the Dolls (1967)
Garland’s departure from Valley of the Dolls has become the stuff of legends with multiple different stories and rumours as to whether she was fired or chose to leave production.
On April 27th 1967 Fox announced that Garland “resigned for personal reasons”, a fact she refuted saying that she was perfectly ready to film that day. Some members of production claimed that Garland was showing up to set late and high on drugs, but then other crew members said that Garland had been grossly mistreated during pre-production.
She later stated that she left the film by “mutual agreement”, but her drug overdose in 1969 does lends a bit of credence to the drugs rumours. Some footage remains of the few scenes Garland managed to shoot.
2. Ryan Gosling – Lovely Bones (2009)
When Gosling was fired from production of Lovely Bones, rumours abounded of creative differences between himself and the director, with some people stating that Gosling behaved like a diva.
The story Gosling gave at the time was that he hadn’t been fired and had left production because he felt he was too young to play a character with a fourteen year old daughter. He confessed a few years later that Peter Jackson had actually fired him because he was too fat.
Gosling had made the decision that the character should have a beard and weigh 210 pounds. Jackson disagreed leaving Gosling unemployed and 60 pounds over weight.
3. Stuart Townsend – Lord of The Rings (2001)
When Townsend scored himself the role of a lifetime in Aragorn, he spent two months on sword fight training and learning how to ride horses. Unfortunately he was fired the day before principal photography began because Peter Jackson decided last minute that Townsend was too young and gave the job to Viggo Mortensen instead.
The production crew then refused to pay Townsend any money saying that he was in breach of contract because he hadn’t done enough work to earn payment.
Townsend stated that “I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relived to be leaving until they told me I wouldn’t be paid. I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don’t.” Not that Townsend missed out on much, Mortensen said (many years later) that Jackson had badly over spent and that the shooting of the movies was “sloppy.”
4. Sean Young – Batman (1989)
Young was set to play Vicki Vale in Tim Burton’s Batman movie, but unfortunately broke her arm practising horseback riding for a stunt in the movie that ended up not making it into the final cut. Because of the huge scale of the production the studio decided to replace her and the role went to Kim Basinger instead.
A couple of years later Young went on a bizarre campaign to get cast as Catwoman in Burton’s Batman sequel. She attempted to approach Burton on a lot dressed in a home made Catwoman outfit to try and win the part.
Shockingly she was removed from the premises by security and the part went to Michelle Pfeiffer. In April 2016 Young stated that she was still very keen to play the part of Catwoman, which at this point seems even more unlikely to happen than when she first tried out for the part.
5. Chloe Moretz – Bolt (2008)
Moretz was the original voice for Penny and recorded dialogue for the entire movie before studio executives chose to go with the more marketable (at the time) Miley Cyrus, who even produced a soundtrack song for the movie.
Small snippets of Moretz’s performance remains as they used her voice for younger Penny in the opening scene of the movie. Not that it dented Moretz’s career in the slightest. Only two years later she was called “the busiest actress in Hollywood” and as of 2016 has a net worth of eight million dollars.
6. James Purefoy – V for Vendetta (2006)
Purefoy landed himself the role of V in V for Vendetta but quit six weeks into filming with the producers saying that he had difficulties with the idea of wearing a mask for the entire movie.
Hugo Weaving replaced him having worked with Joel Silver before on the Matrix. Interestingly Joel Silver refuses to confirm or deny if any of Purefoy’s scenes made it into the final movie. Which means that they probably did, not that the audience would ever know.
However, Purefoy did an interview with Total Film in 2010 in which he said that “The only rumour I can scotch is that if anybody thinks I was too pussy to wear the mask, they’re completely wrong.”
He went on to state that the real reason for him leaving production was because of “genuine creative differences” and “It was genuinely about the best way to approach that character, which is what creative differences are all about – and sometimes they become intolerable.”