Making a movie is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of time, money, and effort from everyone involved. So, when an actor or actress suddenly decides to leave or is let go from a project in the middle of shooting, it can be a major headache for the filmmakers and a massive disappointment for fans.
Recently, an online discussion shared some of the funniest and most outrageous examples of actors who stupidly walked away or were fired from productions, leaving their castmates and crew in the lurch. From diva-like behavior to sudden career changes, here are some of the most memorable instances of actors leaving movies mid-shoot.
1. James Remar – Aliens (1986)
Though James Remar has had a fruitful career with movies like The Warriors (1982) and Oppenheimer (2023) bookending it, there was one acclaimed picture that would have made a nice addition.
Remar was originally cast as Corporal Hicks in James Cameron’s Aliens. Following an incident with live ammo on the set and the discovery of illegal drugs, he was let go and Michael Biehn (Terminator) was brought in.
2. Sylvester Stallone – Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Try to picture Beverly Hills Cop without Eddie Murphy in the lead. Now let’s make that even more difficult. Try to picture Sylvester Stallone in the role of Axel Foley. That seems like a stretch, right? Well, it was almost a reality.
Stallone was originally up for Foley, but the Rocky star wanted the movie to be an action drama. So he rewrote the script, much to the studio’s chagrin. Ultimately, Stallone was released and he went off to turn his rewrites into Cobra (pictured above) while Murphy landed the comedic role.
3. Jean-Claude Van Damme – Predator (1987)
Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as the titular alien in Predator, but he quit the role after a few days of filming due to dissatisfaction with the costume and makeup.
The role was then recast, and the iconic monster we know today was created. Unfortunately, the actor who took over beneath the mask, the late Kevin Peter Hall, barely received any recognition.
4. Ryan Gosling – The Lovely Bones (2009)
Ryan Gosling was initially cast as the father in The Lovely Bones, but he was fired after gaining weight for the role.
Mark Wahlberg took over the role, though the film failed to live up to the hype.
5. James Caan – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
James Caan was initially cast as McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but he left the project due to creative differences with the director.
The role eventually went to Jack Nicholson, who won an Oscar for his performance.
6. Dougray Scott – X-Men (2000)
Dougray Scott was originally cast as Wolverine in the first X-Men movie, but he had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II.
The role eventually went to Hugh Jackman, who became synonymous with the character.
7. Emily Blunt – Iron Man 2 (2010)
Emily Blunt was initially cast as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Gulliver's Travels.
The role eventually went to Scarlett Johansson, who went on to play the character in several other Marvel movies.
8. Eric Stoltz – Back to the Future (1985)
Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but he was fired after a few weeks of filming after having no chemistry with the rest of the cast.
Six weeks into production, Michael J. Fox was then cast in the iconic role.
9. Richard Gere – The Lords of Flatbush (1974)
In one of his earliest roles, Richard Gere played a member of a Brooklyn street gang in The Lords of Flatbush.
However, Gere's on-set behavior reportedly didn't sit well with the film's co-directors, and he was fired before the movie was completed. Perry King was brought in to replace him, and the film became a modest hit.
10. James Purefoy – V for Vendetta (2005)
James Purefoy was initially cast as V in the 2005 dystopian thriller V For Vendetta. However, after shooting began, he reportedly clashed with the director over the character's voice and was ultimately replaced by Hugo Weaving.
While Purefoy has since said that leaving the film was “one of the biggest regrets” of his career, many fans believe that Weaving's performance was integral to the film's success.