On-Set Shakeups: Surprising Actors Replaced During Filming

Many of us may look at major stars like Ryan Gosling and Natalie Portman and assume they get whatever they want in Hollywood. However, big-name actors get fired, too. Many stars have been let go from movies and shows, whether for creative differences, lousy behavior, pay disputes, personal issues, or other reasons.

1. Ryan Gosling

Nicolas Winding Refn
Image Credit: FilmDistrict.

One of the most well-known instances of a famous actor getting the boot is when Ryan Gosling was let go from The Lovely Bones. He was cast as the father in the tragic story, but it's cited that he was let go because he put on too much weight and no longer fit the role, being replaced with Mark Wahlberg.

2. Edward Norton

Image Credit: Miramax.

While many people enjoyed Edward Norton as The Hulk, he was fired from being the big green superhero because of his “uptight” demeanor on set. He's described as a bit of a diva, so they let him go in between filming Avengers movies and brought in Mark Ruffalo.

3. Jenna Fischer

Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey in The Office
Image Credit: Deedle-Dee Productions.

Few people know that Jenna Fischer from The Office was fired from the sitcom Man with a Plan. She was supposed to play opposite Matt LeBlanc from Friends, but focus groups gave poor feedback concerning the two actors' chemistry, so they went with someone else.

4. Natalie Portman

Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman in May December (2023)
Image Credit: Netflix.

Natalie Portman began acting in very mature movies around 12 years old. However, when she was cast in the role of Juliet in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, it quickly became apparent that she was too young. She was (respectfully) let go from the film.

5. Megan Fox

Jennifer’s Body Megan Fox
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

We remember when Megan Fox got fired! Supposedly, she was bad-mouthing the director of Transformers, Michael Bay, likening him to Hitler. When she refused to apologize, they fired her from Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

6. Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore in I'm Not There
Image Credit: The Weinstein Company.

Julianne Moore was cast as Lee Israel in the movie Will You Ever Forgive Me? but the writer, Nicole Holofcener, had her fired. Moore cited creative differences as the reason for her termination, explaining that her understanding of the character did not align with Holofcener's.

7. Richard Gere

Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

Who could ever fire the charming Richard Gere? Well, the director of The Lords of Flatbush had to. Gere played opposite Sylvester Stallone, and the two did not tango well together. After several disagreements and conflicts, the director decided to replace Gere.

8. Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen performing with The Pretty Reckless. She is wearing a black minidress with an abundance of jewelry. Her long, blonde tresses are draped across her shoulders while she holds the mic stand.
Image Credit: Chicks With Guns Magazine – CC 2.0/WikiCommons

While many Gossip Girl fans were well aware of Taylor Momsen's off-screen transformation, not everyone knows it's the reason she was let go from the show. Once a sweet, young actor, Momsen transformed into a nightmare on set, making everyone around her miserable.

9. Chadwick Boseman

42 Movie (2013)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The late, great Chadwick Boseman was once fired from a soap opera, but unsurprisingly, we're siding with him. He had a role as a gangster on All My Children, and he questioned the showrunners about the stereotypes placed on his character. Rather than consider his perspective, they fired him.

10. Shannen Doherty 

Shannen Doherty and Wilson Cleveland in Suite 7: Company.
Image Credit: Wilson Cleveland – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

Shannen Doherty was unceremoniously fired from Beverly Hills, 90210, for physically fighting with Jennie Garth. Tori Spelling called her producer father following the incident and had her fired. While Spelling said she felt terrible about it, this is not the last time Doherty had issues with co-stars, and she has a reputation for being difficult.

11. Eric Stoltz

Actors Grace Park, Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales at the 2009 Paleyfest, taking part of the Battlestar Galactica/Caprica panel.
Image Credit: oscalito – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

Marty McFly was originally going to be played by Eric Stoltz, but the director and writer felt that his vibe was too intense, both on-screen and on-set. They replaced him with Michael J. Fox, who brought a more playful and humorous energy to the role.

12. Isaiah Washington

Ossie Davis, Charles S. Dutton, Hill Harper, De'aundre Bonds, Andre Braugher, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Gabriel Casseus, Harry Lennix, Guy Margo, Jadi McCurdy, Roger Guenveur Smith, Isaiah Washington, Steve White, and Hosea Brown III in Get on the Bus (1996)
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Isaiah Washington was fired from his role as Dr. Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy for using a homophobic slur, not once, but twice. He called T.R. Knight the offensive slur and then repeated it at the Golden Globes, leading to his termination. This one seems warranted, so good riddance, Dr. Burke.

13. Charlie Sheen

Two and a Half Men (2003)
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

After years of poor behavior, Charlie Sheen was fired from his starring role in Two and a Half Men. Warner Brothers gave a wealth of reasons for his termination, including dangerous and self-destructive behavior, an ill demeanor, unpredictable outbursts, offensive comments, and more on-set.

14. Selma Blair

Selma Blair in Legally Blonde (2001)
Image Credit: MGM Distribution Co.

Speaking of Charlie Sheen, he was the reason Selma Blair was fired from Anger Management. Blair complained about Sheen's unprofessionalism on set, making people wait hours for him because he was unprepared for filming. However, Sheen denies this is the reason for her termination, saying the character was written out for creative reasons.

15. Nicollette Sheridan

Nicollette Sheridan in The Christmas Spirit (2013)
Image Credit: Motion Picture Corporation of America (MPCA), Soundchef Studios.

Nicollette Sheridan was let go from her five-year role as Edie on Desperate Housewives. She claims it was because of personal disputes between her and the show creator, Marc Cherry. While she sued NBC for wrongful termination and alleged that Cherry even hit her once on set, Cherry denies it, and she did not win the lawsuit.

16. James Remar

Actor James Remar in Dexter as Dexter's dad, Harry.
Image Credit: Showtime.

James Remar was supposed to play Corporal Hicks in the iconic movie Aliens, but they terminated him because of an arrest that coincided with a serious addiction problem. He had spent a few weeks filming before being fired from the blockbuster film, which was a massive blow to his career.

17. Terrence Howard

Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, and Jon Favreau in Iron Man (2008)
Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Terrence Howard played James Rhodes, also known as Rhodey, in the first Iron Man movie. Since Rhodey eventually becomes War Machine, fans expected him to return for the sequel. However, when it came time to prepare for the second movie, the studio offered him substantially less money and fired him when he wouldn't take the pay cut. Supposedly, the money went to Robert Downey Jr., greatly upsetting Howard.

18. Jenny Slate

Jenny Slate in The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience (2019)
Image Credit: The Lonely Island.

Jenny Slate has the hilarious comedy chops to be an amazing cast member on Saturday Night Live, but she didn't get the chance to find her stride on the show when she was fired after only one season. Slate accidentally said the F-word during a live episode, which ended her SNL run.

19. Erinn Hayes

Peter Billingsley, Erinn Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Julianna Layne, and River Drosche in A Christmas Story Christmas (2022)
Image Credit: Yana Blajeva/Warner Bros. Pictures.

The brilliantly talented Erinn Hayes was let go from Kevin Can Wait because the creators thought it would improve the show, but they were wrong. They let her go after season one, and the show was canceled after season two, so maybe they should've kept Hayes!

20. Kevin Spacey

Billionaire Boys Club (2018)
Image Credit: Vertical Entertainment.

Plenty of controversy has surrounded Kevin Spacey and his career, and some of the heinous allegations led to him losing work. After the assault allegations surfaced, Spacey was let go from All the Money in the World, in which he was supposed to play Jean Paul Getty. Ridley Scott did his best to scrub any evidence of Spacey ever being in the production.

21. Daniel Dae Kim

Daniel Dae Kim and Damon Lindelof
Image Credit: Ewen Roberts – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

The dreamy Daniel Dae Kim, AKA Jin from Lost, was fired from Hawaii Five-O because he wanted to be paid equally to his co-stars. CBS refused to match his salary with Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin's, so Kim walked off the show, and we support his decision!

22. Charisma Carpenter

Charisma Carpenter speaking at the 2015 Phoenix Comicon at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Image Credit: Gage Skidmore – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

Charisma Carpenter, best known for her role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Cordelia Chase, was fired from the spin-off series Angel. Carpenter says the show creator, Joss Whedon, was rude and aggressive when he discovered she was pregnant and fired her as soon as the first season wrapped.

23. Suzanne Somers

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Suzanne Somers was a hilarious delight on Three's Company, but they let her go from the show when she requested equal pay to her male co-stars. According to Somers, the network lost billions because they fired her, and the show was never the same.

24. Clayne Crawford

Creator, Writer, Executive Producer Ray McKinnon accepts the Peabody for Rectify. He is joined on stage by Mark Johnson, en:Clayne Crawford, Aden Young, J. Smith-Cameron, Abigail Spencer and Melissa Bernstein.
Image Credit: The Peabody Awards – CC 2.0/WikiCommons.

In Fox Network's TV adaptation of Lethal Weapon, Clayne Crawford was cast as Martin Riggs, the Fox version of Mel Gibson's character. After season two of the show, Crawford was let go, and his character was written off because of his horrendous behavior on set.

25. Judy Garland

The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Yes, even the adorable and talented Judy Garland was once fired from a job. She was cast in a lead role in The Valley of the Dolls and even had costumes fitted for her, but she was fired. Allegedly, her termination was due to her unprofessional behavior and alcohol consumption on set.