Megan Fox was present in the first two instalments of the Transformers. Then she was missing in action.
The full-lipped beauty had been fired from a film that went on to become one of the most popular and lucrative franchises. But she is not the only one who has suffered such a fate. Dougray Scott, Stuart Townsend, Eric Stoltz, Annette Bening, and the late Richard Kiel were all let go from movie roles that would have made them stars.
While it is not very common; it happens. A movie star gets kicked to the curb during filming, then the movie turns into a blockbuster. Strangely, it often occurs due to several offbeat reasons like outbursts, scheduling mishaps, drinking, last-minute bailouts, creative differences, and indiscipline. Movie directors and producers always make this decision because these are the guys who call the shots in films.
And usually, it doesn’t matter if the celebrity in question is Rocky Balboa or some mega superstar. Anyone can be a victim. Even Hollywood’s biggest stars are not immune from getting recast.
Therefore, landing a movie role does not guarantee that one may get featured to the end. After all, casting is the sole determinant of a movie’s success they say. Casting is where the magic of filming happens. It is where a spell is cast; a spell that often lures thousands if not millions of fans into loving a motion picture. This explains why actors get dropped from their roles occasionally.
Here are 15 celebrities who were freed from films that would have made them stars.
15 ERIC STOLTZ, BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
Replacement: Michael J. Fox
Even though Eric Stoltz is not a household name, he has played a role in decent movies like Pulp Fiction, Mask, and Jerry Maguire. Eric may have lurked in stardom because he was let go as an iconic character in Back to the Future, where he was supposed to play Marty McFly: a teenage time traveler. Instead, the task was handed to Michael J. Fox who by then was starring in a comedy called Family Ties.
According to entertainment site, Goliath, a sizeable portion of the film had already been shot before Stoltz was shown the door, and almost half the movie had to be redone after his departure. Stoltz had already shot for five whole weeks, according to Brightside.
As per Entertainment Weekly, the director, Robert Zemeckis, was satisfied with Stoltz’s effort in the movie, but when he investigated the early footage, it was agreed, together with other producers (including Steven Spielberg), that Stoltz was not funny enough. It was supposedly because his performance lacked that special something that was supposed to make McFly funny and memorable.
Back to the Future stepped on the brakes at the behest of Robert Zemeckis because Stoltz was not in harmony with the tone of the movie. According to Taste of Cinema, Stoltz did not hold sour grapes because the dismissal had freed his schedule for Mask (1985): a movie that earned him a Golden Globe nomination and is considered his breakthrough film.
Back to the Future was followed by two sequels and Michael J. Fox held on tight. According to Screen Rant, Michael J. Fox had been Zemeckis’s first choice anyway, and we can all agree that he did the film justice. If Stoltz had impressed Zemeckis, then he would have been more famous by now.
14 SEAN YOUNG, WALL STREET (1987)
Replacement: no replacement since her entire subplot was cut out
In the late 80s, actress Sean Young was ascending in movie ranks before it became apparent that she liked causing trouble on-set, amongst other casting conflicts. According to Taste of Cinema, Young had constant fights with director Oliver Stone during the shooting of Wall Street (1987) to the extent where she was sent packing. Young wanted her role switched with Daryl Hannah who happened to be the female lead. Instead, her entire subplot was cut out from the script.
According to IMDB, Oliver later admitted that even though Hannah had been miscast, he was too proud to replace her. Young kept reminding Oliver that she could play Darien (the fictional character), and she wanted Hannah removed. In protest, she became stubborn and would often show up late and unprepared.
Tension built between the two and culminated in Young’s dismissal. According to The Guardian, Charlie Sheen, who also had a role in Wall Street, had a troubled relationship with Sean Young. Telegraph reveals that it reached a point where Sheen stuck a nasty note on Young’s back, and no one pointed it out to her. By this time, Stone was already fed up with her.
Wall Street is not the only major film that Young missed, she also lost a role in Batman (1990) after she broke her hip when she fell off a horse. According to Taste of Cinema, Young ‘campaigned’ so hard for the role of Catwoman during the shooting of Batman Returns (1992) to the point where Tim Burton was unhappy. She did not want another opportunity to slip away, and so she organized a covert operation that was supposed to impress Tim Burton, but she failed miserably. Taste of Cinema adds that Young, who played Tess Trueheart, was also fired from Warren Beatty’s adaptation of Dick Tracy. According to Young, Beatty was trying to make advances, but she wasn’t game. Beatty, on the other hand, claimed that Young was rude to other cast members. Young was fired and replaced by the late Glenne Headly, and that was the beginning of the stagnation of her career.
13 MEGAN FOX, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (2011)
Replacement: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Megan Fox got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be cast in the first two instalments of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. In fact, her role in the action-packed films catapulted her status to an A-list actress and improved her celebrity status. But her success was short-lived after she compared Michael Bay to Adolph Hitler and was demoted during the production of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Fox made the foot-in-mouth remarks during an interview with a British journalist, and while Michael Bay didn’t care much about the statement, she rubbed Steven Spielberg (the producer) the wrong way. According to People magazine, Spielberg ordered Bay to let her go, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley took her place.
According to Brightside, Bay wanted Fox to gain 7-9 pounds and get a suntan for her role in the trilogy. This prompted Fox to make the horrible remarks about him and brand him as the most horrible person to work with.
Later, in a candid interview with the Cosmopolitan UK, which was detailed in Hello Magazine, Megan reflected on her actions and admitted that it was a “low point” in her acting career. The adorable actress confessed that she had the chance to apologize then, but she didn’t. Fox also admitted that the situation made her learn a lot because she was 23 and self-righteous. According to Megan, who at some point thought she was Joan of Arc, the unfortunate incident hurt her and many other people, but it was a situation that caused spiritual growth and turned into an invaluable learning experience.
Later, Fox patched things up with Michael Bay and even worked on Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Regardless, it is only fair to say that Fox’s comments hurt her star trajectory.
12 DOUGRAY SCOTT, X-MEN
Replacement: Hugh Jackman
Russel Crowe was formerly supposed to play the role of Logan/Wolverine in the smash-hit superhero flick, X-men. But his salary demands were through the roof. Douglas Scott then landed the position, but a sequel was required, and it clashed with his schedule. It was in 1999 just before the turn of the millennium, and while there were all sorts of conspiracy theories about the Y2K bug and the end of the world, Dougray Scott was lucky he had a role in Bryan Singer’s X-Men.
According to Suggest, Scott was at the time working on Mission Impossible 2 and had to back out of X-Men. While he was ready to play his role as a soldier turned superhero, the shooting of Mission Impossible 2 had delayed, and he had to pull out, or at least Singer had to make a snap decision, according to entertainment site, Uproxx.
Aussie’s Hugh Jackman, who was relatively unknown at the time, landed the role, which would later become his big break. According to Daily Record, this is the role that changed Jackman’s life and elevated him into the A-list celebrity status while also earning him an Oscar nomination.
Jack went on to star in four other major X-Men films and has been idolized by teens around the world for his metal-clawed, mutton-chopped role. Daily Record reported that despite the obvious miss, Dougray has no regrets and harbors no grudge. In fact, he admitted that he loves Hugh because the Australian is lovely and did not steal anything from him. If anything, Dougray is a heartthrob in Desperate Housewives and is one of Scotland’s busiest actors.
Scott never realized he was throwing away an opportunity. And for that, he has had to watch from the sidelines as Jackman cashes in on the lucrative role.
11 ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL, FULL METAL JACKET (1987)
Replacement: Matthew Modine
Anthony Michael Hall was to play the role of private joker in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film, Full Metal Jacket. According to Goliath, Hall took more than eight months negotiating his contract. Before Full Metal Jacket, Michael Hall had played nerdy, and loser roles in movies such as Weird Science and Sixteen Candles, and no one expected he would be ‘choosy’ with the contract and Kubrick lost his patience and replaced him with Matthew Modine.
While the cast of the Vietnam-set war film did not quite contain future A-listers, according to IndieWire, a handful of main actors like Arliss Howard, Adam Baldwin, Matthew Modine, and Vincent D’Onofrio found long careers elsewhere. Anthony Michael Hall, on the other hand, has gone for minor roles in films like The Dark Knight.
In an interview with UK’s Metro, Michael Hall opened up about the issue and admitted that he negotiated with Kubrick for eight months, but the two could not reach an agreement. According to Hall, his dad was managing him at the time, and they had made the decision – to decline Kubrick’s offer – together. Hall insisted that it was not just about the money, but he also shed light on the fact that he was not prepared psychologically at the time to spare a year of his life yet he was only 18 years.
Mr. Hall also did a Reddit AMA in June 2015, and The Breakfast Club actor confirmed that his role in Full Metal Jacket never came to fruition because there was no agreement in the negotiations.
10 STUART TOWNSEND, LORD OF THE RINGS (2001)
Replacement: Viggo Mortensen
The Irish actor, Stuart Townsend, is unpopular among movie lovers probably because he missed an opportunity on The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Mind you this is arguably one of the most beloved movie trilogies in the history of movie making. In fact, The Return of the King, the third film in the series, broke box office records and won the Academy Award for Best Picture in the 76th Academy Awards. It also got the most awards and the most nominations.
Unfortunately, Stuart was never part of this success as he was fired from the role of Aragorn and was replaced by Viggo Mortensen. It is sad because, according to Goliath, Stuart was geared up for the part and had already been taking horse riding and sword fighting lessons only to be deemed too young for the character at the eleventh hour. Townsend was 29 years then while Mortensen was 14 years older. This is how Townsend missed an opportunity of becoming an A-list actor while Mortensen’s career was catapulted to greater heights.
According to Taste of Cinema, Townsend had trained consistently for two months only to be given his leaving papers a day before filming. Worse, the studio allegedly declined to pay his dues because he had not worked hard enough and had, therefore, breached his contract. Townsend experienced significant flops afterward and was also let go from his role as Fandral in Thor (2011), according to Screen Rant.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Townsend revealed that he was never happy with the move considering he had dedicated so much training. The Daily Beast disclosed that according to Townsend, the mistake was entirely made by the director, Peter Jackson. Honestly, the baby-faced Townsend would not have fulfilled the role of Aragorn who was supposed to be kingly and to lead people to battle. No one would have taken him seriously.
9 SAMANTHA MORTON, HER (2013)
Replacement: Scarlett Johansson
British actress Samantha Morton was originally cast in Spike Jonze’s sci-fi love story, Her (2013), and was on set for all her vocally performed roles. However, according to Taste of Cinema, Jonze took a different direction post-production. He didn’t find Morton’s voice fit for the position because the character had evolved into something else that was different from what he had envisioned. Scarlet Johansson then replaced Morton.
Her was a story about a computer that falls in love with Joaquin Phoenix, a lonely and divorced man who has been given a new lease on life. ScarJo took over Morton’s voice role as the computer OS that Joaquin Phoenix’s character would fall for. According to the Daily Beast, and in an email that Jonze wrote, which was posted on Vulture, he was not dissatisfied with the actress, but with her voice. Jonze realized that Morton’s voice was not the type that Joaquin Phoenix’s character would fall in love with and he came to this realization during the editing process. In the email, Joaquin was apologetic and hoped that he could continue working with Morton. He even wished her well.
It’s a good thing Morton was not bounced from the movie due to a feud or a misunderstanding; instead, it was a choice based on the vision of the film. The Problem is that this is not the first time Jonze has done this kind of thing, according to IndieWire, he axed out another actress, Michelle Williams, and replaced her voice work when he discovered her voice was not in line with what he was trying to achieve.
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8 ANNETTE BENING, BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
Replacement: Michell Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer put up a remarkable performance in her act as Catwoman in Tim Burton’s movie, Batman Returns. But, according to Vulture, it is surprising that Annette Bening was first in line to take that role had she not gotten pregnant. After the production team learned that Bening was expectant, an extensive search was launched, and some of the females who were considered for the performance include Bridget Fonda, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Susan Sarandon, Raquel Welch, Ellen Barkin, Cher, and Madonna. But Michelle Pfeiffer somehow ended up landing the part of the femme fatale who was required to wear a rubber catsuit. And boy! She gave an electric performance. In fact, according to Vulture, Michelle had 60 rubber catsuits to wear for the filming, and each suit cost $1,000.
This is how Pfeiffer then transformed into the authoritative big-screen Catwoman. The Hollywood Reporter details how Pfeiffer was obsessed with Catwoman since she was a young girl. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Pfeiffer was devastated when she discovered filming was underway and the position had already been filled. When Pfeiffer learned that Bening was expectant, she got excited and was determined to make the most out of her new role. She then invested so much time mastering kickboxing and the whip.
Obviously, if Annette hadn’t gotten pregnant, she would have maintained her position and things would have turned out differently because she would be the one training with the whip master. Regardless, everyone was happy with how Batman Returns turned out.
7 CHLOË GRACE MORETZ, BOLT (2008)
Replacement: Miley Cyrus
According to Goliath, the production of Disney’s Bolt, which is an acclaimed Walt Disney Animation, was marked by controversies that saw the original director, Chris Sanders, jumping ship after being booted from the project and joining DreamWorks Animation: Disney’s rival.
The move also led to the recasting of the then 11-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz. The young actress was replaced by Miley Cyrus who was to take over the role of Penny. Cyrus had written a song about the film and was one of the Disney’s biggest stars at the time. Disney opted for Cyrus because they thought her voice was well-known amongst American audiences and naturally, their eyes had turned into dollar signs because they were making the film for commercial reasons. At the time, according to WhatCulture, Cyrus was a significant asset to Disney, and they were certain Bolt would sell better and receive a broader global appeal with Cyrus’ name attached.
The silver lining about the whole incident is that Moretz’s voice was kept for certain scenes where Penny younger. Cyrus then re-recorded most of Penny’s lines. Penny was a young girl who involved herself in out-of-the-world canine missions with her hound.
The debacle never created bad blood between the actors, according to WhatCulture. Losing the lead role may have been devastating for Moretz who was just launching her career, but the actress has since moved to greater heights in Hollywood and is one of the most sought-after talents. However, there is a possibility her star may have shone brighter had she been exclusively given Penny’s role.
6 HOLLY HUNTER, CHICKEN LITTLE (2005)
Replacement: Zach Braff
Disney’s Chicken Little holds a special place in the hearts of Disney fans. The film has unique visuals as it was the studio’s first all-CGI feature. But what fans don’t know is that Chicken Little was initially envisioned as a girl, and Holly Hunter recorded the dialogues for this character. According to Screen Rant, there had been back and forth discussions about changing the film’s character into a boy, but production went on.
However, as the story matured and was re-written into an action flick, the producers came to an agreement that it was relevant to change the lead character’s gender. A decision was made to pivot Chicken Little into an action-packed adventure and the protagonist needed to be a boy – not a girl. That is how Hunter was axed after eight months of voice work, according to Looper. Scrubs lead, Zach Braff, then came in to replace her. However, the decision to rework Chicken Little did not pay off as expected, according to Looper.
Hunter was never salty about the whole scenario; going by the other projects she’s done for Disney. She has played the super heroine Elastigirl in The Incredibles (2004) and is also part of the 2018 sequel, Incredibles 2.
5 HARVEY KEITEL, APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
Replacement: Martin Sheen
According to Screen Rant, Apocalypse Now was one of the most troubled productions in Hollywood history. Regardless, it is considered one of the greatest war odysseys that took 16 grueling months to shoot even though it was supposed to go for only six weeks, according to The Guardian. Apocalypse Now was recorded in the Philippines where the heat was insane, and there were frequent typhoons. Worse, one of the film’s stars, Martin Sheen, had an almost fatal heart attack. It was as if the weather and disasters ha conspired against this film. In fact, the whole production process was so hectic that a documentary named Hearts of Darkness was produced to detail the madness that the production team went through.
Initially, Martin Sheen was Francis Ford Coppola’s first choice for the lead character of Captain Willard, but he was so unavailable that Coppola opted for Harvey Keitel. According to Cheat Sheet, Coppola was impressed by Keitel’s work in Mean Streets. However, Screen Rant reports that after only a week, Coppola discovered that Keitel wasn’t well cut out for the act and replaced him with Martin Sheen who then became available. Cheat Sheet adds that Coppola had figured out Keitel could not play the role of Willard. According to Zimbio, Keitel was a former marine who clashed with Director Coppola on ideas.
Even though Sheen was the final choice, the entire shooting process was a rollercoaster ride because Sheen had a drinking problem and suffered a heart attack midway through production. Despite the drawbacks, Sheen’s performance in Apocalypse Now has earned him acclaim in what is now considered one of the best war films ever made.
4 JAMES PUREFOY, ‘V FOR VENDETTA’ (2005)
Replacement: Hugo Weaving
James Purefoy was originally cast for the role of the masked anarchist “V,” in James McTeigue’s V for Vendetta. However, the British actor left the Wachowski-produced action-thriller just six weeks into shooting because, according to Cheat Sheet, he was allegedly feeling uncomfortable wearing the Guy Fawkes mask.
According to Daily Beast, Purefoy was frustrated that people could never see his face, and he considered it an acting challenge. Therefore, According to Suggest, Purefoy made it clear that he could not wear the mask for the entire film. However, when Purefoy was interviewed by Comic Book Movie, he gave a different story; that the rumor about his frustration with the costume was untrue. The reasons for his departure had been kept under the wraps for a long time, but Purefoy made it clear that they had nothing to do with him wearing the mask. According to him, there were genuine creative differences that he found intolerable.
Brightside also has a different story. According to this entertainment site, the Wachowski brothers thought Purefoy’s voice was not suitable enough, and they began scouting for a replacement. They then contacted Hugo, with whom they had worked with on The Matrix. Most of Purefoy’s scenes were reshot even though some of his performances remain in the final film. Hugo Weaving’s voice was dubbed over Purefoy’s scenes, allegedly.
3 COLIN FIRTH, PADDINGTON (2014)
Replacement: Ben Whishaw
English actor Colin Firth is best known to American audiences for his outstanding performance in The King’s Speech. The Kingsman film series also gave his career a positive mileage in America. In fact, only a few are aware that Firth was initially signed to voice the adorable and beloved Peruvian bear – in Paddington (2014) – who travels to London to look for a home. According to Screen Rant, Paddington was adopted from Michael Brown’s book, A Bear Called Paddington.
Worse, the Academy Award-winning actor had even completed his voice-over work for the entire film. The producers then concluded that Firth’s mature tone was not the right fit for the bear. According to Goliath, the feeling was mutual as Firth reportedly also felt the same and agreed to be replaced by Ben Whishaw (Skyfall).
After his departure, The Independent reported that Colin Firth had “consciously uncoupled” from his role after a younger voice was needed by the director (Paul King). On his part, Firth maintained that it was bittersweet to see the adorable bear take shape and transform into something that lacked his voice.
Paddington went on to earn numerous reviews and even became a hit in the United States where it racked up millions. Paddington 2 was released in late 2017 and Firth was still nowhere to be found. Our only guess is his would-be status was dealt a great blow when he missed out the part as Paddington’s lead actor.
2 RICHARD KIEL, THE INCREDIBLE HULK (1978)
Replacement: Lou Ferrigno
The Incredible Hulk, which aired five seasons, starting from 1978 to 1982, was a sweetheart among superhero lovers before X-Men an Spider-Man came into the picture. According to Screen Rant, Arnold Schwarzenegger auditioned for the role of Dr. David “Bruce” Banner but was rejected because he was not tall enough. The producers then settle on Richard Kiel (who was over 7-foot tall), but during the shooting process, the producers concluded that Kiel lacked the well-built physique that was a prerequisite for the character. Richard Kiel was then replaced with body-builder Lou Ferrigno who transformed the Hulk into a national icon.
According to The Geek Twins, Kiel was hired to do two movies that were supposed to serve as a pilot. He had been considered because he was the Shaquille and had years of experience acting.
The Incredible Hulk ran on CBS and aired 82 episodes over five seasons, according to IMDB. It all started when Marvel approached Kenneth Johnson to write the episodes, and the rest is history. Initially, Bill Bixby (Dr. David “Bruce” Banner) was Johnson’s choice for the lead. However, casting the role of the supernormal creature became difficult, and a solution was needed.
Johnson told Den of Geek that Richard was the best choice because he had done a great job in his acting whereas Lou Ferrigno – despite looking mighty – lacked acting experience. But after a week of filming, Johnson and the film crew decided that Lou would look better for what they wanted to achieve. Ferrigno beat Schwarzenegger for the part because he was 6’5” while Schwarzenegger was 6’2.” According to IMDB, one scene with Richard Kiel as the Hulk – in the pilot – remains intact.
Unfortunately, Richard Kiel passed on in September 2014 at the age of 75. Before his passing, he had done tons of films including two James Bond films, Moonraker, and The Spy Who Loved Me. He also played the towering henchman in Jaws, but he would have earned more glory had he maintained his appearance in The Incredible Hulk. It seems, his glory went to Ferrigno who has gone ahead to star in films like The Avengers, and Thor: Ragnarok.
1 JAMES REMAR, ALIENS (1986)
Replacement: Michael Biehn
James Remar landed the role of Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens. Thanks to his participation in other films like 48 Hrs and The Warriors. But Remar was shown the door after just a week of filming and was replaced by Michael Biehn. The reason behind his dismissal was kept under the wraps for many years. According to Screen Rant, the world only came to learn about the circumstances surrounding his departure after Remar admitted that it was because of his out-of-control narcotic habits. In fact, it was so awful that one point he got arrested for possession. The director, James Cameron, then opted for Biehn who he had previously worked with in The Terminator.
Luckily, Remar ended his bad habits and bounced back as an actor. He went ahead to win universal acclaim for his role in Dexter, and Django Unchained. VH1, however, claims that Remar bailed out of the classic horror because he was unable to resolve his creative differences with Cameron, but the details of this allegation remain vague.
Remar interviewed with Sidebar podcast and confirmed that the reason behind his firing was because he had been arrested for possession of narcotics. He added that during Aliens’ shooting, he had legal issues and the production could not afford any delays. Therefore, he was booted after just a week of filming.
In an interview with Den of Geek, Biehn reveals how everything happened so fast. He had received a phone call asking him to play the part and was expected to be ready for the shooting by the next week. In other words, he did not have time for rehearsal and was expected to jump right in. Even though most of the Remar’s scenes were reshot by Biehn, Remar still appears in the final film, but you can only see his back.
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