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30 Actors Who Were Fired from Major Roles

Samantha Morton (Her)

Samantha Morton may have filmed the entirety of the movie Her and got paid for her acting job, but she still was ultimately cut from the movie. Only in Hollywood can you get let go and still get paid! 

Morton was originally the voice of the iconic computer from the film, but her voice would eventually be replaced by Scarlett Johansson’s. As much as that has to hurt, Spike Jonze made it clear he released Morton not because of her performance or behavior but simply because of the creative direction he wanted to take the film. 

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Ryan Gosling (The Lovely Bones)

Ryan Gosling is a modern-day cautionary tale about not counting your chickens before they hatch. Gosling got cast as Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones and decided he needed to gain 60 pounds for the role. 

That’s not entirely unusual--actors gain or lose weight for roles all the time. The problem was that Gosling didn’t run his plan by director Peter Jackson before he gained all the weight. Jackson was clearly not a fan of this plan, so Gosling was let go and replaced by Mark Wahlberg. 

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Suzanne Somers (Three's Company)

Suzanne Somers was a hit on the early 80s sitcom Three’s Company, but even her popularity couldn’t save her from being let go. All she wanted was a little more money. 

After four seasons on the show, Somers (who was making $30,000 per episode) wanted to be paid the same as John Ritter, who was making $150,000 episode. She wouldn’t drop the issue, and eventually, she was ignored by her co-stars and written out of the show entirely. 

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Julianne Moore (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)

Melissa McCarthy would go on to play the lead in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but that role was originally intended for Julianne Moore. Considering that McCarthy got an Oscar nomination for her performance, this is one firing that had to really hurt for Moore. 

While the reasons for Moore’s firing have always been a little vague, a co-star on the film had some reasons why. Apparently, Moore wanted to wear a fat suit and prosthetic nose for the role, but the director was not having any of that. 

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Christian Bale (American Psycho)

Christian Bale shouldn’t be on this list, should he? He starred in American Psycho, right? While he ultimately did win the role, he had a long journey to get to that point--including a firing. 

The studio that produced American Psycho went through a lot of potential actors to play the lead role, but they eventually settled on Bale. Unfortunately for him, he was fired when Leonardo DiCaprio became available. Bale didn’t give up hope, though, and continued to train for the role. Eventually DiCaprio dropped out, and Bale was the titular psycho once more! 

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Janet Hubert (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

Janet Hubert is textbook example of what not to do when you get fired. The actress was fired from her role as Aunt Viv on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air decades ago, but she still seems to be bitter and public about it. 

The reason for Hubert’s departure seemed to be her inability to get along with fellow co-star Will Smith. She seemed miffed that such a young, “snotty-nosed punk” (her words) managed to get his own show. 

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Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian)

The Mandalorian has been praised as being one of the best shows on Disney+, which is a fantastic compliment. However, there’s been issues on set. Pedro Pascal has gained a reputation for being a powder keg. He's spent a lot of time complaining about his helmet, mostly because he wants the credit for appearing as the character.

Guess his complaining was too much. Execs and creators made the decision to cut Pascal from the credits, demoting him to “voice actor.” No more complaining for this guy! He’s no officially a voice actor. While this isn’t technically a firing, it is a huge hit to the former Game of Thrones actor.

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Shannon Doherty (Beverly Hills, 90210)

While Tori Spelling may technically be responsible for getting Shanno Doherty fired from Beverly Hills 90210, Doherty has no one to blame but herself. The star was allegedly a nightmare to work with, and she frequently would get in physical fights on set with other people. 

Eventually, co-star Tori Spelling got sick of it and tattled on Doherty to her dad--who happened to be series creator and producer Aaron Spelling. Needless to say, Doherty was pretty quickly let go when her bad behavior came to his attention. 

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Rip Torn (Easy Rider)

Rip Torn was not exactly known as an actor who’s calm, cool, and collected. But he took his antics to a whole new level when he was fired from the 1969 biker film Easy Rider. 

According to legend, Dennis Hopper (who directed and starred in the film) met with Torn over dinner to discuss the role. When Hopper started ranting about rednecks (Torn was southern), the actor allegedly pulled a knife on him. Rip Torn’s character would eventually be played by Jack Nicholson. 

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Selma Blair (Anger Management)

In 2013, Selma Blair was fired from the FX sitcom Anger Management after two seasons of playing Charlie Sheen’s girlfriend. While the studio claims she was let go simply because her character was written out of the show, Blair doesn’t think that’s the case. 

She alleged that she was fired after complaining about Charlie Sheen not learning his lines on time. Blair threatened to sue the show and Sheen personally for millions of dollars, but it appears her complaints never actually reached court. 

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Isaiah Washington (Grey's Anatomy)

Isaiah Washington was hired to play Dr. Preston Burke on the hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy in 2005. However, despite his popularity, the actor was let go after the show’s third season. 

Washington had been heard by other cast members calling actor T.K. Knight a gay slur. Once the incident became public, ABC decided not to renew his contract and cut him from the show. 

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Judy Garland (Valley of the Dolls)

Valley of the Dolls was a 1960s film about three starlets who can’t handle the fame and find themselves lost in a dark world of addiction and despair--very much like Judy Garland’s real life. So it was a sad coincidence when the actress was fired from her role shortly after filming began because of drugs and alcohol. 

While the story of Garland’s firing has always been a little hazy, she allegedly would show up on set drunk, would refuse to leave her dressing room for long stretches of time, and would fight with the director. Actress Susan Hayward would go on to play the role meant for Garland. 

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Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)

Charlie Sheen had one of the most public and unusual breakdowns Hollywood has ever seen. He was working on Two and a Half Men at the time, and the crew behind the show didn’t want to just kick him to the curb, so they gave him an ultimatum--go to rehab or get fired. 

Obviously, Sheen went with the latter and he was let go from the show. Ashton Kutcher was brought on as a new character to replace Sheen, and the show ran for another four seasons without him before being cancelled. 

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Colin Firth (Paddington)

Poor Colin Firth wasn’t fired for being incompetent--he was fired for being too good. The British star had been brought on to do the voice of Paddington in the Paddington movie, but he was eventually cut from the project. 

And what was Colin Firth’s sin? He sounded too fancy. In the words of the movie’s director, “Paddington does not have the voice of a very handsome older man, who has the most beautiful voice on the planet.”

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Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show)

Lisa Bonet played Denise Huxtable on The Cosby Show--that is until Bill Cosby fired her. But considering his history, she should probably feel relieved that he left it at that. 

Cosby allegedly grew annoyed when Bonet began taking more adult-oriented roles that clashed with the family-friendly nature of the show. She was ultimately fired after revealing she was pregnant. 

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Terrence Howard (Iron Man 2)

Before Don Cheadle took over the role, Terrence Howard played the character Rhodey in the original Iron Man movie. But in this case, I’d probably blame Howard’s firing more on his agent’s bad negotiating skills than the actor’s talent. 

Howard signed on for multiple films but without negotiating specific salaries. When it came time to film the second Iron Man, the studio offered him an eighth of what he was paid for the the original because they felt they could make the second one a hit with or without him. Turns out they weren’t lying about that. 

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Brett Butler (Grace Under Fire)

Brett Butler was the star of the successful '90s sitcom Grace Under Fire. But despite her professional success, Butler was dealing with the inner demons of alcohol and addiction. 

Between fighting with the writers and flashing the child actors, the studio had no choice but fire Butler and cancel the show. Thankfully, she entered rehab shortly after this ordeal. 

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Jussie Smollett (Empire)

Jussie Smollett learned the hard way that all publicity isn’t in fact good publicity. The actor was formerly a star on Empire until he decided to fake a hate crime to bring some attention to himself. 

The actor claimed he was the victim of physical and racist verbal abuse from two assailants. However, the story started to fall apart when it came to light that Smollett not only knew the men but also allegedly paid them to stage the attack. 

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Jean Claude Van Damme (Predator)

Most people didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the guy in the Predator costume in the movie of the same name, but it was almost Jean Claude Van Damme. The action star was hired because of his physical abilities, but found it a struggle to perform in the heavy suit. 

He was eventually let go and replaced by Kevin Peter Hall. However, Van Damme has never seemed particularly hurt to be fired from this role, and we don’t blame him for not wanting to be weighed down! 

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Eric Stoltz (Back to the Future)

Eric Stoltz proved that you can absolutely have too much of a good thing. The actor was originally hired to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but things didn’t quite go his way. 

According to the talk on set, Stoltz went obnoxiously method for the role--even insisting that people call him Marty when the cameras weren’t rolling. The cast and crew got sick of it, and he was eventually replaced with Michael J. Fox, who went on to make the role famous. 

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Sylvester Stallone (Beverly Hills Cop)

It seems crazy to think of anyone but Eddie Murphy in the lead role of the classic comedy Beverly Hills Cop, but it was almost Sylvester Stallone up there on the big screen. Unfortunately, Stallone was not really interested in making the movie presented to him. 

When given the script, Stallone basically rewrote the entire story into a non-stop action thriller. The studio decided Stallone’s ideas were too far-fetched and expensive, and he was ultimately replaced with Eddie Murphy. 

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Natalie Portman (Romeo + Juliet)

Before Claire Danes snagged one of the title roles in the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet, Natalie Portman was actually set to play the star-crossed lover, Juliet. But according to the director, Portman just made things creepy. 

However, it was nothing that Portman did herself. It was simply that she looked to young to play the role--her on-screen romantic interactions with co-star Leonardo DiCaprio were described as just too weird. 

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Marcus Chong (The Matrix Series)

In the original Matrix film, Marcus Chong played the role of Tank. However, between the events of the first movie and its sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, this character was killed off--and no one really seems to know why Chong was let go from the franchise. 

That did not stop the actor from taking the news incredibly badly and childishly. After his firing, Chong crashed press events for the new movie, stole food, and even prank called the directors. 

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Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)

When the Netflix series House of Cards began its run in 2013, Kevin Spacey played Congressman Frank Underwood, who would later go on to be President of the United States for several seasons. However, when allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against Spacey, that was all she wrote for Frank Underwood. 

Spacey was fired from the show, and his character was killed off. While the show did last another season without its lead actor, House of Cards as a whole was pretty quickly wrapped up. 

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Harvey Keitel (Apocalypse Now)

Was there anyone who could have played Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now better than Martin Sheen? Well...no. But that didn't stop Harvey Keitel from trying. 

Keitel was originally cast to play the pivotal role, but he was let go after only a few days of filming. While there didn't seem to be any hard feelings from director Francis Ford Coppola, the actor got the boot because he wasn't giving the portrayal Coppola wanted. 

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Lori Petty (Demolition Man)

1993's Demolition Man was the first time most people were introduced to Sandra Bullock in the role of Lenina Huxley. But the role was originally Lori Petty's to lose...which she promptly did. 

After only a few days of filming, Petty was let go from the movie because of "creative differences." Petty commented that it more had to do with co-star Sylvester Stallone, but she's largely been vague about the specifics, too. 

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Erinn Hayes (Kevin Can Wait)

Erinn Hayes was cast and portrayed Kevin James' wife in the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. However, her character was killed off in season two, and she was let go for "creative differences." That might have been the official line, but, considering what came next, it's pretty obvious what was going on. 

After this shakeup, the studio brought in a new love interest for James. And, wouldn't you know it, it just happened to be Leah Remini--James' former co-star from the wildly successful CBS sitcom King of Queens. Unfortunately for them, they couldn't recreate the magic a second time, and the show was canceled after its second season. 

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Anne Hathaway (Knocked Up)

While we now associate Judd Apatow's hit 2007 film, Knocked Up, with its lead actress, Katherine Heigel, her role was initially offered to Anne Hathaway. However, she was replaced before filming for one of the weirdest cases of "creative differences" we've ever seen. 

There's an explicit birth scene in the film that Anne Hathaway was just not down for. And it had nothing to do with shyness or embarrassment. Rather, it was weirdly because Hathaway thought she couldn't do justice to the scene, considering she's never had a baby. I hate to break it to one of America's most accomplished actresses, but the whole point of acting is pretending you're someone you're not who does things that you've never done before. 

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Taylor Momsen (Gossip Girl)

It turns out that being a famous actor is not all glitz, glamour, and leisure. You've got to at least pretend to work, and that's a lesson Taylor Momsen learned the hard way after being fired from the TV show Gossip Girl

According to the official press release, Momsen got the axe because of her "unreliable and erratic behavior." Word on the set was that producers couldn't trust the actress to deliver in important storylines and scenes, so her presence on the show was slowly reduced, until she was written out entirely. 

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Leah Remini

Leah Remini may have snatched a role out from under another actress on this list, but that doesn't mean the celebrity and former Scientologist doesn't know what it's like to get fired herself. 

Remini is never one to hold her tongue, which is what we love about her, but it apparently got her in trouble when she was fired from the CBS morning talk show, The Talk, in 2012. According to an interview with Howard Stern, Remini realized, "If I wanted to be in this kind of show I need to shut my mouth and do what my bosses tell me to do." Unfortunately, she didn't take her own advice. 

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