Getting fired sucks. Always. However, not all firing scenarios are created equal, and some clearly suck a lot more than others. Say, for instance; you’re an actor or actress who was fired while on set. That can’t be fun at all. Worse still, if you’re actor or actress who was fired, but only after all your scenes were filmed, and the director kinda, sorta, realized that you weren’t the best fit for the production after all. Nope, definitely not fun.
You might be surprised how often it can happen, and even to actors you might just assume are safe no matter what! For example – Ryan Gosling was once fired after gorging himself 60 pounds heavier, and Anne Hathaway was once meant to be part of a “high-larious” comedy but the director realized just in time that it was not right! In fact, we’ve rounded up a list of 21 instances of it happening. Knowing what we know about the fickle nature of Hollywood, it’s probably safe to say that the 21 actors and actresses listed in this slideshow are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to losing a job in less than ideal circumstances.
21. Eric Stoltz
Eric Stoltz probably experienced one of the saddest cases of being fired during filming on this list. Believe it or not, the leading role in Back to the Future once belonged to Eric Stoltz. Y’know that iconic 80’s movie about time-travel starring Michael J Fox as, its plucky time traveling hero, Marty Mcfly? Ya that movie that turned into a franchise, and a cult classic? And the movie franchise that earned Fox an estimated $10 million, and a huge movie career? That’s the one! Stoltz did win a small part in another cult classic, Pulp Fiction, but we have to wonder if it ever compared, or if he ever got over his loss?!
If you can’t imagine anyone else playing Marty McFly then you’re not alone. Director Robert Zemeckis couldn’t see it either. After filming several scenes, Stoltz was fired for bringing a tad too much seriousness to a role that was intended to have a lot more laughs than he was able to bring to the table. While Stoltz is still working in Hollywood, his $5 million fortune is nothing compared to the replacement Marty McFly’s $65 million net worth! Hard luck Stoltz!
20. Shannen Doherty
Shannen Doherty isn’t exactly known for being a dream to work with, so it’s not all that surprising to learn that she has been fired during filming more than once. The first time was during the filming for Beverly Hills 90210, she played the wicked Brenda Walsh and won some acclaim for her role. After 4 seasons however, Aaron Spelling had her character written off the show – rumors spiraled about her bad relationship with co-stars but especially, Jennie Garth.
On the set of 90210, Doherty apparently constantly argued with her co-stars and the production team but was only fired when she cut her hair during production for the season 4 finale, which didn’t bode well for things like continuity. Doherty was hired to play the oldest sister in Charmed but was also eventually fired during filming for allegedly after having one fight too many with co-star Alyssa Milano. Despite being nominated for awards for her portrayal as Prue Halliwell, Spelling (also the creator of charmed) didn’t see her as enough of an asset and canned her! We guess Spelling didn’t learn his lesson from his first experience!
19. Stuart Townsend
Irish actor and ex-beau of Charlize Theron, Stuart Townsend, was once supposed to star in the Lord of the Rings box-office mega hit movies as the one and only Aragorn. That is until he wasn’t. The day before the principal photography began; Townsend was fired due to lack of “director-actor creative chemistry.” He said he was pretty relieved to be leaving the production after 2 months of training and rehearsing, until he was told he wouldn’t be paid for his time either.
He was promptly replaced by the one and only Viggo Mortensen. Townsend was said to have been upset because initially, the director wanted him, and all of a sudden, he was unsuitable and about 20 years younger than his replacement. Townsend has had a few parts since his LOTR fiasco and was set to plat Fandral in Thor, but was also replaced due to creative differences! He has recently put his acting career on the back burner and settled in Costa Rica. Viggo Mortensen has gone on to be Oscar nominated. No burn there. . .
18. Megan Fox
Back in 2007, Megan Fox hit the big time when she was cast as Mikaela Banes across from Shia LeBeouf in Michael Bay’s movie version of Transformers. She even signed on for 2 more films in the successful franchise. Bay asked her to gain 10 pounds for the sequel which garnered some criticism. However, Fox’s comments on Bay’s directing style ultimately put a wrench in the works for her blossoming career.
She was fired before filming of the third installment of Transformers when she compared working with Bay to the infamous Hitler. In an interview with Wonderland magazine, the actress said that Bay “wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for.” Bay wasn’t happy, and Stephen Spielberg certainly wasn’t happy – apparently he was the one who demanded that she be fired after her rather ill-advised comments came to light. While her career wasn’t ended, she seemed to think it best to make amends with Bay, and worked with him again in 2014 for the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles movie reboot.
17. Harvey Keitel
While Harvey Keitel was a favorite of Martin Scorsese’s and had roles in films such as Who’s the Knocking at My Door and Mean Streets, his charm did not win over Francis Ford Copolla. He was cast in the role of Captain Benjamin J Willard in the iconic 1979 movie, Apocalypse Now, but after a week of filming in the Philippines, he was let go.
Copolla reviewed the first weeks’ worth of filming and found that Keitel just wasn’t suitable to play a ‘passive onlooker’ and decided to replace him. Martin Sheen took over the role and Keitel drifted into obscurity. He continued to take ‘thug’ style roles until 1992 when he acted in and co-produced Reservoir Dogs. From there on in Keitel has been a lot more selective with his roles but for a time there, his cut from Apocalypse Now seemed to have been the stopper in his career. Let’s be thankful it wasn’t!
16. Judy Garland
At the tender age of 13 years old, Judy Garland was signed to MGM. As the girl-next-door, she was considered plain in comparison with other MGM actresses such as Ava Gardener and Elizabeth Taylor. She starred in several Hardy family movies but really hit the big time with her role of Dorothy in 1938 film The Wizard of Oz. In 1946 she gave birth to daughter Liza and in 1947 she suffered a nervous breakdown during filming, and consequently made her first suicide attempt. The Pirate made the studio no money but her role in Easter Parade with Fred Astaire became a huge hit, and saved her as the star of MGM.
Throughout the following years, Garland continued to star in a string of hit movies and on stage to showcase her incredible voice. Judy was cast as Helen Lawson in 1967’s Valley of the Dolls but was allegedly fired due to her problems with alcohol. She blamed MGM for feeding her drugs to both keep her awake during hectic filming schedules, and then more drugs to help her sleep when the day was over. MGM denied these allegations.
15. Christian Bale
This one stands out as being one of the odder stories of being fired. Christian Bale was first cast as American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman but subsequently fired when movie execs didn’t think he had a big enough name for the part. Leonardo DiCaprio took over but then also dropped out to take his part in The Beach instead. The role was offered back to Bale who graciously accepted.
If you’ve seen American Psycho, there is no denying that Bale was the perfect choice. He studied the novel the movie was based on, worked out, and tanned to ensure he had the ‘Olympian physique’ that was described in the book, and even distanced himself from the cast and crew to keep character. Though we wonder if it was because he just didn’t like them after everything that happened! While the movie was seen to be very controversial, Bale was widely praised for his performance, and rightly so!
14. Sean Young
The role of Vicki Vale in Tim Burton’s 1989 take on Batman may seem like it was made for Kim Basinger, but that is not so (especially considering Basinger hadn’t even been born when Vicki Vale first appeared in the comics). Sean Young was initially meant to play the photojournalist but fell from a horse during rehearsals and broke her arm. She was subsequently replaced by Basinger and it seems to have haunted her quite a lot!
The Blade Runner actress attempted to win the role of Catwoman in the Batman sequal Batman Returns. The role was offered to Annette Benning but after falling pregnant, she gave the role up to Michelle Pfeiffer. Young was not happy with her second loss and made a homemade Catwoman costume and attempted to confront both Michael Keaton and Tim Burton during filming. Awkward, to say the least. In 1990 she suffered another loss when she was cast in the movie Dick Tracy but ultimately replaced again!
13. Anne Hathaway
Can you imagine a world where Anne Hathaway was supposed to play Alison in Knocked Up? Well, you better brace yourself, because you’re about to. After being cast, it came to light that she was not comfortable with the use of real birthing footage to portray her giving birth. Considering the entire movie is based around pregnancy and child birth this seems a bit odd to us, though she told Marie Claire that it didn’t seem ‘necessary to the story’.
Katherine Heigl took the role of Alison Scott alongside Seth Rogan, and in hindsight seems a much more fitting actress. The blonde beauty caused controversy after the release of the movie, however, calling the whole thing ‘sexist’! It seems no one was very convinced about the movie bar the audience, who most certainly received the birthing scene as very comedic! Knocked Up has a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while Anne Hathaway’s backup project Becoming Jane was considered disappointing.
12. Lisa Bonet
You may recall Lisa Bonet’s character, Denise Huxtable, on the Cosby Show. Bonet took some time out to film a spin-off series which followed Denise’s life after she went off to college. A Different World along with a role in movie Angel Heart alongside Mockey Rourke dominated her year. One scene of Angel Heart was edited to ensure an R-rating on the movie, and Bonet posed for a topless centerspread in Interview magazine.
Bonet left A Different World after she announced her pregnancy – with her then husband Lenny Kravitz, she gave birth to clone daughter Zoe Kravitz in 1988. In 1991, she was fired from The Cosby Show due to creative differences. In hindsight, she was better off getting away from that show but no doubt it hurt bad at the time!
11. Richard Gere
Remember The Lords of Flatbush? Us neither, but Richard Gere possibly does. He was supposed to star in the 1974 movie, but after Gere and Sylvester Stallone almost engaged in fisticuffs when they kinda sorta realized they don’t like each other, Gere was fired and replaced with Perry King. Who? you ask? We’re not quite sure either. The best part of the story is after the firing though!
While this is supposed to be stars who were infamously fired, this one is more about what became infamous after they were fired! So legend has it that Richard Gere is a fan of ‘gerbilling’. This is apparently the act of inserting a gerbil into one’s rectum for sexual pleasure. Gere was reportedly rushed to hospital for surgery after one ‘got stuck’. Crazy, right? Well, Gere has never confirmed or denied the rumors, or even given them any traction at all but people are still obsessed – did he or didn’t he?! Apparently, the rumor stemmed from his altercation with Stallone but no one is really sure where this came from. We’re going to blame The Lords of Flatbush though!
10. Columbus Short
Columbus Short hit the jackpot when he was cast as Harrison Wright on the Shonda Rhimes TV series Scandal. Just some background on why this is so important – Shonda Rhimes is the Queen of TV. With 3 series on the air, including Grey’s Anatomy, and several more being picked up, having a connection with her is a boost for anyone’s career. As well as this, he got to hang out with Kerry Washington on set. Win-win right? Well, Short’s casting was short lived.
At the end of season 3, Wright was unceremoniously murdered on the show. Because, IRL, he threatened to murder his former wife Tannee McCall-Short. Oh, the irony! This was not an isolated incident in the couple’s marriage unfortunately, there were several allegations of domestic violence. Short blames his substance and alcohol abuse for his family and professional issues. Scandal was renewed for its 6th season in early 2016.
9. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen was cast as Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men, CBS’ newest sitcom back in 2003. He earned 3 Emmy nominations, 2 Golden Globe noms, and an ALMA award for his work. By season 8 of the show, Sheen was earning $1.8 million per episode making him the highest earning TV actor to date. After 8 seasons however, Execs grew sick and tired of his erratic behavior. After 3 stints in rehab over a 12 month course, Chuck Lorre, the show’s creator decided he needed to get gone.
Sheen had publicly made derogatory comments about Lorre and was subsequently banned from entering Warner Bros’ production lot! It eventually became public knowledge that Sheen had been diagnosed as HIV positive around this time and this was partly to blame for his behavior. Ashton Kutcher replaced him on the show after the death of his character Charlie. While he may have taken his role, Kutcher only earned $755,000 an episode. Only. We know.
8. Gary Busey
Famed Hollywood oddball, Gary Busey, was supposed to be one of the main stars of upcoming horror flick Mansion of Blood.
Back in 2011, Busey was allegedly fired from the set after filming only half of his scenes, apparently because of his erratic behavior, his difficult nature and some inappropriate remarks he made to women on set.
7. Gary Dourdan
Remember when CSI Miami was the show to watch on TV? Those one-liners Horatio Caine so seamlessly reeled off? Dramatic gold. So to be a part of the hottest show on TV would have been a huge achievement back in the 00’s. Gary Dourdan was not only part of the show, he was the eye candy for the ladies, and the guy to aspire to for the guys in the audience. Unfortunately for Dourden though, his own life caught up with the problems of his character Warrick Brown. Photo: Bill Inoshita/CBS
©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Brown battled with gambling problems and a messy past in the show but Dourdan battled with alcohol and drug abuse IRL. He was killed off the show in 2008. Rather than it being his choice to leave, it’s rumored that he was fired after he was arrested for drug possession, with further rumors swirling of him abusing alcohol and drugs on set. To make things even worse, Dourdan recently filed for bankruptcy. His problems just seem to get worse and worse.
6. Samantha Morton
It’s hard to imagine Spike Jonze’s award-winning tale of love’s complicated woes Her without Scarlett Johansson’s husky tone as one of its main protagonists, but that’s almost what we got. In pre-production, Samantha Morton played the voice of the computer Jaoquin Pheonix falls in love with. She spent time in a 4×4 soundproof booth recording her lines.
Eventually, both Jones and Morton agreed that she was not right for the role, that it needed something else. She was replaced with the sexy voice that is Scarlett Johansson. Morton is still credited as an associate producer so this one is going down as amicable but can you imagine the voice being any different?! Morton went on to star in the latest addition to the Harry Potter franchise Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so we don’t think she’s done too badly for herself!
5. Isiah Washington
Another Shonda Rhimes show, another avoidable firing! Isiah Washington played superstar surgeon Dr. Preston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy from season 1 in 2005. He won 2 NAACP Image Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work. But once more, a promising actor was fired after some pretty unacceptable behavior on set. During the filming of season 3, Washington got into a fight with T.R. Knight and directed some nasty gay slurs towards the actor who later came out publicly as gay.
During the 2007 Golden Globe Awards, Washington further buried himself in the rumors by repeating the very word that he denied saying in the first place. T.R Knight told Ellen on her chat show that everyone on set heard him, and it could not be denied. His contract was not renewed for the 4th season and his character left the show. However, he did end up returning for one episode in 2014, so it looks like there isn’t any bad blood there.
4. Leah Remini
You might remember Leah Remini from the long-running King of Queens in which she starred alongside Kevin James. Or you may remember her from a slew of other TV shows she starred and appeared in. All in all, her track record seems to be pretty good. That was until she got a gig on The Talk – a CBS talk show on which she co-hosted with Sharon Osbourne, Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, and Holly Robinson Pete. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS
©2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. According to Leah Remini, she was fired from talk show in 2012 due to Sharon Osbourne’s meddling and her close relationship with producers. She was criticized in the first week of the show being aired for being brash and loud. She was supported by her co-hosts when she decided that she was not going to change herself. She was not renewed after season 1 however. Sharon later shot back on Twitter, to say that she had nothing to do with the King of Queens actress being let go from the show. Remini has recently released a tell-all docu series on life within Scientology so she’s still doing pretty well for herself!
3. Robert Downey Jr.
The Robert Downey Jr. of yesteryear isn’t quite the Robert Downey Jr. you know and love today. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, he had a lot of run-ins with the law due to his drug abuse issues, though the actor has said that he has been addicted since the age of eight. Just a week after being released from a California substance abuse treatment facility and prison, he joined the Ally McBeal cast. He received a lot of credit for his performance and to the outside world seemed to be overcoming his addictions. He said, however, that it was the lowest point of his addictions.
Before he finished filming one season, he was arrested – he was under the influence, and also had cocaine and valium in his possession. Even though he was facing close to 5 years in prison, he signed on to 8 more Ally McBeal episodes. However, on being arrested a second time in this period, the show execs dismissed him from the show. Obviously, he has gotten his act together; he has starred in the huge blockbuster IronMan as Iron Man and started a family. At least he took something from his bad time!
2. Lindsay Lohan
It seems like when there’s any sort of list with troubled celebrities, Lindsay Lohan rears her head. If you’re in any way familiar with Lindsay Lohan and her behavior, then it’s not surprising that she’s here. At one point in the early 2000’s Lohan was the It Girl for movies. Tweens and teenage guys alike loved her, and her commercial value soared when she was associated with a project. Unfortunately for the flame-haired actress, her troubles caught up with her and people started needing to disassociate with her.
Lohan was fired from The Other Side in 2010, not because of anything she did, but because the directors and producers didn’t find her “bankable.” Again in 2010, despite going to Cannes to promote the film (and consequently missing a DUI progress meeting), she was dropped from her lead role as Linda Lovelace. She eventually found her way to jail due to the missed classes and meetings but only served 14 out of a 90 day sentence. Lohan seems to be getting back on track more recently but it remains to be seen if she gets back to her former glory!