Hollywood is a precarious profession, but you would hope once you’ve got the role you can relax a little bit. Not these guys, who found themselves out of a job even after shooting began.
John Lithgow – Hercules
The Disney filmmakers wanted Jack Nicholson as baddie Hades, but he asked for too much money, so Lithgow was cast instead. But being second choice had its pitfalls and despite voicing the role for nine months, he was eventually fired and replaced with James Woods.
James Remar – Aliens
Remar was originally cast as Hicks in James Cameron’s sequel, but as he said later in a Sidebar podcast, “I was fired after a couple of weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs.” He was replaced by Michael Biehn, although he can be seen from behind in a couple of shots in the finished film.
Richard Gere – The Lords of Flatbush
Gere came to blows with co-star Sylvester Stallone on this 1974 Brooklyn gang drama, who demanded that the Pretty Woman star be fired. He was replaced by Perry King.
Kel O’Neill – There Will Be Blood
Going head-to-head on-screen with Daniel Day-Lewis is a daunting prospect and gossip from the set of Paul Thomas Anderson’s film was that O’Neill found it difficult to deal with the Oscar-winner’s meticulous method. Director and star deny it, but it worked out well for O’Neill (who was replaced by Paul Dano) now a filmmaker himself. “If [Anderson] hadn’t fired me from [the movie] I would probably still be an actor dreaming of making my own films some day.”
Sean Young – Dick Tracy
Young says she was fired after a week of shooting for rejecting director/star Warren Beatty’s advances, he says it was because her performance as Tess Trueheart wasn’t maternal enough. Glenne Headley got the role instead.
Lori Petty – Demolition Man
“It was the most uncool day in Hollywood for me,” Point Break actress Petty told The Daily Beast about her firing from the Sly sci-fier. Infamous producer Joel Silver did the canning, citing “creative differences” and Sandra Bullock got the part.
William H Macy – Finding Nemo
Macy had voiced most of his lead role as Nemo’s father when director Andrew Stanton decided that his take on the character wasn’t quite right. Albert Brooks took over and the film became one of Pixar’s biggest smashes.
Judy Garland – Valley of the Dolls
Dozens of stories abound as to why the Wizard of Oz star was let go from the camp 1960s classic, including her substance abuse and the fact one of the more outrageous characters was based on her. Meanwhile, her supporters say the director treated her badly. Susan Hayward took over.
James Purefoy – V for Vendetta
The English actor was replaced by Hugo Weaving on the comic book adaptation, with rumours he got frustrated with wearing V’s infamous mask, or that his voice wasn’t menacing enough. Purefoy scotched those reports, saying it was “genuinely about the way to approach that character.”
Harvey Keitel – Apocalypse Now
The movie’s editor Walter Murch told Yahoo in 2014, “The nature of Willard is that he is the eyes through which you watch the events…on a simply biological level, Martin Sheen has very big eyes that look at the world and Harvey Keitel has very narrow eyes.”