If hindsight is 20/20, than in the movie business it doesn't exist. What does that mean? Well, when you have a business that is predicated on the simple capitalistic principal of making money, yet, that very principal hinges on Art... Things start to make more sense.
We all have favorite movies. No matter how our tastes might grow or change over the years, we all love certain films more than others. It might be the story, it might be the feelings that a particular film evokes as it relates to our lives, it might be a score that we just can't get out of our heads. Whatever the reason may be, we love things because we love them and that is just the way it is.
Usually, the reason we fall in love with a particular film is the performance by an actor. We bring our own thoughts, values and ideas to a performance and this makes us able to identify with it. In many ways, these films that we hold close to our hearts, contain acting craft that we couldn't imagine ever being done by anybody else.
Yet, there have been a lot of seminal movies with seminal performances that didn't start out with said actor giving us that performance. Oftentimes when we hear about this we scoff and say, "Well, it's a good thing INSERT ACTOR HERE was fired because they would've been terrible in that role!" At this point, not only are we a critic, we are judge and jury for an actor that wasn't given a chance to show their stuff in the court of public opinion.
So, going back to the original idea stated above, hindsight really doesn't exist in the movie business. Every actor, no matter how big or small, is expendable. If the first doses of footage don't sizzle to the powers that be, then said actor doesn't even get a chance to stake their claim. It is with this reverence for movie history and great performances that we give you, 11 Actors Who Were Fired from Blockbuster Roles. And we start with someone who has just been in the news the last few days, with the latest update coming from E! News. And it's pretty terrible.
Mark Salling was fired from Gods and Secrets
In the wake of news that he had obtained and shared child pornography, Mark Salling was fired this past week from God's and Secrets. This is probably one of the saddest, if not the most tragic firings on this list. I say that for the victims of Mr. Salling's alleged crimes. He was recently "indicted by a grand jury on one count of receiving child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography." The actor was arrested this past December. Directed by Adi Shankar, God's and Secrets was going to explore the world of superheroes from a completely different angle. Salling, who was best known for his work in Glee, seems like he would have been quite good in this project. Considering that Glee explored how people view others who are different (through the lens of high school), Salling seemed like a lock to add something truly unique to an out-of-the-box superhero project. Sadly, we will never know, but hopefully he can fight whatever demons plague him and still contribute something to the world he was trying to represent.
Christian Bale was fired from American Psycho
Christian Bale was fired and then rehired from American Psycho! Many may not remember this but, Bale wasn't always an A-Lister. He wasn't always able to throw tantrums on the set and then apologize by losing a ton of weight, doing a film like he Machinist and blowing our minds. After breaking out in Empire of the Sun, Bale banged around in such films as Newsies and Velvet Goldmine until he earned the coveted role of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Then he didn't. As the story goes, Bale was hired and then subsequently fired. Leonardo DiCaprio was set to star, but bowed out due to some script discrepancies. After a failed attempt to get Ewan McGregor, Bale was again cast and made the role one for the ages.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was fired from The Predator
Jean-Claude Van Damme was the Predator! Key word, 'was'. It seems that Van Damme went into the role with some misconceptions. The biggest one? He assumed that his part in the Arnold Schwarzenegger opus was going to allow him to show how good he was at martial arts. Well, if you've seen the movie, you know that among the many things the Predator does in the film, martial arts are not really one of them. This says nothing of the fact that the Predator costume he was asked to wear was (thankfully) also not used. Van Damme was so bummed out by what he was being asked to do, so upset that he was invisible for most of the film, that he was eventually let go and the role was recast and iconically done by Kevin Peter Hall.
Sylvester Stallone was fired from Beverly Hills Cop
Sylvester Stallone was Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop. And then he wasn't. It seems that Sylvester Stallone was all signed and ready to go. Then he got the script. After that, Stallone rewrote the screenplay and turned it into more of an 1980s Sly action movie. (For those of you bummed that you never got to see that movie, there's a rumor that his unused script actually become the film Cobra.) Apparently, this made the studio a bit uneasy and they decided to go another way, which led them to Eddie Murphy. Some believe that it may not have been this entirely, or at all in regards to why Stallone was let go. It seems he may have wanted a certain kind of juice in his trailer and for some reason that couldn't be accommodated. This seems silly, especially when you consider that for a $15 million dollar film, the cost of Sly's juice couldn't have been that big of a deal breaker. But that antedate is almost funnier than anything seen in the movie, which, by all means, is a classic that put Murphy on the map.
Eric Stoltz was fired from Back to the Future
Eric Stoltz was Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but he was so bad at this job! Of all the actors on this list that were told to hit the bricks, Eric Stoltz being invited to leave Back to the Future might be the most well known. It seems that Stoltz was not director Robert Zemeckis' first choice anyway. That distinction went to eventual Marty McFly, Michael J. Fox. Why Stoltz was hired at all probably has to do with the fact that Fox was seen as a sitcom actor, and Stoltz had set Hollywood ablaze with his terrific performance as Rocky Dennis in the film Mask. So shooting starts and things just aren't working out. Stoltz is method and the producers want zany. Quite simply, his style of acting just wasn't right for this part and he was given his walking papers.
Terrence Howard was fired from Iron Man 2
One man's trash is another man's treasure, right Don Cheadle? Money, that dirty beast, seemed to be the thing that reared it's ugly head here. Again, it doesn't appear that Terrence Howard was actually fired from the part of James "Rhodey" Rhodes aka War Machine. Actually, it seems like he made a deal before making the first Iron Man. This deal was for three pictures. With every picture, Howard was supposed to recieve a bump in pay. While I am not a Harvard MBA, based on what I do and don't know about the movie business, this seems to be standard practice. Well, it seems that Marvel didn't want to pay him that much. Howard, feeling like he had something to do with the success of the first Iron Man, decided that he wouldn't take less money. The role eventually went to Don Cheadle, who has gone on to play James Rhodes in three films thus far. Did Howard make a mistake? Maybe. However, he probably felt that if they were going to mess with his contract on the second film (after the first film been a massive success), things probably wouldn't get better down the line. Though, there are also rumors that this worked in Marvel's favor, because the upper brass hated what Terrence did with the Rhodey character. 'Tone-E, Tone-E, Tone-E!'
Harvey Keitel was fired from Apocalypse Now
Harvey Keitel was Willard in Apocalypse Now. Then he wasn't. When you watch this cinematic opus from the great Francis Ford Coppola, it seems almost impossible to imagine anybody else but Martin Sheen playing Captain Benjamin Willard. Yet, Harvey Keitel was initially cast in this grand film whose production problems are the stuff of movie lore. If it wasn't entire film sets being washed out by rain in the Philippines, or a director who seemed to be going insane like the characters in his film, or a lead actor in Marlon Brando who no longer seemed like he wanted to act, something was always going wrong. However, after shooting with Keitel in the Willard role, it was quickly realized that his casting had been a poor choice. Basically, the role of Willard called for a man to take in the events around him. Let's be honest, it isn't until the last third of the movie that Willard actually does something. Keitel just isn't that kind of actor and he was eventually replaced by Martin Sheen. Who later had a heart attack playing this role...
Megan Fox was fired from Transformers 3
Megan Fox in Transformers 3? Nope. Initially, it seems, Megan Fox tried to get out front in this very public feud by complaining about Transformers director Michael Bay. She called him "abusive" and went so far as to compare the notoriously devil-may-care director to Adolf Hitler. Well, it seems that things didn't happen exactly that way. Apparently, Steven Spielberg, the film's producer, demanded that Fox be canned. However, in recent years there have been stories to suggest that Fox really did quit. There's talk that she had been developing Spice Girl (Shia Labeouf's words) strength and didn't like the way that Michael Bay shot her in the films. Whatever the case, Fox was recast by the lovely Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and the film went on to make millions and millions of dollars. She would reteam with Michael Bay (he was producing on this go round) in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle films.
Dougray Scott was fired from X-Men
Dougray Scott as Wolverine in X-Men? That would have changed Hollywood history as we know it, forever. There isn't a lot of controversy with this one. Dougray Scott had been set to play Wolverine but had to pull out. Why? Well, he got a major role in Mission Impossible II as the resident bad guy. How was he to know that superhero movies would become the business they've become? Think about it, co-star in a Tom Cruise vehicle when he's at the height of his career? Or wear fake sideburns, don a Freddy Krueger like claw and play dress up for two months? In hindsight, it isn't that Scott made the wrong decision. Rather, this seems to be a case of a guy hedging his bets. He still probably walked away with a hefty chunk of coin for MI 2, he just isn't the star that Hugh Jackman is. Then again, who's to say that Scott's portrayal of Wolverine would have given him that anyway?
Anthony Michael Hall was fired from Full Metal Jacket
Anthony Michael Hall was Joker in Full Metal Jacket. But the role slipped from his grasp. Alright, Anthony Michael Hall wasn't exactly cast in the role of Private Joker. He was offered it. And offered it. And offered it. It seems that the part was Hall's for the taking. There were negotiations during this time. They went on for two thirds of a year. Like most negotiations, these were about money. Eventually, the negotiations stopped and Anthony Michael Hall never did this role. My question is this? Why in the world would the guy who was in Weird Science, The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles NOT simply take a copy of the film, meals and credit to be in a film directed by Stanley Kubrick?!?! It boggles my mind that Hall was the one who was holding up this casting process. In fact, it kinda boggles the mind to think that Stanley Kubrick was kinda rebuffed by the guy from Johnny Be Good.
Stuart Townsend was fired from Lord of the Rings
Stuart Townsend as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings? Yikes. Stuart Townsend really seems to have gotten a rough shake in this life. First he lands the coveted role of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings. This part is seminal to the story and a career maker like no other. Then Townsend gets fired right before the start of principal photography. It seems that director Peter Jackson simply wanted somebody older. Ultimately, Viggo Mortensen was hired and he truly made this part his own. Now, if this isn't bad enough, all the Lord of the Rings films did boffo box office, and the third film won a bazillion accolades on the same night that Townsend's then girlfriend, Charlize Theron, won Best Actress. I remember watching Townsend throughout the show and wondering who he was. I give him credit for one thing however, amidst all the celebrations that he wasn't a part of, he sure seemed happy for everybody.
James Remar was fired from Aliens
James Remar as Dwayne Hicks in Aliens? It almost happened. James Remar is one of those actors that always seemed like he should be bigger. However, when looking at this body of work (Dexter, Django Unchained, 48 Hrs., Quiet Cool, etc.), it is apparent that he is really one of America's great character actors. This might have all changed had he made it through Aliens in the role of Dwayne Hicks. Eventually, Michael Biehn took over this job and truly made it his own. However, Remar's casting was nothing short of interesting. Sadly, he was only in the film for a short while. Initially it was reported that "artistic differences" was the reason Remar was invited to leave the film. However, it turns out that this was not the case. Remar had a drug problems that he thankfully overcame. Sadly, he wasn't able to beat them in time to blow up some aliens on the LV-426 colony.
Annette Bening was fired from Catwoman
Annette Bening as Catwoman in Batman Returns. That would have been delightful. Sadly, this entry doesn't have the salaciousness or intrigue that the other entries have. It seems Bening was cast in the role of the fatal feline but had to leave the film after getting pregnant. She was replaced by Michelle Pfieffer, who went on to give one her strongest and most captivating performances. I know, this entry is a bit boring. However, when you consider that the father of the child that made her leave the Catwoman role was Warren Beatty, and that his new film Rules Don't Apply looks to be like something of a comeback, suddenly it all makes sense. Well, maybe not, but we had to think of something.