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20 Stars Fired From Movies: Samantha Morton in ‘Her,’ Ryan Gosling, and More

Scarlett Johansson replaced Samantha Morton in ‘Her.' From Anne Hathaway in ‘Knocked Up’ to Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘American Psycho,’ see more stars who were axed from roles.

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Reuters; AP; Invision/AP; Getty

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty; Reuters; AP; Invision/AP; Getty

Two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown, In America) had shot all her scenes in Spike Jonze’s futuristic love story Her before being replaced by Scarlett Johansson in post-production. But the actress isn’t the first to get the axe from a major Hollywood film. Here are the strangest cases of stars being fired (or replaced) in movies, from Ryan Gosling’s fatness on The Lovely Bones to Richard Gere’s unfortunate sandwich incident that got him cut from The Lords of Flatbush.

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Samantha Morton, ‘Her’ (2013)

The British actress had filmed all of her scenes for the voice-only role of Samantha, a sentient operation system that falls in love with a lonely divorcé, played by Joaquin Phoenix, in the sci-fi love story Her. But in post-production, filmmaker Spike Jonze realized that something wasn’t quite right. “Originally, Samantha Morton was playing the role and she was on set,” Jonze told The Daily Beast. “[Joaquin] was speaking to Samantha Morton the entire time—she was in his ear, in another room, and he was in her ear. Samantha is a big part of the movie because she was with us, and gave Joaquin so much and gave the movie so much. And then in post is when we decided that what we did wasn’t working, and we ended up recasting with Scarlett [Johansson]. [Joaquin] worked with Scarlett in post—but to help her do her part, so off-camera and off-mic with her.”

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Ryan Gosling, ‘The Lovely Bones’ (2009)

For the role of Jack Salmon, the grieving father of Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, Gosling gained a whopping 60 pounds by, among other things, melting Haagen Daz ice cream and drinking it. When he showed up to set, Jackson was, according to Gosling, not so impressed by his dedication to the part. “What is this?” Jackson reportedly said, and Gosling says he replied, “It’s great, isn’t it?” “No, it’s not—hit the treadmill,” he replied. “We had a different idea of how the character should look,” Gosling told The Hollywood Reporter. “I really believed he should be 210 pounds.” He added, “It was a huge movie, and there’s so many things to deal with, and [Jackson] couldn’t deal with the actors individually. I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong. Then I was fat and unemployed.” Gosling was canned, and replaced by Mark Wahlberg.

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Anne Hathaway, ‘Knocked Up’ (2007)

Anne Hathaway was originally cast in the role of Alison Scott, an E! reporter who finds herself knocked up after a one-night stand with slacker Ben Stone, played by Seth Rogen, in this Judd Apatow comedy-drama. But before the cameras started rolling, Hathaway dropped out due to “creative differences.” But the real reason is she allegedly took issue with a birth scene late in the film that would show her character’s lady parts. “I turned down another movie because it was going to show a vagina—not mine, but somebody else’s,” she told Marie Claire. “And I didn’t believe that it was actually necessary to the story.” After Hathaway departed the project, the role was assumed by Katherine Heigl, and immediately catapulted her to stardom.

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James Purefoy, ‘V for Vendetta’ (2006)

Purefoy, star of the HBO series Rome and The Following, was originally cast as ‘V,’ a masked anarchist/freedom fighter leading a revolution against a fascist regime in James McTeigue’s action-thriller V for Vendetta. But the star left the project six weeks into filming because he was reportedly uncomfortable wearing a mask for the entire movie. The actor said, “That mask is the thing I’ll be wearing through the movie. We’ll never see my face. It’s a great acting challenge. Wearing that thing takes… a lot of takes. Spider-Man’s mask comes off. Batman’s mask comes off. Even the elephant man had eyes. That’s all I ask for, just an eye! Every night I’m in that mask for another three hours when I go home. I have mirrors all over my apartment and I live in it until I go to bed. So my neighbors obviously think I’m mad.” Purefoy was replaced by Hugo Weaving in the role of V.

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Stuart Townsend, ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (2001)

The Irish actor was cast as Aragorn, the sword-wielding de facto leader of The Fellowship, in the Peter Jackson trilogy The Lord of the Rings, but was replaced with Viggo Mortensen one day before principal photography was to begin because Jackson and the producers felt he was too young (27) for the part. “Two weeks ago I finally read an article where the filmmakers said, ‘We were totally wrong about Stuart and we accept that it was our fault,’ which was so nice because I did get shafted up the ass,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I was there rehearsing and training for two months, then was fired the day before filming began. After that I was told they wouldn't pay me because I was in breach of contract due to not having worked long enough. I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relieved to be leaving until they told me I wouldn't be paid. I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don't. The director [Peter Jackson] wanted me and then apparently thought better of it because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different.”

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Christian Bale, ‘American Psycho’ (2000)

While Bale did ultimately play the role of delusional killer/finance douchebag Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron’s film American Psycho, it was dicey for a bit. Harron formally offered the part to Bale, who accepted, but then distributor Lions Gate Films wanted a bigger name in the starring role, and eventually issued a press release stating Leonardo DiCaprio was to play Bateman. Gloria Steinem, who is married to Bale’s father, lobbied DiCaprio to not do the film because it wouldn’t be good for his young female fanbase from Titanic, so he dropped out. Then, the part was offered to Ewan McGregor, but Bale personally called him to warn him not to take the role because he wanted it so much. “I phoned a few people and let them know my commitment, let me tell you!” Bale told GQ UK. “I called them all and told them it was my role. Don't touch. Step away. Or if you're not going to step away, understand what you're up against.” Bale eventually played the role, and it propelled him to stardom.

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Dougray Scott, ‘X-Men’ (2000)

Hugh Jackman might not be a household name today if it wasn’t for Dougray Scott. While Russell Crowe was the original choice for the role of Logan/Wolverine, a soldier-cum-mutant with adamantium claws, his salary demands were reportedly too high, and Scott was cast in the role. Scott’s contract also included a sequel. However, due to scheduling conflicts with Mission: Impossible II, Scott was forced to back out of the role, and a relatively unknown Aussie by the name of Hugh Jackman replaced him three weeks into filming. The role, of course, made Jackman an instant star.

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Harvey Keitel, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999)

This is a strange one. One of the most notorious—and blatantly false—Internet rumors that circulated in the late ‘90s involved Keitel’s firing from Stanley Kubrick’s psychosexual drama Eyes Wide Shut. Keitel had already filmed many scenes as Victor Ziegler, a shady doctor and friend of Tom Cruise’s character in the film, before he had to drop out. “According to a story broadcast by Howard Stern, the Daily News, and countless spots on the Internet, Keitel was filming a masturbation scene with Nicole Kidman and ended up ejaculating in her hair, prompting an enraged Nicole to demand Keitel's dismissal,” reported The Village Voice. Of course, that was bogus. Keitel had to back out because the production took too long—a total of 15 months—and he had already committed to playing a role in the film Finding Graceland. Keitel was subsequently replaced by Sydney Pollack.

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Lori Petty, ‘Demolition Man’ (1993)

Petty, the star of Point Break, was originally cast as Lt. Lenina Huxley, a do-gooder cop opposite a cryo-frozen Sylvester Stallone in the sci-fi action flick Demolition Man. However, after reportedly voicing complaints over the character’s direction with producer Joel Silver, she was fired three days into filming and replaced with Sandra Bullock who went on to be a huge star. Petty’s career, meanwhile, never quite recovered.

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Sean Young, ‘Dick Tracy’ (1990)

The notoriously difficult Young (Blade Runner) was hired and began filming her role as Tess Trueheart, the love interest of Warren Beatty’s titular yellow-coated cop, in Dick Tracy. But, a short time into filming, Young was fired from the role. “It was just a lot of sexual politics and crazy stuff,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “To be released from that situation ended up being a blessing in the end, because I don't think I could have survived working with Warren Beatty.” The official reason given by the studio was that Young didn’t seem “maternal enough” for the role, and was replaced by Glenne Headly, although Young would later claim it’s because she refused Beatty’s sexual advances, according to Entertainment Weekly. Beatty firmly denied the claim.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme, ‘Predator’ (1987)

In this John McTiernan flick, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Dutch, the leader of an elite military team that’s sent into the jungle to rescue a presidential cabinet minister abducted by guerrilla forces. But they eventually become the target of the Predator—an alien with mandibles who hunts humans for sport. According to Moviefone, Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the Predator. “Tales of his behavior on set are legend,” they wrote. “After shooting his first scenes, in red Lycra to create the effect of the Predator cloaked, he quit, claiming he had no interest in being a special effect. While he was on the film it was known as Hunter, and it wasn’t until they redesigned the creature for the physically different Kevin Peter Hall that its title changed to Predator.”

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James Remar, ‘Aliens’ (1986)

Filmmaker James Cameron cast Remar as Corporal Hicks in his sci-fi flick Aliens. Remar came as a recommendation of co-producer Walter Hill, who had previously directed Remar in The Warriors. However, Remar was fired a short time into the shoot over “creative differences” with Cameron and replaced by Michael Biehn, who’d starred in Cameron’s debut feature The Terminator. There’s still even footage of Remar in the film when the Marines enter the processing station, as well as a shot from behind when Hicks approaches a cocooned woman on LV-426. This website has several existing photos of Remar in character as Hicks.

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Eric Stoltz, ‘Back to the Future’ (1985)

Director Robert Zemeckis’s first choice for the role of Marty McFly, a teen who’s accidentally sent back in time to 1955, was Michael J. Fox. Unfortunately, the actor was too busy filming the TV series Family Ties, and the show wouldn’t let him take time off from it to film the movie, so Eric Stoltz was cast instead. The movie shot with Stoltz for four whole weeks before Zemeckis realized that Stoltz had been miscast. “Spielberg has explained that Zemeckis felt Stoltz was too humorless but gave a “terrifically dramatic performance” that was wrong for the movie,” wrote SlashFilm. “Recasting the part added $3 million to the $14 million budget, and Michael J. Fox was again approached and somehow the actor was able to work out a timetable which would allow him to shoot both Family Ties and Back to the Future.”

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John Candy, ‘Ghostbusters’ (1984)

Comedian John Candy was originally cast in the role of Louis Tully, neighbor to Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) in Ivan Reitman’s Ghostbusters. However, he quit the role early on in production and was replaced by Rick Moranis. According to Reitman on the film’s DVD commentary, Candy wanted to give his character a German accent and have a pair of schnauzer dogs, but no one really felt the accent was appropriate, and there was already an abundance of “dog imagery” in the movie—the terror dogs—that they felt the schnauzers were overkill.

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Sylvester Stallone, ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984)

This would’ve been different, eh? The role of Axel Foley, a wise-cracking Detroit cop who heads to Beverly Hills to solve the murder of his best mate, was originally offered to Mickey Rourke, who signed a holding contract to star in it, but left when his contract expired due to production difficulties. Then, the role was offered to Sylvester Stallone, who accepted. But Stallone quit just two weeks before filming was to begin, and the role was recast with Saturday Night Live alum Eddie Murphy in the lead. According to Murphy on Inside the Actors Studio, Stallone wanted a “harder-edged” film, and after he departed the project, the role was substantially rewritten to accommodate Murphy.

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Harvey Keitel, ‘Apocalypse Now’ (1979)

Francis Ford Coppola’s war classic was plagued by a litany of production problems, as chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Coppola originally cast Harvey Keitel as U.S. Army Captain Benjamin J. Willard, who’s tasked with traveling to a remote jungle during the Vietnam War to find Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando)—who’d apparently gone insane—and assassinate him. After a week of shooting with Keitel, however, Coppola axed him, saying the actor “found it difficult to play him as a passive onlooker.” He replaced Keitel with Martin Sheen, who had impressed Coppola in a screen test for the Michael Corleone role in The Godfather, which eventually went to Al Pacino.

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Richard Gere, ‘The Lords of Flatbush’ (1974)

This is hilarious, and I’ll let Gere’s would-be costar in the film, Sylvester Stallone, take it away: “The original part of Chico, which was played by Perry King, was originally supposed to be played by Richard Gere, but we never hit it off,” Stallone told Ain’t It Cool News. “He would strut around in his oversized motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table. One day, during an improv, he grabbed me (we were simulating a fight scene) and got a little carried away. I told him in a gentle fashion to lighten up, but he was completely in character and impossible to deal with. Then we were rehearsing at Coney Island and it was lunchtime, so we decided to take a break, and the only place that was warm was in the backseat of a Toyota. I was eating a hotdog and he climbs in with a half a chicken covered in mustard with grease nearly dripping out of the aluminum wrapper. I said, ‘That thing is going to drip all over the place.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ I said, ‘If it gets on my pants you’re gonna know about it.’ He proceeds to bite into the chicken and a small, greasy river of mustard lands on my thigh. I elbowed him in the side of the head and basically pushed him out of the car. The director had to make a choice: one of us had to go, one of us had to stay. Richard was given his walking papers and to this day seriously dislikes me.”

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Gig Young, ‘Blazing Saddles’ (1974)

In Mel Brooks’s comedy classic, Gig Young was originally cast as the Waco Kid, the only ally of the new black sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little), in the Old West. According to Turner Classic Movies, “Gig Young was originally cast in the role (John Wayne had already turned the part down as being too silly), but on the day of the scene in which the Kid, drunk in his cell, first meets Bart, Young, a certified drinker himself, was doing some serious method acting and was carried away with the tremors. Wilder, who had reportedly begged Brooks for the part early on, was on a plane a day later to take over.”

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Rip Torn, ‘Easy Rider’ (1969)

This one’s a bit tricky. Torn has a history of volatile behavior, including his notorious attack on Norman Mailer—with hammer—during the filming of Maidstone, which was all caught on camera. Torn was initially cast as George Hanson, part of a trio of hippie bikers in Dennis Hopper’s groundbreaking film Easy Rider. According to Peter Biskind’s book, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Torn met Hopper and co-star Henry Fonda at a restaurant in New York to chat about the role, and Hopper began criticizing “rednecks” he’d crossed paths with down South. Torn took offense—he’s from Texas—and the two almost came to blows, so Torn was replaced with Jack Nicholson in what would prove to be Nicholson’s breakout role. Later, in a 1994 interview with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, Hopper claimed Torn pulled a knife on him. The allegation turned out to be false, and Torn successfully sued Hopper for defamation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Judy Garland, ‘Valley of the Dolls’ (1967)

The star of The Wizard of Oz was originally cast in the role of Helen Lawson in filmmaker Mark Robson’s camp classic. However, Garland, who had a life-long struggle with substance abuse, was fired for being drunk on set and replaced by Susan Hayward. According to Garland’s would-be co-star, Patty Duke, “[Garland] was charming and funny—oh, very funny—but she was having a problem with alcohol and I don’t know about other things. So the director, who was the meanest son of a bitch I ever met in my life… he kept [Garland] waiting and waiting. She had to come in at 6:30 in the morning and he wouldn’t even plan to get to her until four in the afternoon. She was very down to earth, so she didn’t mind waiting. What I minded was that there were gentlemen around her who supplied her with wine and other things, so when she finally did get called to the set, she couldn’t function very well… and she crumbled.”