8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)

Claudia Wells was replaced as Marty McFly’s girlfriend because she was taller than Michael J. Fox. Two female execs apparently “felt that it emasculated their lead character to have a taller girlfriend.”

Casting can be a time-consuming procedure, but the casting director’s decisions can make or break a picture. However, directors occasionally reverse their decisions in the middle of production.

Here are 8 actors who got fired and replaced in the middle of filming a movie and why:

1. Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, but his method acting and drama skills did not transition to screwball comedy as successfully as the producers had planned. So, a few weeks into filming, director Robert Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale struck a deal with studio president Sid Sheinberg behind his back: they’d keep filming with him until they could get the lead actor they wanted.

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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According to the book, We Don’t Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy, Eric was devastated by the news.

Before the reveal, some cast and crew members reportedly thought something was “off” on site.

Cinematographer Dean Cundey stated, “There were signs, particularly in the last week or two. When we set up a shot, we would shoot Chris Lloyd’s angle, but we would not do the same for Marty. I would respond, ‘Don’t we need the angle?’ Bob would respond, ‘No, no, no, let’s not worry about it.’ It didn’t take long for me to realize that we were conserving energy for what was coming next.” He was eventually succeeded by Michael J. Fox.

When Eric Stoltz was replaced in Back to the Future, Melora Hardin was recast as Jennifer Parker due to her height difference from the new male lead. In 2022, she told Page Six that two female executives “felt that it emasculated their lead character to have a taller girlfriend.”

She stated, “There’s no painful doubt…I think it’s an intriguing sign of the times that female executives felt compelled to preserve their lead character’s manhood in this way.” Claudia Wells took over the position.

2. Richard Gere played Chico in The Lords of Flatbush from the beginning. However, he “never hit it off” with his co-star, Sylvester Stallone. On a particularly challenging day, a disagreement over mustard escalated into a violent brawl, prompting the director to fire Richard while keeping Sylvester.

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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During a 2006 fan Q&A session, Sylvester stated, “He would strut around in his huge motorcycle jacket like he was the baddest knight at the round table. One day, during an improv, he grabbed me (we were acting out a fight scene) and got a little carried away. I gently asked him to loosen up, but he was entirely in character and tough to deal with.

Then, when rehearsing at Coney Island, it was noon, so we decided to take a break in the backseat of a Toyota, which was the only area that was warm. I was eating a hotdog when he climbed in with a half-chicken slathered in mustard and oil nearly pouring from the metal wrapping. I responded, ‘That thing will drip all over the place.’ He said, ‘Don’t be concerned.’ I said, ‘If it gets on my jeans, you’ll know about it.’ He bites into the chicken, leaving a little, greasy river of mustard on my thigh. I elbowed him on the side of the head and pushed him out of the automobile.

The director had to make a decision: one of us had to leave, and one had to stay. Richard was given his walking papers and still dislikes me. He even believes I’m responsible for the gerbil rumor. Not true, but it’s a rumor.”

Perry King took over the position.

3. Mariska Hargitay was scheduled to play Queen Dulcea in the 1995 film Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie. Filming took place in Australia, but they put her on hold for so long that on December 21, she returned to the United States for Christmas. After the holidays, she contacted production, who informed her that she had been dismissed.

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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In 2023, she told Late Night with Seth Meyers: “I call them and say, ‘Okay, I’m ready!'” And they said, ‘Sweetie, you’re OK; don’t worry about it. They fired me because I wanted to spend Christmas with my family. I’m now watching my Ps and Qs on SVU. And when they say, ‘We need you,’ I respond, ‘I’m there and ready!’ “So far so good.” She was replaced by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick.


4. In The Truman Show, Christof was originally played by Dennis Hopper, but he was removed because he couldn’t remember his lines.

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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Dennis told the Sabotage Times, “I was on the set for about two days and got fired.” The producer, Scott Rudin, had arranged with the director, Peter Weir, that if he didn’t like my performance after the first day of dailies, he would fire me. “And they fired me.”

Ed Harris took over the position.

5. Samantha Morton provided the original Samantha voice in Her. However, when the film arrived at the editing stage, writer/director Spike Jonze “realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and [he] had created together.”

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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He told Vulture, “I believe, regrettably, it’s very standard in terms of my not-so-easy-for-everyone-involved ‘process’ of discovering what the movie is. Samantha joined us on set and was fantastic. I adore Samantha. I’ve been friends with her forever, and I hope we do a lot of things together in the future.” Scarlett Johansson replaced her.

6. Executive producer/director Tom Hanks removed Connor Ratliff from a minor role the day before he was set to shoot scenes for Band of Brothers, citing “dead eyes.”

8 Actors Who Got Fired And Replaced In The Middle Of Filming A Movie (And Why)
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Twenty years later, on his podcast, Dead Eyes, Connor set out to find out why Tom fired him.

Tom appeared on Dead Eyes in 2022 and said, “Let me first accept complete responsibility for doing this to you. This was unquestionably the act of the director, which was myself. It was one of those very, very subtle moves that steered the plot in the desired way.”

7. Initially, Ryan Gosling was supposed to play Jack Salmon in The Lovely Bones. He decided to gain 60 points to fit his particular image for the character, but the director and producers disagreed with him. So, he was let go just a few days before production began.

Kayla Oaddams/FilmMagic

In 2010, he told the Hollywood Reporter, “We didn’t chat much during the preproduction process, and that was the problem. It was a massive film with numerous issues to address, and [director Peter Jackson] was unable to deal with the actors individually. I barely arrived on set, and I had gotten it wrong.”

He was succeeded by Mark Wahlberg.

8. Sean Young was reportedly sacked from her part as Tess Trueheart in Dick Tracy because she did not appear “maternal enough” in the dailies.

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Sean later claimed that she was sacked from the position after rejecting main actor Warren Beatty’s approaches. He refuted this, arguing that terminating her was a creative decision.

She was succeeded by Glenne Headly.

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