When it’s officially revealed that a celebrity is attached to a movie, we often think of it as being set in stone. Celebrity marriages might come and go, but a film role is forever, right? That isn’t always the case. A film studio announcement and even production do not guarantee that an actor or actress is going to finish the movie.
Some celebrities get fired from roles while others decide to back out of projects after they already publicly committed. The reasons why actors abandon roles can vary from controversy, “creative differences” or conflicting schedules, but the thing that’s common about all the stories is that they’re very interesting. Find out for yourself by clicking through the gallery to see 16 celebrities who dropped out of huge film roles.
16. Scarlett Johansson, Dante Tex Gill in Rub & Tug
There have been a number of campaigns and discussions about having LGBTQ+ actors playing LGBTQ+ characters. The talk grew to a loud roar when it was revealed that Scarlett Johansson was playing a transgender man, Dante Tex Gill, in the upcoming film Rub & Tug. ScarJo initially defended her role, but eventually decided to “withdraw” from the Rupert Sanders project.
She said in a statement to Out, “In light of recent ethical questions raised surrounding my casting as Dante Tex Gill, I have decided to respectfully withdraw my participation in the project… I’ve learned a lot from the community since making my first statement about my casting and realize it was insensitive. I have great admiration and love for the trans community and am grateful that the conversation regarding inclusivity in Hollywood continues.” FYI: Her first statement basically said, ‘look at all the other cisgender actors who played trans characters, so I’m gonna do it, too.’ It fueled the fire even more, and ultimately the backlash was probably behind her decision to quit.
15. Ed Skrein, Major Ben Daimio in Hellboy
Some might remember Ed Skrein as the long-haired Daario Naharis in Game of Thrones before Michiel Huisman took over. Ed left the HBO TV show because of “politics,” and it wouldn’t be the last project he would leave. In 2017, he left Hellboy because of whitewashing. He was originally cast as Major Ben Daimio, a character who was of Asian descent in the OG comic. Controversy erupted and Ed came out and said he wasn’t aware the original character depiction was a person of color. In a Twitter post, he said he was leaving the role and hoped a better actor more suited to the part would fill his shoes. Daniel Dae Kim was given the role after Ed backed out.
14. Christian Bale, Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs
Michael Fassbender was the one who ended up taking on the role of Steve Jobs in the 2015 film of the same name, but there were actually a few actors who could have had the part instead. Leo DiCaprio was reportedly considering it and Christian Bale was actually involved in the biopic of the Apple founder. Trouble was Laurene Jobs, Steve’s widow, reportedly called actors to convince them to not be in the film. Christian reportedly made it through negotiations and was getting ready for filming, but decided he was “not right for the part after much deliberation,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
13. Brad Pitt, Russell Hammond in Almost Famous
Brad Pitt in Almost Famous? Turns out it was this close to happening. The movie’s writer and director Cameron Crowe had originally written the part of Russell Hammond with Brad in mind. Brad apparently made it to the set and was working with the director before he decided to ditch the project because he didn’t 100 percent “get it.” The role was later given to Billy Crudup.
12. Buddy Ebsen, Tin Man in Wizard of Oz
The Wizard of Oz remains one of the most iconic movies in the history of film so it’s heartbreaking to hear that Buddy Ebsen had to quit the film. The actor was meant to play the Tin Man. The trouble was that he was allergic to the silver makeup that created the iconic character. The makeup contained traces of aluminum which made him “violently ill” and forced him to pull out. Thankfully, he recovered. But, the part went to Jack Haley.
11. Julia Roberts, Viola De Lesseps in Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in Love is the role that catapulted Gwyneth Paltrow into A-list stardom, so imagine what the world would be like if the part of Viola De Lesseps didn’t go to her. It might have actually happened. Julia Roberts was originally attached to the film, but she pulled out when Daniel Day-Lewis wasn’t the love interest, William Shakespeare. In a twist, Daniel wasn’t interested so Julia dropped. The part of The Bard went to Joseph Fiennes.
10. Charlie Hunnam, Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey
This might be the most famous dropped role in the history of movies. Charlie Hunnam was finally revealed as the actor to play Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey after months of speculation and fan wishes. And just as soon as it was announced, he was parting the project in a shock move because of scheduling conflicts. He had also signed on to be in Guillermo Del Toro‘s Crimson Peak and had given the director his word he would be in the project. You have to respect a dude who always keeps his promises. We ended up with Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades, and we don’t think many are complaining about that.
9. James Purefoy, V in V for Vendetta
V for Vendetta became an instant classic when it was released in 2005. And it has a back story that’s almost as interesting as what we saw onscreen. James Purefoy was originally cast as V. There are some differing stories that remain about why he left mid-production, but everyone can agree that he left after six weeks of filming and he was replaced by the brilliant Hugo Weaving. Some suggest James was let go, but he quit the role after having to re-record all of his lines because he couldn’t be heard with the mask on. Some of his scenes still ended up in the movie, so clearly the production team wasn’t that upset with him.
8. Amandla Stenberg, Shuri in Black Panther
You don’t need us to reiterate how successful Black Panther was. You would think that anyone who dropped out of the project would be kicking themselves, but that’s not the case with Amandla Stenberg. She had valid reasons for passing on the role of Shuri when she was “very, very” close to the end. “These are all dark-skinned actors playing Africans, and I feel like it would have just been off to see me as a bi-racial American with a Nigerian accent just pretending that I’m the same color as everyone else in the movie,” she said. “…I recognize 100 percent that there are spaces that I should not take up and when I do take up a space it’s because I’ve thought really, really critically about it and I’ve consulted people I really trust and it feels right.” The part eventually went to Letitia Wright and was a breakout moment for her.
7. Winona Ryder, Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III
The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II were HUGE movies and it was pretty well guaranteed that the third installment was going to be a hit. Winona Ryder was involved in the 1990 film. She was meant to play Mary Corleone, Michael Corleone’s (Al Pacino) daughter, but this was the early ‘90s and she was rolling out films back-to-back. Winona ended up leaving the movie because of exhaustion. Francis Ford Coppola didn’t look far for a replacement. He cast daughter Sofia Coppola as Mary.
6. Nicole Kidman, Meg Altman in Panic Room
Nicole Kidman as Kristen Stewart’s mom? It could have been the case if the former actress didn’t drop out of Panic Room. Nicole Kidman was signed on to play Meg Altman and started filming, but she had to drop because of an injury that prevented her from playing the part. Nicole had recently wrapped up filming Moulin Rouge, but while shooting the musical, she hurt her knee. It didn’t seem to be a big deal at first, but the work involved in Panic Room actually made it worse, so she exited the project and Jodie Foster stepped up.
5. Emma Roberts, Brit in Spring Breakers
Spring Breakers had a group of pretty young things committing some major crimes and some might say that almost any young starlet could have played one of the spring breakers. That being said, it’s still interesting to hear that Emma Roberts was in line to play the part of Brit. She pulled out of the movie citing the popular phrase of “creative differences.” The role was then given to Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson, and we can all agree she killed it.
4. Zendaya, Aaliyah in Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B;
In 2014, Zendaya was cast as Aaliyah in the Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B; biopic. Many considered it to be a major part, but the singer-actress decided to leave the project behind. Some criticized her for being cast in the role and questioned her talent and whether her mixed background made her a proper fit for the part. On Instagram, Zendaya revealed that she left the project because “the production value wasn’t there.” She explained there were issues with securing music rights and she even tried contacting Aaliyah’s family herself. With the difficulties, she didn’t think it was “morally right” to continue. The role later went to Alexandra Shipp.
3. Sacha Baron Cohen, Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody
Everyone was very intrigued when it was revealed that Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen was going to play Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic of late Queen singer. It’s a shame that we will never see that version because he left the project in 2016. He revealed that he split because of “creative differences” with some of the remaining members of the band and their focus on the story. It’s not the only trouble the movie has had. It has gone through a few director changes, too. But, it’s coming out with Rami Malek taking over the role of the iconic singer and we are more than okay with that.
2. Nicolas Cage, Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke‘s portrayal as Randy “The Ram” Robinson in The Wrestler earned him some serious praise. What’s shocking is that a very different actor could have been “The Ram” — Nicolas Cage. Nick was attached to the project and thing were looking good, but he decided to leave the film behind. He made it clear it was his choice in an interview. “I resigned from the movie because I didn’t think I had enough time to achieve the look of the wrestler who was on steroids, which I would never do.”
1. Jim Caviezel, Scott Summers/Cyclops in X-Men
Given the massive behemoths superhero movies become, you would think that if someone is lucky to snag a part, they wouldn’t want to give it up. That’s not always how things go. Jim Caviezel was originally cast as Scott Summers/Cyclops in 2000’s X-Men, but dropped out because of scheduling conflicts with his other film Frequency. James Marsden ended up snagging the role and the rest is history!