Skip To Content

    19 Famous Roles That Were Literally Filmed With An Entirely Different Actor...Who Then Got Fired

    Can you imagine Harvey Keitel in Apocalypse Now?

    Casting is one of the most important aspects of making a movie or TV character iconic. The reason why most people can't imagine Will Smith as Neo or Jim Carrey as Captain Jack Sparrow is because those roles were perfectly cast.

    And although those actors were considered for those famous characters (Google it), some famous roles were even recorded with different actors before getting recast with the ones we saw on screen. Here are some instances that you may not have heard of:

    1. Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington in Paddington

    The most wholesome bear to exist on the big screen was brought to life with two movies starring Ben Whishaw as the bear's voice. However, he was almost voiced by Colin Firth, who has appeared in films like 1917, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Mamma Mia!

    Colin Firth

    However, he parted ways with the film during production. Director Paul King told EW, “I cannot thank [Firth] enough for his contribution to Paddington. We love the voice and we love the bear, but as our young bear came into being we agreed that the two didn’t seem to fit. So, with somewhat heavy hearts, we decided to part ways.”

    2. Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly in Back to the Future

    One of the most famous recastings in film history is when director Robert Zemeckis couldn't get Michael J. Fox to play Marty McFly in Back to the Future due to his filming commitments to a TV show named Family Ties. For a few weeks, they shot the movie with their second choice, Eric Stoltz.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    However, Eric's approach to the character was not in line with what the filmmakers had in mind. His approach to Marty was more serious than the lighthearted tone of the film. His method-acting style, where he made everyone call him "Marty," was also annoying to some. Ultimately, he was fired from the film with Fox coming in to play one of the most beloved characters in cinema history.

    3. James Remar as Corporal Hicks in Aliens

    The role of Hicks in James Cameron's 1986 sequel to Alien was originally going to be played by James Remar, who had previously appeared in films like The Warriors and 48 Hrs. They filmed with him for a few weeks.

    James Remar in 48 Hours

    “I had a terrible drug problem, but I got through it. I had a great career and personal life, and messed it up with a terrible drug habit… I was initially cast as Corporal Hicks, and I was fired after a couple weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me,” the actor told Sidebar in a podcast. Biehn and director Cameron had worked together before in The Terminator.

    4. Jean-Claude Van Damme as the Predator in Predator

    The Belgian star of movies like Bloodsport and Timecop nearly had his big break in 1987 when he was hired to play the villainous predator in Predator, a sci-fi action thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers.

    Jean-Claude Van Damme as Frank Dux in Bloodsport

    Van Damme ultimately left the role as he did not want to be in a thick rubber suit in the humid weather. “I like to breathe — and they’re gonna do my head and everything,” Van Damme recalled. “They put in my mouth like a tube [to breathe through]. I was covered in that cast for at least 20 minutes. It was boiling hot." He was replaced with Kevin Peter Hall, who played "one ugly muthafucka."

    5. Stephen Markarian as Cookie in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide

    Many children grew up watching Ned, Moze, and Cookie in the Nickelodeon TV sitcom, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. However, there was an unaired pilot which featured Devon Werkheiser as Ned, Lindsey Shaw as Moze, and...Stephen Markarian as Boogie?

    The pilot was ultimately reshot when the studio wanted to add more diversity to the cast. The character of Boogie was changed to Cookie, played by Daniel Curtis Lee, and the trio of Ned, Moze, and Cookie was born. Stephen Markarian would later be cast in the show as a different character, Albert Wormenheimer.

    Cookie, Moze, and Ned screaming in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide

    6. Lori Petty as Lenina Huxley in Demolition Man

    Petty, who has starred in films like Point Break, A League Of Their Own, and most recently, the TV show Orange is the New Black, was originally cast as Lenina Huxley in the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes action movie Demolition Man. However, she was let go after a few days. "It was the most uncool day in Hollywood for me," Petty recalls. "I just treat people the way I want to be treated, so I’d rather not gossip about [producer Joel Silver's] unkindness."

    Lori Petty in Point Break

    She was replaced with Sandra Bullock and it became one of her breakout roles in Hollywood. Bullock would go on to have a long-lasting career as one of the most successful A-list actors working in the industry.

    Sandra Bullock

    7. Richard Gere as Chico Tyrell in The Lords of Flatbush

    Before Stallone became Rocky, he appeared in this 1974 drama movie alongside Perry King as Chico Tyrell. Originally, this role was played by Richard Gere, who would later become famous for American Gigolo and Pretty Woman.

    Richard Gere in Pretty Woman

    However, Stallone hated working with Gere, sharing the straw that broke the camel's back. "I was eating a hotdog and he climbs in [the car] 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."

    Sylvester Stallone

    8. William H. Macy as the voice of Marlin in Finding Nemo

    The overprotective clownfish dad in Finding Nemo is one of Pixar's most famous characters in their beautiful, universal story about parenting. The role originally went to William H. Macy, a famous actor from films like Fargo, Boogie Nights, and Jurassic Park III.

    William H. Macy

    However, after Macy recorded most of the lines for the film, he was replaced by Albert Brooks, who gave the clownfish a lighter touch.

    Albert Brooks

    9. Samantha Morton as Samantha in Her

    The voice of this AI who ends up becoming Theodore Twombly's (Joaquin Phoenix) girlfriend was originally played by Samantha Morton, an actor who has appeared in The Whale, Minority Report, and The Walking Dead. Morton was on set for the filming of Her, performing lines live with Phoenix while hidden in a 4x4 soundproof booth for most of the shoot.

    Samantha Morton

    However, she was replaced in post with Scarlett Johansson. "It was only in post-production, when we started editing, that we realized that what the character/movie needed was different from what Samantha and I had created together," director Spike Jonze said. Johansson recorded her dialogue working around her schedule for Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

    10. Chris D'Elia as Marianne Peters in Army of the Dead

    A year after Zack Snyder's zombie heist movie Army of the Dead finished filming, actor Chris D'Elia faced sexual misconduct allegations. Snyder swiftly recast the role with comedian Tig Notaro, changing the gender of the character and adding her in through the use of green screen and CGI.

    A shot from Army of the Dead

    You can see how Notaro was digitally inserted here.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    11. James Purefoy as V in V for Vendetta

    Purefoy played the cunning masked terrorist in the 2005 political action film V For Vendetta alongside Natalie Portman.

    V in V for Vendetta

    He was later replaced by Hugo Weaving. Although rumors have gone around for years saying that it was because he didn't like wearing the Guy Fawkes mask, Purefoy said in an interview the mask had nothing to do with his departure, but he had agreed not to speak about the film.

    Hugo Weaving

    12. Dennis Hopper as Christof in The Truman Show

    Hopper was on a villainous streak in the 1990s playing the bad guys in movies like Speed, Waterworld, and Super Mario Bros. (not the Chris Pratt one, the live-action one).

    Dennis Hopper as Koopa in Super Mario Bros.

    He left the project halfway through filming due to creative differences. Hopper was replaced by Ed Harris, who filmed for about 10 days and turned Christof into an infamous villain.

    Ed Harris

    13. Harvey Keitel as Willard in Apocalypse Now

    Keitel was the first actor cast to play the protagonist in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. After a week of shooting, Keitel was recast, with the role going to Martin Sheen instead.

    Martin Sheen as WIllard in Apocalypse Now

    Keitel shared thoughts on getting fired in an interview: "Francis wanted me to wear a helmet while on a mission. I respectfully argued that my character would not wear a helmet because if you drop it in the jungle, it would make noise. That’s why you see all the special forces wearing bandannas. In that one instance, he gave in. But long-term, he didn’t really give in because if he had understood the real value of my contribution—having the experience of three years as a Marine Corps rifleman, squad leader, fire team leader—the separation wouldn’t have happened."

    Harvey Keitel

    14. Gerard McSorley as Captain Queenan in The Departed

    Yet another instance of Martin Sheen coming in to replace an actor halfway through production, McSorley was let go of Martin Scorsese's Boston crime thriller, The Departed, as Captain Charlie Queenan. The reason for his firing is unknown.

    Martin Sheen

    15. Kel O'Neill as Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood

    It's hard to imagine anyone besides Paul Dano as the character. However, the role was first played by Kel O'Neill, an actor whose career didn't take off the way Dano's did, instead pursuing a career in directing. Director Paul Thomas Anderson fired him shortly after production started, reshooting his scenes with Dano.

    Kel O'Neill

    "For some reason, even though every other actor I know had a relationship with Paul that was super positive and where they did their best work, that just didn’t happen with me," O'Neill recalls. "I would attribute that primarily to a failure on my side: An actor should, with every ounce of their humanity, be attempting to give the director what he or she wants. And I recall going in and out on whether I could really do that."

    Actor Paul Dano and director Paul Thomas Anderson

    16. Holly Hunter as the voice of Chicken Little in Chicken Little

    Hunter, an actor who has appeared in films like The Piano, The Incredibles, and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, recorded dialogue for eight months as Chicken Little in the 2005 Disney animated movie.

    Holly Hunter

    However, the decision was made to switch Chicken Little's gender from female to male. Hunter was replaced with Zach Braff for the lead role.

    Zach Braff

    17. John Lithgow as Hades in Hercules

    The studio originally wanted Jack Nicholson for the role, but he was asking for too much money. They ended up going with John Lithgow, the actor who would go on to voice the villainous Lord Farquaad in Shrek. However, the directors found that he was the wrong choice for this villain.

    John Lithgow

    The studio then looked at actors like Kevin Spacey, Ron Silver, and Phil Hartman before James Woods's distinct interpretation of the character was chosen.

    James Woods at an event

    18. Sean Young as Tess Trueheart in Dick Tracy

    Young, an actor known for her roles in Blade Runner and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, was originally cast as Tess Trueheart in the 1990 movie Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty and Al Pacino.

    Sean Young

    After a few days of filming, she was replaced by Glenne Headly. Young would go on to claim that she was fired for rejecting Beatty's advances. Beatty said, "I made a mistake casting Sean Young in the part and I felt very badly about it."

    Sean Young

    19. And finally, a pair of unknown actors as Michelle Tanner in Full House

    Michelle Tanner in Full House

    Actor John Stamos, who played Uncle Jesse in Full House, got the role of Michelle Tanner recast. They were originally played by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, but he had them fired because they kept crying and ruining the takes.

    Michelle Tanner in Full House

    They brought in two other kids to play Michelle, but Stamos ultimately had a change of heart and decided to bring the Olsen twins back as the other kids were not working well in the role.

    Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen