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11 Movies That Re-Cast Their Stars For A Sequel With Wildly Different Results

They recast...Keanu Reeves?!

1. Keanu Reeves declined to reprise his role as Officer Jack Traven in Speed 2: Cruise Control and was replaced by Jason Patric.

Reeves and Bullock on a speeding bus and Bulluck and Patric on a boat on a placid sea
© 20thCentFox / Courtesy Everett Collection

Speed — an action film about a bus rigged to explode if it goes slower than 50 miles per hour — was a massive hit in 1994 and catapulted Sandra Bullock to stardom. It also established Keanu Reeves as a big-time action star, so it came as a surprise when it was announced that a sequel would be hitting theaters starring Sandra Bullock and…Jason Patric.

The studio, of course, wanted Reeves to star in the sequel, but Reeves was not exactly wowed by director Jan de Bont’s concept for the movie, which centered not on a bus trying to maintain a high speed in the notoriously traffic-packed Los Angeles but on…a slow-moving cruise ship out on the open sea.

As Reeves told Jimmy Kimmel, “I loved working with Jan de Bont and Sandra, of course. It was just a situation in life where I got the script and I read the script and I was like, ‘Ugggghhh.’ It was about a cruise ship, and I was thinking...a cruise ship is even slower than a bus and I was like, ‘I love you guys, but I just can’t do it.’”

The director’s cruise ship idea — which he'd settled on after rejecting hundreds of writers' pitches — didn’t exactly wow Bullock, either, but she agreed to star in the sequel in exchange for the studio financing her dream project Hope Floats.

In the end, Reeves was right. Speed 2 was a massive critical and commercial bomb that presently holds a 4% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

2. Bill Murray was replaced by Bernie Mac in the Charlie's Angels sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Murray with the angels and Mac with the angels
Sony courtesy of Everett Collection

If you had to guess, you’d probably imagine that filming the big-screen adaptation of the classic television series — with sunny and funny stars like Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Bill Murray — was a good time. Apparently, it was not.

A lot of the drama, it seems, centered on Murray. Director McG claimed that Murray headbutted him, describing it as “square in the head. An inch lower and my nose would have been obliterated." Murray has vehemently denied this, saying, "That’s complete crap! I don’t know why he made that story up. He has a very active imagination.” 

Murray also allegedly told Liu that she couldn’t act, and she allegedly responded by throwing punches. Murray, when asked about this, said, “I will dismiss you completely if you are unprofessional and working with me. … When our relationship is professional and you’re not getting that done, forget it.”

Whatever the exact truth is, it should come as no surprise that Murray wasn't asked back to play John Bosley in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Instead, Mac was brought on to play Jimmy Bosley, John’s adoptive brother and successor.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day star Edward Furlong didn't play John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines because the studio replaced him with Nick Stahl.

Schwarzenegger and Furlong in T2 and Schwarzenegger and Stahl in T3
Tri-Star, Warner Bros., Sony

Making a third Terminator film was not going well for Warner Bros. in the early 2000s. James Cameron, the co-creator of the franchise and director of the first two films, including the massive hit Terminator 2: Judgment Day, had declined to write or direct the new movie. Also declining to be involved? Linda Hamilton, who starred in the first two films as Sarah Connor. Warner Bros. did have Arnold Schwarzenegger on board and, for at least a minute, Edward Furlong to reprise his role as John Connor.

However, while Furlong was a hugely popular part of the first sequel, Warner Bros. decided to recast his role because they were worried that his then-publicized drug problem could put the production in jeopardy. Furlong, for his part, said, “I was going through my own thing at that point in my life — whatever, it just wasn’t meant to be.” Instead, Nick Stahl was hired to play the role.

With no Cameron, no Hamilton, and no Furlong-Schwarzenegger chemistry, the new T3 didn’t quite feel as if it totally belonged in the franchise. Still, it was a sizable hit worldwide and has a decent 69% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, starred Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling instead of Jodie Foster.

Foster and Hopkins in Silence of the lambs and Moore and Hopkins in Hannibal
Orion Pictures Corp / courtesy Everett Collection / MGM

In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs became the first (and still only) horror film to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards…plus the top acting awards for its stars, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

 A decade later, a sequel entitled Hannibal hit screens, once again starring Hopkins as the creepy killer Hannibal Lecter, but this time the role of FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling was played by Julianne Moore.

So what happened to Foster? The official explanation was that she was busy preparing to direct Flora Plum (a film that never ended up happening). But she reportedly didn't like the initial screenplay adaptation of author Thomas Harris’s Hannibal, which hewed closely to the book and featured Clarice drugged up, eating brains with Hannibal, and even having sex with him. Silence of the Lambs director Jonathon Demme — who, like Foster, declined to take part in the sequel — said that this new direction “didn’t compute” for him.

The Hannibal that reached the big screen excised most of the truly out-there elements of the book but still doesn’t look to have impressed Foster. When asked if she saw the film, she whispered, “I saw Hannibal. I won’t comment.”

5. Rachel Weisz played Evelyn Carnahan in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns but was replaced by Maria Bello in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

Weisz and Bello as Evelyn Carnahan in the different films
© Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

If you believe director Rob Cohen (who was taking over for Stephen Sommers, who directed the first two Mummy films), Rachel Weisz dropped out because the new film aged the characters, and her character would now have a 21-year-old son. Cohen told Heat, “I got a very angry phone call from her agent, saying she'll never play the mother of a 21-year-old. I said, 'OK, good, fine, bye.'" 

However, Weisz says she dropped out because the filming would have required her to spend five months in China away from her 2-year-old son. There were also rumors that Weisz thought the script had major problems.

It’s also possible that Weisz — who had recently won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar and was appearing in higher-quality films — was less than enthusiastic about the series’ new director, whose previous film has a miserable 12% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In the end, it was a good decision for Weisz, even though the film was a box office hit. Tomb of the Dragon Emperor was the worst-reviewed film in the series and has a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of…you guessed it...12%.

6. Rooney Mara played Lisbeth Salander, and Daniel Craig played Mikael Blomkvist, in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but they were replaced by Claire Foy and Sverrir Gudnason in The Girl in the Spider's Web.

Mara and Foy as Lisbeth, respectively

Director David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo — the first English-language film adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium book series — was a stylish critical hit that grossed $233 million worldwide. It also received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Actress for Rooney Mara as the title character.

 You would think, then, that when it came time to make a sequel, the studio would be excited to bring back their Academy Award–nominated star, Mara, and her costar, Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) would think.

As it turns out, the studio had other plans. The first film wasn’t as financially successful as they’d hoped, and Mara and Craig would be expecting raises for the sequel, so they decided to bring on a new director and cast…and shoot it at less than half the first film's budget.

If the studio thought this budget version would make more money, they were very, very wrong. Without Fincher helming the film, The Girl in the Spider's Web got generally poor reviews, and without the original stars, it generated little excitement. It was a costly box office bomb that stopped the franchise dead in its tracks.

7. In the Back to the Future sequels, Elisabeth Shue replaced Claudia Wells as Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer Parker, and Jeffrey Weissman replaced Crispin Glover as George McFly.

The characters of Jennifer and George as they looked in part one and part two

After the smash success of Back to the Future, Universal was excited to bring the entire cast back but ran into a couple of snafus.

First, Claudia Wells informed the studio that she wouldn’t be appearing in the sequel because she needed to care for her mother, who was sick with cancer. They quickly recast the role of Jennifer with up-and-coming star Elisabeth Shue (fresh off hits The Karate Kid and Cocktail).

The situation surrounding the role of George McFly was much more complicated. Crispin Glover told Howard Stern that he was offered only $125,000 to return, which he claimed was significantly less than what his costars were being paid. In response to this offer, Glover, who didn’t like the script, demanded a million.

So the filmmakers and studio pivoted and hired Jeffrey Weissman to a) mimic Glover, and b) look like him by wearing a mold of Glover's face made for the first film. The sleight of hand worked wonderfully, as most viewers of the sequel had no idea that a new actor was playing George McFly.

One person it didn’t work for, though, was Glover, who sued Universal. Looking back recently, Glover said it was the use of a face mold to make Weissman look like him that crossed the line. “Had they only hired another actor, which is kind of what I thought had happened, that would have been totally legal, and I would have been completely fine with it,” he said.

Universal and Glover settled out of court for $760,000, but the case started an important conversation about celebrities and the ownership of their likeness. In more recent years, the Screen Actors Guild established rules protecting actors in situations like this.

8. Terrence Howard played James "Rhodey" Rhodes in Iron Man but was replaced in Iron Man 2 by Don Cheadle, who depicted the character's transition into War Machine.

Howard and Cheadle as War Machine, respectively

As is the case with a lot of these stories, the dustup between Terrence Howard and the makers of Iron Man 2 is a case of "he said, they said." What seems clear is that Howard was supposed to play James "Rhodey" Rhodes (who later becomes War Machine) in more than just Iron Man, but things didn't work out that way.

Some sources suggest that Howard was difficult on set and that director Jon Favreau and the film’s producers were unhappy with his performance. Howard denied this in a radio interview, saying, “They began to spread propaganda that I was difficult to deal with and all this stuff, and I was like, whatever.”

Howard says that, upon signing on to do Iron Man, he was told by the studio that he would be a co-lead in the sequel and paid $8 million to do it. However, when it came time to make Part 2, the studio no longer wanted him as a co-lead and, since his role was going to be more reduced than initially intended, offered him only $1 million to come back. Howard’s agent hung up the phone when they made that much-smaller offer, effectively ending negotiations.

Another interesting part of this is that insiders claim Howard was the first actor hired for Iron Man and, as a result, signed on at a higher rate than his costars later signed for, including Robert Downey Jr. The studio, therefore, wanted to bring his salary for the sequel more in line with those of the rest of the supporting cast. 

Whatever the explanation, don’t bother asking Howard if he’d return as War Machine, as a fan did when calling into Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. Howard said that while there’s potential for a cool War Machine franchise, his position is, “Fuck ”em.”

9. Ed Norton played Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Incredible Hulk but was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers (and beyond).

Norton and Ruffallo as The Hulk, respectively
© Universal / Courtesy Everett Collection

Bringing the Hulk to the big screen was quite the rocky road. In 2003, Ang Lee directed The Hulk, starring Eric Bana, but it was a box office disappointment. So when Marvel reacquired the rights to the character, they decided to do a reboot starring Ed Norton. Unfortunately for Marvel, this reboot wasn’t a (Hulk) smash, either, grossing only slightly more than the first movie. 

If Marvel didn’t love the box office returns, they also reportedly didn’t love squabbling with Norton over the final cut of the film. Norton wanted a 135-minute version, while Marvel wanted the movie under two hours. Making matters worse, the studio’s plans to shorten the movie included cutting a lot of the scenes Norton himself had written. Later, when it came time to promote the film, Norton was often unavailable.

Despite the drama, Marvel initially looked ready to move forward with Norton as the Hulk in The Avengers and beyond and began negotiations. Those came to a crashing halt, though, when Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige released a statement reading in part, “We have made the decision to not bring Ed Norton back to portray the title role of Bruce Banner in The Avengers. Our decision is definitely not one based on monetary factors, but instead rooted in the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members.” Ouch.

Norton's agent, Brian Swardstrom, fired back, saying, “Edward was looking forward to the opportunity to work with Joss (Whedon, director of The Avengers) and the other actors in The Avengers cast, many of whom are personal friends of his. Feige's statement is unprofessional, disingenuous and clearly defamatory. Mr. Norton's talent, tireless work ethic and professional integrity deserve more respect, and so do Marvel's fans.”

Whoever is to blame, I suppose it only makes sense that, in the making of a movie about a character who can't control his anger, all the creative parties seem to have lost their cool too.

10. Michelle Pfeiffer famously played Catwoman in Batman Returns, but when the character finally got her own standalone film, she was played by Halle Berry.

Pfeiffer and Berry as Catwoman, respectively
Warner Bros.

By far the most buzzed-about part of Tim Burton’s Batman Returns was Michelle Pfeiffer's electric performance as Catwoman. Pfeiffer made such a stir, in fact, that Burton wanted to direct her in her own standalone Catwoman film. Batman Returns screenwriter Daniel Waters was brought in to write a screenplay and crafted a tale that was dark in tone, much like Batman Returns. He ended up turning in the screenplay to the studio the same day the much lighter, kid-friendly Batman Forever was released in theaters, and that was definitely a case of bad timing because Batman Forever was a massive hit. Warner Bros. suddenly had little interest in returning to darker Batman fare, and Burton and Pfeiffer soon went off to do other projects.

Nearly a decade passed before Warner Bros. finally made a standalone Catwoman movie, now starring Halle Berry. In the end, there was no juicy drama about why Pfeiffer was replaced — just too much time had elapsed — but Warner Bros. surely wishes they’d struck when the iron was hot post–Batman Returns instead of waiting so long. Catwoman was a massive critical and commercial bomb.

11. Alec Baldwin originated the role of Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October but was replaced by Harrison Ford in the next Jack Ryan film, The Patriot Games.

Baldwin and Ford as Jack Ryan, respectively
Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection / Paramount

If you’re under 40, you probably think of Alec Baldwin as a comic actor, thanks to his work on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, but he became a star playing CIA analyst Jack Ryan in the 1990 spy thriller The Hunt for Red October, which grossed over $200 million. 

Everyone expected the young star to star in the sequel, Patriot Games, but when the film hit theaters, Ryan was played by Harrison Ford. 

If you ask Baldwin what happened, he'll say he got screwed by Ford. In his book Nevertheless, Baldwin claims that he was in the middle of negotiating with the studio for the sequel when Ford approached them about taking over the role. He goes on to allege that The Hunt for Red October director John McTiernan asked Ford if he felt bad for snatching the role from Baldwin, and Ford replied, “Fuck him.” Baldwin later described Ford as “a little man, short, scrawny, and wiry, whose soft voice sounds as if it’s coming from behind a door." Let it out, Alec. Let it out.

In Ford’s defense, Baldwin was starring in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway when negotiating for the sequel, and the studio was frustrated with his unwillingness to say when exactly he’d be done with the play and available to film Patriot Games. So the studio's move to Ford wasn’t totally unwarranted.

Ford played Ryan a second time in A Clear and Present Danger, which usurped The Hunt for Red October as the highest-grossing film in the Jack Ryan franchise (a fact that must pain Baldwin to no end).