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10 Fan Voted Funniest Examples of Actors Who Stupidly Turned Down or Left Movies Mid-shoot

Making a movie is a huge undertaking that requires a lot of time, money, and effort from everyone involved. So, when an actor or actress suddenly decides to leave a project in the middle of shooting, it can be a significant headache for the filmmakers and a massive disappointment for fans.

People in a popular online forum recently shared some funniest and most outrageous examples of actors who stupidly walked away from movies, leaving their castmates and crew in the lurch. From missed opportunities to diva-like behavior and sudden career changes, here are some of the most memorable instances of actors leaving movies mid-shoot.

1. Sean Connery – The Lord of The Rings (2001)

Sean Connery was initially offered the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but he turned it down. The actor reportedly didn’t understand the script and found it confusing. One person shared their disappointment, saying, “I can’t even imagine him in that role; it’s just weird.” The role eventually went to Ian McKellen, who gave a remarkable performance.

2. Jean-Claude Van Damme – Predator (1987)

Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) was cast as the titular alien in Predator, but he quit the role after a few days of filming due to dissatisfaction with the costume and makeup. One moviegoer asked, “Can you imagine if the original Predator had been a skinny little JCVD in a ridiculous outfit?” The role was then recast, and the iconic monster we know today was created.

3. Will Smith – The Matrix (1999)

Will Smith was initially offered the role of Neo in The Matrix but turned it down to star in Wild Wild West. Keanu Reeves eventually got the role, and the movie became a cultural phenomenon. One fan confessed, “I don’t think anyone, but Keanu could have pulled that off.”

4. James Caan – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

James Caan was initially cast as McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but he left the project due to creative differences with the director. The role eventually went to Jack Nicholson, who won an Oscar for his performance. However, many people found it hard to imagine anyone else in the role, noting, “Nicholson was amazing in that moviLikewise, e. I can’t imagine anyone else playing McMurphy.”

5. Emily Blunt – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Emily Blunt was initially cast as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but she had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts with Gulliver’s Travels. The role eventually went to Scarlett Johansson, who went on to play the character in several other Marvel movies. However, one Marvel fan found it hard to picture anyone else in the role, clarifying, “Scarlett Johansson is Black Widow. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in that role now.”

6. Richard Gere – The Lords of Flatbush (1974)

In one of his earliest roles, Richard Gere played a member of a Brooklyn street gang in The Lords of Flatbush. However, Gere’s on-set behavior reportedly didn’t sit well with the film’s co-directors, and he was fired before the movie was completed. Perry King was brought in to replace him, and the film became a modest hit.

One moviegoer believes that Gere’s exit from the movie ultimately worked out in his favor, stating, “It may have been the best decision he ever made. If he had stayed in that movie, his career could have gone very differently.”

7. James Purefoy – V for Vendetta (2005)

James Purefoy was initially cast as V in the 2005 dystopian thriller V For Vendetta. However, after the shooting began, he reportedly clashed with the director over the character’s voice and was ultimately replaced by Hugo Weaving.

While Purefoy has since said that leaving the film was “one of the biggest regrets” of his career, many people in the thread believe that Weaving’s performance was integral to the film’s success. As one stated, “I can’t see anyone else playing V now. Hugo Weaving completely nailed that role.”

8. Dougray Scott – X-Men (2000)

Before Hugh Jackman became synonymous with the character of Wolverine, Dougray Scott was originally cast in the role for the first X-Men movie. However, scheduling conflicts with the filming of Mission: Impossible II led Scott to drop out of the project, and Jackman was brought in as a last-minute replacement. The rest, as they say, is history.

One fan believes that Jackman’s take on Wolverine was an improvement over what Scott might have brought to the role, confessing, “I don’t think Dougray Scott would have brought the same level of charisma and gravitas to Wolverine that Hugh Jackman has.”

9. Eric Stoltz – Back to The Future (1985)

For several weeks of filming, Eric Stoltz was the face of Back to the Future‘s time-traveling protagonist, Marty McFly. However, after director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg decided that Stoltz’s performance wasn’t quite right for the role, they boldly decided to recast the part with Michael J. Fox.

One person shared, “They decided they had made a mistake and wanted to start over again, so they went to Michael J. Fox and said, ‘We want you to be the lead in this movie. So we need you to film the TV show Family Ties during the day and then come to our set and shoot all night.’” And he did and defined the role beautifully.

10. Ryan Gosling – The Lovely Bones (2009)

Finally, Ryan Gosling was initially cast in the role of Jack Salmon in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lovely Bones, but he dropped out of the project just a few months before filming began. Gosling cited creative differences with Jackson as the reason for his departure, and Mark Wahlberg was brought in as a replacement.

A final commenter believes that Gosling’s exit from the film may have been a blessing in disguise, stating, “Ryan Gosling would have been good in this role, but I think Mark Wahlberg brought a level of gravitas to it that would have been missing if Gosling had stayed.”

This thread inspired this post.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Michael launched Wealth of Geeks to make personal finance fun. He has worked in personal finance for over 20 years, helping families reduce taxes, increase their income, and save for retirement. Michael is passionate about personal finance, side hustles, and all things geeky.

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