Home Acting Hollywood Shockers: A-List Celebs Who Were Fired Mid-Production

Hollywood Shockers: A-List Celebs Who Were Fired Mid-Production

Monica November 1, 2023

Getting hired to star in a movie or television show is hard enough, but it’s even harder to get fired from a movie or show mid-production. But that’s exactly what happened to these A-list celebs after they showed up on set for the filming of some truly iconic movies and TV shows. In the end, it’s probably a good thing that a lot of these celebrities were fired from their roles.

Of course, there’s a myriad of reasons why these previously successful celebs were fired. Some of them weren’t the right fit, exhibited bad behavior, or found another, more fulfilling life path. Whatever the reason, these celebs potentially lost millions in the process. Find out why they were fired from these huge roles right here.


Erinn Hayes

Sometimes, it’s not the actor’s fault they were fired from the show, but simply the show’s plot is to blame. That’s what happened to Erinn Hayes, who starred in Kevin Can Wait. She lost nearly $75,000 in the process, and fans were shocked she was killed off in the show. But the director had his reasons, and the main one was to drive the show’s plot forward. Producer Rob Long said, “The goal was to give Kevin’s character a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after tragedy]. Also, out of respect for the character of Donna—and certainly the way that Erinn Hayes portrayed her—it seemed like the only right and fair way to treat her character.” Unfortunately, it didn’t make getting fired any easier for Hayes (via Eonline).

Movies TV Network

Judy Garland

Alcoholism got in the way of Judy Garland’s acting career during her role in Valley of the Dolls. When she first got the role, she said, “I don’t think any actress could get a better role. I think there’s a good chance to sing one song and yet I don’t have to depend upon singing. I like to act, too, so I think it will be good, I hope I am good at it.” But she lost about $200,000 in the process thanks to addiction issues that cost her her fame and fortune. Midway through production, the producers felt they had no choice but to fire Judy Garland and replace her with Susan Hayward (via Movies TV Network).


Philip Bruns

There was a time when Barney Martin almost wasn’t in Seinfeld in the role of the title character’s father. Initially, Philip Bruns was set to play his role but lost $6 million in the process when Martin replaced him. Because of his laidback personality, Jerry Seinfeld was concerned about his nonchalant character. That’s why they brought in Barney Martin, as they wanted a harsher person to give the right vibe to Seinfeld. After seeing what Martin brought to the role, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing him (via Screen Rant).

Cult MTL

Anne Hathaway

When the hit movie Knocked Up hit the charts, people fell in love with the movie’s humor and relatability. But could you imagine Anne Hathaway starring in the role as opposed to Katherin Heigl? Hathaway lost $300,000 when Heigl replaced her. She left the movie production when she didn’t agree with the creative direction the movie was taking, specifically the birthing scene. Hathaway said, “My issue with it was that having not experienced motherhood myself, I didn’t know how I was gonna feel on the other side about giving birth.” She continued, “And by the way, I could pop a kid out and think, Oh, well, I really should have done that movie.” Ultimately Heigl came in and took the role (via The List).

The Hollywood Reporter

Selma Blair

The role of Kate, portrayed by Selma Blair, swiftly exited Anger Management. People thought the character was a bit dull, hence the role’s sudden departure. She lost around $75,000 in the process and was not replaced by anyone. Charlie Sheen said, “Kate was written out because the show was not about our relationship-too many people were still excited about the Two and A Half Men character and thought the Anger Management character was a bit dull. Her character leaves, and I start circling the drain. So it’s enjoyable to watch and hella fun to play.” And so Blair was fired mid-production (via Cheat Sheet).

New Yorker

Megyn Kelly

Most people couldn’t imagine losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, let alone $69 million. But that’s what happened to Megyn Kelly, who was hired by NBC to host Megyn Kelly Today. Craig Melvin, Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones, and Dylan Dreyer replaced her. The network fired her after she defended the use of blackface. She said, “You do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface on Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” and that it was OK when she was a kid. Her drinking issues held her back from the show and her alcoholism eventually led to her demise (via New Yorker).

ABC News

Roseanne Barr

Back in the 1990s, Roseanne Barr was the lead star of the hilarious sitcom Roseanne. When news broke out there’d be a reboot in 2017, many fans couldn’t have been happier. But she lost around $6 million after a series of controversial tweets online forced her to be fired from her title role mid-production. She tried to defend herself by saying, “They hate me because I have talent and because I have an opinion. Even though Roseanne became their No. 1 show, they’d rather not have a No. 1 show.” The tweet in question involved Valerie Jarett, a senior aide to former President Barack Obama (via Vanity Fair).

Hello Giggles

Natalie Portman

The movie Romeo + Juliet is a classic, but it almost wasn’t going to be that way. Claire Danes replaced Natalie Portman, who almost portrayed Juliet, mid-production. The only issue was Portman’s age. At 13 years old, directors didn’t want her starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, who was 21 years old at the time. It wasn’t appropriate in the eyes of the film company, which is probably a good thing. Claire Danes was still young at 17, but hers was still a much more appropriate age (via The List).

Hollywood Reporter

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Originally, ’90s action superstar Jean-Claude Van Damme was hired to play the role of the villain in Predator. But he was replaced by Kevin Peter Hall, losing around $125,000. This decision was mostly made on the premise of the costume, which was too constricting for Van Damme to move around freely. In an interview, he said, “My head was in the neck. My hands were in the forearms, and there were cables [attached to my fingers to move the creature’s head and jaws]. My feet were in his calves, so I was on [stilts]. It was a disgusting outfit.” He couldn’t play the role appropriately and was asked to leave the project (via Hollywood Reporter).


Jenny Slate

You might know Jenny Slate from Parks and Recreation but long before that time, she was a cast member on SNL. She was axed after 22 episodes when producers started to think she simply didn’t belong there. In an interview, she said, “I just didn’t belong there. I didn’t do a good job, I didn’t click. I have no idea how [SNL creator] Lorne [Michaels] felt about me. All I know is, it didn’t work for me, and I got fired.” Unfortunately, she just didn’t seem to gel with the cast and it didn’t work out in the end (via Distractify).

Screen Rant

Megan Fox

After previously starring in the series, Megan Fox was almost in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. That is until Rosie Huntington-Whitely replaced her. Fox lost a whopping $3 million thanks to the comments she made during an interview, where she called the movie’s director Michael Bay a “tyrant.” She made the mistake of saying, “He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for.” This negatively impacted her career for future movies as well (via Screen Rant).

Hindustan Times

Edward Norton

It’s hard to imagine anyone except Mark Ruffalo playing the part of Bruce Banner in the MCU, but there was a time when Edward Norton nearly did. It didn’t work out, and producers believed he didn’t fulfill the role or work well with the other cast members. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said, “The 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.” This decision reportedly cost Norton $2 million in the process (via Marca).


Harvey Keitel

Martin Sheen’s portrayal of Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now amazed fans around the world. But there was a time when Harvey Keitel almost played the role. During production, director Francis Ford Coppola felt he couldn’t nail the character and that he wasn’t the right fit. As quoted in the book “Coppola’s Monster Film: The Making of ‘Apocalypse Now,” he said, “I could see [Keitel] was very uncomfortable about conditions in the jungle. And I thought, Not only do I think he’s wrong casting, but what’s it going to be like for six months in these difficult conditions in the jungle for a city guy who’s afraid of it? I just decided to make this tough decision.” Keitel lost $50,000 in the process (via Insider).

The List

Lisa Bonet

When Lisa Bonet starred in A Different World, she was a hit with fans. So when her character was booted from The Cosby Show, fans felt sad. Producer Debbie Allen felt she’d outgrown the material and wasn’t the right fit. Still, she never really hit the big screen during her adult years, saying, “I always had one foot in and one foot out of the business, so that’s part of it. But also, it’s slim pickings out there. There aren’t endless opportunities for women of color.” Bonet went on to have a family life and had three children (via The List).

The Sun

Janet Hubert

In the first three seasons of the famous fan-favorite show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Janet Hubert played Aunt Viv. But eventually, producers had to let her go after they couldn’t reach a suitable contract. Daphne Maxwell Reid eventually replaced Hubert, who lost $75,000. Something also happened between her and Will Smith, who said, during an interview, “I can say straight up that Janet Hubert wanted the show to be The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show because I know she is going to dog me in the press.” Who knows what truly happened, but she was fired nonetheless (via The Sun).


Jake T. Austin

The family drama The Fosters had five successful seasons. During the first two seasons, Jake T. Austin played Jesus, but Noah Centineo replaced him in season three. No one knows why he was fired from the show, but people speculate it was because he was tired of doing teen roles and wanted more substantial characters out of his acting career (via CBR).

Daily Mail

Paula Abdul

Simon Cowell has to be one of the most intimidating, harshest judges out there. This is reportedly why Paula Abdul was fired from The X Factor. Cowell claims there were no hard feelings, but it was more of a strategic reasoning. At the very least, she made $5 million per season. There’s a chance she’ll eventually return, though, and according to The Sun, it’s because “She is part of the Syco family and they all work closely together. Paula and Simon have great on-screen chemistry and their banter is funny and entertaining.” All we can do is sit and wait (via Daily Mail).

Hollywood Reporter

Ryan Gosling

Even though many know The Lovely Bones with Mark Wahlberg, there was a time when Ryan Gosling almost starred in the movie. This was all thanks to a communication breakdown and Gosling’s 60-pound weight gain. In an interview, Gosling said, “We didn’t talk very much during the preproduction process, which was the problem. It was a huge movie, and there were so many things to deal with, and he couldn’t deal with the actors individually. I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong.” Unfortunately for Gosling, this was a dealbreaker (via Hollywood Reporter).


Terrence Howard

In the first Iron Man movie, Terrence Howard portrayed James “Rhodie” Rhodes. But contract negotiations regarding salary fell through and he wasn’t re-signed for the second movie. Instead, Don Cheadle replaced Howard. But insiders with knowledge of the situation also described Howard as a hothead, saying he “has to be in control of everything, all the time.” It was apparently much more than just a salary disagreement (via Looper).


Taylor Momsen

You might know Taylor Momsen as the lead singer from The Pretty Reckless, but back then, she was also Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl. Eventually, her role was written out after several seasons and she was fired from the show. This happened because she had an epiphany about her career. During an interview, she said, “Literally, as soon as I got to an age where I could make my own decisions, it was like a click… And I woke up one morning and went, ‘Wait a second, I don’t have to do this, I don’t have to do this other job? I can just play in my band and tour and write songs. I can just do that?'” And so she began her career as a musician (via EW).

HELLO! Magazine

Shannen Doherty

Back in the ’90s, Doherty’s name was everywhere, specifically as Brenda Walsh on Beverly Hills 90210. But her character was written off and she was fired during production. She wasn’t happy about the drama, and in an interview, said, “The sacrifice of a camera pointed in my face 24 hours a day while I was desperately trying to grow up, to figure out my spirituality, to figure out my boyfriends. I mean, I was a teenager.” It sounds like a lot to go through at such a young age (via The List).


Julianne Moore

The Project Can You Ever Forgive Me? would be very different with Julianne Moore. But when director Nicole Holofcener decided Moore wasn’t the right fit for the role, they let her go and replaced her with Melissa McCarthy. This happened because “Julianne Moore wanted to wear a fat suit and a false nose to play Lee Israel, and Nicole Holofcener said, ‘You’re not going to do that.”‘ She ended up losing the role and money (via The Guardian).


Mark Webber

After the pilot, the director of Stumptown replaced Mark Webber with Jake Johnson. He was not happy about it, to say the least, and made his frustration known with a series of tweets, claiming he was recast because he wasn’t handsome enough to be on the show, though that’s left up for speculation (via Bleeding Cool).

Briff Me

Anthony Michael Hall

Despite Anthony Michael Hall’s eight-month effort to try and make his role on Full Metal Jacket work, he ultimately wasn’t the right fit. Hall said, “I can say in hindsight that it was about money, but it wasn’t. It was just a crazy drawn-out thing. (Kubrick) was incredibly private. I had to go to his attorney’s house in Beverly Hills and read a numbered script. I mean, dude, it was like this.” He was too young for the role, amongst a myriad of other reasons, and wasn’t ready to give up his youthful life for the role (via Outsider).


Aml Ameen

As one of the most expensive Netflix shows out there, Sense8 costs a whopping $9 million per episode. But after two seasons, Netflix canceled the show, not only because of the cost but because of the drama between all the cast members. Ameen clashed with Lana Wachowski, and their relationship disintegrated. They failed to overcome their differences during filming, which led to his departure (via Screen Rant).


James Remar

Shortly after filming on the classic sci-fi film Aliens began, actor James Remar faced legal trouble, which affected his ability to star in it. He was unable to continue onwards with the production, which is why Michael Biehn eventually replaced him. Luckily, this didn’t negatively impact Remar’s career as he went on to star in TV shows like Dexter and Gotham. During an interview, he said, “I was initially cast as Corporal Hicks, and I was fired after a couple of weeks of filming because I got busted for possession of drugs, and Michael Biehn replaced me.” (via IMDB).


Suzanne Somers

Back in the ’80s, Somers became a hit all thanks to her role in Three’s Company. But that fame didn’t last, and when she entered contract negotiations, everything went downhill. She was eventually let go when the studio couldn’t see eye to eye with a pay increase. She was one of the first women to speak about the unfair wages between men and women in the acting industry, saying, “I’m looking around and thinking, ‘Why are all the men… making 10 times more?” But this backfired, and she was escorted off set, fired, and forced to step away from the limelight and focus on a different path (via Biography).

Business Insider

Annette Bening

It seemed like Annette Bening was the perfect role for Catwoman in Batman Returns. But despite her dedication to the role, she got pregnant. Luckily, Michelle Pfeiffer was just as dedicated and replaced Bening. Producer Denise Di Novi said, “We were a little bit in a panic because we’d fitted the costumes and the mask and everything and then Annette was pregnant.” But the role was successfully filled, so it didn’t make a huge difference in the end (via Insider).


Colin Firth

Fans loved the idea of Colin Firth doing the voiceover for Britain’s favorite bear Paddington. But halfway through filming, Firth believed he was too old and that his voice wasn’t the perfect fit for the bear. Producer David Heyman said, “He has a beautiful voice but it’s too mature, in a way, for the bear.” They decided to fire him and replace him with Ben Whishaw, which was probably the best thing that could have happened (via Yahoo).


Eric Stoltz

Could you imagine Back to the Future without Michael J. Fox? That’s almost what happened before A-list celebrity Eric Stoltz was fired mid-production. He lost $250,000 but it probably turned out for the best. Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly is too iconic of a character for anyone to replace him. Stoltz originally filmed the first movie, but director Bob Zemeckis didn’t feel he was the right fit. Co-star Lea Thompson said, “Eric had such an intensity. He saw drama in things. He wasn’t a comedian, and they needed a comedian. He’s super-funny in real life, but he didn’t approach his work like that, and they needed somebody who had those chops.” Even though it was a difficult period for Stoltz, it worked out in the end (via Collider).