"I just showed up on set, and I had gotten it wrong."
Releasing a major motion picture takes a lot of hard work but even when the cast and crew devote all of their time and effort to their role, things don't always go as planned. From the moment the script is finished to the day the film finally hits theaters, there’s undoubtedly a few bumps in the road. And along the way, some of the film’s actors realize the project just isn’t for them.
Actors like Colin Firth and Ryan Gosling have all decided that it would be best if they walked away from their film, despite already having dedicated so much effort to the project. Whether it was due to a conflict with their co-stars, creative differences with the studio, or a wardrobe issue, these stars have stepped (or were forced) away in the middle of working on their film.
Back in 2014, Colin Firth signed on for animated flick “Paddington,” where he would give voice to the beloved stuffed bear. Despite struggling to find the right sound for Paddington, Colin actually completed voice-over work on the entire film. When the final product was presented, Colin knew he had to walk away as his voice just didn't fit the character. Eventually, Ben Whishaw took on the role.
"It's been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realisation that he simply doesn't have my voice. I've had the joy of seeing most of the film and it's going to be quite wonderful. I still feel rather protective of this bear and I'm pestering them all with suggestions for finding a voice worthy of him,” Colin told Entertainment Weekly.
Ryan Gosling was asked to leave the cast of “The Lovely Bones” after he had completed all of pre-production on the film. He later explained that he and director Peter Jackson did not agree on his appearance in the film, which he had gained 60 pounds for. While Ryan believed the weight gain was an accurate reflection of the grieving character, he says Peter thought otherwise.
“We had a different idea of how the character should look. I really believed he should be 210 pounds...We didn’t talk very much during the pre-production process, which was the problem. It was a huge movie, and there’s 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. Then I was fat and unemployed,” Ryan told THR.
Meanwhile, Pete’s wife and collaborator, Fran Walsh, explained it was because Ryan was too young for the role, which eventually went to Mark Wahlberg.
Just a day before Sylvester Stallone was supposed to begin shooting “Beverly Hills Cop,” he dropped out of the film because he reportedly didn’t like the comedic theme. The movie, which had been in the works for eight years, was suddenly without a star and the film studio was in a bind. Thankfully, it only took the movie’s producers 48 hours to find a new star — Eddie Murphy. Production was able to resume, but this time without Sylvester.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was set to play the title character “Predator” back in 1987 but once he began filming, he realized it wasn’t going to be the experience he expected. Although there are different accounts of what happened, Jean-Claude explained that he was under the impression that he would be able to show off his agility and martial arts skills in the film. Unfortunately, once he got to set in the humid jungle, he was outfitted in his costume that consisted of a thick rubber suit and limited his movements. He said that while filming, the suit eventually became a safety hazard.
“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,” Jean-Claude told THR.
Soon after, there was a costume redesign and Jean-Claude walked away from the film. Whether it was due to the change of plans or Jean-Claude’s negative experience is still up for debate.
Richard Gere was set to star opposite Sylvester Stallone in “The Lords of Flatbush,” but once filming began, the two stars were having difficulty getting along. Sylvester says that the friction eventually became too much to deal with and Richard walked away from the movie.
“The original part of Chico, which was played by Perry King, was originally supposed to be played by Richard Gere, but we never hit it off...One day, during an improv, he grabbed me (we were simulating a fight scene) and got a little carried away. I told him in a gentle fashion to lighten up, but he was completely in character and impossible to deal with...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 told Ain’t It Cool News.
When Kel O'Neill was an up-and-coming actor, he was cast in the role of Eli Sunday in “There Will Be Blood” opposite Daniel Day Lewis. Unfortunately, things weren’t working out just a few weeks into filming and Kel was asked to walk away from the film.
“You know. You just know,” Kel told Vulture of realizing things weren’t going to work. “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.”
Kel ended up being replaced by Paul Dano, who was already playing Eli’s brother in the film.
James Purefoy was set to play masked anarchist, V, in “V for Vendetta” but after a few weeks of filming, he quit the movie. James says he struggled with wearing the mask and was unhappy that he would never get to take it off throughout the film.
“That mask is the thing I’ll be wearing through the movie. We’ll never see my face. It’s a great acting challenge. Wearing that thing takes…a lot of takes. Spider-Man’s mask comes off. Batman’s mask comes off. Even the elephant man had eyes. That’s all I ask for, just an eye!” James said.
Stuart Townsend was cast as Aragorn in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and went through two months of training and rehearsals only to be asked to walk away from the film the day before it was supposed to start shooting. On top of everything else, Stuart wasn’t paid for his time.
“I was told they wouldn’t pay me because I was in breach of contract due to not having worked long enough. I had been having a rough time with them, so I was almost relieved to be leaving until they told me I wouldn’t be paid. I have no good feelings for those people in charge, I really don’t. The director wanted me and then apparently thought better of it because he really wanted someone 20 years older than me and completely different,” Stuart reportedly told Entertainment Weekly.
9. Lori Petty
Lori Petty was cast as Lieutenant Lenina Huxley in the 1993 sci-fi action flick “Demolition Man” but left the film three days into shooting. While some sources said that the studio wasn’t happy with her dailies, Lori explained that she didn’t get along with her co-star Sylvester Stallone.
James Remar was a few weeks into filming “Aliens” when he walked away from the film. While there were rumors of creative differences with director James Cameron, he originally said he had “urgent matters” to deal with at home. Many years later, James confessed that he was actually forced to leave because of a drug problem.
“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,” he reportedly said on the “Sidebar” podcast.
11. Buddy Ebsen
Buddy Ebsen was cast as the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz” but had to step away from the film after a week of shooting. Unfortunately, Buddy developed a severe reaction to the makeup he wore for the role, which contained aluminum powder. The substance coated his lungs and the complications were nearly fatal. He left the film and was eventually replaced by Jack Haley.