32 Major Movie Roles That Were Recast

Sometimes things just don’t work out. In the movie world, a lot of money is on the line, and that makes some decisions very difficult. On occasion, that means recasting a role for any number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s as simple as everyone agreeing that things just aren’t working artistically. Sometimes it’s worse, like when an actor gets in trouble off-screen. Here is our list of notable times a movie role had to be recast. 

Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Universal Pictures)</span>

Marty McFly (Back To The Future)

One of the most famous incidents of a role being completely recast comes from the production of Back to the Future. The movie was originally being filmed with Eric Stoltz playing Marty McFly when they decided to pull the plug and reset with Michael J. Fox in the lead role. There is a belief that at least one shot with Stolz remains in the movie, but the other scenes shot with Stoltz had to be reshot when Fox took over the role. 

Christopher Plummer in the trailer for All The Money in the World.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Sony)</span>

J. Paul Getty (All The Money In The World)

In one of the most infamous recasting situations in history, All The Money In The World had to do major reshoots for the movie after dismissing Kevin Spacey from the lead role of J. Paul Getty. Spacey was in a lot of trouble that doesn’t need rehashing here, and the production brought in Christopher Plummer to fill the role. It affected not only the lead role but the supporting roles around it as well, so it had to be a very hard decision to make. 

Paddington in Paddington 2

<span class="credit">(Image credit: StudioCanal)</span>

Paddington (Paddington)

When Paddington was first announced, Colin Firth was to be the voice of the beloved bear. Unfortunately, things just didn’t work and Firth and the production mutually agreed to part ways after principal photography had wrapped. Future James Bond star Ben Whishaw stepped in and re-recorded all of the voice parts for the bear. 

Michael Biehn in Aliens

<span class="credit">(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)</span>

Corporal Dwayne Hicks (Aliens)

It’s hard to image anyone but Michael Biehn as Hicks in Aliens, but he was not the first actor in the role. James Remar, of The Warriors and Dexter fame, was originally cast, but he was arrested during production and fired. Biehn stepped in and the rest is history.

Kevin Peter Hall in Predator

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Disney / Fox)</span>

The Predator (Predator)

Kevin Peter Hall, who stood 7’2″, played the titular Predator in the first two movies of the Predator franchise, but originally, that role belonged to the “Muscles from Brussels” Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme is said to have hated the suit and was unhappy with the role, so he left the production. 

Sandra Bullock in Demolition Man

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Lenina Huxley (Demolition Man)

Just a few days into production, Lori Petty split from the cast of Demolition Man. Direct Joel Silver chalked it up to creative difference, though Petty has said that she and the film’s star, Sylvester Stallone, simply weren’t working well together. Petty was replaced with Sandra Bullock and it helped launch her to superstardom. 

Nemo and Marlin in Finding Nemo

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Pixar)</span>

Marlin (Finding Nemo)

William H. Macy was Disney’s first choice for the role of Marlin in Finding Nemo. The veteran actor had, according to the DVD commentary, reportedly recorded almost all his dialog for the part when the studio decided to go a different direction, artistically and brought in Albert Brooks to take over. 

Tig Notaro in Army of the Dead

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Netflix)</span>

Marianne Peters (Army Of The Dead)

One of the more dramatic revamps came from Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead. Chris D’Elia was originally cast in the role that would eventually become Marianne Peters in the movie. D’Elia was fired from the production after facing serious accusations from women and Tig Notaro was hired to fill the role, completely changing the gender of the character. 

Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

V (V For Vendetta)

James Purefoy was the first actor hired to play the masked V in V for Vendetta, but he reportedly wasn’t happy about wearing the mask during production and left the film, though he has strongly disputed that and has explained that he left the production over creative difference. Hugo Weaving was hired to take over and the rest is history. 

Ed Harris in The Truman Show

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Paramount)</span>

Christof (The Truman Show)

Talk about a “what if”, Dennis Hopper was originally in the role of Christof in The Truman Show. It’s not exactly a total miscasting, but instead of the calm, calculating villain that Ed Harris played, it was sure to be a more unpredictable character, as Hopper was so good at playing. 

Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

<span class="credit">(Image credit: United Artists)</span>

Captain Benjamin Willard (Apocalypse Now)

Apocalypse Now is one of the most notorious film shoots of all time. One part of that was the recasting of the lead role. Martin Sheen is brilliant as Capt. Willard, but Harvey Keitel was originally in the role. Director Francis Ford Coppola apparently wasn’t happy with Keitel’s performance and dismissed him a few days into filming. 

The Departed Leonardo DiCaprio Martin Sheen

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Captain Queenan (The Departed)

Martin Sheen was not the first actor hired for the role of Queenan in the The Departed. Director Martin Scorsese originally went with Irish actor Gerard McSorley in the role. Soon after filming began, though, the legendary director had a change of heart and laid McSorley off, bringing in Sheen. 

Paul Dano in There Will Be Blood

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Paramount Vantage)</span>

Eli Sunday (There Will Be Blood)

It is simply impossible to imagine anyone other than Paul Dano in the role of Eli Sunday in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. His performance is simply breathtaking. He wasn’t the original actor to film for the part though, that was an actor named Kel O’Neill. O’Neill was let go after shooting began and Dano replaced him. 

Hugh Jackman in X-Men: The Last Stand.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)</span>

Wolverine (X-Men)

Can you even believe that Hugh Jackman almost wasn’t Wolverine in the X-Men franchise? It’s unfathomable today, but it’s true. The part was originally supposed to be played by Dougray Scott, but an accident on the set of Mission: Impossible 2 left him unavailable for the part and the rest is history. 

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Dirty Harry (Dirty Harry)

Clint Eastwood’s delivery of the line “do you feel lucky” has become one of the most iconic lines in cinema history, but that line almost went to Frank Sinatra, of all people. Sinatra was, according to Eastwood, the studio’s choice for the role, but he turned it down because he reportedly couldn’t hold a gun, for some reason. 

Tuffnut in How To Train Your Dragon

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Paramount)</span>

Tuffnut Thorston (How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World)

For the first two How To Train Your Dragon movies, T.J. Miller voiced Tuffnut Thorston. In the third, however, the voice role was done by impressionist Justin Rupple. Rupple was brought in to recreate the comedian’s voice after Miller was fired off the movie due to a slew of legal accusations against him. 

Tyler Mane as Sabretooth in 2000's X-Men

<span class="credit">(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)</span>

Sabretooth (X-Men)

This is a case of an actor being replaced between films in a franchise, rather than on set. In the first X-Men film, Tyler Mane played Sabretooth, but he was recast in an artistic decision by Liev Schreiber, because, according to Mane, he was a better fit to play Wolverine’s brother. 

Will Arnett in Next Goal Wins

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)</span>

Alex Magnussen (Next Goal Wins)

Next Goal Wins, by director Taika Waititi, is a delightful film that had to replace one of its stars for not-so-delightful reasons. The role of soccer executive Alex Magnussen was originally played by Armie Hammer, but due to numerous legal allegations, Waititi replaced Hammer with Will Arnett. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Rachel Dawes (The Dark Knight Trilogy)

Katie Holmes’ performance in Batman Begins was not everyone’s favorite, though from what she’s said in the past, it sounds like it was her choice not to return to the role. When it came time for the second film in the Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight, Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in the role of Rachel Dawes. 

The Wizard of Oz cast

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Loew&#8217;s, Inc)</span>

The Tin Man (The Wizard Of Oz)

One of the more famous examples of an actor being replaced in a film was that of the Tin Woodsman in The Wizard Of Oz. Future Beverly Hillbillies star Buddy Ebsen spent weeks on set, covered in the silver makeup for the role and, it turns out, the paint dust made him very sick and it landed him in the hospital. He was replaced by Jack Haley, but can still be heard singing in the movie at times. 

Christian Bale in American Psycho.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Lionsgate Films)</span>

Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)

Christian Bale’s performance as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho is perfect. How different would it have been had it been Leonardo DiCaprio? We almost found out. According to the film’s writer, Guinevere Turner, DiCaprio backed away from the part after Gloria Steinem convinced him to turn down the violent role.  

Harry Styles' Jack helps Alice out of car in Don't Worry Darling.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Jack (Don’t Worry Darling)

The details are murky over what happened with Shia LaBeouf leaving the production of Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling. The director claims he was fired, but LaBeouf says he quit. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why, as the great Harry Styles replaced him. 

Samatha the computer in Her

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Samantha (Her)

Samantha Morton brought her name and her voice to the computer in Spike Jonze’s Her, but in post-production, Jonze had a change of heart and recast the voice role, with Scarlett Johansson taking over. 

Shrek and Donkey in Shrek

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Dreamworks Animation)</span>

Shrek (Shrek)

In one of the more tragic recasting situations, the late Chris Farley, who had already recorded much of his part, died during the production of Shrek. Farley was replaced by a fellow SNL alum, Mike Myers, and his portrayal is brilliant. 

Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart in Panic Room

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)</span>

Meg Altman (Panic Room)

Director David Fincher’s Panic Room originally starred Nicole Kidman as the protagonist Meg Altman alongside the character’s daughter played by Kristen Stewart. Only a couple weeks into production, Kidman had to drop out after being injured on the set. She was replaced by the great Jodie Foster.

Nona Gaye in The Matrix Reloaded

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros.)</span>

Zee (The Matrix Reloaded)

Zee in The Matrix Reloaded was originally played by Aaliyah, but tragically, the singer died in a plane crash before production was completed. Another singer Nona Gaye, stepped into the role and most of the part had to be re-shot. 

Bryce Dallas Howard in Twilight: Eclipse.

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)</span>

Victoria (Twilight)

In the first Twilight movie, Victoria was played by actress Rachelle Lefevre, but just as filming began for the second film in the series, according to Lefevre, she was unceremoniously dropped from the role. Production had even picked up her option for the role before production started. Bryce Dallas Howard replaced Lefevre in the role of Victoria. 

Michael Gambon in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)</span>

Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter Series)

Sometimes casting decisions aren’t controlled by anything except fate. Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series is a sad example of that. The great Richard Harris played the role of the schoolmaster in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, and intended to continue playing the part, but fate stepped in and Harris died before production began on the third film. The equally great Michael Gabon took over for the remainder of the series. 

Heath Ledger In The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Sony Pictures)</span>

Tony Shepard (The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus)

Heath Ledger died during the production of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but he wasn’t really replaced, per se. Instead, director Terry Gilliam hired three friends of the late actor to fill in as Tony in a kind of magical way within the confines of the story, having to rewrite it somewhat. Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp stepped up to help complete the film and play the role of Tony. 

Mark Wahlberg in The Lovely Bones

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Paramount)</span>

Jack Salmon (The Lovely Bones)

In a sentence that is hard to believe, Ryan Gosling was fired from The Lovely Bones because of his looks. According to Gosling, director Peter Jackson was unhappy that the actor had gained 60 pounds specifically for the role. Miscommunication in pre-production left both actor and director not knowing what the other had planned, so just as the film was supposed to start filming, Gosling was dropped and Mark Wahlberg stepped in. 

The Lords of Flatbush cast

<span class="credit">(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)</span>

Chico Tyrell (The Lords Of Flatbush)

Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere have one of the most infamous feuds in Hollywood history and it dates back to 1974 and the film The Lords Of Flatbush. According to Stallone, the feud began when they were working together on the film and Stallone asked Gere not to eat some chicken near him. Gere ignored Stallone, got some grease on the Rocky star’s pants, and shortly after was fired from the film. Gere was replaced by Perry King.

Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in LOTR

<span class="credit">(Image credit: New Line Cinema)</span>

Aragorn (Lord Of The Rings Series)

Actor Stuart Townsend pulls no punches when he talked about being fired from the set of the Lord Of The Rings movies to EW (via Irish Independent). Right before principal photography was to begin after he’d spent months preparing for the role, he was fired by the production and, according to him, wasn’t paid for his work. He was replaced by Viggo Mortensen in the role of Aragorn. 

It’s not easy to replace an actor at the last minute, or even well into the game, but sometimes it needs to be done. There are a lot of reasons why movies replace actors in roles, but in most cases, it seems to be for the best. 


Check This:  Jennifer Love Hewitt is unrecognizable in isolation

What do you think?

1.2k Points
Upvote Downvote

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *