9 Lead Actors Who Were Fired From Movies

Lights, camera, new actor!

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It requires a delicate balancing act, with plenty of tiptoeing and minding of manners, for an actor to remain a star in Hollywood. One wobble too many, and they'll find themselves scrounging for parts and failing to get an invite to the Academy Awards. And just like every other job, if you don't do well, there's a good chance you'll find yourself holding a pink slip. Just ask the many actors who've been fired from big movies because they failed to live up to their end of the bargain.

Of course, it's not always the actor's fault. Sometimes the director or producer simply wants to shake things up a little bit, and decides that the best way to do that is to fire one of the principal actors and bring in some fresh blood. And sometimes they don't think to do this until halfway through shooting the movie.

The excuses for why this happens are varied and plentiful, from the old standby of "creative differences" to something much harsher and more direct, like "the actor was just bad at their job."

Regardless of the reasoning, these last-minute firings can wreak havoc on a film set...

9. James Purefoy - V For Vendetta

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Reason For Termination: Not Menacing Enough In the original vision of the Wachowskis take on the graphic novel, the masked vigilante V was going to be played by character actor James Purefoy. He was a relatively unproven actor, claiming smaller roles in A Knight's Tale and Resident Evil. And unproven Purefoy would remain, at least for a few more years, as six weeks into filming, producer Joel Silver decided to swap him out with a new model, one which had already proven a very menacing presence in the The Matrix.

Hugo Weaving was abruptly brought on to don the cape and mask. The persistent rumor was that Purefoy was unhappy wearing the mask for hours at a time, while Silver later claimed that he was actually let go because his voice wasn't menacing enough.

Regardless of the specifics, the decision to drop Purefoy came so late in the production that they ended up using some of "the old V's" finished scenes in the final product, having Weaving dub his own voice over them.

8. Harvey Keitel - Apocalypse Now

Reason For Termination: Too Aggressive In what is still widely regarded as one of the greatest, most intense war movies ever made, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now was also a legendary catastrophe to get made. A typhoon temporarily derailed production, the prop masters tried to use real cadavers in scenes that showed a lot of dead bodies, Marlon Brando didn't know any of his lines and shaved his head without telling anyone, and a drunk Martin Sheen cut himself up real bad while improvising a karate routine.

But all of that was exacerbated by the fact that, three weeks into shooting, Coppola gave his leading man the boot. Harvey Keitel, originally cast as Captain Willard, was the only actor in the production with any military experience, and proceeded to remind the director of that every chance he got, arguing with him about the logistics of any given scene to the point where Coppola decided he wasn't worth the headache.

The director's initial reasoning for firing Keitel was that he didn't really fit in with the more passive nature of Captain Willard, though that seems like the PC explanation of a tired director who'd already been through hell getting the movie made would give.

7. Samantha Morton - Her

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Reason For Termination: Her Voice "Didn't Work" It's one thing to fire an actor midway through filming, but it's another thing entirely to can her after she's already completed her part in the film. But then, Spike Jonze isn't exactly your garden variety director.

Samantha Morton earned her stripes in the Woody Allen music drama Sweet and Lowdown, and has been a consistent presence in movies ever since as a perpetual "that girl," remembered more for her face than her name.

So when she was cast to play the voice of the computer operating system in the quirky, sci-fi romance Her, it seemed like the perfect way for audiences to "see" her in a different light. Unfortunately, after finishing all of her voiceovers, the infamously finicky Jonze didn't like how it sounded.

"When we got into editing, we realized that what Samantha and I had done together wasn't working for what the character needed, and so we ended up having to recast."
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Jacob is a part-time contributor for WhatCulture, specializing in music, movies, and really, really dumb humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeTrowbridge.