6 Stars Who Quit Major Movies
Indiana Jones, Black Widow, and other iconic characters were almost played by different actors.
It's hard to imagine anyone other than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones or anyone besides Scarlett Johansson playing Marvel's Black Widow. But, before the roles were theirs, other stars had been officially cast in those parts. While there are plenty of stories of actors missing out on parts after auditioning, there are fewer cases in which actors were actually cast only to quit their movies. But, that's exactly what happened with the actors originally asked to play the famous archeologist, the powerful Avenger, and the four other characters below. Read on to find out why these stars stepped away and who took over for them.
Anyone who saw the 2002 movie Panic Room will remember Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart as the thriller's mother-daughter duo, but Foster's role was almost played by Nicole Kidman.
In 2001, Entertainment Weekly reported that Kidman had to drop out of the film due to a knee injury she suffered while filming Moulin Rouge!. Panic Room required quite a bit of physical activity as it's about a woman trying to save herself and her daughter from criminals in their home.
Kidman and Stewart looked back on beginning to work together on that project for Variety's Actors on Actors series in 2022.
"I remember [director] David Fincher saying, 'Oh, my God, we have discovered the most incredible actress,'" Kidman told Stewart. "And then I got injured and ended up not playing your mama."
Colin Firth wasn't actually going to appear on screen in the movie he dropped out of. The English actor was cast to voice the titular bear in the 2014 movie Paddington, but the part was recast after he had already recorded his role and a trailer had been released.
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Firth explained that he and the filmmakers agreed that his voice was not right for Paddington.
"It's been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn't have my voice," Firth said. "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."
The part of Paddington was recast with Ben Whishaw, who reprised the role in the sequel.
Before Jamie Dornan was cast as Fifty Shades of Grey's Christian Grey, Charlie Hunnam was set to take the role. But, after being announced as the title character, Hunnam dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. At the same time, he was working on the movie Crimson Peak and on the TV series Sons of Anarchy.
He spoke to V Man (via Variety) in 2015 about telling director Sam Taylor-Johnson that he'd have to quit. He called making the decision "deeply unpleasant and challenging emotionally."
"I called her and we both cried our eyes out on the phone for 20 minutes," Hunnam said. "I needed to tell her that this was not going to work… There was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life that left me on real emotional shaky ground and mentally weak. I just got myself so [expletive] overwhelmed and I was sort of having panic attacks about the whole thing."
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe almost looked much different. Emily Blunt was the first choice to play Black Widow in 2010's Iron Man 2 but had to leave due to a conflict with another film. Instead, the role went to Scarlett Johansson, who went on to portray the superhero in eight more movies, including 2021's Black Widow.
In a 2021 interview with Howard Stern, Blunt explained that she did the movie Gulliver's Travels instead, because of an "optional picture deal" she had with 20th Century Fox after The Devil Wears Prada. This meant she was supposed to do another movie with the studio, but she had been putting it off.
"I was contracted to do Gulliver's Travels. I didn't want to do Gulliver's Travels," Blunt said. "It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me, because I take such pride in the decisions that I make, and they mean so much to me, the films that I do, so that was tough."
Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic movie characters of all time—and he was almost played by Tom Selleck instead of Harrison Ford. Creator George Lucas wasn't keen to work with Ford again after they'd collaborated on American Graffiti and Star Wars.
"I was wary of Harrison and I becoming like [Martin] Scorsese and [frequent collaborator Robert] De Niro. I thought, "Let's create a new icon,'" Lucas told Empire magazine of casting Raiders of the Lost Ark. Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman-Landis told the magazine, "I had made a complete top-to-bottom prototype outfit for Tom Selleck. He wasn't replaced until pretty far down the line."
Selleck said in a 2020 interview with Rachael Ray that he was forced to drop out of the movie because he'd also been cast in Magnum P.I.
"I didn't turn it down. I earned the part. I did a screen test. And Steven Spielberg and George Lucas said, 'You've got the part.'" He told them he'd filmed a pilot for the TV show Magnum P.I., which didn't worry them. Unfortunately, the prospective conflict did worry the network. "CBS basically said, 'No, you can't do both," Selleck explained.
Amid controversy, Armie Hammer quit the rom-com Shotgun Wedding not long before filming began. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Hammer said, "I cannot in good conscience now leave my children for 4 months to shoot a film in the Dominican Republic. Lionsgate is supporting me in this, and I'm grateful to them for that."
Hammer left the movie after messages attributed to him surfaced online that described violent fantasies. From there, more claims about the actor came out, including allegations of nonconsensual sexual activity and a claim of rape. In response to the rape accusation from a woman identified as Effie, Hammer's lawyer said (via Reuters) that Hammer "maintained that all of his interactions with (Effie)—and every other sexual partner of his for that matter—have been completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory."
Josh Duhamel took on his role in Shotgun Wedding, starring opposite Jennifer Lopez.