17 Actors Who Left Or Were Fired From A Movie Or TV Show — Right Before It Became A Massive Hit

9 months ago 5

"Brian Dunkleman was cohost of Season 1 of American Idol with Ryan Seacrest, and then quit. Over the years, it has toggled back and forth between whether or not he would have been fired anyway, but in at least one interview, he admitted to quitting and then becoming very depressed over it."

1. George Lazenby — James Bond

Silver Screen Collection / Getty Images

"George Lazenby has to be the top answer. Dude with zero acting experience lands the role of James Bond after Sean Connery, and was offered a multi-film deal to be Bond for the foreseeable future. Then, he was advised that 'it’s the summer of love and nobody is going to keep wanting to see spy movies about killing people,' but also that since he’d already appeared in a film, he could ask for whatever he wanted and they couldn’t turn him down."

Mike Mclaren / Getty Images

2. Crystal Reed — Teen Wolf

Jesse Grant / Getty Images for Paramount+

"Crystal Reed was so certain she was done that she had them kill off her character in Teen Wolf — and about 10 years later, she would come back and have them revive her character for the movie."



"Though, part of the reason she wanted to do other roles was because she wanted to play a more age appropriate character. She admitted she felt weird playing a 17-year-old when she's nearing 30."


3. Brian Dunkleman — American Idol

Jason Laveris / FilmMagic / Getty Images

"Brian Dunkleman was cohost of Season 1 of American Idol with Ryan Seacrest, and then quit. Over the years, it has toggled back and forth between whether or not he would have been fired anyway, but in at least one interview, he admitted to quitting and then becoming very depressed over it."

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

4. Marcus Chong — The Matrix

Barry King / WireImage / Getty Images

5. Jessica Brown Findlay — Downton Abbey

Mike Marsland / WireImage / Getty Images

"Jessica Brown Findlay was one of the first people I thought of. She’s done a few things since she left, but none of them seem bigger to me than Downton Abbey did."

PBS / Courtesy Everett Collection


In an interview with Radio Times, Findlay mentioned that she didn't want to play the same character for years and wanted to "push" herself outside her comfort zone with new roles.

6. Chuck Woolery — Wheel of Fortune

Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

"Chuck Woolery left Wheel of Fortune only to see Pat Sajak host it for over 40 years."

7. Stuart Townsend — The Lord of the Rings

Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

"Late to the party but Stuart Townsend was the original casting for Aragorn in the LOTR movies, but the day before filming began, he was fired. Peter Jackson decided he couldn't work with him, Viggo Mortensen was brought in, and the rest is history."

New Line Cinema / Courtesy Everett Collection

8. Terrence Howard — Iron Man

Unique Nicole / WireImage / Getty

"Terrence Howard was in Marvel's first Iron Man and was going to become War Machine — this was the very start of the Marvel movies, the MCU. The recasting was reportedly over a dispute with his salary. Don Cheadle replaced him for Iron Man 2 and all the movies beyond."

Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

9. Lacey Chabert — Family Guy

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

"Lacey Chabert voiced Meg in Season 1 and then decided to leave Family Guy. Then, she was replaced by Mila Kunis — who has made bank between new episodes and syndication."


10. Topher Grace — That '70s Show

Dia Dipasupil / Getty Images

"This kind of happened to Topher Grace from That '70s Show. He left to focus on movie roles, and went on to star in movies like Spider-Man 3. He's popped up here and there and has steady work, but he definitely didn't launch into stardom."

20th Century Fox Film Corp. / Courtesy Everett Collection

"That being said, that latter seasons of That '70s Show were just plain bad. And he looks almost identical to the way he looked 20 years ago now that he's in That '90s Show. In the end, the dude seems to have made out just fine."


11. Chad Michael Murray — One Tree Hill

Michael Tullberg / Getty Images

"He was so popular up until he left that show and his career kind of fizzled after that. I wonder if he regrets leaving."

Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection


"He’s been in some Hallmark/Lifetime movies the last couple years."


"Chad Michael Murray was [also a cult leader in Riverdale.] His legitimate escape plan was to fly away in a stupid rocket while dressed like Evil Knievel, while the rest of his cult rides a school bus over a cliff. The whole scene plays out with all the seriousness of the climatic scene in Se7en. It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen on television. I am baffled by people who do not understand that Riverdale is a comedy."


12. McLean Stevenson — M*A*S*H

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

"He couldn't stand that Alan Alda was the star and not him. I read that he told Loretta Swit that he knew he'd never get anything as 'good' as M*A*S*H again [after he left], but he had to be number one. What he got was Hello, Larry and a ton of appearances on Match Game '7X."



"I missed Henry Blake, and I genuinely enjoyed his character, but the addition of Sherman T. Potter really elevated that show, in my opinion. Growing up raised by television, his character was a really good role model. Not too familiar with his other work or life outside of TV, but I always enjoyed him in that role."


13. Benjamin Bratt — Law & Order

Steve Granitz / FilmMagic

"Benjamin Bratt left Law & Order to focus on his personal life."

NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection


"While he may not be a household name, I bet everyone knows his voice. He does a ton of cameos, side characters, and voiceover work. I'd argue he's had a MUCH bigger career than anyone else on L&O, with the exception of the SVU dudes."


14. Christopher Abbot — Girls

Andrew Chin / Getty Images

"Christopher Abbot from the HBO series Girls, who played the boyfriend of Allison Williams's character, left abruptly [and said he didn't relate to his character on the show]. Adam Driver, on the other hand, stuck it out because he has incredible work ethic and loyalty to the projects he starts, and we all know how that turned out."



"He's been in quite a few interesting indie films with big name actors, like Black Bear with Aubrey Plaza, Martha Marcy May Marlene with Elizabeth Olsen, and couple of films like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and First Man, and the series, The Sinner. The guy has chops. I saw his indie film James White with Cynthia Nixon, which was powerful and gritty. I bawled my eyes out in it. So, maybe the timing wasn't perfect, but the dude still has a lot of potential for a serious acting career."


15. Ed Skrein — Game of Thrones

Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

"Ed Skrein left Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis, likely thinking that if he starred in the reboot of The Transporter, it would spawn sequels."



"That one still kinda blows my mind. I know there’s a difference between being the lead role and playing second/third fiddle, but he left GOT after Season 3 — pretty much right as it crossed into cultural phenomenon status, playing a character that was pretty much guaranteed to have screen time and not be killed for at least a few more seasons. Definitely a scenario where patience would’ve benefited."


16. Farrah Fawcett — Charlie’s Angels

Hulton Archive / Getty Images

"She was huge when she left Charlie’s Angels to expand her career, and while she did some interesting and critically acclaimed work, her overall body of work is small and sporadic compared to what a major star she was."

ABC Photo Archives / Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

17. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — Lost

Axelle / FilmMagic / Getty Images

"Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Mr. Eko in Lost, a super compelling character and a fan favorite. He didn’t like being away from London, and he asked for his character to be killed off. I have a feeling he could have been a much bigger actor than he ultimately became."

ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Who are some other actors you remember who unexpectedly quit a movie franchise or TV show? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Read Entire Article