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Actors Who Lost Out On Movie Roles For Petty Reasons

Chances are, at some point in your life, you'll be out of a job. Current statistics indicate that on average, about 1.5 people out of 100 in a three-month cycle find themselves unemployed for various reasons — fired, laid off, it wasn't a steady job, et cetera. That number includes entertainment industry figures, although their situation is a little different than the rest of us — when you get fired, it doesn't end up on "Access Hollywood." 

Actors lose jobs for many of the same reasons as other people: projects fall apart, conflicts occur with the people in charge, scheduling conflicts pop up. But your boss likely won't cite "creative differences" when giving you a pink slip, and there are additional circumstances specific to performers: arguments over profit participation, intimidation by castmates, disagreements over the direction of a performance. In a handful of cases, the reasons for an actor's dismissal even fall under the category of capriciousness: body image, age, nationality, and other factors that would seem nonsensical (and borderline discriminatory) in a traditional workplace. With that in mind, below is a list of actors who lost out on roles in major films, for some petty reasons. 

Chris Pratt was almost too heavy for Moneyball

Chris Pratt has displayed a toned, exercised physique in films like the "Guardians of the Galaxy" series and "Zero Dark Thirty," but longtime fans of the "Jurassic World Dominion" star remember a somewhat ... well, roomier Pratt at the beginning of his career, when he played lovable goof Andy Dwyer on "Parks and Recreation." In a 2014 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pratt attributed a weight gain of more than 40 pounds between 2009 and 2011 to then-wife Anna Faris. "[Her] favorite thing to do is to fatten me up," he joked. "Its like I'm little Hansel and Gretel out in the woods. I swear she's gonna push me in an oven one day."

While Pratt's huskier build was okay for Andy Dwyer, it proved detrimental when he auditioned to play real-life professional baseball player Scott Hatteberg in "Moneyball." As Pratt told Vanity Fair, "That was the first time I heard someone say, 'We're not gonna cast you — you're too fat.'" Unable to afford a trainer, Pratt said he took matters into his own hands to reduce his weight. "It was all running and crash-dieting and cutting alcohol," he explained. Eventually, Pratt landed not only the audition for "Moneyball," but also the part. He packed on more muscle for Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" before auditioning for "Guardians."

Once again, weight nearly took him out of the running: "[Director James] Gunn, the way he tells it is like this: 'Who do we have next? Chris Pratt?... I thought we weren't going to audition the chubby guy from "Parks and Rec,'" explained Pratt. Once in the room, Pratt proved that he had the right mix of comic chops and action hero savvy to land the coveted MCU role.

Henry Cavill was told he was too chubby to play James Bond

"Witcher" star Henry Cavill has made it no secret that he'd like to drive the Aston Martin as James Bond now that Daniel Craig has retired as 007. "If [Bond producer] Barbara [Broccoli] and Mike [co-producer Michael G. Wilson] were interested in that, I would absolutely jump at the opportunity," he told GQ in 2020. However, Cavill already made strides to play the iconic secret agent back in 2006, and according to an interview with Men's Health US in 2021, he received feedback that might leave most actors feeling shaken (not stirred).

In the Men's Health article, Cavill said he auditioned for Bond prior to Daniel Craig's assumption of the role in 2006's "Casino Royale." Cavill said he was one of the finalists for the role — that is, until the screen test required him to wear only a bath towel. "I remember the director, Martin Campbell, saying, 'Looking a little chubby there, Henry,'" he recalled. Though Cavill endured teasing for his weight as a kid, he took the comments in stride. "I'm glad Martin said something, because I respond well to truth," he said. "It helps me get better."

Campbell was asked to verify if Cavill's weight was the reason he and the Bond producers chose Daniel Craig to play 007. "[Cavill] did a good test, [but] he was too young, and he just wasn't as experienced as Daniel," Campbell said in 2022. He went to praise Cavill's physicality: "I remember him on the {"Casino Royale"] test being very impressive with his ripping out phones and belting people. He was excellent at that, and he gave a good performance, too."

Too old at 29: why Olivia Wilde didn't land The Wolf of Wall Street

Olivia Wilde has enjoyed a rocket ride to the A-list in the last few years, with roles in critically acclaimed features like "A Vigilante" and "Richard Jewell" and praise for her directorial debut "Booksmart." However, she's also put in the hours auditioning for, and sometimes failing to land, roles. One notable loss for Wilde was the part that eventually made Margot Robbie a star, in Martin Scorsese's "Wolf of Wall Street."

Howard Stern asked Wilde in a 2016 interview (at the 0:26 mark) if she had ever lost a part because the producers considered her too attractive. Wilde replied that she recalled being turned down for a movie because she was "too sophisticated." "And I was like, 'Oh, that sounds nice,'" she recalled. "And then I found out later that they actually said 'old.' I want to make a translation sheet for Hollywood that's all the feedback your agents give you and what it really means."

Wilde later revealed that the film in question was "The Wolf of Wall Street," and she was 29 at the time of the audition. She went on to note that the experience ultimately proved beneficial, as it forged a connection with Scorsese that led to her joining the cast of his short-lived HBO series "Vinyl." "It shows that if you don't get something – job interview, whatever you do for a living – it might lead to something else," she added.

Violence spurred Will Smith to drop Django Unchained

Amidst the firestorm of media coverage that accompanied actor Will Smith's onstage slap of comedian Chris Rock at the Academy Awards ceremony in 2022, a 2015 roundtable discussion for the Hollywood Reporter (via Newsweek) resurfaced, in which Smith discussed his reasons for accepting and then turning down the lead role in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." According to Smith, he said yes to Tarantino based on the arc of the story. "To me, it's as perfect a story as you could ever want," he explained. "A guy that learns how to kill to retrieve his wife that has been taken as a slave."

However, where Smith and Tarantino differed was the intention behind Django's actions. "I wanted to make that movie so badly, but with that story, I felt the only way I could make that movie is it had to be a love story, not a vengeance story," said Smith. "Violence begets violence. For me, I just couldn't connect to violence being the answer. Love had to be the answer." 

Ultimately, Jamie Foxx replaced Smith in "Django," which netted an Academy Award for Tarantino's script and Christoph Waltz as Best Supporting Actor. As for Smith, he's currently between projects.

Charlize Theron was hired and then fired from Chicago

One of the most common but dreaded reasons for an actor to lose a job is the decision by filmmakers to go in a "different direction." Oscar winner Charlize Theron experienced that fickle side of the industry in the early 2000s, when she was cast as Roxie Hart in the film version of the hit Broadway musical "Chicago." The role was a dream come true for Theron; as she told Howard Stern (via People), "I really wanted that — I was a dancer for most of my life, and there was a real nostalgia — the idea of making that movie for me."

Unfortunately, her dream to appear in "Chicago" proved short-lived. "I think because I had [the role] I was like, 'Oh, I'm going to make this movie,' and then I was kicked off it." 

During production, the director who had cast Theron as Roxie was fired from the film and replaced by another filmmaker, who in turn, recast the role with Renee Zellwegger, who took home the second of four Golden Globes for her performance. "She did an amazing job," noted Theron, who is a fan of the film itself. "I really like the movie. I think everybody's great in that film," she said. But she still feels a twinge of regret about losing the chance to appear in "Chicago." "I fantasize about being in that movie," she explained. "I think it just would have been different."

Andrew Garfield's no-show at a studio event may have cost him Spider-Man

The triumphant return of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" had many fans wondering why he had left the Marvel film series in the first place. While it was likely a combination of reasons — from the box-office (and critical) stumble between his two Spidey films to a growing disenchantment with the portrayal of the character, the most petty reason playing a part in his dismissal was revealed as part of the infamous 2014 hack of internal emails at Sony.

Garfield was slated to appear at a Sony event in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, where then-studio chairman Kaz Hirai planned to announce him as the star of "The Amazing Spider-Man 3," slated for 2016. But while Garfield came to Rio, he did not show up to the event, citing fatigue from jet lag. This forced Hirai to scramble at the last minute, scrapping the announcement. The chairman's displeasure was evident in his leaked email: "Here we are about one hour away from our Gala event and Andrew decides he doesn't want to attend. He has a rather scruffy beard and he just wants to be left alone." 

Though never confirmed as the specific reason for his dismissal, Garfield and Sony parted ways soon after the Rio event dust-up.

James Purefoy was (maybe) dismissed from V for Vendetta because of the mask

As fans of the 2005 dystopian flick "V for Vendetta" know, British actor James Purefoy was initially cast as the titular antihero, who terrorizes a totalitarian, future England government. He departed the role after three weeks of filming, reportedly due to difficulties in wearing the character's signature Guy Fawkes mask. Director James McTiegue alluded to this account in an interview with CBR.com: "It's hard putting anyone in a mask," he noted.

Actor Hugo Weaving, who replaced Purefoy as" V," also hinted that the mask was the source of the problem in an interview. "I was very surprised to get the call saying, 'Well, look, we've actually sort of parted ways with James Purefoy,'" he said. "It was to do with animating the mask and they didn't think it was working." However, Purefoy appeared to counter that account in an interview with Total Film (via Comic Book Movie). "The only rumor I can scotch is that if anybody thinks I was too p***y to wear a mask, they're completely wrong," he said. Purefoy also laughed off rumors that producer Joel Silver dismissed him because his voice lacked menace. "It was genuine creative differences," he said.

Whose version is correct? It remains a subject for debate.

Meryl Streep was told she wasn't attractive enough for King Kong

Auditions can be a difficult process for any performer. If they fail to book the part, they (or more likely, their representation) are told by the filmmakers why they weren't right for the role. For many actors, this can be a swift kick in the ego and a real damper to the confidence necessary to work in that field. However, any actor should take comfort in the fact that even some of the greatest in their business were dismissed for petty, even downright rude reasons.

Case in point: Oscar winner Meryl Streep, arguably the greatest actor in the history of film (if not, certainly the most awarded). In 1976, she was invited to audition for producer Dino De Laurentiis's high-profile remake of "King Kong." But as she explained during a 2015 appearance on "The Graham Norton Show," her audition ended almost as quickly as it had begun. De Laurentiis's son asked her to try out for the role of Dwan (eventually played by Jessica Lange), but upon arriving at the production office, Streep quickly found out that she was not what the veteran producer had in mind.

"The father said to his son in Italian — because I understand Italian — 'Why do you bring me this ugly thing?' Very sobering!" laughed Streep to Norton and fellow guests Mark Ruffalo and James McEvoy. "So I said to him, 'I understand what you're saying. I'm sorry I'm not beautiful enough to be in (sarcastic tone) 'King Kong.'"

Ultimately, Streep had the last laugh: "Kong" was a box office flop, while she appeared in "The Deer Hunter" a year later, netting her first of 21 Oscar nominations.

Paul Bettany wasn't American enough for Legally Blonde

Although Paul Bettany is best known for films like "The Da Vinci Code" and "Solo: A Star Wars Movie," and for playing the MCU's Vision, he was primarily an English stage and television actor until 2001. During that period, he came under consideration to play Emmett, Reese Witherspoon's romantic interest, in "Legally Blonde."

In a 2021 oral history of "Legally Blonde" in the New York Times, casting director Joseph Middleton said there was one fatal flaw in casting Bettany as Emmett. "I loved [him] for the [Emmett] role, but he was British, and [the producers] felt like it needed to be a real American."

Co-scripter Karen McCullah Lutz added that she and co-author Kirsten Smith had an actor in mind all along. "We always called [Emmett] 'the Luke Wilson character' while we were writing it," she recalled. "They saw some other actors, and finally Joseph was like 'Maybe we should get Luke to play the Luke Wilson character.' I was like, 'You think?'"

Though Bettany didn't get to be part of an enduring fan favorite, he did land the role of Geoffrey Chaucer in "A Knight's Tale" that same year, which has led to a successful career in Hollywood via films like "A Beautiful Mind," and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."

Amanda Seyfried turned down Guardians of the Galaxy because she thought it would flop

Emmy nominee Amanda Seyfried had several reasons for turning down the role of Gamora in "Guardians of the Galaxy." First was the makeup required for the role: in an interview with ComicBook.com in 2020, Seyfried noted, "I was just like, 'Ah, I don't want to be green. It's just so much work,'" she explained. She cited Jennifer Lawrence's turn as Mystique in the "X-Men" franchise as a reason for her disinterest. "I remember [her] talking about once, how long it took her to get blue. And I was like, 'That seems like hell on earth,' because then you get to set and you're only there for a couple of hours, and then you have to take everything off. And that was literally the reason."

However, Seyfried had another concern about joining the Guardians. "I didn't want to be part of the first Marvel movie that bombed," she admitted (at 49:00) that same year on the Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast. "I said, 'Who wants to see a movie about a talking tree and a raccoon?' Which is clearly — I was very wrong." Seyfried's second fear was rooted in the idea that being associated with a huge failure would undermine her career. "Because if you are the star of a giant movie like that, and it bombs, Hollywood does not forgive you," she explained. "I've seen that happen to people, and it was a giant, giant fear, and I thought, is it worth it?"

Tom Holland couldn't stop laughing, blew his Star Wars audition

Every actor has a story about a blown take because of uncontrollable laughter; movie sets and auditions are high-pressure scenarios, and it's natural that some performers respond with a fit of the giggles. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" actor Tom Holland recalled an instance in which laughter upended a very important audition on a 2021 episode of the YouTube series "Hot Ones." While doing his best to endure a variety of scalding hot sauces, Holland recalled that his audition to play Finn in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" was ruined by his scene partner, who was voicing a droid.

"I just remember thinking there's no way this lady's going to read the robot's lines opposite me, because that would be ridiculous," declared Holland. "I don't remember what my line was, but it was [something like], 'Let's get back to the Falcon!' and this lady, bless her, would sit there with full commitment and was like, 'Be-boop-be-boop.'"

"I remember saying, 'You're not actually going to do that, right?' And she was like, 'Well yeah, the robot's part of the scene, he's the character,"' said Holland. "I just got the giggles, because you know when you realize you've got something so wrong? I just couldn't stop laughing." 

While he didn't end up joining the "Star Wars" franchise, Holland did land the coveted role of Spider-Man, which is maybe the greatest consolation prize ever.

Worried about being known as Mr. Wolf, Russell Crowe said no to Wolverine

Back in 2000, Russell Crowe was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood (an Oscar for "Gladiator,"  hit films like "L.A. Confidential" and "The Insider"); the "X-Men" were on their way to grace the silver screen for the first time, and fan favorite character Wolverine was perhaps the most in-demand role in town. It seems only natural, then, that the irascible, rage-filled mutant and the actor known for playing irascible, rage-filled characters would intersect. But ultimately, the Australian turned it down for very curious reasons.

While appearing on the daytime television program "Fitzy and Wippa" in 2017, Crowe was asked why he turned down the role of Wolverine in "X-Men." The actor was director Bryan Singer's first choice to play the iconic Marvel mutant, but as Crowe explained, he'd already had his fill of wolves while on "Gladiator." "If you remember, Maximus has a wolf at the center of his cuirass, and he has a wolf as his companion... which I thought was going to be a bigger deal at the time. So I said no, because I didn't want to be "wolfy," like, Mr. Wolf."

As Crowe later found out, "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott trimmed much of said wolf referencing from the final cut. But something good did come out of Crowe's loss: he suggested fellow Aussie actor Hugh Jackman for the role of Wolverine, helping his countryman create one of the great iconic roles of the 21st century.