Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Actors Who Were Excluded From Projects Out Of Spite

Every year, especially with the advent of social media, it seems as though Hollywood finds itself besieged with controversies of all shapes and sizes. From private interpersonal relationships being made public to marquee directors creating headline-worthy toxic workplaces, there can never be a dull moment under the bright lights of Tinseltown. Every time you see a high-profile film or a television project, you can be sure there were more than a few bumps en route to its completion.

This includes countless actors who, for one reason or another, have found themselves excluded from blockbuster film and television projects. Situations like this can apply to the biggest of blockbusters to the goofiest of sitcoms, with actors often barred from future sequels or reboots for reasons ranging from the petty to the completely justifiable. Whether it was an issue related to money or a political outburst that went horribly wrong, there have been a few different reasons for certain actors being exiled to the Phantom Zone. So delete that tweet and sign that NDA, because these are some actors who were excluded from projects out of spite.

Terrence Howard - Iron Man sequels

Recastings are always jarring, especially partway through an ongoing trilogy, such is the case with Terrence Howard and "Iron Man 2." Back in the first Jon Favreau-helmed "Iron Man" film, we are introduced to Colonel James "Rhodey" Rhodes, originally played by Howard, who is a charming addition. As the film gears up for its thrilling climax, we see Rhodey take a look at Tony's silver Iron Man suit and simply utter, "Next time baby!" This was the first of what would end up being many examples of Marvel doing blatant setup and universe-building for future movies. 

Unfortunately, there wouldn't be a next time for Howard, who did not return for any future "Iron Man" or Marvel Cinematic Universe appearances. Instead, it ended up being Don Cheadle stepping into Rhodey's boots in "Iron Man 2, " even referencing the recasting with his first line being, "Look it's me, I'm here, deal with it. Let's move on." Bear in mind, the MCU was still in its infancy at this point, so no one could've predicted where it was heading.

Following his departure, it was revealed that Howard would've had to have taken a pay cut "estimated as between 50 and 80 percent," per Entertainment Weekly. It's also reported that Howard's behavior on set wasn't ideal, which may have been a contributing factor as well. It's still an awkward situation over a decade later and still rather murky in regards to who walked away first.

Gina Carano - The Mandalorian

When it comes to the current state of the "Star Wars" franchise, "The Mandalorian" is probably the most valuable blaster in Disney's holster. No one really could've anticipated just how big of a pop cultural explosion was going to ensue from the episodic adventures of Mandalorian bounty hunter Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal). Yes, the story of Din and Grogu aka Baby Yoda has definitely captured the hearts of even the most cynical of "Star Wars" fans.

Along for the ride in Seasons 1 and 2 was the character of Cara Dune, a rebel shock trooper turned deadly mercenary. After crossing paths with Din in Season 1, Cara opts to stay on the planet Nevarro to wipe out any remaining influence of Imperial Forces. However, following the events of Season 2, Cara's character was written off entirely and will likely never return.

This is because Disney fired Carano from The Mandalorian following controversial posts the actress made on social media back in 2021. Carano, a vocal conservative, had made posts where she made fun of mask wearers and even protested the outcome of the 2020 election as well. Per an unnamed source mentioned at the time of the firing, "They have been looking for a reason to fire her for two months, and today was the final straw."

Manu Intiraymi - Star Trek: Picard

Since its arrival back in 2020, "Star Trek: Picard" has been a show rife with ample ups and downs for many self-professed Trekkies. One of the more confounding decisions in the eyes of many fans was the decision to kill off the character Icheb from "Star Trek: Voyager." What made this gruesome one-off appearance even more confusing for fans was the apparent re-casting of Icheb. Back in "Voyager," Icheb was portrayed by Manu Intiraymi, also known for his role as Billy from Season 9 of "One Tree Hill."

However, when it came time to graphically kill Icheb off on "Picard," he was played instead by actor Casey King. While interacting with some fans on Twitter, Intiraymi was asked why he wasn't brought back to reprise his role. Simply put, he isn't sure why they never picked up the phone, though he seems to have a theory. However, he'd previously inferred in the same thread that he'd been blacklisted from not just jobs, but convention appearances as well. Legitimate or not, Intiraymi's situation is a perfect example of an actor knowing about as much as the fans know in regard to their exclusion. One can only sympathize with Intiraymi, especially when he mentions how much he misses interacting with fans at conventions and events.

Dwayne Johnson - The Fast & Furious franchise

Few film franchises have gone off the rails in as grand a fashion as "The Fast & Furious" films. What was once a simple film series about street cars and family has become a tour de force of ridiculous action sequences ... and family. The franchise's pivot into explosion-riddled ridiculousness truly kicked off in "Fast Five" which saw the debut of Luke Hobbs, played by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. His presence led to some gloriously ridiculous action sequences, including a chase scene where Hobbs redirects a missile with his bare hands. 

Hobbs was well-received, aided by Johnson's blockbuster charisma, and stuck around for three sequels, as well as the spin-off, "Hobbs & Shaw," with co-star Jason Statham. All seemed to be going well until 2021 when Johnson confirmed his departure from the series. However, what should've been a clean breakup was exacerbated by Vin Diesel apparently going rogue and attempting to coerce Johnson into returning.

That same year, Diesel made a post on his Instagram directed at The Rock in an attempt to get him back for another sequel. He even went as far as to mention his own children and invoke the memory of Paul Walker, who'd passed away back in 2013. Needless to say, The Rock was far from enticed, even telling CNN, "I didn't like that he brought up his children in the post, as well as Paul Walker's death. Leave them out of it."

Zachary Levi - Black Adam

If you follow comic book movie news, or even just entertainment news in general, then this was a fairly unavoidable story. We begin with the genesis of the live-action "Shazam!" adaptation released by DC Comics and Warner Brothers back in 2019. Johnson was set to portray Black Adam opposite Shazam, played by Zachary Levi. This makes sense as Black Adam is to Shazam, FKA Captain Marvel, and what the Joker is to Batman. However, as the film was coming together, it was decided to split Black Adam off entirely and give the character his own film. This was a bit odd as both characters are pretty heavily tied to one another in the comics, but nevertheless, "Black Adam" was put into production.

However, a few years later it's become a bit clearer as to why they were separated, with many fingers pointing at a certain former-WWE champion. In the post-credit scene of "Black Adam," the titular anti-hero comes face-to-face with Superman, played by a returning Henry Cavill. If this feels out of place, that's because Johnson heavily pushed for his adversary to be the Man of Steel and not Shazam. Levi himself confirmed this when he shared an article on social media following the disappointing box office of 2023's "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." 

The Black Adam cast - Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Okay, so remember that slide you just read directly above this one? Make sure you read all of that because we're not done just yet. Yes, following the unfortunate box office disappointment of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods," more information began bubbling up to the surface. We've already mentioned how Levi has been barred from cameoing in "Black Adam," but there was another side-effect of Johnson's weird creative demands.

In the sequel's post-credits scene, we see Shazam get approached by two familiar faces — Emilia Harcourt and John Economos from "Peacemaker." It seems as though they've been sent to recruit him for the Justice Society, despite the fact they are quickly perturbed by Shazam's childish demeanor. While this does confirm that Levi's version of Shazam at the very least still exists in James Gunn's new DC Universe, it isn't what was originally planned.

It was originally going to be the Justice Society themselves who would've approached Shazam in the post-credits scene. However, much like how he barred Levi from appearing in "Black Adam," Johnson barred the Justice Society from apparition in "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." In one fell swoop, the People's Champion somehow negatively impacted the future of his and someone else's film franchise via his needless creative meddling.

Dustin Diamond - Saved by the Bell Reboot

"Saved by the Bell" is one of the more ridiculous yet memorable sitcoms to come out of the late '80s and early '90s. Whether you loved it earnestly for its goofball charm or simply love to dunk on it in your cynical adulthood, there's an avenue for everyone. The antics of Zack Morris and his gaggle of friends were a sitcom staple from 1989 until 1993. One friend was Samuel "Screech" Powers, played by Dustin Diamond, the de facto geek of the group. Much like most sitcom nerds, Screech is unbelievably adept at science and math but lacks any form of social grace.

However, despite being one of the "Saved by the Bell" franchise marquee characters, Diamond and his character were excluded from the 2020 reboot. This was due to Diamond's struggles with the law in the final years of his life, the biggest incident arriving on the day after Christmas in 2014. Per Fox News, Diamond was arrested in Wisconsin, where he was alleged to have pulled out a switchblade during a bar fight in which a man was wounded.

He received three months of jail time before being let out on probation which he'd later violate, winding up back in jail part way through 2016. Following these legal strifes, Diamond sadly passed away in 2021 due to complications of stage 4 cancer, leaving a unique but ultimately tragic legacy behind him.

Danny Masterson - That '90s Show

If you've never seen "That '70s Show" then you might just deserve a foot planted where the sun doesn't shine. The show is a punchy sitcom about a gang of youths traversing their lives and relationships amidst the 1970s. This includes Eric Forman (Topher Grace), Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), as well as Eric's parents, Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith).

The series went off the air in 2006, where it would enjoy prolonged popularity due to home media and syndication. Seems it retained enough fandom that Netflix decided to create a sequel series set in the 1990s, aptly titled "That '90s Show." The show's first season featured appearances from most of the original cast, that is except for one member: Masterson. Unlike other sitcom reboots, such as Netflix's "Fuller House," there isn't even a throwaway line explaining where he is, as it's shown he isn't living with Red and Kitty anymore. 

Hyde was excluded from the sequel series due to the fact that in 2017, Masterson was accused of sexual assault by three different women. This has led to several years of investigation with Masterson maintaining that he is innocent, even pleading so on the stand (per NBC). At the time of this writing, his trial is set for April 2023, so it's unlikely that we'll be seeing Hyde return to Point Place anytime soon.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Will Ferrell - Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty

For the longest time, the pairing of actor Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay was the equivalent of peanut butter and chocolate. From both "Anchorman" movies to "Talladega Nights" to "Step Brothers" to "The Other Guys," it was a successful pairing in terms of laughs and box office numbers. However, any partnership, no matter how rock solid it might seem, can succumb to some pitfalls and bad communication. A case in point is the behind-the-scenes situation between Ferrell and McKay during the pre-production for "Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty."

Ferrell is actually a huge Lakers fan and jumped at the opportunity to portray majority owner Jerry Buss on the show. However, Michael Shannon had already been slotted to take on the role which, per a Hollywood Reporter interview with McKay, "...Will was good with it." However, when Shannon dropped out of the role, McKay gave the part, not to Ferrell, but to his frequent co-star, John C. Reily.

This seemed to be the key reason for McKay and Ferrell's schism, though the latter later said that it was due to his lack of bandwidth for McKay's ambition. McKay later commented that he "f***ed up" not calling Ferrell first and he was very likely hurt by the decision. Given how Ferrell bluntly expressed interest in the role and McKay went with Ferrell's frequent co-star instead, it's hard not to see the spite in this decision.

Sylvester Stallone - Creed III

The "Rocky" film series is really a series of two distinct periods marked by two different protagonists — Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan). The "Creed" trilogy sees a retired Balboa help train Adonis, Apollo Creed's son, to be a championship fighter, both facing respective challenges along the way. The ending of "Creed II" largely felt like the sunset for Stallone's character and that Adonis would be traversing the rest of his journey alone. 

This was confirmed when, aside from a few scant visual and verbal nods, Balboa was completely absent from "Creed III." This didn't really hurt the film in any significant ways, but for hardcore fans, many were wondering why references to Rocky were kept to a minimum. Stallone's reasons for not popping back in for even a brief cameo were both creative-related and personal.

Firstly, per Variety, Stallone wasn't a fan of the third film's darker tone, stemming largely from the grittier nature of the relationship between Adonis and Dame (Jonathan Majors). Additionally, and more prominently, his very public feud with producer Irwin Winkler in regard to the rights of the "Rocky" films. Stallone has even gone as far as to post an image on his Instagram depicting Winkler as a literal demon. Will Stallone ever return to the franchise he helped define? We'll just have to wait and see where the chips fall on this one, but as Rocky always said, "It ain't over 'til it's over."