Actor replacements that upset the rest of the cast

Casting a movie is an overlooked art. No matter how good the script is, or how visionary a project's director may be, if a cast doesn't work well together it's unlikely the resulting film or television show will be successful. Casts can get disrupted for a variety of reasons — sometimes schedules change, sometimes personal problems can lead an actor to drop out. Producers might even decide after shooting has begun that a cast member just isn't right for the part. Whatever the reason, the change can't help but affect the remaining cast members, who experience everything from sadness to frustration when shooting is thrown out of whack and a replacement actor steps in.

With that in mind, we're taking a look back at some actor replacements that really upset their fellow cast members. In some cases, things still turned out well — or even better — for the films in question… but in others, it spelled doom for the experience of the cast and the movie's chances of success.

Marty went back to the casting director

There's no question that Lea Thompson's role as Lorraine McFly in the 1985 Robert Zemeckis classic Back to the Future shaped her career. "The best thing it did was establish me as a good actor," said Thompson during a reunion of the cast in 2015.

One career it didn't end up having that effect on was that of actor Eric Stoltz, who was originally cast in the lead role of Lorraine's son Marty, a time-traveling teenager who's sent back accidentally to the year 1955. Stoltz was replaced with actor Michael J. Fox a little over a month into shooting, and Thompson said "it hurt" her as she was "very good friends" with Stoltz, "so it was very difficult for me."

Fellow castmate Christopher Lloyd, who starred as inventor Doc Brown, gave a radio interview in 2012 and described the moment the cast found out Stoltz was history — during an intense period of night shooting after he'd been working with Stoltz every night for three weeks. During a 1AM "lunch break," Lloyd said producer Steven Spielberg showed up with some "other suits from Universal" who "made the announcement that they were going to make the change. It was kind of like a wake."

Noting that Stoltz was a "very good actor," Lloyd claimed producers needed "someone with more of a comic flair" in the role and added that he was "terrified" that when he re-shot his scenes with Fox "all over again" he worried he wouldn't give a good performance, "but it worked out." Great Scott, did it ever.

Papa McFly also went through some changes

Stoltz might have been the first actor replaced in the Back to the Future franchise, but he certainly wasn't the last. Crispin Glover, who played patriarch George McFly, was ousted and replaced by actor Jeffrey Weissman in Back to the Future II and III. Over the years, Glover has said that his quibbles with the ending of the original film angered Zemeckis, arguing that seeing the McFly family rewarded with a lavish lifestyle "basically makes the moral of the movie that money equals happiness."

Glover also said producer and co-writer Bob Gale inaccurately claimed that he asked to be paid as much as Michael J. Fox for Back to the Future II. Glover said the real problem was that he was being offered "less than half of what Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson — who had similar sized roles" made.

Whatever the reason, Thompson was upset at this second McFly family replacement, saying the actor was: "a bit of a handful," but that with Glover, "you definitely got your money's worth."

Weissman actually wore a latex face mold to look more like Glover, and said his fellow actors barely bothered to learn his name; Thompson even took to introducing him to people as "the guy playing Crispin." Glover would later win a settlement from Universal for using his likeness without his permission.

Victoria was cut off from the Twilight franchise

The young adult romance of high school student Bella Swan and her vampire beau Edward Cullen captivated readers around the globe, which translated into major ticket sales for the resulting Twilight Saga series of films. The supernatural dramas saw covens of vampires clash against families of werewolves in the Pacific Northwest. One of those rivalries concerned Victoria, an Elizabethan-era vampire, who swore revenge on Edward for the death of her fellow coven founder James.

In Twilight and New Moon, Victoria was played by Rachelle Lefevre. In Eclipse, however, Victoria didn't seem like her old self — Lefevre was replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard for Victoria's final screen appearance. Summit Entertainment and Lefevre had an awkwardly public battle over the move, with Lefevre saying she was "stunned" and Summit countering that they were "disappointed" by her "attempt to make her career choices the fault of the studio."

Whether the fault lay with Lefevre's scheduling or Summit's ruthlessness, the switch was hard on Lefevre's castmates. Jackson Rathbone, who played Cullen coven member Jasper Hale, said "you know, Rachelle's a dear friend, and I'll miss her terribly." Peter Facinelli, who starred as Edward's adoptive father Carlisle Cullen, agreed: " I'm deeply saddened… I love [Lefevre] like a sister." A source close to the production told E! News that Lefevre "was, for many of her young co stars, the on-set mother hen."

Life of Pi's reporter needed an actor edit

Ang Lee picked up a Best Director Oscar for Life of Pi, his film adaption of Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel in which a man retells the story of his weeks surviving a shipwreck at the age of 16. Adrift on the Pacific Ocean, with only a Bengal tiger in his lifeboat for company, his story is told to a writer who in Lee's final film is portrayed by actor Rafe Spall. This was actually the second time that actor Irrfan Khan, who played Pi, related the tale. The first time he told his story on film, it was to Tobey Maguire.

Lee ended up removing Maguire after shooting wrapped because he felt his presence took away from the story. "I misjudged the situation," he said. "I underestimated the power of stars." Insisting that he "loved Tobey," who the director had worked with previously in the 1997 film The Ice Storm, Lee explained: "it's a small part. So when it's a movie star sitting there, it captures attention. It didn't really work out."

Khan was jarred by the recasting, as it meant he had to re-shoot those scenes. "I was finished with the film. I had deleted everything from my system," Khan said. "And to do it again, it needs a huge emotional investment." Still, it ended up working out. "It gave me an opportunity to work on it again," Khan explained. "I learned that from Ang, to use it constructively."

The voice of Her was not her own

In Spike Jonze's 2013 science-fiction romance Her, Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombly, a man who stumbles through his romantic life, struggling to let go of an ex-wife and romantically commit to another person, and downloads a personal assistant program outfitted with an artificial intelligence named Samantha. His relationship with Samantha grows quickly beyond calendar entries, evolving into something more personal as she evolves her own programming.

Twombly falls in love with Samantha, who exists only as an ever-present voice in his portable earpiece, and the pair begin a virtual relationship. During filming, Phoenix had a real-life Samantha to deliver his lines to. "Samantha [Morton] was with us on set and was amazing," Jonze said. However, as with Tobey Maguire in Life of Pi, when Jonze got to the editing room in post-production, he realized what the "character/movie needed was different," and ended up recasting Samantha with Scarlett Johansson.

This required four extra months of recording sessions for Phoenix, who got pretty testy when the Los Angeles Times asked him what he thought about the decision. Saying he started "radiating scorn" after the question was asked, the Times alleged that "the conversation continued but never recovered." Phoenix ended up calling the reporter 10 days later to praise Morton. "She was my partner," he said. "She was always in my head. She created Theodore as much as I did."

The Matrix Reloaded, but she was impossible to replace

The effect of The Matrix on modern cinema is undeniable. From "bullet time" to its sleek costumes, it's been called "the most influential action movie of its generation" by Entertainment Weekly.

There was a lot of pressure to deliver satisfying sequels to the 1999 genre-defining cyberpunk fantasy, and it only increased when numerous production issues led a fervent fanbase to question if the series was cursed. Gloria Foster, who played the Oracle, passed away just after the filming of second installment The Matrix Reloaded. It was the third in a series of deaths linked to the production, the first of which occurred when star Keanu Reeves' girlfriend Jennifer Syme was killed in a car accident in the spring of 2001.

Aaliyah was initially cast as Zee in The Matrix Reloaded, but the singer and actor was killed in a plane crash just four months after Syme's death. "It was a really hard loss for the film," said co-star Harold Perrineau in an interview. "It was a really hard loss personally. It was a really hard loss for the community of music and entertainment. And we'll miss her." The re-audition process took many months; eventually Nona Gaye, daughter of singer Marvin Gaye, was cast to replace Aaliyah and Zee's scenes were reshot.

He voted himself off The Island of Dr. Moreau

The drama on the set of 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau is so dense, it filled the feature-length documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau. It may have started when Bruce Willis had to drop out of the lead role and director Richard Stanley was reportedly told the only way to save the film was to hire Val Kilmer, who ultimately realized his leverage and allegedly started making demands.

He wanted his shooting schedule cut by 60 percent and asked for a less demanding role, leading the production to fire James Woods and hire Rob Morrow to fill Kilmer's shoes so Kilmer could take over Woods' part — and then Morrow ended up quitting. 

In the midst of this, Stanley himself was replaced by John Frankenheimer, and Kilmer's disruptions continued. According to crew members, he would arrive late, change dialogue, and bully the cast and crew. One witness reported that he intentionally burned a cameraman "right on his face" with a cigarette. 

Kilmer's behavior also led him to a feud with co-star Marlon Brando. Kilmer repeatedly refused to emerge from his trailer until Brando was on set, and Brando would only come to the set after a private discussion with Frankenheimer. According to the director, this led to days going by without any footage being shot, as extras sat around in their makeup and full costumes in the heat.

This change ended up making most of the cast extinct

Changing directors often leads to cast reshuffling, and when Pixar's 2015 film The Good Dinosaur replaced director Bob Peterson with Peter Sohn, it spelled pink slips for most of the film's voice cast. Though the all-star ensemble, which included Neil Patrick Harris, John Lithgow, Bill Hader, and Judy Greer, had finished their recording, Sohn decided that he needed to find "a younger" voice for main character Arlo, an orphaned Apatosaurus, and replaced 29-year-old Lucas Neff with the voice of 13-year-old Raymond Ochoa.

"Everything else, all the other characters that supported that story," Sohn explained to Yahoo Movies, "changed and evolved and through that evolution," and this meant some of the supporting cast "changed out of it." Sohn sent Harris, Lithgow, Hader and Greer packing. Lithgow was quoted in 2014 as saying he expected to be re-recording some of his dialogue following the change in director, so clearly the cast didn't expect to be cut. Though Sohn claimed the film's previous stars knew about the change "earlier than when it was released in the press," only a few months before the film's release, the director still referred to the situation as "a tough thing."

He was too tied up to tie up Dakota

When Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson were announced as the stars of Fifty Shades of Grey, the bondage-laced erotic tale based on E.L. James' internationally best-selling book, the fan reaction was fierce. Johnson and Hunnam weathered the storm together, with Hunnam telling the press that he and Johnson had "a real chemistry" and adding, "When they called me and told me, 'We would love you to do this,' the first question I asked was, 'It'll be Dakota, right?'"

Yet that chemistry wasn't enough to keep Hunnam on board. Four weeks before shooting was set to commence, he dropped out, citing scheduling conflicts.

Johnson later explained during an interview with David Letterman that it was "a confusing moment" for her, and laughed awkwardly as she explained that Hunnam's "schedule conflicted." Letterman replied, "So that guy is gone, and then you have to begin the process all over again," and Johnson agreed, "yeah. That was a weird moment."

Hunnam's replacement, Jamie Dornan, seemed to mollify some fan objection but by all accounts lacked the "chemistry" Johnson reportedly had with Hunnam. Their press tour was low energy, and as a video Q&A session with Glamour magazine shows, the two both drew a blank when asked to come up with words that described each other, landing on awkwardly generic answers. In an interview with Today, the pair joked that they hated each other, but somehow it came off more authentic than their compliments had.

A Mummy mommy swap

1999's The Mummy is late '90s action-adventure classic, but at the time it was a surprise hit for Universal Pictures, taking in over $400 million worldwide and cementing co-stars Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in young Hollywood. The pair would go on to film The Mummy Returns in 2001. The next sequel, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, took seven years to reach screens, and when it did it was missing Weisz as Evy, Egyptologist and now wife of Fraser's American adventurer Rick O'Connell.

John Hannah, who played Weisz's brother Jonathan in the series, explained: "That was a pretty Hollywood moment. I couldn't really figure out how Jonathan would be in it if Rachel wasn't — it never occurred to me that they'd just recast it." Hannah claimed Weisz was initially on board for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, and filming was delayed when she had a baby, "but something changed and the role wound up going to [Maria] Bello."

Fraser soldiered on with the new version of his wife, but said of the switch: "I felt Rachel's absence when I read the screenplay the first time… we were partners, we were colleagues, we were friends, and I couldn't read the screenplay and not think about hearing her say it this way or that way. We had that chemistry." Things got ugly when director Rob Cohen claimed that Weisz's vanishing act was due to the script's contention that Evy was now mother to an older son, something she's denied. "I got a very angry phone from her agent, saying she'll never play the mother of a 21-year-old," Cohen alleged. "I said, 'OK, good, fine, bye.'" 

Through the shadow of the Valley of the Dolls

1967's pill-popping, Hollywood-skewering camp classic Valley of the Dolls was drawn from Jacqueline Susann's bestselling book of the same name. Susann, an aspiring actor and novelist with one well-received book to her credit, modeled the novel on actual show business personalities. The onetime confidant of Broadway legend Ethel Merman, Susann incorporated her into the text as fading star Helen Lawson, and the temperamental yet talented Neely O'Hara was a clear portrait of Judy Garland.

Hewing almost uncomfortably close to the book's gossipy roots, Garland was herself cast in the resulting film as aging stage glory Helen. Patty Duke was enlisted to bring Neely to life. "I worshipped her," said Duke of Garland in a 2009 interview. "She made me laugh every time she looked at me." Duke claimed two days into their shoot, Garland was unceremoniously fired from the production at the command of director Mark Robson, who the Patty Duke Show star called "the meanest son of a bitch I ever met in my life."

"[Garland] had to come in at 6:30 in the morning, and [Robson] wouldn't even plan to get to her until 4 in the afternoon," said Duke, claiming the "down to earth star" didn't mind waiting, but that during this time "gentlemen" on the set plied Garland with wine and "other things, so that when she finally did get called to the set she couldn't function very well." Duke says after Garland was fired "she crumbled… and that was devastating." She was replaced by Susan Hayward, and a newspaper report contemporary to Garland's firing alleged "the entire Valley company is in the dumps about Judy, from the executive office down to the props and grips."

Father doesn't always know best

One of the most infamous cast replacements of the modern era happened in 1990, for Francis Ford Coppola's highly anticipated The Godfather Part III. Its well-loved predecessor, released 16 years prior, was the first sequel to ever win an Academy Award for Best Picture; adding to the pressure surrounding the film's release was the casting of pivotal character Mary Corleone, the daughter to Al Pacino's Michael Corleone.

The role proved much harder to cast than anticipated: rumored first choice Julia Roberts is said to have left for a role in Flatliners, Madonna read for the part but was deemed too mature for the role, and up-and coming actor Rebecca Schaeffer was murdered on the morning of her audition. Ultimately, Winona Ryder was cast and flew to Rome for filming shortly after wrapping the 1990 film Mermaids. Unfortunately, she took ill from exhaustion and left the project on the advice of a doctor.

This left the production scrambling to find a new Mary several weeks into filming. Coppola ended up casting his own 19-year-old daughter, Sofia. It was reported that this didn't sit well with the cast, who "whispered allegations of nepotism" on the set. Coppola herself agreed with these reports, saying: "they felt I was just too young and inexperienced." An extra was quoted saying "she couldn't pronounce the name Corleone… her father had to keep cutting and retaking the scene. She was in over her head." The critics agreed, dubbing her performance "hopelessly amateurish."