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The Real Reason These Actors Were Cut From A Sequel

Where would Hollywood be without sequels? A galaxy far, far away wouldn't have become a cultural staple. We might have only gotten one offer we couldn't refuse. And John and Sarah Conner would never have faced a Judgment Day. Then again, we probably all could have done without Caddyshack II and lived perfectly happy cinephile lives. Nonetheless, when a film franchise decides on a subsequent installment, viewers generally expect to see many of the same faces that brought them to the theater the first time around. 

Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. Whether it's a conflict about money, personalities, or creative differences, there are plenty of instances in which actors from an original film aren't included in a sequel. Here are just a few examples of actors who didn't make the cut. Sometimes, it really isn't as good as the first time... if the first time was ever that good at all.

Bill Murray - Charlie's Angels 2

Way back at the turn of the century, McG (who at that time was best known for directing music videos) got his first turn at directing a feature film. The result was a new millennium reboot of the wildly popular '70s action drama Charlie's Angels, starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu. While most moviegoers came for the three leads, one of the highlights of the film was comedy veteran Bill Murray in the role of Bosley, the Angels' desk-bound handler.

But when the band got back together in 2003 for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Murray was noticeably absent. Instead, comedian Bernie Mac stepped into the role with the explanation that he was the adopted brother of the previous Bosley. Off-screen, however, it was more complicated than just wanting to make the sequel a family affair.

Rumors swirled that Murray clashed with co-star Lucy Liu, leading Murray to decide that he no longer wanted to work with the actress. However, in the years since the film, both Murray and Liu have thrown cold water on that story, with the former saying it was an on-set argument that was blown out of proportion. The story that seems to have more legs is that Murray and director McG butted heads — literally. Murray denies that the two had a physical meeting of the minds but did say that McG "deserves to die" and "should be pierced with a lance." It would appear there was a lack of angels on set.

Terrance Howard - Iron Man 2

It's one thing to miss out on a sequel that flops and inevitably goes nowhere. It's another thing to sit out a follow-up that opens the door to one of the largest, most ambitious franchises in movie history and eventually becomes a worldwide phenomenon. Alas, that is the premise of The Ballad of Terrance Howard. When Robert Downey, Jr. first put on his Iron Man suit in 2008, Howard was by his side as James "Rhodey" Rhodes, Tony Stark's close friend and future War Machine.

Yet two years later, when Stark was called on once again to save the world, Rhodey looked a lot less like Terrance Howard and a lot more like Don Cheadle. In the end, Cheadle would go on to play Rhodey/War Machine throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right up through Avengers: Endgame.

While Howard has a reputation for being difficult to work with, the actor said in interviews that his disappearance from the MCU had nothing to do with his attitude. Instead, he blamed his co-star, saying Downey "took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out." Howard elaborated further on the Sway in the Morning radio show, explaining that instead of being paid the $8 million he was originally offered for Iron Man 2, Marvel instead arranged to pay him just one million. Perhaps War Machines cost less than we've been led to believe.

Edward Norton - The Incredible Hulk

Way back in the infancy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio released The Incredible Hulk, starring Oscar nominee Edward Norton. The movie wasn't quite the smash hit that many of its MCU successors would be, but it was received markedly better than Ang Lee's Hulk. Nevertheless, when it came time to integrate the big green guy into the rest of the MCU in The Avengers, it was Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner.

While plenty of disputes over actors returning to sequels involve money, this conflict seems decidedly tilted toward creative differences. Norton was an uncredited writer on the project and (along with director Louis Leterrier) pushed for a cut of the movie that was around 135 minutes. The studio was more interested in a leaner cut, and won out with a 112-minute version. That may have been one of the reasons Norton refused to do much promotion for the film, though the actor claims he prefers to let his movies "speak for themselves."

In the end, it was more than the execs at Marvel Studios were willing to put up with. In explaining why the studio moved on from Norton, Kevin Feige cited "the need for an actor who embodies the creativity and collaborative spirit of our other talented cast members." There's no "I" in team... and apparently no Norton, either.

Alec Baldwin - Patriot Games

Alec Baldwin already had a number of television and movie credits on his resume before signing on to star in The Hunt for Red October in 1990. But it was the role of Jack Ryan that helped propel him to a new level of stardom. With Tom Clancy writing so prolifically about the CIA analyst-turned-field agent, one would have thought that Baldwin was primed to reprise the role in any number of sequels.

But when Patriot Games premiered in 1992, it was Harrison Ford, not Alec Baldwin, in the role of Jack Ryan. Ford would play Ryan again two years later in Clear and Present Danger before ceding the role to Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears. Chris Pine and John Krasinski would eventually bring their own versions of Clancy's hero to the screen. Perhaps it was all a gambit to make Jack Ryan the American version of James Bond with different actors taking up the role over the years. Or, if Baldwin is to be believed, he was run off as a way for the movie studio to clear a debt.

In 2011, Baldwin wrote that the reason he never appeared in Patriot Games is that Paramount Studios owed money to "a very famous movie star" who had a deal on a previous movie fall apart. So in order to fulfill this financial obligation, Baldwin was pushed aside. While the "famous movie star" is never named, some have connected the dots to Harrison Ford. For his part, David Kirkpatrick (the executive Baldwin accused of engineering the move) chalked it up to "an issue of script approval."

Rachelle Lefevre - The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Sometimes actors choose not to return for a film's sequels. Sometimes actors know why they aren't being asked back for a follow-up. Still others seem completely caught by surprise when they don't get invited back. Such was the case with Rachelle Lefevre, who was on the outside looking in when the cast for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse was announced.

Lefevre played the role of Victoria in the first two films of the series, a role that had been relatively minor. It was expected that the character would have a larger part in the story for the third film, but Bryce Dallas Howard wound up taking Lefevre's place. The move left Lefevre "stunned," according to a statement. The actress says that the decision was made over a scheduling conflict due to her taking a role in another movie that overlapped with Eclipse's shooting schedule by ten days. Lefevre said that she weas "totally committed" to the role of Victoria and didn't believe that the minor overlap should have caused a problem.

The studio didn't take kindly to Lefevre's portrayal of what happened and released a statement of its own, accusing the actress of "a lack of cooperative spirit." Whatever the full story was, it certainly meant twilight time on Lefevre's run in a huge movie franchise.

Judith Hoag - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze

Were it not for the intrepid reporting of April O'Neil, the world might have never learned of the existence of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — at least, if you believe comic book lore. But it might be a bit surprising to realize that three different actresses have taken on the role over the course of the franchise's live-action big screen life, most recently Megan Fox in 2014 and 2016.

The original April O'Neil was played by Judith Hoag in the 1990 debut. At the time, Hoag was a 22-year-old actor working alongside Robin Williams in Cadillac Man and looking for her big break. Despite not knowing what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was about, she took the role and worked a dual schedule to finish both movies. When it came time to cast Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze, Hoag wasn't invited back. Her schedule likely had something to do with it... but not in the way one might think.

Hoag complained to the producers about the long six-day shooting schedule, as well as the film's heavy violence. "I think they thought I was too demanding, and moved on," she later told Variety. In her place, Paige Turco took over the role. Hoag was considered for the third film in the series, but producers thought it might be too confusing for young viewers. Definitely not radical, dude.

Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig - The Girl in the Spider's Web

Steig Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy" of books featuring the exploits of Swedish hacker Lisbeth Salander became an international phenomenon. In their native country, the books were adapted into a well-received movie trilogy with Noomi Rapace in the lead role. An American remake was inevitable, and Rooney Mara was cast alongside Daniel Craig in director David Fincher's 2011 adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

The movie earned overall positive reviews, pulled in over $230 million worldwide at the box office, and earned Mara an Oscar nomination. However, Fincher did not return to helm the eventual 2018 sequel, The Girl in the Spider's Web, with Fede Alvarez taking over instead. Nonetheless, many expected Mara and Craig both to return in their respective roles.

Instead, Alvarez decided to go in a different direction with both of the main characters. He cast Claire Foy and Sverrir Gudnason in the lead roles, saying he "didn't like the idea of taking someone else's cast." In the end, the movie didn't resonate with either critics or audiences. What a tangled web we weave when films we choose to re-conceive.

Olivia Munn - Dark Phoenix

Long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe became the crown jewel of superhero films, there was the X-Men series. While this franchise of super-powered team-ups hasn't had quite the level of box office clout as the Avengers in recent years, it still did have quite a bit of appeal. That appeal (at least for fans of the comic books) bubbled over when Olivia Munn was cast to play Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Plenty of fans expected that Munn would be back for the final installment of the 20th Century Fox X-series, although that likely had something to do with Munn herself proclaiming ahead of time that the upcoming Dark Phoenix would be a "two-parter" and her character would definitely be making an appearance. The studio didn't take too kindly to the admission and sent a note to let her know as much.

Nonetheless, the slip of the tongue wasn't actually the reason Munn didn't return for Dark Phoenix. Instead, the issue was much simpler: scheduling conflicts. When the X-Men saddled up for their final ride at Fox, Munn was busy filming The Predator and was unavailable. Doing both at the same time would have taken a superhuman effort.

Bill Duke - X-Men: Days of Future Past

It can be a beautiful thing when filmmakers are allowed to take creative license with characters and story. Often, it can lead to great on-screen moments that enhance an individual movie or an entire franchise. Sometimes, it leads to weird continuity issues that leave audiences wondering what happened.

The latter could be the case with Bryan Singer's X-Men: Days of Future Past. When the movie was released in 2014, Peter Dinklage was cast in the role of Bolivar Trask, head of Trask Industries and developer of the mutant-hunting Sentinels. That might not be such a big deal until one remembers that Bill Duke played the same role in 2006's X-Men: The Last Stand. While the latter movie didn't feature Trask in a huge role, the recasting was still a decision that left some fans scratching their heads.

Singer did acknowledge the dissonance, saying "Some of these things I hope the audience will forget about but for the bulk of it I pay attention to the universe." What was the reason for making the change in the role? It was simply a case of the director being a fan of the actor. "I'm a huge fan of Peter's and Game of Thrones. He was my first choice and I was really happy," Singer told IGN. Perhaps only in days of future past could one completely re-write a character's history.

Billy Dee Williams - Batman Forever

When director Tim Burton brought Batman to the big screen in 1989, audiences flocked to theaters to see Michael Keaton's Dark Knight battle Jack Nicholson's Joker through the gritty streets of Gotham City. Veteran actor Billy Dee Williams appeared on-screen as Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent, giving fans reason to assume that he would become the villain Two-Face in Burton's subsequent films.

Unfortunately, that never happened... at least not with Williams in the role. When Burton's Batman Returns hit big screens in 1992, Harvey Dent was nowhere to be found. Instead, Batman battled the Penguin (played by Danny DeVito), with Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) thrown into the mix. By 1995, Burton was no longer involved in the franchise and Joel Schumacher, who was tapped to direct Batman Forever, decided to go a different direction, casting Tommy Lee Jones to don the makeup for Two-Face.

While Williams never got the chance to play the role in live action, the story does have a fairly happy ending. In 2017's The Lego Batman Movie, Williams was cast as the voice of Two-Face. All's well that ends well, perhaps.

Elizabeth Spriggs - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Over the course of the Harry Potter series, many characters were recast for various reasons. Most notably, Ralph Fiennes took over for Richard Bremmer when Voldemort evolved from a disembodied face to a full-bodied Dark Lord, and Michael Gambon replaced the deceased Richard Harris as Dumbledore.

One of the less-discussed changes was with the "Fat Lady" who guarded the entrance to the Gryffindor common room. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Elizabeth Spriggs played the role. It was a bit of a surprising choice for a character that was beloved by readers of the book series for being brassy and vivacious — Spriggs was more known for supporting matriarchal roles in dramas like Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps that was part of the reason director Alfonso Cuaron decided to cast boisterous British comedian Dawn French in the role when he took over to make Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Crispin Glover - Back to the Future Part II

Michael J. Fox may have been the star of Back to the Future, but as George McFly, Crispin Glover gave a career-defining performance. That made it all the more surprising when Glover didn't return for either of the movie's two sequels.

For any moviegoers asking questions as to why the elder McFly was portrayed by a different actor in Back to the Future Part II and Part III (journeyman actor Jeffrey Weissman took on the role), the reason is likely because Glover himself was asking too many questions. According to Glover, he had a problem with the ending of the original film, saying it sent the message that "money equals happiness," a contention that supposedly angered director Robert Zemeckis.

Nevertheless, Glover claims he still was interested in being in the sequels, but the paycheck was much less than what he considered to be fair. Apparently, playing George McFly was not going to be his destiny.

Julia Sawalha - Chicken Run 2

In 2000, U.K.-based Aardman Animation, best known for its Academy Award-winning stop-motion animation shorts featuring Wallace and Gromit, branched out into feature films with Chicken Run. Led by a hen named Ginger and a circus performer rooster named Rocky, the story's slated-for-slaughter chickens stage a plan to literally fly the coop to their freedom. Chicken Run was a massive hit — it earned $227 million at the worldwide box office, making it the top-grossing stop-motion animated movie of all time.

English actress Julia Sawalha, probably best known for her role as Saffy on the cult favorite Britcom Absolutely Fabulous, voiced Ginger in the original Chicken Run, but was not asked to return when the long-awaited sequel went into production. The reason, according to Sawalha: ageism. "Last week I was informed out of the blue, via email, through my agent that I would not be cast as Ginger in the Chicken Run sequel," Sawalha wrote in an open letter posted to Twitter. "The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds 'too old' and they want a younger actress to reprise the role." Sawalha further noted that she wasn't even given the opportunity to provide a voice test to determine if her voice had indeed changed too much, so she did one herself, and sent it to producers... who still opted to get someone else to portray Ginger in the 2021 sequel.