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Actors Who Refused To Do The Sequel

For many actors, the possibility that a movie they've done might be popular and interesting enough to warrant a sequel — or, better yet, a franchise — is basically a dream come true. But for others, the idea of returning to a one-and-done role can be pretty undesirable for one reason or another. Of course, sequels are often hit-or-miss, with many failing to recapture the magic of the original. This can be especially true when it comes to formulaic franchises that seem to only produce new installments with the goal of making more down the road.

While this isn't always the case — some sequels are even better than the original — it happens enough that there are plenty of actors out there who'd rather skip the next adventure altogether rather than risk being tied to a critical or commercial flop. Though we can't argue with that, complete character absences and uninspired recasts often contribute to what makes a sequel poor in the first place, taking away a huge part of what made the original so grand.

Plenty of franchises are able to make do without members of their original cast, while others suffer immensely. It just depends on the movie. But whether it's because of a general aversion to sequels or no particular interest in a second round as said characters, these are the actors who said a big "no thanks" to a follow-up film, which either never happened or went forth with a new star in their place.

Jim Carrey

Okay, so Jim Carrey's not exactly allergic to sequels because, hey, he was willing to star in "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls." However, he has shied away from more than his fair share of follow-up flicks. Evidently, Carrey had turned down a hefty payday for the sequel to "The Mask," which meant the original project was never made; instead, the studio commissioned 2005's "Son of the Mask," which, aside from the titular item, was hardly connected to the original. 

But this wasn't the only one of Carrey's would-be franchises that would proceed without him. "Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" recast its eponymous leads for a ridiculous origin story, and "Evan Almighty" introduced a new man on a mission from God in lieu of Carrey's almighty "Bruce." Unsurprisingly, without Carrey at the helm, most of these sequels landed dead in the water. But after a few decades, Carrey changed his mind on sequels entirely, reprising his role as Lloyd in "Dumb and Dumber To" before starring in two "Sonic the Hedgehog" movies.

For a while, he was even willing to return for a proper "The Mask" sequel. But Carrey announced to Variety in 2022 that after "Sonic the Hedgehog 2," he was retiring from acting. "Well, I'm retiring. Yeah, probably. I'm being fairly serious," Carrey said, later adding, "I have enough. I've done enough. I am enough." Only time will tell if Carrey is done for good.

Bill Murray

Like many on this list, Bill Murray isn't exactly known for his friendliness towards follow-ups, but his résumé isn't totally exempt from them either — case in point: "Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties." Despite his dual outings as the lasagna-loving cat, Murray failed to return as Bosley in "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" after a reported feud with co-star Lucy Liu and director McG, leading to his being replaced by Bernie Mac as Bosley's brother (via Entertainment Weekly). But naturally (or maybe, supernaturally), it's his history with "Ghostbusters" that's drawn the most public interest — and controversy — over the years.

Murray, who starred in "Ghostbusters" and "Ghostbusters II," famously refused to have anything to do with the ill-fated and unproduced "Ghostbusters III" because he wasn't impressed with the idea, much to Dan Aykroyd's chagrin (via EW). "I read one that Danny [Aykroyd] wrote that was crazy bizarre and too crazy to comprehend," Murray told Variety, ultimately satisfied with his decision to distance himself from the paranormal comedies.

Murray did, however, agree to make a cameo in Paul Feig's all-female reboot in 2016 as a sign of solidarity for the new generation of ladies battling ectoplasmic goo, and even voiced Peter Venkman in "Ghostbusters: The Video Game," which was effectively a third film. Murray finally returned to bust some ghosts (albeit briefly) in the 2021 sequel-reboot "Ghostbusters: Afterlife," which brought back the original heroes as they passed their proton packs over to the next generation of paranormal investigators.

Keanu Reeves

Known best for his action roles in "The Matrix" and "John Wick" franchises, Keanu Reeves has become something of a staple in the genre. In 1994, "Speed" was a breakthrough success for Reeves, helping to make him recognizable for more than just his doofus "whoa" antics from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Point Break," and it certified him as a bona fide action star years before "The Matrix." But Reeves wanted nothing to do with a "Speed" sequel. 

He later explained that it was the script that turned him off a reunion with co-star Sandra Bullock and director Jan de Bont. He told Jimmy Kimmel, "I got the script and I read [it] and was like 'ugh.' It was about a cruise ship and I was thinking a bus, a cruise ship, speed, bus, but then the cruise ship is even slower ... I just can't do it" (via Entertainment Weekly). "Speed 2: Cruise Control" still went ahead with a new leading man in place — played by Jason Patric, with a few character adjustments — but was hated by critics and audiences alike (via Rotten Tomatoes). 

Though Reeves opted out of returning for "Cruise Control," would he consider coming back for "Speed 3"? While nothing is officially in the works, after encores in "The Matrix Resurrections," "Bill and Ted Face The Music," and the upcoming "John Wick: Chapter 4," anything seems possible.

Katie Holmes

Though "The Dark Knight" is the most successful of Christopher Nolan's famed Batman trilogy, the first installment, "Batman Begins," is not to be slept on. Chronicling the origins of the Dark Knight, the film focuses on Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne as he slowly turns into Batman. Starring opposite Bale is Katie Holmes, who plays Bruce's childhood friend and love interest, Rachel Dawes. Among the only characters to learn that Bruce is Batman, Rachel is pretty pivotal to "Begins," though she'd be recast in the sequel.

The real reason why Katie Holmes declined to return for "The Dark Knight" is something only she truly knows, though there's plenty of speculation to go around. The public line on why she gave a hard pass to the movie (and the substantial paycheck involved) was that a reprisal of her role as Rachel Dawes would conflict with her shooting schedule on "Mad Money," an all-female buddy crime comedy (via Wall Street Journal). Unfortunately, almost nobody saw Holmes' comedic venture, which flopped big-time at the box office (via Box Office Mojo). 

Others, such as Yahoo! Movies, have suggested that her marriage to Tom Cruise might have had an impact on her decision, especially since she took a three-year hiatus between "Batman Begins" and "Mad Money." But no matter the cause, Holmes made it clear that the decision was hers and told MTV that she had "no regrets" about leaving Gotham City.

Crispin Glover

"Back to the Future" may well be the best sci-fi movie of all time. A time-traveling coming-of-age adventure, the film solidified Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in the pop culture zeitgeist. To this day, it's one of the most beloved films in cinema history, and while the reception to its sequels is admittedly mixed, the original stands tall as a favorite among audiences everywhere. Among the spectacular cast is Crispin Glover, who played Marty's father George McFly in a kind of heartwarming hero story audiences savor more than their popcorn. 

But even though his character was slated to return in "Back to the Future, Part II," Glover ducked out of all the time-hopping fun in the sequel and its eventual continuation, "Back to the Future, Part III." According to Glover, he stepped back due to salary and creative disagreements with producers who, instead of recasting the role, used his likeness by molding his old man mask from the first movie into something equally as usable for the second (via Den of Geek). Talk about some bad plastic surgery.

Honestly, the whole thing is a bit strange and unsettling, and Glover, who was understandably annoyed, sued the studio for using his likeness without his permission — and won (via The Hollywood Reporter). Somehow, both "Back to the Future" sequels made do without ever showing Marty's father again, although they each alluded to George McFly in their own unique ways. It helped that the third one mostly took place in the Old West.

Alan Cumming

The first two "X-Men" movies helped revolutionize the superhero genre when comic book movies were nearly at a standstill. In fact, Bryan Singer's second bout at reimagining the X-Men for modern day audiences, "X2: X-Men United," is still considered among the franchise's best to this day. The film introduced us to Alan Cumming's Kurt Wagner, a mutant later codenamed Nightcrawler by his allies. His introduction in the opening scene is just as exciting today as it was back in 2003.

But Cumming decided against returning for "X-Men: The Last Stand," despite some fanfare surrounding his portrayal of the teleporting mutant. The actor notoriously hated the intense makeup process involved with creating the character, and even claimed that the set was abusive (via Yahoo! Movies). Despite not appearing in the film, "X-Men: The Office Game" — which took place between "X2" and "The Last Stand" — explains Nightcrawler's absence in the third installment as the character leaves the team, deeming their lives as "too violent" for a peaceful man.

Interestingly, Cumming admitted to being a bit nostalgic about the film around the time the "X-Men: First Class" prequel rolled around (via Coming Soon). Because this film started a new timeline for the "X-Men" universe, Nightcrawler was recast, with Kodi Smit-McPhee playing a much younger variation for "X-Men: Apocalypse" and its 2019 follow-up "Dark Phoenix."

Geena Davis

One good way to ensure your leading lady won't bother to come back for a second film is to kill her off in the first scene of the script. Such was the case with Geena Davis, who declined an opportunity to appear in what would have basically been a cameo role in 1989's "The Fly II" (via Bloody Disgusting). After being such a big part of the Jeff Goldblum-led original — which itself is actually a remake — Davis' absence is definitely felt in the sequel, though to be fair, Goldblum is missed also. He at least appears via archival footage, but even that wasn't enough to save the film.

Leftover footage of Davis' character Veronica Quaife from "The Fly," along with substitute work by actress Saffron Henderson, made up for her absence during the brief portions her character appeared in the sequel, which followed the story of Veronica's son with Seth "Brundlefly" Brundle. Naturally, the sequel didn't do particularly well. Not only were Goldblum and Davis absent, but director David Cronenberg, producer Stuart Cornfeld, and co-writer Charles Edward Pogue all bowed out as well.

Interestingly, Goldblum, whose character didn't make it out of the original alive, has recently shown interest in returning for another "Fly" movie in the future (via Bloody Disgusting), though it's doubtful that Geena Davis would join him.

Kristen Wiig

"Bridesmaids" was a sassy, no-holds-barred, and unapologetically brazen comedy that left audiences craving more from its breakthrough ensemble. Directed by Paul Feig, the comedy was a success on every level, beloved by critics and audiences alike (via Rotten Tomatoes). In fact, it quickly became producer Judd Apatow's highest-grossing film, at least at the time, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But despite the film's undeniable success, star and co-writer Kristen Wiig has absolutely no desire to continue on for a second round, either in front of or behind the camera.

Explaining her decision to Harper's Bazaar in 2013, Wiig said that she'd never planned to make a sequel in the first place. "We knew during the first one, this was it," she said. "We would have made a lot of money if there was a second one, but that's not my goal in my creative life." Echoing Wiig's sentiments and honoring her vision, director Paul Feig said it was pretty much up to Wiig alone as to whether a sequel would ever happen (via The Daily Beast). Since we still haven't seen a "Bridesmaids 2," it seems like Wiig is sticking to her guns on this one.

When asked whether she'd consider making another "Bridesmaids" film without Wiig's involvement, her co-star Melissa McCarthy responded, "God, I wouldn't want to. I would never want to. I think it's a terrible idea." (via E! News). After a decade of speculation and rumors surrounding a potential sequel, that just about settles that.

Will Ferrell

As "come what may" as his characters tend to be, you might not expect Will Ferrell to be a choosy guy when it comes to film roles. Given his outlandish skits on "Saturday Night Live," his countless comedy films (where it feels as if he's playing the same character), and his previous sequels, one might never have guessed the one role that Ferrell has no interest in revisiting. But having decided not to don those winter green leotards once more, or pledge his allegiance to Santa again, there will be no sequel to the 2003 hit "Elf." 

The holiday comedy was certainly on the "nice list" when it came to box office receipts (via Box Office Mojo), but when the studio raised the idea of Ferrell reprising his arguably most famous (and certainly his most recognizable) character, he wasn't interested. "I just think it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights: Buddy the middle-aged elf," Ferrell told USA Today, and he's actually right. 

As a result, a follow-up to the holiday box office smash still hasn't happened, and likely never will, but maybe that's a good thing. Other successful Christmas comedies, such as "The Christmas Chronicles" and "The Santa Clause," have done well for themselves with second installments, but for every "The Santa Clause 2," there's also a "Christmas Vacation 2," and Buddy the Elf just doesn't need that.

Tom Hanks

"Forrest Gump" was one of many career-defining performances for Tom Hanks. Not only was his titular role groundbreaking, but it earned him his second consecutive Academy Award for Best Actor — along with endless jokes about his box-o-chocolates mantra and his undying love for his peas-and-carrots pal "Jenn-aye." No doubt, the role of Forrest Gump was a once-in-a-lifetime thing for Hanks, who will forever be associated with the character.

Although Forrest's story comes to a natural close by the film's end, there is actually source material for a sequel — Winston Groom's follow-up novel "Gump and Co.," which was released a year after the film premiered and followed Forrest's life throughout the 1980s. Despite multiple attempts at a sequel, there are plenty of reasons that "Forrest Gump 2" was never made — including the September 11th terrorist attacks — though the biggest reason was Tom Hanks himself.

Right from the get-go, Hanks held out on reprising the role, despite numerous reported attempts by the studio to get Gump (pardon the pun) up and running again. "I will say that, with a long time in between, we did take a stab at talking about another 'Forrest Gump' that lasted all of 40 minutes," Hanks told Variety back in 2022. "...I've always said, 'Guys, if there's a reason to do it, let's do it. But you guys can't force me.'" Sounds like Hanks is perfectly content leaving Forrest back in the '90s, or rather, the '80s.

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall is one of cinema's most prolific and arguably most underrated actors. With roles in films like "Apocalypse Now," "The Road," "The Judge," "Open Range," and plenty of others going all the way back to "To Kill A Mockingbird" and beyond, Duvall has quite the filmography under his belt — and an Academy Award to show for it. Of course, one of his most famous performances comes from a movie that is still considered by many (via Reddit) as the greatest film of all time: "The Godfather."

Playing the role of Tom Hagen in "The Godfather" and its immediate sequel, Duvall was certainly a dynamic presence on screen and Hagen, like most characters in the picture, was not one to be trifled with. But by the time "The Godfather, Part III" rolled around, Duvall was no longer interested in returning to a life of crime, especially if the pay wasn't up to snuff. "If they paid (Al) Pacino twice what they paid me, that's fine," Duvall said in a 2004 interview with "60 Minutes II" (via Today). "But not three or four times, which is what they did."

In response to Duvall's absence, "The Godfather, Part III" notes that Hagen died sometime before the film's events, while new characters assume the legal responsibilities of the Corleone family's criminal empire. Though it would have been nice to see Hagen return for the third installment, not even Duvall could save "Part III" from becoming the most hated of Francis Ford Coppola's iconic gangster trilogy.

Linda Hamilton

First appearing as the scared young woman in the 1984 sci-fi/horror feature "The Terminator," Linda Hamilton took on the role of Sarah "mother of the human resistance" Connor with ease. By the time we saw her again in the even more impressive 1991 sequel, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," she had transformed herself into a powerhouse warrior who was nearly as formidable as the titular cyborg himself.

Though "T2" is the "gold standard" of "Terminator" movies, a threequel titled "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" was released just over a decade later. Unlike the first two, the third wasn't directed by James Cameron and didn't star Hamilton opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even Edward Furlong was recast. "I read it and I knew my character arc was so complete in the first two," Hamilton told MTV, "[Sarah] died halfway through and there was no time to mourn her. It was kind of disposable, so I said no thank you."

While she refused "T3," Hamilton reprised her role vocally for "Terminator Salvation," though she avoided the franchise for another decade afterwards. Sarah Connor was recast in both "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" and "Terminator Genisys" before Cameron convinced Hamilton to return one last time for 2019's "Terminator: Dark Fate." Sadly, the film flopped, leaving Hamilton a bit disillusioned. "I would be quite happy to never return," Hamilton explained to The Hollywood Reporter after its release. "I would really love to be done." More than likely, she'll get her wish.

Marlon Brando

Who doesn't love Marlon Brando? This cinematic legend starred in "A Streetcar Named Desire," "On The Waterfront," "Apocalypse Now," and even received top billing in "Superman: The Movie," though he played the Man of Steel's father and not the titular hero himself. But, we all know that Brando is best-known for his iconic performance as Vito Corleone, the patriarch of the infamous crime family in "The Godfather."

Though Don Corleone was the breakout character of the first film, Brando wouldn't return for either "Godfather" sequel. Robert De Niro played a younger Vito in flashback sequences for "The Godfather Part II," though Brando was initially scheduled to appear at the end. Somewhat famously, Brando failed to show up for the film's final scene — a flashback to the era before the first film — and director Francis Ford Coppola quickly reworked the scene to proceed without him. Evidently, there was an offer that he could easily refuse.

Similarly in 1980, Brando's scenes were removed from "Superman II" due to a lawsuit between the actor and the film's producers, who cited "creative differences" as the reason for their omission (via Superman Homepage). Though these scenes were seemingly lost for years, the original director, Richard Donner, recut the film in 2006 to resemble his vision, in which he re-added Brando's final scenes as Superman's father Jor-El. Brando also returned posthumously as Jor-El in Bryan Singer's "Superman Returns," though that was through repurposed archival footage from 1978's "Superman."

Sean Connery

The original James Bond, Sean Connery is notable for his dashing good looks, swashbuckling demeanor, and unmistakable Scottish accent. But even he has been known to pass on a sequel in his time. Connery finished off his initial run as Bond with his fifth appearance in the tux, in 1967's "You Only Live Twice," which was originally billed as his last.

Connery returned to the role four years later — after his first replacement, George Lazenby, left the series following one film — to star as Bond in 1971's "Diamonds Are Forever," his final 007 film for Eon Productions. From there, Connery was replaced by Roger Moore, who played Bond in the next seven films. Connery returned again for "Never Say Never Again," a non-Eon production which was made outside the official canon and would actually prove to be his last, tying him and Moore for the most appearances as 007. Ironically, Connery had "always hated that damned James Bond," according to The Guardian, further explaining his consistent retirements.

But this isn't the only franchise Connery exited. In 2006, Connery retired from acting and thus opted out of returning as Henry Jones, Sr. in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." "I spoke with Spielberg, but it didn't work out," Connery told The Hollywood Reporter. "It was not that generous a part, worth getting back into the harness and go for." Instead, Jones, Sr. was said to have died offscreen and was honored with a passing cameo via photograph.

Will Smith

One of the biggest movie stars of our day, Will Smith first made himself known for his work on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," and quickly began starring in blockbusters in the mid-to-late 1990s. Of these blockbusters, only one stands above the rest, making waves every Fourth of July as fireworks take flight. That's right, "Independence Day" is something of a cult classic, and in 2016, a sequel to the beloved sci-fi classic, titled "Independence Day: Resurgence," was released, with almost the entire original cast returning.

Busy with "Suicide Squad," Smith opted not to return as Captain Steven Hiller for "Resurgence," which was a huge blow to fans. Apparently, Hiller was vital to the film's original plot, which would have been a father-son story between Smith and Jessie T. Usher's Dylan Hiller (via Time). Instead, the "Independence Day" sequel killed Smith's character off-screen, propelling Usher's Dylan into a leading role. Ironically, though Smith was preoccupied with playing the assassin Deadshot in "Suicide Squad," he also failed to return for that movie's sequel due to scheduling issues (via Variety).

Replaced by Idris Elba's Bloodsport — who, on paper, is the exact same character as Deadshot, right down to being an assassin with a young daughter — Smith's absence wasn't exactly felt in "The Suicide Squad," which didn't even mention his character. Evidently, director James Gunn wanted to leave the door open for Smith to return as Deadshot in the future, when he wasn't so busy with Disney musical remakes or controversial award show appearances.

Rachel Weisz

While sometimes recasting is necessary and lives up to pre-established expectations, sometimes the exact opposite is true. Though she played the role of Evelyn "Evy" O'Connor (nee Carnahan) in "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns," Rachel Weisz decided against reprising the role for a third film. Weisz wasn't the only one who didn't make it back for "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor," as director Stephen Sommers handed over the reigns to Rob Cohen instead, though he'd remain onboard as a producer.

Rather than a casual scheduling conflict or retirement, Weisz simply didn't like the script, which had been penned by "Smallville" creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. According to Cohen (via Digital Spy), the director got an angry phone call from Weisz's agent, explaining that the then-37-year-old actress was not interested in her character having a 21-year-old son in the movie. Aside from not liking her character's direction, Weisz had also just had her newborn son and wasn't exactly available for a five-month trip to China.

Given Weisz's frustrations with the script and her inability to travel, the filmmakers rewrote the Evy character entirely and recast her, making her nearly unrecognizable from the previous installments. Maria Bello didn't do a bad job, she just wasn't the Evy O'Connor we all knew and loved. Whether it was the lack of Rachel Weisz, a poor script, or just poor timing, "Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" crashed and burned, and "The Mummy" franchise has yet to fully recover.

Laurence Fishburne

Though "The Matrix" and its sequels starred Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne's Morpheus was just as vital to the plot as anyone else. A resistance fighter in the war against the machines keeping humans imprisoned in a simulated reality, Morpheus survived all three films in the Wachowskis' original trilogy.

Unfortunately, he was killed off in the in-canon MMORPG titled "The Matrix Online," which eventually shut down in 2009, so with the announcement of "The Matrix Resurrections," it seemed possible that Neo, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Morpheus would all be reunited once again. While the first two did return, Fishburne was never asked to reprise his iconic role. Instead, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast as Morpheus in the fourth installment, only to be revealed as a computer program based off the original.

"Resurrections" didn't exactly wow audiences or perform incredibly well at the box office. In an interview with Variety, Fishburne concluded, "It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. And it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be," echoing the sentiments of many. It's also worth noting that Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith, a villain integral to the original trilogy, was also recast for "Resurrections," though that was strictly due to scheduling conflicts with "The Visit" (via Time Out).