Have you ever watched an actor or actress leave a movie or TV show and thought to yourself, “What were they thinking?” We've all been there—we get invested in characters and their storylines, so when an actor or actress decides to abruptly leave a long-running film franchise or popular series, it's almost heartbreaking.
In this blog post, we asked Reddit to tell us about the actors and actresses they've “loved and lost”—when that character was cut from a show or movie. We're looking at some of the most memorably stupid exits from our favorite movies and shows actors who left a good role only to find they couldn't land another popular one.
1. George Lazenby
One Redditor posted, “George Lazenby has to be the top answer. Dude with zero acting experience lands the role of James Bond after Sean Connery and was offered a multi-film deal to be Bond for the foreseeable future. Then, his agent just totally misguides him, telling him both that ‘It's the summer of love and nobody is going to keep wanting to see spy movies about killing people,' but also that since he'd already appeared in a film, he could ask for whatever he wanted and they couldn't turn him down. They brought Connery back for a film instead, and Lazenby's acting career basically ended on the spot.”
2. Chuck Woolery
One user posted, “Chuck Woolery left WHEEL OF FORTUNE only to see PAT SAJAK host it for over 40 years.”
Another replied, “And Pat Sajak only works (worked?) like 4 days every 2 months. What a dream job.”
A third user posted, “According to Cosmo: Back in 2016 (so seven full years ago), Forbes reported that Pat was earning $15 million per season of Wheel of Fortune. This is obviously a lot of money, especially if you consider what this dude's work/life balance is like. As in, Celebrity Net Worth reports that he only works four days per month. I repeat: FOUR. DAYS. PER. MONTH. That's 48 days per year, $312,500 per workday, and $52,083 per episode.
“And also… Just keep in mind that, again, $15 million per year is what Pat was earning in 2016. It's more than likely that he makes far more now, especially since he and Vanna White reportedly signed fancy new contracts in late 2021 that take them through Wheel of Fortune's 2023–2024 season.
“And lastly… FYI, when Wheel of Fortune is in production, Pat and Vanna film six shows per day, and Celebrity Net Worth says the schedule is pretty normal. Like, they arrive at 8:30 a.m. (reasonable!), and shooting begins at noon (also reasonable!).”
3. Crystal Reed
One commenter said, “Crystal Reed from Teen Wolf. She was so certain she was done she had them kill off her character only for her career to flop outside of Teen Wolf and ~10 years later would come back and have them revive her character for the movie.”
Another user replied, “Part of the reason she wanted to do other roles was because she wanted to play a more age appropriate character. She admitted she felt weird playing a 16-year-old when she's nearing 30.”
4. Brian Dunkleman
One Redditor posted, “Brian Dunkleman was co-host of Season 1 of American Idol with Seacrest, and then quit. Over the years, it has toggled back and forth between whether or not he would have been fired anyway, but in at least one interview, he admitted to quitting and then [being quite depressed] over it.”
Another added, “I remember he went on Howard Stern right after he quit, and Howard bluntly asked him what he was thinking and telling him he was an absolute idiot for leaving. Howard was right.”
5. Marcus Chong
One user shared, “Marcus Chong was ‘Tank' in The Matrix. Main character in a HUGE franchise. He had all of these big ideas about how the movie should be done and how his character should progress. That's fine, but he wouldn't stop pushing them on the directors and producers. When it came time to make Matrix 2 he was not invited back. Dude could have literally just shut up, been cool and thankful, and made a huge bank and a bigger career.”
Another user replied, “I don't know if the following is true, but I seem to recall him asking for one million dollars per film to return for the sequels because Tank was such an integral character (in Marcus' opinion). Then the studio said ‘[Forget] that,' hired Harold Perrineau, and killed Tank off via a couple of lines of dialogue.”
One user also responded, “Also, I don't think Tank was that integral. Neo, Morpheus, Trinitiy, Smith—everybody else is a secondary cast. Not sure what made him think the movie couldn't be made without him.”
6. Katie Holmes
One user posted, “Katie Holmes took a pass on The Dark Knight to go be in a movie called Mad Money… and like you, I haven't seen it either.”
Another added, “My stepmother has some odd relation to Katie Holmes – like 3rd cousin twice removed. Won't shut up about it. Calls it her ‘claim to fame.' I keep asking her what Katie has been in and she can't answer, lol. Edit: Had no idea thousands of people would find my step mother's odd relation to Katie Holmes so interesting.”
Another replied, “Dawson's Creek! That's what I know her from.”
One user commented, “I was looking for this one. She publicly stated she would do two more movies. Then she married Tom, and suddenly she was ‘unavailable.' After Mad Money flopped, she tried her hand at Broadway but the ticket sales were disappointing.”
7. Ja Rule
One user stated, “Ja Rule was in the first Fast and Furious movie.”
Another replied, “I like how Ludacris was in the second one as basically a cameo and then went on to become a major part in the franchise.”
One user commented, “He also became one of the world's best hackers at some point without explanation.”
Another user answered, “Right??? He used to have a cool role. He was THE guy to know in Miami. Had all the connections and owned a sweet shop. Who is he now? Literally; what personality does he have besides ‘cool hacker'?”
Another user then added, “It actually bothers me how at the end of the 4th 5th movie he's like h- yeah i opened my dream garage with the money stolen in Brazil like did he forget that he already has a garage in Miami where he also has employees? No? Why did they do this to my boy like this? EDIT: I can't count or something.”
8. Ed Skrein
“Ed Skrein left Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis thinking that if he starred in the reboot of The Transporter it would spawn sequels,” one user posted.
Another added, “That one still kinda blows my mind. I know there's a difference between being the lead role and playing second/third fiddle, but he left GOT after season 3 pretty much right as it crossed into cultural phenomenon status, playing a character that was pretty much guaranteed to have screen time and not be killed for at least a few more seasons. Definitely, a scenario where [a bit of patience] would have benefited.”
9. Stuart Townsend
One user added, “Late to the party but Stuart Townsend was the original casting for Aragorn in the LOTR movies, but during pre-production and rehearsals, he refused to practice things like swordplay, horse riding, action choreography etc, always responding ‘You'll get it on the day.' Peter Jackson decided he couldn't work with him, Viggo is brought in literally on the first day of shooting, and the rest is history.”
“Thank Viggo's son Alex for pushing him to take the role. His son is a huge LOTR fan and thought it would be cool for his dad to play Aragorn. He pretty much did it for his son,” another user responded.
10. Chad Michael Murray
“Chad Michael Murray on One Tree Hill,” one Redditor commented.
Another user added, “I met him once! He came to a comic con convention at my job years ago. Everyone was like ‘omg he looks so familiar!' And someone finally figured it out. I worked in a coffee shop on site, and he was so humble and down to earth. He just hung out in our lobby with his wife and played with his kids for a few hours, took some pictures with a couple of employees, and gave us an amazing tip. Cool a-, dude. One of the best celebs I've ever met.”
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