In franchises, it’s become increasingly normal for actors to be replaced in roles for a variety of reasons. Here are some big ones.
We see recasts pretty regularly on the big screen. For some franchises like Friday the 13th and Halloween, it’s almost a tradition. It’s less common in a non-genre arena. However, other major films have seen some of their important characters get recast for various reasons. Here are a few of them:
Back to the Future: George McFly and Jennifer
Two roles were recast in Back to the Future: Part II. The first recast was that of Jennifer who in the first film is played by Claudia Wells and then in the sequel is played by Elizabeth Shue. Not only did Shue replace Wells in the sequel, but all the flashback scenes to the first film were re-shot with her to make it make sense. The recast here was due to Claudia Wells taking a break from acting to go take care of her mother who had been diagnosed with cancer. This break on Wells’ part lasted decades before she returned to her career in 2008. It must be noted that Wells returned the part of Jennifer for the Back to the Future video game released in 2010. As for George McFly, the part was originated by Crispin Glover who opted out of the sequels when he was offered a much lower salary than other returning co-stars. The production used some of his scenes from the previous film in the second one which led to him suing the production and settling out of court.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: April O’Neil
Played by Judith Hoag in the first film and Paige Turco in the second and third, April was a central character to the TMNT franchise, so her recasting was evident between the first and second film. The reasons why were not necessarily obvious to all viewers at the time, but is now better known as Hoag has discussed it openly. She’s also said she has no ill will towards Turco and the two are now friends. The reason for the recast was because the director of the film did not take it well that Hoag had openly criticized the film’s treatment of its stunt crew and the way schedule changes were handled.
Terminator: John Connor
This one is an odd ball of a situation here as there is more than one timeline within the Terminator universe, so recasting the part of John Connor can be expected. However, the changes were not always indicative of the different timelines and some of them were more due to the age of the actors and when the films were shot and released versus the age Connor needed to be within the story. That being said, John Connor has been played by a higher number of actors than almost any character (excluding situations like James Bond). The part began in the hands of Edward Furlong in T2, in the third entry he was played by Nick Stahl, in the fourth film the part went to Christian Bale, and the fifth film it went to Jason Clarke, then there’s also the television series where the part went to Thomas Dekker. Furlong came back for the newest entry of the film series, but in a very CGI way. As mentioned, the series gets away with these recasts because of the different timelines and needs for different ages for the character. Between parts 2 and 3, Furlong was recast due to being dropped from the film and it was reported to be because of his substance abuse, something he seems to have won the battle over now.
X-Men: Sabretooth aka Victor Creed
The first X-Men movie had a few appearances from Sabretooth played by Tyler Mane. In the following appearances by the character, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the part went to Liev Schreiber, quite the departure from the style of Mane. Mane wanted to get back to the role but was denied the opportunity as the filmmakers were aiming at a younger actor for the part possibly so he could come back in sequels. This goal seemed to go out the window once they hired Schreiber who is only one year younger than Mane. Overall, X-Men is another one of those series where the timeline changes, so recasting parts is something that is expected. Mane himself has said that the recast was due to the film needing someone who could be more believable as relative of Wolverine. Schreiber was supposed to come back to the part in Logan, but things didn’t work out due to scheduling.
Iron Man: James Rhodes aka Rhodey aka War Machine
In the first film, the part of Rhodey is played by Terrence Howard. But, in subsequent movies, the part is played by Don Cheadle. He’s since become synonymous with the character due to how well he handled the transition and how often he played the part. The switchover between the two actors was due to a falling out between Terrence Howard and Marvel Studios according to some sources. Other sources say that the reason for the change in cast was due to salary demands from Howard that Marvel didn’t agree with. Which sounds like a clearer version of “a falling out”. Of course, Marvel replacing actors isn’t anything new, with them also casting Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk after Edward Norton played the part in The Incredible Hulk.
What are you favorite (or least favorite) recastings? Let us know in the comments!