Top 10 actors who left a set overnight

When there are unbearable actors on a set, it is sometimes difficult to bring a film to a successful conclusion. All it takes is a small disagreement or one word higher than the other to jeopardize an entire project. Of course, there are also scheduling problems that can force an actor to leave a movie suddenly, but that’s still less interesting than a good argument between stars.

1. Jean Claude Van Damme should have played Predator

In 1985, the filming of predator begins and Jean-Claude Van Damme, still very little known, must play the Predator in his costume. At that time, the costume does not look at all like the one we know; it’s more like a big plaster cast on the actor. The disguise is very uncomfortable and even dangerous, Van Damme tells the director bluntly and this does not please John McTiernan who decides to replace him. Eventually, the next stuntman gets injured and the costume is completely redesigned to be the one seen in the movie.

2. Buddy Ebsen should have played the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is a classic of American cinema dating from 1939. Actor Buddy Ebsen was then to play the Tin Man but after a few days of filming, he had to be hospitalized because of difficulty breathing and pain. Doctors realized he was suffering from aluminum poisoning because of his Tin Man makeup. Ebsen had to give up filming, and the costume was changed.

3. Harvey Keitel was to play Victor Ziegler in Eyes Wide Shut

Shortly before his death, Stanley Kubrick was directing the cult film Eyes Wide Shut and it was Harvey Keitel who was to play the role of Victor Ziegler. While Keitel had already shot most of his scenes, he was eventually replaced by Sydney Pollack. It was thought at first that it was because of the lack of availability of the actor (the filming of the film lasted more than a year and a half). In reality, Keitel was replaced after having argued with Kubrick criticizing his methods and behavior on set. The actor left the scene and was asked not to return.

4. Kim Basinger was to star in Boxing Helena

In 1992, Kim Basinger is chosen to play in the film Boxing Helena of Jennifer Lynch but after reflection with her agent, the actress retracts (and she was right because the film is very bad). The problem is that she had already signed a contract; Main Line Productions therefore decided to take her to court claiming 8 million dollars. She ends up signing an agreement with her opponents on a lower compensation.

5. Winona Ryder was supposed to play Mary Corleone in The Godfather, Part 3

Watching the movie The Godfather, part 3, we can’t help thinking that Sofia Coppola doesn’t play very well. In fact, the director’s daughter wasn’t cast in the role until the last minute. It was Winona Ryder who had been chosen for the role but she finally dropped out at the last minute because of all the accumulated fatigue. She had just finished filming Fatal Games, The Two Sirens and Edward Scissorhands.

Top 10 actors who left a set overnight
Photo credits (CC BY 2.0): Karon Liu at

6. Will Ferrell was to play former President Ronald Reagan

In 2016, it was announced that actor Will Ferrell would play President Ronald Reagan in a comedy about his life. A few days later, the actor decides to give up this role because of the bad buzz surrounding the film. Indeed, the family of the former president of the United States found it in very bad taste to make fun of the Alzheimer’s disease from which Reagan suffered. Film production was eventually cancelled.

7. James Remar was set to play Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens Returns

After the success of the first film Alien, the sequel is entrusted to James Cameron and it is James Remar who is chosen for the role of Corporal Dwayne Hicks. He participates in the first weeks of filming and is finally replaced by Michael Biehn. At first, the actor pretends a personal emergency but he later revealed that it was his addiction to drugs that forced him to leave the set.

8. John Travolta was to star in Polanski’s The Double

In 1996, actor John Travolta signed a contract to play an important role in the film The Double but he does not get along at all with the director, Roman Polanski. Unfortunately, it was not the accusations of rape of a minor against the director that pushed Travolta to abandon the film, but multiple disagreements over the direction and the screenplay. After the departure of the actor from grease, the production takes him to court for breach of contract but other problems arise. Upon learning of Travolta’s replacement by another actor, Isabelle Adjani also breaks her contract and the film will ultimately never be made.

9. Kel O’Neill was to play Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood

In 2007 the film was released There Will Be Blood with Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano and actor Kel O’Neill was originally set to star with them as Eli Sunday. Without explanation, the actor left the set after a few weeks of filming. Many thought he was intimidated into acting with Daniel Day-Lewis, but it’s more likely due to a lack of interest in acting.

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10. James Purefoy was cast in V For Vendetta

In V for Vendetta, it is the actor Hugo Weaving who plays behind the mask but he was not the first choice for this role. In fact, the name of James Purefoy had already been mentioned for his role in the film, but the actor abandoned his role during filming without anyone really knowing why.

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Photo credits (CC BY 2.0): James_Purefoy_at_Comic-Con_2012.jpg: Genevieve

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