15 Actors Who Left Roles Because They Believed They Deserved Better

Someone recently asked, “What actor or actress stupidly left a movie franchise or tv series thinking they were too good for it, only to be never popular again?” and here are the top 15 answers.

Sean Connery (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy)

Sean Connery - Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings) carrie-nelson _ Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: Carrie Nelson/Shutterstock.

Discussions surrounding Sean Connery’s potential role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy bring different perspectives.

Some individuals claim that Connery turned down the role of Gandalf, despite being offered a staggering sum of $30 million plus 15% of profits, which could have amounted to around $450 million. They suggest that Connery declined the role, citing his lack of understanding of the script.

Others point out that Connery’s decision-making regarding script comprehension didn’t fare well, as he later took on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which disappointed him and ultimately led to his retirement from acting.

Katie Holmes (The Dark Knight)

Katie Holmes (The Dark Knight)
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Some believe Holmes left The Dark Knight and chose to star in a movie called Mad Money, which apparently didn’t gain much attention.

Others find it intriguing that Holmes publicly committed to doing two more movies in the Batman series but suddenly became “unavailable” after marrying Tom Cruise. They note that after the disappointment of Mad Money, Holmes ventured into Broadway, but the ticket sales didn’t live up to expectations.

Terrence Howard (Iron Man Movies)

Terrence Howard Rena Schild Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock.

According to some individuals sharing their opinions, Terrence Howard was apparently set to become War Machine in the Iron Man movies. However, one person noted that he asked for an outrageous amount of money, leading to his replacement by Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2 and subsequent films.

Another user mentioned that Howard’s demands for a higher salary than Robert Downey Jr. and a contract guaranteeing him higher pay than the lead actor seemed completely unreasonable.

Topher Grace (That ’70s Show)

Topher Grace (That 70's Show)
Photo Credit: The Carsey-Werner Company.

When it comes to Topher Grace’s departure from That ’70s Show, people have different theories. Some believe he left the show to pursue a role in Spider-Man 3, but it didn’t exactly propel him to stardom as he may have hoped.

Another person questioned Grace’s decision, considering the substantial financial success he enjoyed from his role on That ’70s Show through acting salary and syndication royalties. They couldn’t understand why he would give that up.

Marcus Chong (The Matrix)

Marcus Chong (The Matrix)
Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Opinions are divided regarding Marcus Chong’s request for a significant salary increase to return for The Matrix sequels. Some users argue that Chong believed his character, Tank, was integral to the story and demanded an exorbitant one million dollars per film. However, the studio refused to meet his demands and instead chose to write off his character with just two lines.

Another user chimed in, suggesting that Chong seemed to have overestimated his importance in the franchise. They pointed out that Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and Smith were considered the primary cast members, while everyone else played secondary roles.

Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey)

Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey)
Photo Credit: ITV.

When discussing Jessica Brown Findlay’s departure from Downton Abbey, people discussed the significance of her subsequent projects. Some individuals feel that her works following the show didn’t achieve the same level of success as Downton Abbey.

In general, fans of the series often find themselves recognizing many actors from Downton Abbey in other productions, which they attribute to the initial exposure gained from the show’s popularity.

Ja Rule (The Fast and the Furious Franchise)

Ja Rule (The Fast And The Furious Franchise)
Photo Credit: Universal Studios.

Opinions differ regarding Ja Rule’s decision to leave the Fast and the Furious franchise for the infamous Fyre Festival. Some people view his departure from a multi-million-dollar movie franchise to be associated with an event that turned out to be a scam as a lack of judgment on his part.

Others recall that Ja Rule allegedly demanded the same rate as Paul Walker, which they find to be an overly confident request considering his position in the franchise.

Shelley Long (Cheers)

Shelley Long (Cheers)
Photo Credit: NBC.

Opinions are mixed regarding Shelley Long’s departure from Cheers. Some users recall a particular episode set at a drive-in movie theater where a character named Woody made a remark, “Why would an actress leave right in the middle of a successful series?” They see this as an inside joke alluding to Long’s decision to leave the show.

Another user pointed out that The Simpsons also referenced Long’s departure from Cheers. In the show, Moe’s tavern becomes Cheers, and Moe’s waitress leaves to pursue a movie career, but Moe himself believes she should have stayed.

McLean Stevenson (MASH)

McLean Stevenson (MASH)
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Stevenson notably said, “I thought people loved McLean Stevenson. Turned out they loved Henry Blake.” Users sympathize with him, seeing his departure as a result of mistaken assumptions about his popularity.

Others appreciate Stevenson’s portrayal in the role and express enjoyment of his performance, particularly within the context of MASH.

Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)

Leonard Nimoy (Star-Trek)
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Some users claim that Nimoy initially requested that Spock be killed off during Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan because he grew tired of playing an unemotional, inhuman character. They suggest that Nimoy even added a trap door in the dialogue, allowing for a potential return.

Another viewpoint highlights the significant financial success of Wrath of Khan and how Nimoy’s character gracefully returns in subsequent films. However, it is noted that Nimoy’s later career ventures did not leave as lasting of an impact.

David Caruso (NYPD Blue)

David Caruso (NYPD Blue)
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Television.

Some individuals expressed relief that Caruso left the show, believing that Dennis Franz’s portrayal of an interesting and flawed main character, as opposed to Caruso’s portrayal of a supercop, made the show more compelling for them.

Others hold NYPD Blue as one of their favorite shows and view Caruso’s departure, with his supercop persona, as almost ruining the series. Some users admit they are not familiar with Caruso’s subsequent work outside of television.

Stuart Townsend (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy)

Photo Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock.

Opinions are divided regarding Stuart Townsend’s departure from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Some users criticize his reported refusal to practice swordplay, horse riding, and action choreography during preproduction.

They view Peter Jackson’s decision to replace Townsend with Viggo Mortensen on the first day of shooting as justified, and they consider Townsend’s actions foolish.

Another user mentions that Ian McKellen questioned Townsend’s motivation and whether he truly wanted to be a part of the film.

Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones)

Ed Skrein (Game Of Thrones)
Photo Credit: HBO.

Some users express disappointment, as Skrein left the show after its third season, just as it was gaining immense popularity. They believe his character had guaranteed screen time and would have survived for several more seasons.

Others criticize Skrein’s decision, noting that patience could have benefited him, given the show’s phenomenal success. They point out that he left to star in The Transporter reboot, hoping it would lead to sequels, but it didn’t pan out as expected.

Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill)

Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill)
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Television.

Some users recall Chad Michael Murray being a popular teenage heartthrob until he left the show, after which his career seemed to fizzle out. They wonder if he regrets his departure from the series.

Others note that Murray has appeared in some Hallmark/Lifetime movies in recent years, but they view that as the extent of his recent work, indicating a decline in his career trajectory.

Alexis Bledel (Veronica Mars)

Alexis Bledel (Veronica Mars)
Photo Credit: Tinseltown/Shutterstock.

Discussions surrounding Alexis Bledel’s departure from Veronica Mars provoke varying opinions. Some users believe that Veronica Mars was canceled to accommodate Bledel’s commitment to Gilmore Girls.

They further suggest that Bledel quitting Gilmore Girls subsequently led to the show’s cancellation as well. These users express disappointment, viewing this as a situation where a great show like Veronica Mars suffered for the sake of Bledel’s forgettable movie career.

Leave a Comment