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Actors Who Were Fired for Bad Behavior While Filming

It might seem like Hollywood stars are impervious to being fired. After all, they make huge amounts of money for the networks and production companies who put on their shows and films. But at the end of the day, acting is a job like any other, and someone’s behavior can result in them getting fired from a project. Stick around as Facts Verse Presents: Actors Who Were Fired for Bad Behavior While Filming.

Judy Garland

When you think about Judy Garland, images of her walking along the yellow brick road, or singing beautifully on screen might come to mind. She’s an all time Hollywood icon who has only become more of one as time has gone by. So you wouldn’t expect to hear that she ended up getting fired from a movie. But it can happen to even the most high profile and highly talented stars. What’s made even more intriguing is that Judy’s exit from Valley of the Dolls is still mired in controversy to this day.

She originally signed on to the movie in 1967 to play Helen Lawson. The movie was to be an adaptation of a best selling novel of the same name by Jacqueline Susann. And it was a project that Hollywood was buzzing about, particularly because the book was filled with characters who were clearly meant to represent actual living Hollywood legends. And amazingly enough, one of those characters was based on Judy Garland. (Though the book never overtly said it, the intent was fairly clear.) That character was Neely O’Hara. But she was based on Garland in her youth. When Judy signed on to the movie, she was far older than the character needed to be. So play Neely was a moot point for Garland. When she was asked why she wasn’t playing the character who was clearly based on her, she responded that the role she chose to play, Helen Lawson needed “an old pro over 40” and that she fit the bill. She added that she certainly was no longer the same girl as she was when she played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

All seemed to be going well at that point, but things soon took a turn downwards. And what’s more, there still isn’t any consensus as to what actually happened. Some people assert that Garland was fired. Others say she quit. And there are myriad different reasons given as to why the whole thing went down.

What we do know is that she reported to work on March 27, had screen tests for wardrobe options, and even recorded one of the songs in the film, called “I’ll Plant My Own Tree.” But after that, things went sour. For starters, Judy reportedly hated the song, and petitioned for another in its stead. Then when filming began, Garland apparently would refuse to leave her dressing room. However, given what we now know of the horrible treatment she received from studios, directors, and more over the course of her career, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that her refusal to work was warranted. In fact, her co-star on the film, Patty Duke, recalled later that the director, Mark Robson was awful to Judy from the get go. So it’s likely Judy had justification for her behavior.

Regardless, it was announced that Judy had been fired from production. Or rather, Fox Studios declared that she had left for personal reasons. Judy pushed back at this, saying she was still ready to film. Though she also later announced that her departure was by ‘mutual agreement.’ And her from Tom Green later said that there were myriad issues, such as Judy objecting to the script, the curse words used in it, and the nudity they were asking her to do. She also thought the director didn’t know what he was doing. Plus she reportedly demanded the right to rewrite the script as she saw fit, but that wasn’t given. So it appears there were a whole slew of reasons why this project was never going to work out for Garland.

Sylvester Stallone

When you picture Beverly Hills Cop, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Eddie Murphy playing his classic role as Axel Foley. It was a star-turning role for Murphy, taking him from being a respected comedian and SNL performer to a bona fide box office star. And yet, it almost didn’t happen at all. That’s because the role originally went to Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone.

Right up until a couple weeks before production of the movie began, Sly Stallone was slated to be the lead. But before you try to picture him rattling off all those incredible one liners and comedic takes like Eddie Murphy did, you should know that Stallone envisioned it as a very different role. He actually envisioned it as a very different movie overall. Reportedly Stallone decided he’d completely overhaul the script before filming. He removed all the levity and humor, and made it a dark action film.

Paramount was not interested in this version of the film for two reasons. One, it took away from the comedic power of the script, which as we all saw later, was a big part of its success. And two, it would have made the film much more expensive. So they rejected Stallone’s script. Instead of going back and forth with them further, Stallone decided not to continue with the project, opening up the door for Eddie Murphy.

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Jean-Claude Van Damme

We all know Jean-Claude Van Damme as a action and fight movie icon. The “muscles from Brussels” is known worldwide as having made a career from roles that showed of his impressive physique and physicality. But the martial arts specialist was actually fired from a movie early on in his career because his body kept letting him down. The 1987 sci-fi film Predator has Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and others playing a military rescue squad who gets hunted down by an alien. The alien was played by Kevin Peter Hall. Or, at least, it was eventually. Originally Jean-Claude Van Damme was cast as the alien. But things unfortunately took a turn for the worse, and Jean-Claude was fired for a bizarre reason: dehydration.

In an interview years later, one of the actors on the set told the story of how Jean-Claude Van Damme was let go. Bill Duke, another acting icon, was among the cast members on set when Jean-Claude was first playing the alien. Duke said that the filming took place in the jungles of Mexico, and the weather was scorchingly hot. On top of that, while most of the cast was clad in normal clothes, Jean-Claude was inside a full body suit that made him even hotter. As a result, JCVD passed out a couple of times.

One of the producers apparently got so fed up that an actor was holding up production, that he told Jean-Claude that if he didn’t stop passing out, he’d be fired. Jean-Claude was astonished at this, since the humane response would have been to make sure the actor was safe and medically okay. Jean-Claude assured the producer it was nothing he was doing on purpose, but that instead, he was intensely dehydrated from the suit and the jungle heat. Things went ok for a couple more weeks, until Jean-Claude passed out while filming again. That same producer apparently walked up to him and fired him on the spot.

Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers was on top of the world in the 1980’s, starring in the hit sitcom, Three’s Company. But she was fired, seemingly out of the blue, for daring to ask for something women have been denied for centuries… equal pay.

During the fifth season of the hit show, Somers was up for a renewal of her contract. While her pay had steadily risen from it’s originally base of $3,500 a week to $30,000 a week, it was still a meager amount compared to her male co-star, John Ritter. And Somers also discovered that male stars across the board in Hollywood TV shows were making 10 times the salary of their female counterparts. And considering Somers was one of the most popular people on television at the time, she was rightfully angered by this lack of equality.

So she decided to demand $150,000 per episode. This would have put her pay equal to John Ritter’s. But the plan backfired. She had sent her husband, Alan Hamel, in to negotiate on her behalf. They thought that at the least, she’d get a pay bump, and at worst her salary would stay the same. Instead, the network got offended at her simply asking for equal pay, and fired her.

What was worse, she was still under contract for the season they were still filming. So she had to keep showing up and filming her part. The network added insult to injury by not allowing her to be in the same room with any of the stars while she filmed. They built her a special room with its own entrance, where she would say her lines into a camera. She wasn’t allowed to go onto the set, and the only person she interacted with was whoever was helping her with wardrobe. Fortunately, Somers went on to have a thriving career as an actress, entrepreneur, and TV personality.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Which of these firings was most surprising to hear about? Let us know in the comments section below. And before you go, be sure to give this video a like, and subscribe to Facts Verse if you haven’t already. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content!

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