Here are 10 Stars Who Walked Out on Their Iconic Characters Due to Salary Disputes
These actors lost their iconic roles simply because they asked for a raise
In the world of entertainment, where fame and fortune often go hand in hand, negotiations over salaries can be a delicate dance between actors and studios. In some cases, these negotiations don't go as planned, leading to unexpected departures or dismissals from beloved film and television projects. Join us as we delve into the stories of renowned actors who found themselves at odds with producers and studios over pay hikes and had to leave.
Following the immense success of "The Lizzie McGuire Movie," the storyline of our beloved fictional teen pop star took an unexpected turn. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Susan, the mother and manager of the young actor, disclosed that Disney decided to cancel the sequel due to Hilary's request for her promised bonus upfront. She revealed that the studio had proposed a continuation of the series with a compensation of $35,000 per episode for her daughter. But ultimately both the sequel and the Lizzie McGuire series were discontinued.
Kirstie Alley's role as Saavik in "Star Trek II: Wrath of the Khan" left a lasting impression on the audience, but she didn't reprise the part even though Saavik made subsequent appearances in the series. In a 2016 interview, Alley disclosed that she had been offered significantly less than her requested compensation, and it was even lower than what she had received for her initial portrayal of Saavik. When she attempted to negotiate for a raise, she was inexplicably replaced in the role, leaving fans puzzled.
Crispin Glover, known for his role as George McFly in the initial "Back to the Future" film, did not return for the sequels, and only briefly appeared in recycled shots from the first movie. This absence stemmed from Glover's dissatisfaction with the sequel's script and his request for a salary at par with the lead actor's $1 million paycheck. However, in a 2012 interview, Glover clarified that he was offered substantially less compensation compared to actors in similar-sized roles. Furthermore, when he attempted to negotiate a raise, his payment was reduced once more.
In the first two installments of "Die Hard" (1998 and its sequel), Bruce Willis's character, John McClane, is famously a lone hero taking on the antagonists. However, the dynamic changes in the third entry, "Die Hard with a Vengeance," when McClane is joined by Zeus Carver, an electrician. Interestingly, Quentin Tarantino disclosed on the podcast "The Rewatchables" that the character of Zeus was initially envisioned with Laurence Fishburne in mind. Nevertheless, Fishburne's demand for a $1 million fee for the role led to Samuel L. Jackson bagging the part.
Almost all renowned action heroes have made appearances in "The Expendables" franchise so far, including Bruce Willis. Willis initially had a cameo role in the 2010 film "The Expendables" and later reprised his character for a more substantial part in the 2012 sequel. Expectations were high for Willis to continue his role in the third installment, but unfortunately, this did not come to pass. The reason behind this was Willis's substantial salary request. While he was offered $3 million for a four-day shoot, he insisted on a staggering $1 million per day. As a result, Harrison Ford was cast to take over the role originally intended for Willis.
Valerie Harper, known for her role as Valerie Hogan on the Lorimar Productions sitcom "Valerie" for two seasons, faced a significant pay dispute during her tenure. As the show's ratings soared, Harper requested a substantial pay raise, seeking $100,000 per episode and 35% of the adjusted gross profits. Lorimar declined her request, and Harper stopped showing up for work. Upon her return to the set of "Valerie," a compromise was reached at $65,000 per episode and 12.5% of the profits. However, just a week later, she was abruptly fired.
Grace Park portrayed Officer Kono Kalakaua on "Hawaii Five-0" for seven seasons, but her salary was reportedly 10-15% less than what her co-stars Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin were earning. In anticipation of the eighth season, Park pursued equal pay, but negotiations with CBS failed and she made the difficult decision to exit the series.
Hugo Weaving portrayed Johann Schmidt/Red Skull in "Captain America: The First Avenger" and initially signed a three-picture deal with the understanding that his compensation would increase with each subsequent film. But when directors Joe and Anthony Russo approached him to reprise the role in "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame," Weaving was offered a significantly lower salary than what he had received for the first film. In his absence, CGI was used extensively, with Ross Marquand providing the voice for the character after filming. Stand-ins were utilized on set to facilitate the CGI process.
Suzanne Somers, known for her role as Chrissy Snow in "Three's Company," featured in the series for five seasons. In 1980, she requested a significant salary increase, aiming to match her co-star John Ritter's earnings, which had reached $150,000 per episode. However, ABC countered with a mere $5,000 raise offer. Shortly before Somers and her husband/manager Alan Hamel were due to resume negotiations, they received a concerning message from a network insider: "They’re going to hang a nun in the marketplace, and the nun is Suzanne."
As a result, Somers was ultimately let go from the show.
Tobey Maguire remains one of the most popular actors to have portrayed Peter Parker in the "Spider-Man," films, but faced uncertain prospects for the sequels. Allegedly, he sought to renegotiate his salary for the follow-up film. During the pre-production phase, Columbia Pictures suspected that Maguire's reported back problems might have been a strategic negotiation tactic and considered replacing him with Jake Gyllenhaal as a replacement. However, an unexpected turn of events occurred when Ron Meyer, the then-president of Vivendi Universal and Maguire's future father-in-law, intervened, helping Maguire reclaim the iconic role of Peter Parker for two more films.
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