On July 16, the BBC announced that actress Jodie Whitaker had been cast as the latest iteration of the Doctor on the long-running sci-fi series “Doctor Who.” To say that some people had an opinion on this would be somewhat of an understatement. “[Doctor Who] has been ripped out of his essence to make a bunch of overheated feminists happy,” wrote one angry fan. But famous roles are recast all the time – take a look at some of the more high-profile role switches in show business history.
Terrence Howard / Don Cheadle – “Iron Man 2”
Howard played Col. Rhodes in the the first “Iron Man” but couldn’t come to an agreement with producers over his salary for the sequel. Rather than agree to his demands, Marvel recast Don Cheadle in the part. “Marvel made a choice, and it was a very, very bad choice,” Howard said.
Janet Hubert / Daphne Maxwell Reid – “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”
Hubert played Aunt Vivian on Will Smith’s beloved NBC sitcom for three seasons, but the actress reportedly didn’t get along with the show’s titular star and several other cast members. “She made it very difficult for us to work, and unfortunately she was then fired,” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro said. When season 4 arrived, Daphne Maxwell Reid was brought into the role instead.
Crispin Glover / Jeffrey Weissman – “Back to the Future Part II”
After playing George McFly in the first BTTF installment, Crispin Glover was axed from the sequel because of a salary dispute and because he and director Robert Zemeckis couldn’t agree on the direction of his character. Weissman was brought in and producers used makeup to make the actor look like Glover, which led to Glover filing a lawsuitover the film using his likeness without permission. The Screen Actors Guild now has rules about that kind of thing.
Stuart Townsend / Viggo Mortensen – “Lord of the Rings”
Townsend, then 26 years old, began filming scenes as Aragorn in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of “LOTR” in 1999, but the director quickly decided that the actor looked too young to portray the character accurately. He was quickly replaced with Viggo Mortensen, who, at 41, looked a lot more rugged.
Lecy Goranson / Sarah Chalke – “Roseanne”
Goranson played Becky, one of Roseanne’s daughter, on the long-running ABC sitcom for five seasons, but left to attend college. Producers brought in Canadian actress Sarah Chalke to replace her – and, strangely enough, Goranson eventually returned and the actresses shared the part in season 8. They even appeared on one episode together! Now that’s teamwork.
Erinn Hayes / Leah Remini – “Kevin Can Wait”
Kevin James’s new sitcom was a big hit for CBS when it debuted in the fall of 2016. However, after the first season, producers decided to kill off Hayes’s character in order to bring James’s former “King of Queens” co-star on as a full-time cast member. Ouch! Officially, though, the story is that the show simply went in a new creative direction.
Edward Norton / Mark Ruffalo – “The Avengers”
Norton himself had already replaced Eric Bana to play The Hulk in “The Incredible Hulk.” However when it came time for Joss Whedon to direct the big-budget Marvel ensemble “The Avengers,” he was replaced with Mark Ruffalo, who has stayed in the role ever since. Explanations vary between salary disputres to Norton simply not wanting to commit to Marvel’s hectic shooting schedule.
Tobey Maguire / Jake Gyllenhaal – “Spider-Man 2”
This was actually an almost recasting. After filming the first “Spider-Man” film, Maguire tried to play hardball to get a big raise for the sequel, releasing a statement that he injured his back filming “Seabiscuit” in an attempt to get more money. However, producers weren’t going to relent and told Maguire they were going to replace him with Gyllenhaal. Maguire had to apologize and practically beg for the part back, but Sony eventually let the actor return.
Lisa Robin Kelly / Christina Moore – “That ’70s Show”
“That ’70s Show” was subject to several cast changes over the years (star Topher Grace even left the show late in its run), but strangely, only one role was recast: That of Laurie Foreman. Although Kelly played the role first to rave reviews, there were rumours that the actress had a drug problem and that producers chose to let her go. Moore’s comedic timing wasn’t as good but apparently was less drama-free behind the camera. Sadly, Kelly died in 2013 of a drug overdose.
Andy Whitfield / Liam McIntyre – “Spartacus: Vengeance”
Fans of the Starz series “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” were shocked when star Andy Whitfield revealed his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, but at first, everyone was sure the actor would make a full recovery. Producers delayed the show’s second season, instead putting out a six-episode prequel to tide fans over. But although Whitfield was briefly in remission, he later announced that his cancer had indeed returned and gave actor Liam McIntyre his blessing to take over the part of Spartacus. Whitfield passed away in 2011.