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8 Actors Who Were Fired While Filming

May 30, 2014 by  

8 Actors Who Were Fired While Filming, TV shows often become well-known for the actors who star in them. However, acting is like any other job for the fact that no matter how good the actors are, they aren’t immune to getting fired. Here’s a look at actors who were given their walking papers in the middle of a season, leaving the show to try and carry on without them. From drugs to unreasonable demands to disgruntled co-workers, here’s a list of eight actors who were asked to exit stage-right.

1. Charlie Sheen
The announcement that Charlie Sheen had been fired from Two and A Half Men came in 2011, causing a major disruption in the Hollywood world. Sheen starred as Charlie Harper on the CBS show for almost eight seasons, earning award nominations and a ton of money along the way – he made $1.5 million to $2 million an episode, according to Deadline. Sheen was fired due to his self-destructive problems and erratic behavior, mainly attributed to drug and alcohol abuse.

When he was fired, Two and a Half Men was cancelled for the rest of its eighth season. However, it came back the following year with a new star in tow. Ashton Kutcher took over as the show’s main character, playing Walden Schmidt, an Internet billionaire who expects others to take care of him. After a failed attempt to drown himself in the ocean after his wife kicked him out, a suicidal Walden stumbles into a Malibu beach house, where he meets twice-divorced chiropractor Alan Harper and his underachieving teenage son, Jake. And, the show actually did prove to be successful after Sheen left. CBS recently announced the show will finally come to an end after its twelfth season wraps up next year.

2. Mackenzie Phillips
She played the oldest daughter, boy-crazy Julie Cooper, on the Indianapolis-based sitcom, One Day at a Time, which ran from 1975 to 1984. Similarly to Sheen, a drug addiction ultimately caused her to have to leave the show. Mackenzie Phillips developed a severe cocaine addiction, eventually “becoming such a terrible situation that she would often be late for work and couldn’t be shot for close-ups because of her frail appearance. During the fifth season, Phillips was told that if she didn’t quit, she’d be fired,” per Movie Line. Faced with no good option, Phillips decided to quit the show. Two seasons later, she was invited back as a frequent guest star. However, during the shows ninth season she collapsed on set and was once again fired.

3. Grace Lee Whitney
She played Yeoman Janice Rand, James T. Kirk’s space-age secretary and potential love interest, on Star Trek. But she only actually appeared in eight episodes of the show before she was fired. As with most stories, there were two (or three) different versions that went along with Grace Lee Whitney’s firing. According to What Culture, the creator of the show, Gene Roddenberry, said Whitney was fired due to budget cutbacks. Whitney claimed that she was fired because, as one of only three female cast members, the producers opted to keep the African-American cast member, as well as Roddenberry’s wife.

Whitney also made claims that she was sexually assaulted by an executive on the show and was fired only a few days after the incident took place, per What Culture. The third version of the story attributes her abuse of alcohol and diet pills as the reason for her firing. Whatever the reason, Whitney’s alcoholism increased after she was let go. She eventually received treatment and was invited back to Star Trek for its ’79 film Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Whitney also appeared in three more of the Star Trek films, as well as an episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

4. Isaiah Washington
He played Dr. Preston Burke in the first three seasons of the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. Controversy developed during the third season of the show, when Isaiah Washington used a gay slur to describe his fellow co-star T.R. Knight, who is now openly gay but had not come out at the time, per The Hollywood Reporter. Washington’s anti-gay comments caused ABC to decide to write him out of the show. In his last episode, Dr. Cristina Yang, Washington’s love interest on the show, which was played by Sandra Oh, finds his apartment abandoned after he called off their wedding.

Surprisingly enough, Washington recently returned to Grey’s Anatomy for its May 1 episode, per the New York Post. He returned to offer Oh’s character her dream job in Zurich, which set her up to permanently leave the show, writes E Online. Oh’s final episode on Grey’s Anatomy was during its season 10, May 15 finale. “Washington says he felt incredibly grateful to be able to come back to Grey’s, seven years after he was fired from the cast for using an anti-gay slur, saying, ‘It was really nice closure,'” per E Online.

5. Valerie Harper
Valerie Harper first became famous for her role as Rhoda Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show during the 1970s. Eventually, she was even given her own spin-off, called Rhoda. In 1986, Harper returned to television to play Valerie Hogan, in the show titled Valerie. The show, which focused around Harper’s character, her three boys and her husband, who was an airline pilot, did relatively well. Harper eventually became unhappy with her salary, especially as the show continued to receive high ratings. During a filming hiatus in Valerie’s second season, Harper told producers that if her salary demands were not met, she would refuse to return for the third season (she had also done something similar during season one of Rhoda).

“What followed was a behind the scenes fight of epic proportions that angered NBC so much they threatened to fire Harper, who believed the threat to be a bluff because no one had ever been fired and replaced in a television show bearing their name. However, that is just what happened. Sandy Duncan was cast to replace Harper and the show was renamed Valerie’s Family: The Hogans (eventually being renamed again to The Hogan Family at the beginning of the fourth season in part to keep Harper from suing for use of her name),” according to What Culture. So, the season three premiere came, Harper’s character was written out (her character died in a car accident), and the show carried on without her.

6. Suzanne Somers
Suzanne Somers decided during the fifth season of Three’s Company that she deserved a 500 percent salary increase (she wanted her pay to be increased from $30,000 to $200,000 an episode,) in addition to a percentage of the show’s profits. When her requests weren’t met, Somers, who played Chrissy Snow, would often not show up to work, according to Movie Line. Finally, the producers brought in Jenilee Harrison, who played Chrissy’s cousin, Cindy, using the explanation that Chrissy was off visiting relatives in Fresno.

According to What Culture, Somers was retained on the show’s fifth season; however, it was usually in brief telephone conversations at the end of each episode. The cast members, which included the likes of John Ritter and Joyce Dewitt, were disgruntled at Somers for causing such a disruption on set, so Somers was filmed at a totally separate location. Once the end of season five came around, Somers was fired.

7. Damon Wayans
“Some guys just can’t play it straight. Wayans’ SNL career came to an abrupt halt in 1986 after just one season when he decided to play his character, a police officer, as flamboyantly gay,” writes BET. Damon Wayans, who was frustrated with the skits he was receiving during the eleventh season of Saturday Night Live, decided during a skit in SNL’s March 15, 1986 episode, called Mr. Monopoly, to turn his straight-man police officer role into a openly-gay police officer on live television, per Splitsider. Producer Lorne Michaels was not amused. In fact, according to Andy Breckman, the writer of that sketch, Michael turned to Breckman as the sketch was happening and said, “That’s it. I’ve got to fire him,” according to Movie Line. Wayans was allowed to return for the eleventh season finale to do a standup monologue, and also returned in 1995 to host the show.

8. Janet Hubert-Whitten
She’s the woman who played Aunt Vivian’s original character on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air for the first three seasons of the show. However, the fourth season began and viewers were shocked to find that there was a new actress, Daphne Maxwell Reid, playing Aunt Viv – Janet Hubert-Whitten had been fired. In 2011, during a TMZ interview, Hubert-Whitten blamed Will Smith for being fired. In that interview, she said that Smith was an immature egomaniac, claiming he turned on her “because she wouldn’t kiss his butt.” Smith, however, had a different story to tell. He claimed that Hubert-Whitten was fired because of her bad attitude, according to Complex. Hubert-Whitten certainly held on to her grudge after the show ended. When there were talks of a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion, prior to James Avery’s death, Hubert-Whitten refused to even consider returning, saying she would never work with Smith again, per TMZ.

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