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10 Great Actors Who Were Replaced in the Sequel

Everyone can agree that an actor’s performance can make or break a film. If the audience isn’t buying what the actor is selling, chances are the movie isn’t going to do very well, critically or financially. Things don’t always work out, and not all casting choices remain final, as so many pictures have seen countless amounts of changes in lineups throughout cinemas prestigious history. So when a franchise ends up switching out its main player for a replacement in the next chapter, it actually ends up being a million dollar gamble the studios are making, most of the time against their will.

There a lot of reasons actors are replaced in movies. Scheduling issues, personnel changes, and moving in another direction usually mean not everyone is going to be happy. And this can lead to certain individuals abandoning their characters. Some of the time this change goes unnoticed and fans are so enthralled with the story; they don’t even pay attention to the new face. Of all the times performers were swapped with another actor, these ten are some of the most memorable, whether it is a positive or negative one.

1. Katie Holmes in Batman Begins Replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight

Katie Holmes Sequel

The Dark Knight is considered by many to be one of the greatest comic book movies of all time. The story is amazing and the casting is phenomenal. Everything was a vast improvement from the original and it has made several distinguished top ten lists since its release. But some savvy fans noticed something different in this one that in its predecessor. The difference being that Maggie Gyllenhaal who plays Rachel Dawes in the film was played by actress Katie Holmes in the original. While this is a major change, it does nothing to hurt this pretty much perfect film.

This change led people to believe that director Chris Nolan had recast the role but that was not the case. Nolan wanted Holmes back but she was not available for the role. Holmes has claimed she has no regrets and that Gyllenhaal did a great job.[1] She does mention that she hopes to get to work with Nolan again before her career ends.

2. Richard Harris in Harry Potter 1 & 2 Replaced by Michael Gambon in Harry Potter 3-8

Richard Harris

Harry Potter was a worldwide hit and still is popular with fans today. The series created by author J.K. Rowling churned out dozens of lovable characters. One of which was that of Dumbledore. The character is a major fixture within the world of Harry Potter. The infamous wizard is being portrayed now in prequel films by Jude Law, but he is not the only one to take on the mantle of Dumbledore. Richard Harris and Micheal Gambon did this during the original run of Harry Potter films.

Harris died after a battle with Hodgkin’s disease. This tragic event occurred after the second Harry Potter film.[2] Gambon bravely stepped in and put forth a lot of effort to make sure he did the role justice and made sure it was an easy transition for the ever-expanding fan base. Gambon successfully played the part in five Harry Potter films.

3. Judith Hoag in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Replaced by Paige Turco in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 & 3

Judith Hoag

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films from the 90s definitely have a special place in fans hearts. While they aren’t perfect they are a fun watch. The costumes were great for the time and the actors around them reacted perfectly to the oversized turtles doing karate and eating pizzas. One of them was Judith Hoag in the first film and then Paige Turco in its two sequels.

Hoag played the character of April O’Neil in the first film and Turco took it over in the sequels. Hoag claims she was replaced because of her comments about the production schedule and the amount of violence in the film came off as complaining. She also believes they never had the character right from the beginning. They were unable to secure an outfit that resembled her original appearance and the perm Hoag was given never worked.[3]

4. Crispin Glover in Back to the Future Replaced by Jeffery Weissman in Back to the Future 2

Crispin Glover

Back to The Future is a great film and everyone loves the characters in it, especially the McFly family. This favorite time-traveling flick contains a solid performance from actor Crispin Glover. He will always be remembered as George McFly even though he only portrayed the character one time and did not return for the followup. The reasons as to why he was absent from the sequel have been the cause for some serious debate in later years.

Glover was replaced by an actor that heavily resembled him. This lookalike, named Jeffrey Weissman, wore prosthetics and sunglasses to make audiences believe it was the same person playing the role. Glover was not amused by this and proceeded to sue the film’s producers and won a settlement. This led to the Screen Actor’s Guild to establish a new set of rules in regard to illicit use of actors.[4]

5. Claudia Wells in Back to the Future Replaced by Elizabeth Shue in Back to the Future 2

Claudia Wells

Crispin Glover wasn’t the only one to get replaced in the second Back to the Future Film. The character that dated his character’s son got an unrecognizable makeover in the film’s follow-up. Mary McFly’s girlfriend Jennifer was played by one actress in the initial Robert Zebecks film and a completely new one in the next chapter of time travel antics.

In the first film, Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer was portrayed by actress Claudia Wells. She was then played by the likes of Elizabeth Shue in the sequel. This happened because Wells mother was going through a bout with breast cancer and she needed to be by her side. But Wells holds no ill feeling towards the film and loves how they turned out.[5]

6. Rachelle Lefevre in Twilight, Twilight: New Moon Replaced by Bruce Dallas Howard in Twilight: Eclipse

Rachelle Lefevre

The Twilight Saga was a very popular film series that saw the many great characters come to life played by some of today’s most valuable players in the world of acting. Besides the likes of Kristen Stewart And Robert Pattinson, the Twilight films helped pave the way for Bryce Dallas Howard to become the lovable gem audiences are always excited to see in films. But she was not the original person playing the character she portrayed in the Twilight: New Moon.

Originally the character of Victoria was played by Rachelle Lefevre. According to reports from within the industry is that Lefevre was unable to return to the role due to a scheduling conflict.[6] This is unfortunate as she had built the character up and the next film would have given her much more screen time. Thank god Howard is as good as she is because fans accepted it and the film did well with audiences.

7. Terrance Howard in Iron ManReplaced by Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2 & 3

Terrance Howard

There are so many Avengers these days it is hard to keep track of all of them. While some have stayed the same throughout the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universes’ successful run, not every actor who starts as a Marvel character stays a Marvel character. This was the case in 2008s Iron Man. The character of Roadie, who would go on to become War Machine in later films, was originally portrayed by actor Terrance Howard, who was later replaced.

Don Cheadle took over as the character and played this role in several Marvel films including two Iron Man sequels, a Civil War movie, and a pair of Avengers movies. Howard and Marvel could not come to terms on everything needed for him to reprise the role. So Cheadle was offered the part at his Daughter’s Birthday and he is happy he was able to make the character his own.[7]

8. Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk Replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers

Edward Norton

The War Machine conundrum isn’t the only swap Marvel studios has pulled. Another noticeable change in the lineup of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes is that of their big green smashaholic. While Hulk’s design continues to improve over every film he is seen in, it is his human alter ego that is the subject of discussion. Dr. Bruce Banner has been played by two different actors in the MCU.

Mark Ruffalo currently plays the man that turns into the Hulk since 2012’s The Avengers. But savvy Marvel fans remember that in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Banner was played by Edward Norton.[8] The actor re-wrote the script and pushed for his vision to come to life. Norton wanted a much darker version of the character to be seen in his film and ultimately decided Marvel was going in a different direction. The two parted ways and its probably for the better as Ruffalo has really resonated with fans.

9. Rachel Weiss in The Mummy, The Mummy Returns Replaced by Maria Bello in The Mummy Curse of the Emperors Tomb


The Mummy movies starring Brendan Fraser are a fun bunch of films. They feature great characters going on some wild adventures. Fraser and others stayed on for three films but actress Rachel Weiss was only in the first two films ending her run with the character after The Mummy Returns. The third film, titled The Mummy and the Curse of the Dagon Emperor would feature another actress as the smart and funny Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell.

Maria Bello, who is a great talent, was selected to take over the role of the lead O’Connell lady.[9] The third film saw a new villain and experienced a pretty hefty time jump from its predecessor which helped audiences with the transition. This, on top of the fact that there was a significant time gap between the two films, made those who did enjoy the third film in the series weren’t too thrown off by Bello’s version of the character.

10. Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs Replaced by Julianne Moore in Hannibal

Jodie Foster Sequel

The Silence of the Lambs is one of Jodie Foster’s best performances in her entire illustrious career. The way she went toe-to-toe with the acting powerhouse known as Anthony Hopkins portraying a vile cannibal psychopath put her on the map and made her a household name. So when a sequel was announced, it seemed like Foster returning to the part that helped her career flourish would have been a no-brainer. Foster, who won an Oscar for The Silence of the Lambs, would not return for Hannibal as Clarice Starling.

The role of the FBI sleuth would go to actress Julianne Moore. While she does a great job in Hannibal, the absence of Foster is very noticeable. Foster wasn’t a fan of the books ending where the Lecter and Starling become a couple so that was changed. But even that couldn’t keep her in the role. Director Jonathan Demme who helmed the Silence of the Lambs claimed Hannibal was unfilmable so director Ridley Scott replaced him.[10] Thank god Anthony Hopkins stuck around or this could have gotten weird.

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