You sign up for a role in a movie, then back out? Then be sure a lawsuit is upon its way! Movie casting is such an unsteady art. The actors sign up for the roles, and then they are changed or chopped. On most occasions, it doesn’t end up in the courtroom. But, sometimes, it does because millions of dollars are at stake when an actor breaches a contract. Let’s check out some of the instances that led to legalities ensuing after an actor left a project:
Dieter Laser – The Human Centipede 3
In the movie The Human Centipede, directed by Tom Six, Dieter Laser had taken up a role and had already signed the contract. However, he caused a delay in filming the movie when he backed out on the eve of production. Tom Six couldn’t hear of it. Thus, he released a press statement to address the issue in March 2012. A legal battle ensued, but it soon came to an end. In January 2013, Dieter went back under Tom Six’s 100% vision.
John Travolta – The Double
Arguably, in 1997, John Travolta was at the peak of his Box Office powers. Together with Director Roman Polanski, they were set to produce the film The Double. But Travolta quit filming the movie. A lawsuit from Liteoffer Ltd and Mandalay Entertainment ensued. As stated in the suit, Travolta made demands for rewrites in the screenplay behind Polanski’s back. Travolta’s lawyer insisted that he was yet to sign a contract, and he was to do the film production with approval on the screenplay. They settled the case out of court. The film never saw the light of the day!
Evan Rachel Wood – 10 Things I Hate About Life
This film shoot was to start at the beginning of 2013. The film production was delayed for four weeks after filming was done. Evan Rachel Wood, for personal reasons, left the film stating that she would return at the end of 2013. There was a lawsuit against her demanding $30 million in damages. Through her lawyers, she denied the allegations in the case. The film remains untouched, and the lawsuit went quiet.
Mario Lanza – The Student Prince
Mario Lanza in the movie The Student Prince was set to play the role of Prince Karl. He quit the role after being cast, and he was sued for five million dollars. Lanza never paid this amount and instead did a voice-over for the character Prince Karl. His replacement (Edmund Purdom) had to move his lips to the recorded voice in the role.
Woody Harrelson – Benny and Joon
Mary Stuart Masterson and Johnny Depp worked very well in the charming Benny and Joon in the lead roles. But in the original plan, Woody Harrelson was set for the other lead role. However, he left when offered the leading role in Indecent Proposal, a much bigger hit. MGM sued both Paramount Pictures and Harrelson for five million dollars. It was settled out of court, and a rumored $500,000 settlement was made. Adrian Quinn replaced Woody Harrelson in the role.
Robert Redford – Blue
Terence Stamp took the title role originally meant for Robert Redford, who was already signed up. Redford, just a week to the filming of the movie, left. He was sued for breach of contract. Because of the same reasons, he refused to take up a role in Rosemary’s Baby. He did makeup eventually with Paramount Pictures and went ahead to win the Best Picture Oscar in the movie Ordinary People.
Marlon Brando – The Egyptian
Marlon Brando was to take up a role in The Egyptian early on in his career. Unfortunately, Brando would only get through to the rehearsal. 20th Century Fox then received a letter from Marlon’s psychiatrist. It stated that he was too sick to make an appearance in the movie. Fox, in turn, sued Marlon for $75,000, which he had to pay for the delay he caused. He also had to make an appearance in Desiree, another movie by Fox.
Whoopi Goldberg – Theodore Rex
What could get worse than your star quitting a movie and being replaced? How do you persuade your star to appear in a film cast they don’t want to participate in? Theodore Rex was the most expensive video film ever made at the time of its release in 1996. Goldberg only ended up on camera when she was threatened with a lawsuit. She had initially agreed to take up a role in the film but wanted to back out. They slapped her with a twenty million dollar lawsuit, but they brokered a settlement. Whoopi had to star in the picture in exchange for seven million dollars as payment. It was a pay increase from the original deal. She even earned a nomination for the Worst Actress in the awards by Golden Raspberry for her efforts.
Kim Basinger – Boxing Helena
It was a story about a woman’s removed limbs being kept in a box. Madonna, before her death, was set to take the lead in Boxing Helena. Basinger would later be given the role. She had initially verbally agreed to the role but later backed out. Due to losses in domestic and foreign sales as claimed by the firm, Basinger was sued for $6 million. According to the EW reporting, the suit was for $7.4 million for breach of contract. She was also required to pay $1.5 million for her actions in bad faith. The total amount due exceeded her net worth by over $ 3 million. She appealed the case and made an out-of-court settlement for $ 3.8 million. The movie was filmed with Sherilyn Fenn taking the title role.
Raquel Welch – Cannery Row
MGM fired Welch in the film Cannery Row. She sued MGM for conspiracy, breach of contract, and defamation. The court awarded her $10.8 million. MGM appealed the decision, and the award came down to $7 million.