It’s easy to forget that even larger-than-life celebrities sometimes run the risk of losing their jobs (though, unlike the rest of us, they have a lot more income to fall back on when they’re unemployed). Whenever an entertainer is fired from their job, it’s often for very standard reasons, such as substance abuse issues, legal troubles, or the usual clichéd sound bite about “creative differences.”
However, in these particular cases, the entertainer wound up losing their job in a very bizarre and unusual fashion.
10. Ryan Gosling is Fired After Gaining 60 Pounds for a Role (For No Reason)
In 2007, Ryan Gosling was cast in Peter Jackson’s film The Lovely Bones, but was fired two days before shooting, with all parties initially citing “creative differences,” blah blah blah. Gosling was supposed to portray a father whose young daughter is murdered, but always had concerns that he was too young for the role. Gosling thought that the best solution was to drastically alter his appearance, so he decided to put on 60 pounds, using such weight gain methods as melting down Haagen-Dazs bars and drinking them.
The only problem was that Gosling never bothered to tell Peter Jackson he was going to do this. There was no indication at all that the character he was portraying was supposed to be overweight, so when Gosling showed up on set with 60 extra pounds on him, Jackson was shocked by how terrible the actor looked and told him to go hit the treadmill. It was ultimately decided that the overweight Gosling was no longer going to work in the role, so he was fired and replaced by Mark Wahlberg. Gosling eventually took off all the weight, but was forced to live with the knowledge that he had gained 60 pounds for nothing.
9. Damon Wayans Fired from “Saturday Night Live” for Unauthorized Portrayal of a Gay Character
In 1985, comedian Damon Wayans got his first major break when he was hired as a cast member on Saturday Night Live. However, Wayans eventually grew frustrated by how little he was being used on the show, but instead of quitting, he figured he’d make a memorable impression before getting himself fired. Wayans was slated to play a cop in a sketch called “Mr. Monopoly.” He only had one line of dialogue, and his role pretty much consisted of standing in the background.
The dress rehearsal for the show went fine, but when the sketch went live on the air, Wayans suddenly decided to go off the script. Wayans previously had a brief role as a flamboyantly gay man in Beverly Hills Cop, and chose to assume that persona in the middle of the sketch without telling anyone. Wayans ad-libbed several lines of dialogue and pretty much stole the scene, but after the sketch was over, Wayans walked backstage and was instantly fired by producer Lorne Michaels in a profanity-filled tirade. In spite of this potentially career-killing move, Wayans did recover and found greater success performing on his own sketch comedy series, In Living Color.
8. Akira Kurosawa Fires Actor for Bringing Own Camera Crew to Set
In 1980, legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa was set to make an historical epic called Kagemusha, and hired actor Shintaro Katsu to play the lead role. Unfortunately, when Katsu arrived on the set for his first day of shooting, everyone was shocked to see that he had brought his own personal camera crew with him. This wasn’t just a case of an actor having his own entourage or paparazzi following him around. No, during the shooting of his scenes, Katsu actually wanted his own camera crew to film him alongside the director!
Kurosawa demanded that Katsu’s crew be removed from the set because he felt they were a huge distraction, but Katsu claimed that he needed to document his own performance in order to make sure he was doing a good job. Kurosawa replied that he was the director, and therefore the only one who could determine if Katsu was doing a good job. The actor stormed off the set, tore off his costume in his dressing room, and went outside to sit in his van. Kurosawa attempted to speak with Katsu, but the actor refused to budge. Even though this decision would cause the production to be held up, Kurosawa did not give in to Katsu’s demands, and fired him.
7. So-Called Enemy Wrestlers Are Fired for Getting Arrested Together
These days, everyone knows that professional wrestling is completely pre-determined, but in the pre-Internet era, everyone involved in the wrestling business kept up the illusion that it was 100% real. In May 1987, two performers from the World Wrestling Federation, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Hossein Khosrow “The Iron Sheik” Vaziri, were pulled over by police after leaving a show. Since Duggan was driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, and both wrestlers had cocaine in their possession, they were arrested and later fired by the WWF.
Given that cocaine was practically served at catering WWF locker rooms during the 1980’s, the drugs were not the main reason the two wrestlers were fired. No, the bigger issue was that the ultra-patriotic, all-American Duggan and the villainous Iranian Iron Sheik were portrayed as hated rivals on television, and were engaged in a heated feud at the time. When these so-called enemies were caught traveling together, the incident wound up making mainstream news. The WWF was incredibly embarrassed by the publicity, as well as the media’s desire to expose that wrestling wasn’t real.
The courts sentenced the Sheik to one year of probation and gave Duggan a conditional release, but Duggan would ultimately be rehired by the WWF after the incident blew over.
6. Actor Portraying John Lennon is Fired for Sharing the Name of Lennon’s Killer
In 1985, a British actor named Mark Lindsay was cast to play John Lennon in John and Yoko: A Love Story, a made-for-TV movie about Lennon’s relationship with Yoko Ono. Only days before shooting was about to commence, Lindsay was abruptly fired from the production and replaced by another actor. The problem was that the British press had researched Lindsay’s background and discovered that “Lindsay” was actually the actor’s middle name. His full name was Mark Lindsay Chapman.
Unfortunately, Mark David Chapman just happened to be the name of the man who assassinated John Lennon. The movie was going to conclude with Lennon’s murder, and no one wanted to make this uncomfortable association, least of all Yoko Ono. Since Ono had a lot of creative control over the production, she demanded Chapman’s firing, calling the whole situation “bad karma.”
In spite of this career setback, Chapman would get another opportunity to portray Lennon 22 years later, when he was cast in a movie called Chapter 27, a biopic about … Mark David Chapman!
5. Christopher Plummer is Fired from “Doctor Dolittle” After Previously Fired Actor Returns
One of the most infamous Hollywood flops of all time was the 1967 musical version of Doctor Dolittle, a troubled production which wound up costing three times as much as its original projected budget, and was a huge box office disappointment. Some of the production’s problems were courtesy of Rex Harrison, who was cast as the title character and became incredibly difficult to work with. When Sammy Davis Jr. was cast in a supporting musical role, Harrison refused to act with him. He demanded that Sidney Poitier replace Davis even though Poitier could not actually sing or dance.
The producers eventually got tired of Harrison’s behavior and fired him, and he was quickly replaced with Christopher Plummer. However, Harrison somehow managed to make amends with the producers, so they decided to fire Plummer and rehire Harrison two weeks later. However, the problem was that, even though the studio hadn’t actually filmed anything with Plummer, they were still contractually obligated to pay him a huge severance … meaning that he got paid $87,500 for doing absolutely nothing! So, basically, Christopher Plummer received a huge payday to disassociate himself from a terrible movie, which has to qualify as one of the nicest firings ever.
4. British Radio Personality’s Career is Ruined Because of Fare Evasion
Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad was a prominent philosopher who would become one of the United Kingdom’s most popular broadcasting personalities during the 1940’s. Joad was hired by the BBC to host an informational radio program called The Brains Trust, which involved a panel of experts answering questions from listeners and discussing various subjects.
However, in what might be the most minor offense to ever end someone’s career, Joad wound up losing his job because of fare evasion. Joad seemed to have an impulse-control disorder which made him addicted to fare evasion. He would dodge ticket collectors by sneaking on trains without paying the fare, and loved defrauding the railway even though he was more than financially capable of paying.
In April 1948, Joad was caught travelling on a train without a valid ticket, as he had lied to the ticket inspector about where he originally boarded the train, in order to save money. Joad pled guilty to fare evasion, and was fined a grand total of £2 for his crime. This event was somehow scandalous enough to make front-page headlines, and Joad was promptly fired by the BBC, destroying his reputation. Joad’s career never recovered, and his health severely deteriorated before he succumbed to cancer in 1952.
3. Sylvester Stallone Got Richard Gere Fired from a Movie (Over Mustard Stains)
When two big-name stars are cast in the same movie, it can often lead to major clashes of ego and even reach the point where they’re unable to work together. Sylvester Stallone and Richard Gere once found themselves in this scenario, except that it took place before either of them was even famous.
In 1974, the two unknown actors were cast in a low-budget movie called The Lords of Flatbush. Right from the beginning, there was a lot of tension between the two actors, as Stallone did not like Gere’s habit of grabbing him during auditions. During a lunch break, Stallone was eating a hot dog in his car when Gere decided to climb in while eating a chicken covered in mustard. The flustered Stallone told Gere not to make a mess, but a bunch of mustard soon dripped onto Stallone’s pants. Stallone responded by elbowing Gere in the face and kicking him out of the car.
Stallone then told the director that he could no longer work with Gere and pretty much said, “It’s either him or me.” The director chose Stallone, and fired Gere from the movie. The two actors have never worked together on another project, and still dislike each other to this day. In fact, Gere apparently believes that Stallone was the one who started that infamous urban legend involving a gerbil!
2. Valerie Harper Manages to Get Fired From Her Own TV Show
When the star of a sitcom has their freakin’ name in the title, you would not expect them to be fired from their very own show. After all, could you imagine Seinfeld without Jerry Seinfeld, or The Cosby Show without Bill Cosby?
However, this situation actually did occur when Valerie Harper was cast to star in her very own sitcom, Valerie. The show aired without incident on NBC for two seasons, before being renewed for a third in 1987. Harper demanded a salary increase from the network, and when she didn’t get it, decided to walk out on the show. After Harper missed the filming of one of the episodes, there were further negotiations, and things appeared to be on their way to being settled when the network suddenly fired her. NBC did not hesitate to publicize that Harper was incredibly difficult to work with, just in case anybody thought for even a second that they might be partially to blame.
Now, you’d assume that the absence of Valerie Harper would spell the end of Valerie, but the network somehow found a way around this. Harper’s character was abruptly killed in an off-screen car accident, actress Sandy Duncan was brought in to replace her, and the show was renamed The Hogan Family. It ran for four more seasons, but Harper got the last laugh by suing NBC for libel and breach of contract, and being awarded $1.4 million in damages.
1. William Haines Fired for Refusing to Enter Into a Fake Heterosexual Marriage
Even though he isn’t that well known today, William Haines was one of the most popular leading men in Hollywood during the late 1920’s and early ’30s. However, Haines also happened to be a homosexual, and was involved in a relationship with a man named Jimmie Shields. Even though many people in Hollywood already knew about Haines’ sexual orientation, it started to become public knowledge in 1933 when Haines was arrested at the YCMA for picking up a sailor.
At the time, Haines was under contract with MGM; their studio head, Louis B. Mayer, told him that if he wanted to salvage his career, he would have to marry a woman and restore his public image. This type of arrangement was called a “lavender marriage,” like the kind Rock Hudson would enter into two decades later in order to keep his homosexuality a secret. Unlike Hudson, however, Haines refused to go through with it, and Mayer promptly fired him.
Even though Haines’ acting days were over, he managed to start a successful career as an interior designer and remained with Jimmie Shields until his death in 1973. Since the two of them were once described by Joan Crawford as “the happiest married couple in Hollywood,” it’s clear that William Haines had chosen true love over fame and fortune.
Robin Warder is the co-owner of a pop culture website called “The Back Row.” Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org