Actors Who Refused To Return For Sequels - And How The Movies Handled It
Vote up the actors you know would've have improved the sequels, regardless of why they didn't come back.
Chances are, if a movie gets a sequel, the original was a financial success. Even still, these actors who didn't return for sequels passed on steady work and perhaps even the opportunity to be a part of a franchise.
Some of these actors passed on sequels because the money wasn't right. Others skipped the recurring role because they didn’t think the script was good enough. Or, perhaps they didn’t like the new direction their character was headed. What happens when an actor decides not to return for a sequel? Different movies handle it in different ways. Sometimes - like in the case of Back to the Future II - filmmakers get so "creative" that it leads to a lawsuit.
How did Back to the Future II producers go about replacing Crispin Glover, and how much did it wind up costing them in the long run? Why did Marlon Brando refuse Francis Ford Coppola’s offer to appear in the Godfather sequel? What exactly did Megan Fox say to get herself fired from Transformers: Dark of the Moon?
Read about those stories and more in the roundup below.
- 1175 VOTESPhoto: Scream 3 / Dimension Films
Character: Neve Campbell played final girl Sidney Prescott, who faced off against Ghostface in five Scream films over the course of 26 years.
Why Campbell Didn’t Come Back For The Sixth Film: Campbell announced she wouldn’t be returning for Scream VI because “the offer that was presented to me did not equate to the value I have brought to the franchise.”
Several of her former co-stars publicly sided with Campbell. Matthew Lillard, who played Stu in the original Scream, stated, “So why is a woman supposed to take less? Why wouldn't you pay her more as the series goes on?” Jamie Kennedy, who played Randy in Scream 1-3, asked, “How can you make Scream without Sidney Prescott?” Courteney Cox, who plays Gale Weathers in the franchise, said, “I missed working with her, but I’m going to support whatever she feels is right."
How The Movie Handled It: Jenna Ortega, who played Tara in Scream (2022), claimed Scream VI has “so much going on” that she thinks audiences will “be distracted almost” from Campbell’s absence. “She’s missed and thought of,” Ortega said.
In the film, after Ghostface starts his killing spree in New York City, Gale tells Sam and Tara that Sidney and her husband Mark are taking their family into hiding and that “she deserves her happy ending.”
- 276 VOTESPhoto: Jaws / Universal Pictures
Character: Richard Dreyfuss played Matt Hooper in Jaws, the film that essentially kickstarted the whole concept of the summer blockbuster. Hooper is an oceanographer with a thing for sharks. He joins Brody and Quint aboard Orca to help catch the great white shark.
Why Dreyfuss Didn’t Come Back For The Sequel: Dreyfuss and director Steven Spielberg re-teamed a couple of years later for the sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But Spielberg decided not to sign on for the 1978 Jaws sequel.
If Spielberg wasn't behind the camera, Dreyfuss knew the sequel wouldn't live up to its predecessor: "I knew what made Jaws good, and we weren't talking about Steven [Spielberg] directing it."
Dreyfuss also wasn't happy about his Jaws paycheck: "We were not bonused - not at all - and you would be embarrassed at how much they paid us."
How The Movie Handled It: Hooper is an important character in the first film, but he's ultimately a supporting figure. In the sequel, Roy Scheider returns as Brody, and a different great white shark comes to haunt Amity Island. Brody calls Hooper for help on the telephone. The two chat about how to handle the new terror, but Hooper is out of the country in Antarctica on a research expedition.
- 3113 VOTESPhoto: Back to the Future / Universal Pictures
Character: Crispin Glover played George McFly in the 1985 sci-fi classic, Back to the Future. George is Marty McFly's (Michael J. Fox) nerdy father. Glover portrays both the young and middle-aged versions of George.
Why Glover Didn’t Come Back For The Sequel: Most of the original cast returned for the 1989 follow-up. However, Glover turned down the opportunity to reappear as George because of "moral" objections. The actor revealed years later during a radio interview on The Opie & Anthony Show:
It had to do with money, and what those people - the characters - were doing with money. I said to Robert Zemeckis, I thought it was not a good idea for our characters to have monetary reward. Because it basically makes the moral of the film be that money equals happiness... By having the son character cheer by having a truck in the garage - what I was arguing for was that the characters should be in love, and that the love should be the reward. And Zemeckis got really mad at me when I said this.
How The Movie Handled It: George played a big part in the original film, and the story for the sequel needed his character, as well. The sequel's filmmakers got creative in attempting to replace Glover. They hired actor Jeffrey Weissman to play George under prosthetics, using that makeup in combination with visual effects to make him look and sound like Glover. As Glover explained:
They had taken the molds of my face from the old age make-up from the original movie and put another actor into prosthetics that were made from my face, and intercut with a very small amount of footage of me from the original movie in order to fool audiences into thinking I was in the movie.
Glover was not happy: "If I’d have played that part, I would have played it different. I didn’t like the way that guy played it, and people think it’s me. It still gets to me that there’s that confusion."
Glover sued Universal City Studios, Amblin Entertainment, and U-Drive Productions for $1 million for violating his right of publicity. The parties eventually settled for a reported $760,000. The lawsuit also set a precedent to prevent film studios from using an actor's likeness and voice in the same way again.
- 499 VOTESPhoto: Speed / 20th Century Fox
Character: Keanu Reeves played Los Angeles police officer Jack Traven in the 1994 action thriller, Speed. Traven is a young, ambitious, risk-taking cop who also serves on the city's SWAT team. Traven must keep a city bus from going under 50 mph or else it will explode.
Why Reeves Didn’t Come Back For The Sequel: When an action movie makes over $350 million worldwide, of course there is going to be talk of a sequel. Director Jan de Bont and Reeves's co-star Sandra Bullock both signed on for Speed 2: Cruise Control. However, even though Reeves was still a young actor at the time, he turned down a $12 million paycheck.
He passed on the monster payday because he did not like the sequel's script, as he revealed during a 2018 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!:
I loved working with Jan de Bont and Sandra, of course. It was just a situation in life where I got the script, and I read the script and I was like "agh." It was about a cruise ship, and I was like... bus not so fast, then a cruise ship is even slower than a bus. And I was just like, "I love you guys, but I just can't do it."
How The Movie Handled It: Lost Boys star Jason Patric took over as the male lead - another cop, Alex Shaw - in 1997's Speed 2: Cruise Control. Traven got a quick mention regarding him and Bullock's character, Annie, breaking up. Shaw was tasked with saving the cruise liner from blowing up and romancing Annie.
It wasn't Patric's fault, of course, but Speed 2 was a massive box-office flop and became a critical punching bag.
- 577 VOTESPhoto: Halloween / Compass International Pictures
Character: Original scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis played tormented Laurie Strode in 1978's original Halloween and the 1981 sequel Halloween II. Strode is able to survive the wrath of Michael Myers.
Why Curtis Didn’t Come Back For The Fourth Film: By the time Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers came around in 1988, Curtis had long since found success acting in other high-profile projects, including Trading Places, Perfect, and A Fish Called Wanda. So while Michael Myers would make his return for Part 4, Curtis (for the time being) was done with the franchise.
(If you're wondering what happened to Halloween III, it had nothing to do with the original Halloween continuity. It doesn't feature Michael Myers as the antagonist and instead focuses on witchcraft.)
How The Movie Handled It: In Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, it's explained that Strode perished in an auto collision before the start of the film. Her daughter Jamie Lloyd (Danielle Harris) is hunted by Myers in place of her mother.
It turns out that Curtis was not quite done battling Myers. Her demise was eventually ignored - twice, in fact - and Strode lived on. The actress returned for three additional installments: Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, and 2018's retconned direct sequel, Halloween.
- 669 VOTESPhoto: Independence Day / 20th Century Fox
Character: Will Smith played Captain Steven Hiller in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. Hiller was a US Marine pilot. He became a war hero after destroying the alien mothership and saving the world.
Why Smith Didn’t Come Back For The Sequel: Smith played a hero in the first film. However, the epic did feature an ensemble cast that apparently made Smith's role expendable. The actor said he did not return for the 2016 sequel Independence Day: Resurgence because of scheduling conflicts:
It was one of those things - I had a couple of films lined up, I had Concussion and Suicide Squad, and so it was a decision, timing-wise, between Independence Day and Suicide Squad.
How The Movie Handled It The question of whether or not Smith would reprise his role as Hiller became an ever-changing saga. One minute he was out, the next minute he was in. Director Roland Emmerich decided the sequel would move on whether or not Smith returned. To safeguard the project, Emmerich and his team of screenwriters wrote two scripts - one with Hiller and one without.
After Smith became a definite "no," the writers killed off Smith's character off-screen. It is explained that he died while testing a new experimental alien hybrid fighter.