actors-who-were-fired.jpgDirector Peter Jackson and Producer Fran Walsh approached Ryan Gosling for a major role in The Lovely Bones. Gosling believed he was too young to play the part of a father of a 14-year-old girl. But Jackson won him over by assuring Gosling that hair and make-up artistry would age him convincingly. Gosling accepted the role, and committed to the part. He gained a whopping 60 pounds, and grew a beard attempting to appear older. But in time, Walsh felt hesitant about Gosling being suited for the role, later admitting, “It was our blindness, the desire to make it work no matter how.” In retrospect, Gosling explained that he allowed his ego to interfere with his portrayal of the character citing the filmmakers were not communicative during the formative preproduction process. Ultimately, Gosling was laid off due to creative differences, and Mark Wahlberg was immediately cast in the role–just one day before filming according to IMDb. Gosling later remarked, “Then I was fat and unemployed.” So, did Ryan allow that unfortunate incident to hurt his career? Well, soon afterwards he worked on a musical project, his album entitled Dead Man’s Bones with musician Zach Shields which was released in 2009. He starred in Blue Valentine a year later, and then Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, followed by George Clooney’s The Ides of March, and recently Gosling kicked some major butt in the controversial revenge thriller, Only God Forgives. In other words: He refused to allow the unfortunate incident to define his career.

Boomtown, and Desperate Housewives’ Neal McDonough is known for playing dark characters, and so was seen as a perfect fit for a part in the ABC series Scoundrels. But he was fired when a moral dilemma emerged. Much to the surprise of many guys, McDonough refused to participate in sex scenes with co-star Virginia Madsen. The reason? He is a devout Catholic who is committed to his wife, and so he considered the intimate onscreen interactions to be inconsistent with his personal convictions. He’s not alone; for one reason or another, various actors have refused to do nude scenes such as Scarlet Johansson, Andy Garcia, and Julia Roberts. But McDonough picked himself up and was soon cast as Dum Dum Dugan in Captain America: The First Avenger, and he was also recognized for his award-winning performance as the murderous Robert Quarles in the FX drama series Justified.

When you think of Apocalypse Now you don’t think of Harvey Keitel, and there’s a reason for that: He was fired on the set. According to Eleanor Coppola’s documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse which follows the A-to-Z production of the legendary film, Director Francis Coppola decided to replace Harvey Keitel as Captain Willard after a week of shooting. Harvey was replaced by Martin Sheen, and the rest as they say, is history. Why Keitel was eliminated is not altogether clear, but the decision was made after reviewing the first week’s footage with the editors. However, Keitel stated that for a long time after that he was “bad news in Hollywood,” and was ready to find a regular job to support himself. But thanks to his prolific grit, he never quit on his acting dream. Harvey continued working in the theater as he’d done in the past, and played supporting roles in a number of films. A decade after being fired from Apocalypse Now, his work with Scorsese in The Last Temptation of Christ playing the role of Judas, and a few years later, his role in Bugsy in which he received his first Oscar nomination brought him past-due recognition. But when Harvey opted to co-produce an independent film called Reservoir Dogs for an up-and-coming director named Quentin Tarantino, and grabbed the part of Mr. White, Keitel’s status went to the next level. He then starred in Bad Lieutenant, The PianoPulp Fiction, and the list goes on.

There are going to be ups and downs in your career as an actor. And there will be times when you think it’s all over. That’s precisely when you have to rededicate your efforts, and steel your will. It’s called grit, and it assures you that no amount of failure can stop you; no amount of bad news can mitigate your progress when you make the decision to move forward come Hades or high water. The greats know this, and so do you!