In the glitzy world of Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for a mega-hit movie to evolve into a whole series, even if the creators didn’t plan it that way. These days, we’ve come to expect follow-up films that continue the story we loved. But sometimes, things don’t go as expected.
Imagine Independence Day without the charismatic Will Smith, or The Godfather without the unforgettable Robert Duvall. Even Rocky was missing the amazing Talia Shire in its later chapters. While most of the original gang returned for these sequels, sadly, these three actors were left out for various reasons. Maybe they had a jam-packed schedule, or they couldn’t agree on the green stuff, or perhaps the story took an unexpected twist.
Now, let’s ponder this: did these movies lose their sparkle without these actors? Did you even notice their absence? It’s an intriguing question, isn’t it?
1. Laurence Fishburne Was Not Asked Back For ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ – And It May Have Had To Do With The Franchise’s Online Video Game
Eighteen years after the supposed conclusion of the trilogy with The Matrix Revolutions, Lana Wachowski surprised fans with the release of The Matrix Resurrections in 2021. However, one noticeable absence was Laurence Fishburne, who did not reprise his role as Morpheus.
In response to his absence, Fishburne stated, “I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great.” While it is unclear why Fishburne was not included in the film, it is worth noting that he portrayed Morpheus in the original three films and even lent his voice to the character in the video game The Matrix Online.
While Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returned for Resurrections, Fishburne’s absence left some fans speculating. Some believe that his exclusion may be due to the fact that his character dies in The Matrix Online. However, others think that there could be more to it and that perhaps Morpheus faked his death. It’s important to note that originally, the Wachowskis had no intentions of making a fourth film.
The Matrix Resurrections serves as both a sequel and a meta companion piece to the original trilogy. In the film, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II takes on the role of a different version of Morpheus, adding a new dynamic to the story.
2. Hugo Weaving Was In Negotiations For ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ But His Australian Theater Commitments Wouldn’t Work With The Film’s Schedule
Agent Smith, portrayed by Hugo Weaving, is the formidable antagonist in The Matrix. With his dark sunglasses and impeccable black suit, Smith stands guard over the Matrix with an icy demeanor. Despite being destroyed in the third movie, Lana Wachowski revived the character for 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections.
Weaving initially had reservations about returning to the world of dystopian simulated reality. Expressing his concerns, he said, “I had some reservations about going back into the Matrix. I really wanted to know why we were doing it and what’s to be gained, apart from making money. I loved a lot of it and wasn’t sure about other bits.”
Ultimately, Weaving would have participated in the film if his schedule had allowed. Unfortunately, due to a conflicting commitment, the English actor was unable to join the cast.
“I thought we could have done my scenes in May, June, and July,” Weaver shared. “She (Wachowski) basically didn’t feel that my commitment to the National Theatre was going to fit in with the dates that she had in mind for me.”
To fill the role of Agent Smith, Wachowski enlisted Jonathan Goff, known for his work in Mindhunter. The decision worked well in terms of the script, as this iteration of Smith serves as Neo’s superior in Resurrections. It surely surprises the audience when they discover that he is, in fact, Agent Smith.
3. Rick Moranis Turned Down The Chance To Appear In ‘Ghostbusters’ Sequels Because He Insists On Being Choosy With His Roles
In 2016, Ghostbusters made a comeback on the big screen with a new twist – an all-female cast of paranormal enthusiasts. Some of the original cast members, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver, made nostalgic appearances in the reboot.
However, one familiar face was missing. Rick Moranis, who played the geeky accountant Louis Tully in the original 1984 film, decided not to return to the franchise.
“I wish them well,” Moranis expressed in 2015. “I hope it’s terrific. But it just doesn’t make sense to me. Why would I do just one day of shooting for something I did 30 years ago?”
After his wife passed away from breast cancer in 1997, Moranis took a step back from acting to focus on raising his kids. Now that his sons are grown up, he remains open to the idea of returning to the screen if the right project comes along.
“I took a break, which ended up being a longer break,” Moranis explained. “But I’m interested in anything that I find interesting. I still receive occasional offers for film or television roles, and when one comes along that catches my attention, I’ll probably do it. However, Ghostbusters didn’t appeal to me.”
Even though the original cast, including Harold Ramis in a posthumous cameo, returned for the franchise’s official sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 2021, Moranis declined to participate once again.
4. Robert Duvall Turned Down ‘The Godfather Part III’ Because The ‘Cheap’ Producers Lowballed Him
Robert Duvall portrayed Tom Hagen, the trusted attorney and consigliere of the Corleone family, in the first two films of The Godfather series by Francis Ford Coppola. Hagen, originally orphaned, was informally adopted by Vito and Carmela Corleone after the death of his parents.
After a long gap of 16 years, Coppola and his team finally completed the third installment of the crime trilogy, with most of the main cast members returning for The Godfather III.
In a 1990 interview, Duvall openly discussed his decision not to reprise his role as Hagen for the third film, citing financial issues as the main factor. He expressed his dissatisfaction, saying, “There are two or three other actors in that film being paid more than I was offered. That just isn’t right.” He also hinted at the frugality of the production team, sharing an anecdote about Coppola visiting his farm in Virginia and seeming more interested in Duvall’s mother’s crab cake recipe than convincing him to join the project.
Although Hagen’s death is mentioned in passing during the movie, no further details are provided regarding the circumstances. Coppola introduced two new lawyers, B.J. Harrison and Dominic Abbandando, to handle the Corleone family’s legal matters in the absence of Hagen.
5. Talia Shire Said She And Stallone Agreed It Would Be Best If Rocky Was A Widower In ‘Rocky Balboa’
Talia Shire, known for her role as Adrian, Rocky’s supportive and loving wife in the original Rocky movie and its four sequels, believes that their relationship was a crucial element of the film series.
In the 2006 film Rocky Balboa, Rocky is portrayed as a retired boxer who is grieving the loss of his wife. Adrian had passed away four years before the events of the movie. Shire expressed her belief that Adrian’s death played an important role in the narrative of Rocky Balboa.
Shire revealed, “Sylvester and I had a conversation about this over a year ago, and I think he was right in wanting to portray Rocky as a widower. This allows him to come back to the story with a deep longing and a sense of loss. Even though Adrian is no longer physically present, she continues to be a part of Rocky’s heart. I’m really excited to see how it turns out. I’ve read the script, and I thought it was great. Sylvester is a talented writer, so I have high hopes for the film. As always, I’m in his corner.”
6. Will Smith Chose To Do ‘Suicide Squad’ Instead Of The ‘Independence Day’ Sequel, Which Then Had To Be Rewritten In Two Weeks
Will Smith made his transition to Hollywood leading man status with his role as Captain Steven Hiller in the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day. Teaming up with Jeff Goldblum’s character, David Levinson, Hiller helped take down the alien mothership and save the world.
Fast forward twenty years, and Independence Day: Resurgence hit theaters. While some original cast members returned for the sequel, Smith was not among them. He cited scheduling conflicts as the reason for his absence, stating that he had other films lined up, such as Concussion and Suicide Squad, which made it difficult to commit to Independence Day.
Unfortunately, the highly anticipated sequel didn’t perform as well at the box office. Co-writer and director Roland Emmerich expressed his disappointment, saying that Smith’s decision to drop out was a significant blow. As a result, the script had to be rewritten in just two weeks.
Despite the challenges, Emmerich was determined to continue with the film. With the help of two young writers, they locked themselves in his New York apartment and wrote a new script in a short amount of time. The pressure was on, with daily calls from Fox president, Emma Watts, urging them to keep moving forward.
In the film, Hiller’s character is already deceased. The storyline reveals that he lost his life while testing a new experimental alien hybrid fighter.
7. Thora Birch Wanted To Be In ‘Hocus Pocus 2’ But Scheduling Conflicts Got In The Way
Nearly 30 years after the original Hocus Pocus, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy reprised their roles as the Sanderson sister witches in the sequel, Hocus Pocus 2, set to release in 2022. However, there were a few notable absences.
Thora Birch, who played Dani in the 1993 cult classic, did not appear in the sequel as the adult Dani due to conflicting schedules. Omri Katz (Max) and Vinessa Shaw (Allison) are also missing from the sequel. Birch expressed her disappointment, saying, “I was just a little dismayed I wasn’t able to make it. I was working on something else when they were filming.”
Despite these omissions, the film does revisit the ending of Hocus Pocus, where Dani, Max, and Allison successfully defeat the evil Salem witch trio.
Director Anne Fletcher addressed the challenge of balancing fan expectations while creating a fresh story for the sequel:
“We wanted to include all the beloved characters that fans adored, but when we looked at the overall story and the ingredients, we faced a tough question: How do we make this work? It was incredibly difficult to incorporate them, even as cameos. Some suggested having them in the background, but would that truly satisfy the audience? No, they would be disappointed, even angry.”
8. Sean Young Thinks Her 30-Second Digital Cameo In ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Was ‘So Full Of Sh*t’
Sean Young was a prominent figure in the 1980s, particularly known for her role in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. In the film, she portrayed the replicant Rachael Tyrell, who falls in love with Harrison Ford’s character, Deckard, and they escape together.
Fast forward almost 40 years, Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the original, graced the big screen. Harrison Ford reprised his role as Deckard, but there was a twist. The plot revealed that Young’s character had passed away while giving birth in 2021. This revelation set the stage for the movie’s main focus, the search for Deckard and Rachael’s daughter.
However, Young expressed her dissatisfaction with being excluded from the sequel during a 2021 interview with The Daily Beast. She did not hold back in expressing her frustration, stating, “Wasn’t that so full of sh*t? And there was nothing I could do about it.” It was clear to her that the filmmakers were aware that fans would be upset about her absence, but they didn’t want her to publicly complain. As a result, they offered her compensation, made her sign a non-disclosure agreement, and gave her a mere 30 seconds of screen time as a hologram in the film.
Despite her grievances, Young mentioned that her forgiveness came when they provided her son, Quinn, with a job in the visual arts department for Blade Runner 2049. She acknowledged his talent and skills, ultimately letting bygones be bygones.
9. Kelly McGillis Was Not Asked To Return For ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Because She No Longer Looked The Part
Kelly McGillis, known for her role as Charlie Blackwood in the 1986 film Top Gun, did not make a return in the highly anticipated sequel, Top Gun: Maverick. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2019, McGillis candidly shared her thoughts on the matter. She stated that she believed the producers did not approach her for a return, nor did she think they ever would. McGillis, who had stepped away from the Hollywood scene to focus on her sobriety and family, expressed that she felt comfortable and secure in her appearance and age, and that the essence of the scene did not align with her current image.
In the 2022 blockbuster, Jennifer Connelly, an Academy Award winner, took on the role of Maverick’s love interest, Penny Benjamin. However, Meg Ryan, who portrayed Goose’s widowed wife, did not make a comeback. The director, Joseph Kosinski, explained that they didn’t consider those storylines for the sequel. He emphasized the importance of introducing new characters and not solely relying on past connections.
10. Melinda Dillon Was Fully Retired When They Made ‘A Christmas Story Christmas,’ So Julie Hagerty Took Her Place
Melinda Dillon portrayed the beloved character Mrs. Parker, also known as Ralphie’s caring mother, in the 1983 film “A Christmas Story.” Initially considered a box office disappointment, the movie later gained a cult following thanks to the annual marathon aired by TNT and TBS on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
In the sequel, several original cast members returned, including Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie. Now all grown up, Ralphie has a family of his own, and they make a trip back to his hometown in Indiana for Christmas after his father’s sudden passing.
At the age of 83, Dillon retired from acting in 2007, with her final role being in the TNT medical drama “Heartland.” Throughout her career, she enjoyed success in both Hollywood and Broadway. Dillon’s filmography includes notable films like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” and “Magnolia.” She even received Academy Award nominations for her performances in “Close Encounters” and “Absence of Malice.”
However, Dillon’s focus was never on fame or fortune. In a 1976 interview, she expressed her desire to work on meaningful stories, both for herself and for the audience. Despite the wish for more financial security, Dillon held firm to her principles and politics, which guided her choices.
In the sequel, the role of Mother Parker was taken over by Julie Hagerty.