22 Successful Recasts In TV Shows And Movies That Improve Upon The Originals

Recasting happens all the time in movies or TV shows. Whether actors become unavailable for filming due to schedule conflicts, behind the screen feuds, or accidents, recasting is the Plan B of any production.
That doesn’t mean all film production companies always have a backup plan for recasting crucial actors. You often find more stories about how rating plummets and show tanks after an actor is recast.
No matter the reason, when a crucial actor permanently leaves the production, their replacements need to be found as soon as possible. After all, a day of filming can potentially cost movie companies millions. While there have been plenty of epic fails in recasting, successful recasts are often ignored. Unintentionally so, because they are so incredible nobody even notices the difference.
Don’t believe us? From the small screens to the big screens, here are 22 successful recasts in TV shows and movies that improve upon the originals.

#1 Frasier: Peri Gilpin replacing Lisa Kudrow as Roz

Source: Getty Images / NBC

Lisa Kudrow filmed the pilot for the iconic Frasier days before she was replaced by Peri Gilpin, who played the role for the whole series. Lisa even acknowledged how she just didn’t have the right chemistry for the show.

Source: NBC

Lisa later auditioned again in front of the producer, James Burrows, for her iconic role: Phoebe Buffay from Friends.

#2 The Harry Potter franchise: Michael Gambon replacing Richard Harris as Dumbledore

Source: Getty Images / Warner Bros.

Originally, the role of Albus Dumbledore was played by Richard Harris. Harris was Dumbledore for the first 2 parts of the series but passed away before part 2 is filmed. He was 92 at the time.

Source: Getty Images / Warner Bros.

4 months later, the role was then recast, and Michael Gambon played Dumbledore fantastically for the rest of the series. Peter O'Toole was also in talk for the part but declined due to respect for his friend Richard Harris.

#3 The Fast and Furious franchise: CGI replacing Paul Walker

Source: Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty

To Fast and Furious fans, Paul walker is irreplaceable. That’s why, when he unexpectedly passed away, the studio spent an extra 50 million dollars in CGI to finish the movie with him in it.

Source: Universal

Specifically, they used archived footage with Paul in it, as well as his brothers’ voices for the dialogue and stand-ins for him in the shoots.

#4 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Daphne Maxwell Reid replacing Janet Hubert

Source: NBC

One of the most famous and long-lasting feuds in Hollywood stemmed from this recast. Janet Hubert, who portrayed Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, left the show during Season 3 after being offered a "poor contract." As a result, the program famously recast Daphne Maxwell Reid as Aunt Viv, who remained in the role for the remainder of the series.

Source: HBO Max

Janet Hubert recounted how she was branded as “difficult to work with” and how it was hard for her to find work as a result of the recast.

#5 Sleepless in Seattle: Ross Malinger replacing unnamed child actor as Jonah Baldwin

Source: TriStar Pictures

Oh, this is a brutal one. It’s understandable to freeze up in front of Tom Hank, The original child actor who plays Jonah Baldwin did just that and ended up fired from the production.

Source: HBO Max

Even Tom Hank was shocked at the decision from producer Nora Ephron. I mean, can you blame him?

#6 Panic Room: Nicole Kidman replacing Jodie Foster as Meg Altman

Source: Steve Granitz / WireImage / Getty

The role of Meg Altman, the mother in the home-invasion thriller Panic Room was given to Nicole Kidman. She worked on the set for 2 weeks before leaving production due to a knee injury.

Source: Columbia

Replacing her is Jodie Foster, who did a wonderful job in the movie. Kristen Steward even fondly reminded Kidman of the short-time working together on the set for Panic Room.

#7 Toy Story franchise: Blake Clark replacing Jim Varney as Slinky

Source: Getty / Disney

The role of the very-Southern slink dog Slinky was voiced originally by Jim Varney.

Source: Getty / Disney

However, after he died from lung cancer, his friend and fellow voice actor Blake Clark took over the role in the rest of the franchise. The most difficult part according to Blake Clark is to not mess up something that his friend has done so well.

#8 That '70s Show: Christina Moore replacing Lisa Robin Kelly as Laurie

Source: ABC

Lisa Robin Kelly played the ditzy Laurie in season 1, 3 and 5, but she was replaced with Lisa Robin Kelly in season 6 onwards.

Source: ABC News / youtube.com

In an interview with ABC, Lisa Robin Kelly shared that alcohol abuse and a miscarriage lead to a step back from the show. Lisa died of combined drug intoxication in 2013, only days after going into a treatment clinic to seek help for her addiction.

#9 The Hunger Games: CGI replacing Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee

Source: Jon Kopaloff / FilmMagic / Getty

Philip Seymour Hoffman untimely passed away during the filming of The Hunger Games. With only 10 days left during filming, executives pondered utilizing CGI to complete his scenes. Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore's characters, however, took some of his lines after some minor rewrites.

Source: Lionsgate

In truth, the company used pre-existing films of Philip in situations where his character would have appeared.

#10 The Twilight franchise: Rachelle Lefevre replacing Bryce Dallas Howard as Victoria

Source: Summit

The redhead vampire Victoria, one of the main villains in the franchise, was recast after the first installment of the franchise. Due to her 10-day-long commitment to Dustin Hoffman’s film, Barney’s Version, Rachelle Lefevre was let go from the production.

Source: Summit

Bryce Dallas Howard replaces her as Victoria for Victoria’s final appearance in the franchise. Via her statement about the replacement, Rachelle Lefevre expressed her astonishment about the sudden recast.

#12 Riverdale: Charles Melton replacing Ross Butler as Reggie Mantle

Source: The CW

On Riverdale, Reggie Mantle is originally played by Ross Butler. Butler later leaves Riverdale to focus on another dark teen show, 13 Reasons Why.

Source: The CW

Charles Melton steps in in season 2, and he has been Reggie ever since. Season 6 recently brings back Ross Butler as Alternate Reggie, and Veronica has never looked so blessed!

#13 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Skylar Astin replacing Santino Fontana as Greg

Source: The CW

In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the bitter Greg was played by Santino Fontana. After season 2 concluded, he left the series due to schedule conflicts.

Source: The CW

But that’s not really the last we see of Greg. In the final season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Greg makes a glorious return, as Greg, played by Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Austin. Everyone in the series sees Greg as the same person, except for Rebecca - and they make a running gag out of it!

#14 The Fosters: Noah Centineo replacing Jake T. Austin as Jesus

Source: Freeform

Originally, Jake T. Austin was cast as Jesus on The Fosters. He left the show after learning his role was reduced during the third season.

Source: Freeform

The show explains the recast with Jake's Jesus in a near-fatal vehicle accident, leaving fans to wonder if the character survived. The third season begins with Jesus surviving the crash and being played by a completely different actor, Noah Centineo, who played Jesus for the rest of the show.

#15 All the Money in the World: Christopher Plummer replacing Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty

Source: Sony Pictures Releasing

All the Money in the World had finished filming right before Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct allegations broke out. Kevin was promptly fired from the film.

Source: Sony Pictures Releasing

Christopher Plummer stepped in to replace Kevin Spacey and has to refilm every scene from the movie. This added another 10 million to the production cost.

#16 The Matrix: Nona Gaye replacing Aaliyah as Zee

Source: Steve Eichner / Getty Images

In their original vision, The Matrix producers pick Aaliyah as the Zee. She even filmed some of her parts in Matrix 2 before her passing in a plane crash.

Source: Warner Bros.

After an audition, Nona Gaye, Marvin Gaye's daughter, was cast to play Zee during the rest of The Matrix franchise.

#17 Man with a Plan: Liza Snyder Replacing Jenna Fisher as Andi Burns

Source: Getty / CBS

In the original pilot episode, Jenna Fisher was cast opposite Matt LeBlanc in his sitcom. However, she was fired and replaced by Liza Snyder.

Source: NBC

Taking about the recast, Jenna Fisher says it was not the recast due to how her casting was negatively received by the focus group. Apparently, Pam marrying Joey is not very believable.

#18 Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus: Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell replacing Heath Ledger as Doctor Parnassus

Source: Evan Agostini / Getty Images

Heath Ledger was in the middle of filming Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus when he unexpectedly passed away. Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell were all cast to replace him.

Source: Lionsgate

The studio reworked the script so that Doctor Parnassus’ appearance changed with each time he jumped through a different dimension.

#19 Gladiator: CGI replacing Oliver Reed as Proximo

Source: DreamWorks

The actor Oliver Reed almost finished all his scenes on the famous Gladiator before passing away due to a heart attack. The story was that Oliver was taking on a “drinking debauch” challenge with a group of sailors before he just dropped.

Source: P. Shirley / Getty Images

Instead of replacing him, the producer uses CGI to grasp his face onto another stand-in to finish filming.

#20 Shrek: Mike Myers replacing Chris Farley as Shrek

Source: Steve.granitz / WireImage / Getty

When Shrek was first scripted, the creators based the relationship between Shrek and Donkey on that of Chris Farley and David Spade in Tommy’s Boy. Chris even finished recording most of his lines for the part.

Source: Getty / DreamWorks

After he has passed away in 1997, Mike Meyer was cast for the role and asked the producers to rewrite the part to compliment his style of comedy instead. Mike then takes on the role for the rest of the franchise.

#21 Army of the Dead: Tig Notaro replacing Chris D'Elia

Source: Getty Images

Chris D'Elia finished the whole movie before he was fired from the movie when news of his sexual assault allegation broke out.

Source: Netflix

Tig Notaro replaced him in the movie and had to act everything alone in front of a green screen. Director Zach Snider even spend a few million on making the scene more believable.

#22 Return to Halloweentown Sara Paxton replacing Kimberly J. Brown as Marnie Cromwell

Source: Disney

Disney fans will remember this one. Marnie looks a tad different between the two installments of the series. Kimberly J. Brown plays Marnie Cromwell for 3 movies before being replaced.

Source: IMDb

Even Kimberly was not sure why she was recast until this day.

#23 Stumptown: Jake Johnson replacing Mark Webber as Grey McConnell

Source: Gilbert Carrasquillo / Getty Images

In Stumptown, Mark Webber was originally chosen as the lead actor, before being replaced by Jake Johnson due to being “not pretty enough” for TV executives.

Source: IMDb

Talking about the replacement, Mark vented out his frustration with how brutal the beauty standard in the industry is.
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