You would assume that most of the time, actors want to stay on a show as long as possible. It’s a steady paycheck, after all, and who doesn’t want to be gainfully employed?
Well, it turns out there are reasons for wanting to move on from a job – not getting along with the writers (or producers, or fellow cast members…), wanting to stretch your acting wings, or maybe a change in family status – and these 10 actors weren’t shy about asking for what they wanted.
#10. Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) on Lost
In a sad twist of fate, Adewale lost both of his parents shortly after arriving on set, and grew more and more anxious to return home to London. Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Cartlon Cuse weren’t happy, as they had plans for the character, but made arrangements to kill him off anyway, as Lindelof explained:
“Our Mr. Eko plans very quickly derailed. Adewale’s unhappiness was almost instantaneous. On his second episode, he was expressing extreme dissatisfaction. Originally, he was going to be someone who challenged Locke for the spiritual leadership of the castaways.”
Nice of them to take his feelings into consideration, I think. Contractually, they probably didn’t have to.
#9. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien
Hard to believe, right? But it’s totally true, and the reason is that Weaver was concerned about the direction of the franchise:
“…because I heard that Fox was gonna do Alien vs. Predator. Which really depressed me because I was very proud of the movies.”
I always knew that woman had a good head on her shoulders.
#8. Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) on Breaking Bad
“I said, ‘would it be interesting if Hank died in the first eight?’ and AMC said, ‘No, we kind of need you for the last eight. We’ve been building that up for the last five years’ …Obviously, I’m glad that they did.”
Of course, he has to say that now.
#7. Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) on Downton Abbey
Don’t get mad at the writers! Stevens was keen on leaving the show after three seasons in order to pursue other projects on the stage and the big screen:
“We were always optioned for three years. And when that came up, it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things. It is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.
#6. Dr. Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn) on House
In 2009, Kal Penn took a side job working for President Obama (really). Soon afterward the administration offered to make the role permanent, which was when the House producers agreed to have Dr. Kutner commit suicide at the end of season 5.
“I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House. I got to know the president and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison.”
I mean. Pretty good reason for quitting, imho.
#5. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) on Game of Thrones
Sophie Turner has a different reason for hoping that HBO decides to kill of Sansa Stark before the end of the series – she doesn’t think it’s very much fun to be on a show like that and be the one to live.
“I don’t want to survive. If you’re on Game of Thrones and you don’t have a cool death scene, then what’s the point?”
Sadly (for her) my own GoT theories include Sansa ruling from Winterfell. We’ll have to wait and see (and hope GRRM doesn’t die before finishing)!
#4. Dr. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) on Grey’s Anatomy
I guess it’s no secret by now that more than one actor/actress has had issues working with television powerhouse Shonda Rhimes, but his struggle to communicate effectively with her was the reason that T.R. Knight asked to leave Grey’s Anatomy during season 5.
“My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given about the character George. And with respect, I’m going to leave it at that.”
If you’re looking for proof that the feeling was mutual, Knight’s character was killed off by being mowed down by a city bus.
#3. Chef (Isaac Hayes) on South Park
This one is kind of odd – Isaac Hayes had been a Scientologist since 1993 and finally grew tired of what he viewed as disrespect toward the religion in some episodes of the show.
“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs of others begins. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”
Matt and Trey obliged, and killed him off in the season 10 premiere.
#2. Dr. Lance Sweets (John Francis Daly) on Bones
This one was hard for me as a viewer, and it was a shock as it took place in the season premiere. It made sense, then, when it came out that JFD had asked to leave the show after being offered the director position for the Vacation remake. He told TVLine.com:
“The directing job was not something that I could walk away from. It was such a huge opportunity. It feels like a good next step in my career and my life; I always dreamed of being a director. So to be able to do something like this on such a huge scale – it’s a huge studio movie – it’s definitely not something I could turn my back on. It was a sacrifice for sure.”
Wonder if he still feels that way after Vacation turned out…how it turned out.
#1. Han Solo (Harrison Ford) on Star Wars
The rumors that Harrison Ford thought Han should have died in Return of the Jedi have been making the rounds ever since The Force Awakens, and guess what? Turns out they’re true.
“I think it’s a fitting use of the character. I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.”
Allegedly, Lucas turned down the request back in the 80’s because he “didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”
Sounds about right.
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