We’re in an age of reckoning for celebrities. The rich and powerful, who used to get away with saying and doing nearly anything, are now being held to a much higher standard. Their very public lives mean that their words and their deeds are broadcast far and wide. If they do or say the wrong thing, the consequences can be monumental.
Now, Hollywood has always been a hotbed for controversy. It’s just that the studios aren’t quite as lenient as they once were. With social media carrying news faster and further than ever before, and the cancel culture sweeping the nation, if actors wade too far into controversial waters, they may get swept away entirely — becoming too hot for the studios to handle.
During the late 2010s, we’ve witnessed the downfall of countless celebrity careers. Some lost favor with their audience, whereas others became uninsurable by the industry. Though many of the following actors are dead-set on surviving their career turbulence and making a comeback, you likely won’t be seeing these names in any cast announcements in the coming year. Here are the actors Hollywood won’t cast in 2020.
Jussie Smollett and his alleged Hollywood hate crime
The Jussie Smollett story of 2019 was a whirlwind tour for onlookers. At first, he appeared to be the victim of a horrific hate crime in Chicago in late January. Next, he was arrested under suspicion of orchestrating the attack himself. The charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police were later dropped in March, however, in the resulting court case (via BBC News). But that wasn’t the end of it.
Citing the enormity of the resources used in the investigation — a whopping $130,106 — Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi later stated, per Page Six, “The City of Chicago will be sending Mr. Smollett a bill.” According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Smollett levied a malicious prosecution counterclaim against the City of Chicago, the police department, and others that November. While continuing to maintain his innocence, the actor’s lawyers claimed that the original case against Smollett had caused him “humiliation, mental anguish and extreme emotional distress.”
While we await the resolution of this whole debacle, at the time of this writing, it seems the professional damage to Smollett has been done. The actor was fired from Empire and not asked to return for its sixth season. And with nothing on the acting docket in 2020, it appears that Hollywood will may the cautious route and avoid hiring Smollett, at least until this situation is completely resolved.
Has this actress been barred from Hollywood?
Though Roseanne Barr was long known for being unfiltered and unpredictable, this ended up being her undoing in a less forgiving climate. Shortly after the revival of Roseanne — the show that made her a star — premiered in 2018, the comedian sent out a since-deleted tweet that seemed to imply that Valerie Jarrett, who served as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, was the child of the “Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes.”
The backlash response was swift. According to The Washington Post, ABC officials immediately called an emergency meeting. Then-President of the ABC Entertainment Group, Channing Dungey, released a statement, calling the tweet “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” And just hours later, Roseanne was cancelled and the titular star was axed. While the series was later rebranded as The Conners, Barr’s character was famously killed off, leaving the actress, who hasn’t appeared in anything since, vocal about the fallout.
Still, Barr’s planning a comeback tour of sorts. Now, don’t go expecting her to appear on national television in 2020. According to Deadline, she’ll start on the stage first, joining forces with Andrew Dice Clay in a live show called the Mr. and Mrs. America Tour. Speaking to Fox News, Clay defended his longtime friend: “She’s a comic because she’s wacky. I’ve known her since we were kids. When people ask about what she said, I say, ‘She’s a comic!’ We gotta stop policing comedians. This is America!”
Mo' problems for Mo'Nique
When Mo’Nique walked away with the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2010 for her role in Precious, professionally, it should have been the start of something great for her. Instead, it appeared to have the opposite effect.
Five years after her win, Mo’Nique claimed to The Hollywood Reporter that she’d been “blackballed” by the industry because she “didn’t play the game.” While speaking with the publication, Lee Daniels, the director of Precious, clarified the situation: “Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign … This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community.” But Mo’Nique soon changed her tune. “Mr. Daniels had a problem that I didn’t say his name the night of the Oscar awards,” she claimed on Good Morning America, adding, “The scripts and the calls would have stopped [if I had been blackballed], because Hollywood is a small community. They never stop coming.”
Her roles since then, however, have been “relatively minor” (per The Guardian). That seemed about to change when the comedian negotiated terms for a new Netflix stand-up special, but that fell through in a dramatic way in November 2019. Mo’Nique slapped the streaming giant with a pay discrimination lawsuit for allegedly low-balling her. According to the lawsuit, the $500,000 offer from Netflix was just a fraction of the deals given to other comedians, such as Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres, and Amy Schumer.
Lori Loughlin: From Full House to the big house?
Much of the 2019 news stream was dominated by the college admissions scandal. Lori Loughlin and fellow actress Felicity Huffman headed a slew of parents accused of paying large sums of money to have their children’s applications to elite colleges altered. While the nationwide scheme has made it unlikely for either Loughlin or Huffman to appear in any Hollywood productions in 2020, the way that they’ve gone about dealing with their individual charges may have changed their paths slightly.
After pleading guilty to paying a $15,000 bribe to boost her daughter’s SAT scores, Huffman served a 14-day prison sentence and committed herself to supporting imprisoned women. At least for the time being, it’s not hard to imagine her making a comeback in the not-so-distant future. Loughlin, however, has taken a different route. Accused of paying $500,000 to have their daughters accepted at USC as crew team recruits, the Full House alum and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, have pleaded not guilty to their charges, which, according to Vanity Fair, resulted in a six-month sentence in a related case.
While Loughlin’s case is her own and may end much differently, she was previously fired from The Hallmark Channel and would not go on to appear in the final season of Netflix’s Fuller House – making it unlikely she’ll return to any screens anytime soon.
Hollywood's fed up with Jason Mitchell's alleged behavior
Jason Mitchell’s career was on a massive upswing in the 2010s. He first garnered attention for his performance as Easy-E in Straight Outta Compton, which he followed up with a critically acclaimed role in Mudbound. The Chi creator Lena Waithe cast Mitchell in the show and dubbed him “the black Tom Hanks.” It appeared that the actor was on the verge of something special — but then the trouble started, or, at least became public knowledge.
In May 2019, Deadline reported that Mitchell was fired from the Netflix movie Desperados for alleged inappropriate off-set conduct. Shortly after, he was dropped by his agency and removed from the cast of The Chi. Though Mitchell wasn’t released until after the news from Desperados came out, The Hollywood Reporter reports that his alleged behavior had also led to complaints from some of the cast and crew on The Chi. “As showrunner, I did everything I could to deal with his behavior,” Ayanna Floyd Davis told the publication. Explaining that she was forced to speak with the studio’s HR department “multiple times” and even had an actress contact them herself, Floyd David claimed Mitchell then turned his attentions to her and she “became a target of his rage and inappropriateness.”
Though Mitchell defended his alleged actions on The Breakfast Club, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be a hot commodity in 2020 as he tries to maneuver through what Deadline called “a career crisis.”
This fired actor is taking on major Hollywood studios
In May 2018, Clayne Crawford, one of the stars of Fox’s Lethal Weapon, was fired. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it was Crawford’s “bad behavior” on set that led to his dismissal, suggesting that “many connected with the series have said they would rather not work with the actor.” Reports later leaked about on-set conflicts between Crawford and the cast and crew, with Variety releasing video clips of two incidents: One in which Crawford appeared to yell at an assistant director, and one which seemed to show a profanity-laced exchange with co-star Damon Wayans.
Despite apologizing for his behavior, Crawford later criticized Fox and Warner Bros. for their handling of the situation. On the Drinkin’ Bros podcast, Crawford called the narrative a “lie,” claiming the showrunners had “been blackmailing [him] with [the tapes] for months” amid ongoing friction with Wayans, and that he’d “set up to fail.” He added, “I won’t watch Fox for the simple fact that they made a statement that, ‘We didn’t have anything to do with this’ … I sent emails going, ‘This s**t’s about to come down, we need to get in a room and … have a conversation,’ and nobody f**kin’ returned my emails [or] called me.”
While he does have a role in the independent film, The Killing of Two Lovers, coming out in 2020, Crawford isn’t necessarily taking a shortcut into any 2020 Hollywood productions by taking aim at studios of this size.
Is Terrence Howard leaving Hollywood to 'bring truth to the world'?
As Terrence Howard wrapped shooting for the final season of Empire in September 2019, he made a surprise announcement to Extra. When asked what he had planned for the future, he claimed that he was quitting acting.
“Oh, I’m done with acting,” Howard began. “I’m done pretending … I’m just focusing on bringing truth to the world.” While attending the 71st Annual Emmy Awards shortly after, Howard gave a rather strange explanation for retiring to KTLA Fox (via The Hollywood Reporter). Speaking of discovering the “science that Pythagoras was searching for,” he then launched into greater detail, sort of. “I was able to open up the flower of life and find the real wave conjugations that we’ve been looking for, for 10,000 years,” Howard said. “Why would I continue walking on water for tips when I’ve got an entire generation to teach a whole new world?”
At the time of this writing, Howard is still finishing up filming the movie Selfie, so it will be interesting to see if he really follows through on his promise to end his acting career. In any case, though Howard may be unpredictable, we’ll have to take him at his word at this point and assume that he really is finished.
Bad Weatherly on Bull
Eliza Dushku joined the cast of Bull for a short three-episode stint in 2017, but was supposed to stay on longer, according to The New York Times in 2018. Reportedly made to feel uncomfortable by Michael Weatherly, the star of the show, Dushku was eventually written off after she complained. However, she then sought mediation with CBS and received a confidential settlement of $9.5 million.
Addressing the conflict, Weatherly stated in part: “I made some jokes mocking some lines in the script. When Eliza told me that she wasn’t comfortable with my language and attempt at humor, I was mortified to have offended her and immediately apologized.” But that explanation didn’t fly with Dusku, who fired back in a Boston Globe op-ed. “I do not want to hear that I have a ‘humor deficit’ or can’t take a joke. I did not overreact,” she wrote. “I took a job and, because I did not want to be harassed, I was fired.” In the piece, she detailed Weatherly’s alleged on-set behavior, claiming that he made “rape van” jokes, leered at her, smelled her provocatively, and made audible groans.
While CBS chose to renew the show after these disturbing allegations came to light, Steven Spielberg and his Amblin TV production company have since pulled out of the series. The network might still be backing their guy, but at the time of this writing, it remains to be seen how much industry support Weatherly will receive following this scandal.
Is Kevin Spacey headed for an out-of-Hollywood comeback?
The saga of Kevin Spacey’s sexual misconduct allegations has been very well documented ever since actor Anthony Rapp first accused him of unwanted sexual advances in late 2017. Amid the subsequent backlash, Spacey was fired from House of Cards, multiple other accusers came forward, and it seemed as though his career in showbiz was over.
However, later developments may have changed things, at least for the Spacey camp. In July 2019, charges that were levied against the actor in a Massachusetts groping case were dropped when the accuser pleaded the fifth and refused to testify. That may have emboldened Spacey even more than he already was. As a source cited by Page Six in January of that year suggested, “He is still getting acting offers from Europe and Russia. He’s just assumed he can come back [to American films] in a few years.”
As of this writing, it’s unclear how these dropped charges will affect Hollywood’s perception of Spacey — if at all. As Variety stated, “Just because the charges were dropped, however, doesn’t mean that many won’t (or shouldn’t) be wary of working with him again.” For the time being, that appears to be true for Tinseltown, as the actor has no acting roles on the horizon Stateside. As for whether his return to Hollywood is in sight, we will just have to wait and see.
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