2017 Was The Year Of Radical, Hasty Hollywood Replacements

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On Wednesday, it was reported that

Dexter Fletcher will replace

Bryan Singer as director of the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. The decision was revealed just days after word broke that Singer had been fired by the studio, reportedly for skipping days on set and clashing with star

Rami Malek. Singer put out a statement, claiming that he had asked the studio for time off in order to deal with “pressing health matters concerning one of my parents,” adding that he and Malek had put their differences behind them. Still, the damage is done, the movie is pressing ahead, and Singer has been swapped—continuing 2017’s radical Hollywood trend toward sometimes shocking, sometimes hasty, sometimes revelatory replacements.

The replacements have been tapped for a number of reasons. Sometimes, as in

Kevin Spacey’s case, they arrive courtesy of a scandal: the actor was accused of sexual misconduct by actor

Anthony Rapp, which led to a number of other people coming forward with claims about Spacey. The Oscar winner apologized to Rapp in a statement, though he also said he does not remember the incident in question. Still, the scandal torpedoed Spacey’s career, leaving collaborators in an awkward spot.

Director

Ridley Scott, who directed Spacey in the upcoming drama All the Money in the World, came up with a stunning solution: He re-cast

Christopher Plummer in Spacey’s role, even though the film had already been finished, and re-shot all his character’s scenes. “You can’t tolerate any kind of behavior like that,” the director told >Entertainment Weekly of his decision. “We cannot let one person’s action affect the good work of all these other people.” (For those hoping the same thing might happen with

Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts,

J.K. Rowling has confirmed that won‘t be the case.)

To a lesser degree, Spacey has also been replaced in the Netflix series House of Cards. After the scandal broke, the streaming platform announced it was severing ties with the star—and writing him out of the upcoming sixth season completely, making way for co-star

Robin Wright to replace him as the series’s sole lead.

Sexual misconduct scandals in the post-Weinstein era have affected stars outside of the film space as well. After

Charlie Rose was accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct (he apologized in a lengthy statement, but added that he does not believe all the allegations are “accurate”), PBS announced that CNN star

Christiane Amanpour would host the interim replacement for Rose’s self-titled program. In addition to PBS, Rose was also swiftly fired from CBS and Bloomberg over the allegations.

Though an announcement has not yet been made, industry insiders are also awaiting news of a replacement for broadcast star

Matt Lauer, the Today anchor who has been accused of sexual misconduct and was subsequently fired by NBC. (

Megyn Kelly, who hosts the 9 A.M. hour of Today, has reportedly been eyeing the main-stage Today gig for quite some time). Speaking of nebulous potential replacements:

Kim Cattrall has made it abundantly clear that if Sex and the City 3 ever comes to fruition, she won’t be joining. Rather, she’d like the role to be re-cast entirely. “Maybe they could make it an African-American Samantha Jones or a Hispanic Samantha Jones, or bring in another character,” she said in an interview this fall.

Of course, plenty of industry figures have also been replaced this year for more quotidian reasons. Lucasfilm fans were stunned earlier this year to learn that

Phil Lord and

Chris Miller, the charming blockbuster directors initially entrusted with the Han Solo spin-off, had been fired by chief

Kathleen Kennedy. Production was already well underway on the film, but there were reportedly stark creative differences between the directing duo and the galactic old guard. Lord and Miller were replaced by seasoned filmmaker

Ron Howard, a sensible, reliable choice to get the film back on track—and finished in time for its May 25 release date.

But that wasn’t the only shocking Star Wars replacement this year. Not long after the Lord-Miller-Howard brouhaha, it was announced that Jurassic World director

Colin Trevorrow would no longer direct Episode IX in the saga. “Lucasfilm and Colin Trevorrow have mutually chosen to part ways,” the amiable Lucasfilm statement read . . . though that didn’t stop onlookers from wondering if Trevorrow’s most recent film, The Book of Henry, had anything to do with their decision. The small family drama was drubbed by critics, which set off a small panic in the Star Wars fandom. We may never really know if Henry played a part in the replacement process, but we do know that Lucasfilm loves secure footing—because Trevorrow was eventually replaced with . . .

J.J. Abrams.

And, finally, there were the 2017 replacements that represented something positive—a heartening sign of shifting industry priorities. In July, the BBC announced that

Peter Capaldi, the actor who had starred in Doctor Who since 2013, would be replaced by

Jodie Whittaker. Capaldi announced his departure from the series in January—the classic series cycles through leads every so often—forcing fans to wait several agonizing months while the BBC picked a suitable next Doctor. Whittaker, a familiar face who’s starred in Attack the Block and Broadchurch, will become the first woman to lead the series since its incarnation in 1963.

Another encouraging twist this year arrived courtesy of actor

Ed Skrein, who stepped down from his role in the Hellboy reboot when he found out that his character, Ben Daimio, is actually Japanese-American in the original Hellboy comic book. Skrein, who is white, immediately addressed whitewashing concerns, announcing that he was exiting the project so that the role could be “cast appropriately.” The studio then cast Korean-American star (and cheekbone icon)

Daniel Dae Kim in the role, and the world was later treated to a delicious, handsome Instagram post of Skrein and Kim meeting up for the first time.

No other replacement inspired such pure joy among progressive film lovers—except, perhaps, the giddy moment the world learned that Moonlight had actually won the best-picture Oscar over La La Land. Sure, this is an exception to the trend in some ways, since Moonlight actually was the rightful winner the whole time. (

Jordan Horowitz announcing “there’s a mistake!” will forever ring in our ears.) Still, the fiasco that led to

Warren Beatty and

Faye Dunaway mistakenly announcing the wrong best-picture winner was the unwitting start to Hollywood’s shocking year of swap and awe. The lesson? Just because something has been announced doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. If there is one thing 2017 taught as a whole, it’s that anyone and anything can be replaced—no matter how late in the game.

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