15 Movie Sequels That Recast the Main Character

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When a movie is popular, it often gets sequels that expand on the story and the characters. However, it’s not always easy to get the gang that made the original story back together. While the cast and crew, and even studios, probably aren’t going to be identical between films anyway, there are times when even the main character gets a new actor.

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There are many reasons why an actor must be replaced. As it takes time to make a movie, the original actor could have aged out of a role, become bound to other commitments, or even, unfortunately, pass away. After all, some movies even get sequels decades after the original came out. That said, there are occasionally times when there’s no clear reason why an actor was replaced. Of course, this sometimes causes fans to wonder whether or not the recast characters really are the same character or just characters with the same name.

15 George of the Jungle 2 (2003) – Christopher Showerman Replaced Brendan Fraser

George of the Jungle is a live-action film adapting the classic cartoon character of the same name. Serving as a parody of Tarzan, George is stranded in the heart of Africa as a baby and grows up among the animals. One day, he rescues and falls in love with an heiress named Ursula. However, Ursula’s former fiancé and overbearing mother scheme to get in their way. In 2003, the film gained a sequel, George of the Jungle 2.

The Jungle’s Got a Whole New George

Brendan Fraser played George, and Leslie Mann played Ursula, but they were replaced in the sequel by Christopher Showerman and Julie Benz, respectively. As the original movie was already filled with fourth-wall jokes, the sequel followed suit and poked fun at the cast change throughout the story, with George outright saying, “Me New George. Producers too cheap to pay Brendan Fraser,” at one point. Allegedly, Brendan Fraser actually was interested in appearing in the sequel, but was unable to appear thanks to his commitment with Looney Tunes: Back in Action.

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14 Mulan II (2004) – Mark Moseley Replaced Eddie Murphy

Walt Disney Pictures

In Mulan, the legendary heroine gets a dragon sidekick, Mushu, who helps her save China while she poses as a soldier. The character reappears in the sequel film, Mulan II, where he surprisingly takes an unsympathetic turn. Fearing he’ll lose his status in the family shrine after Mulan marries, he actually schemes to break up the couple. When it came out, fans often criticized how Mushu’s character became so unsympathetic after the first film.

Moseley Also Filled In for Another Murphy Character

However, that wasn’t the only change for the character between the two films. In the first film, the character was played by comedian Eddie Murphy. In the sequel, however, Murphy was under contract for Shrek 2, causing Mushu to be recast with Mark Moseley. Interestingly, Moseley also played another Murphy character, Donkey from the Shrek films, in the character’s video game appearances.

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13 Return to Halloweentown (2006) – Kimberly J. Brown Was Replaced by Sara Paxton

Disney’s Halloweentown series revolves around a young girl, Marnie Piper, who learns she comes from a family of witches, originating from the titular town, where it’s practically Halloween every day. The original movie proved popular, becoming a staple of Disney Channel’s Halloween promotions, as well as garnering a few sequels. Throughout the series, Marnie and her siblings have to save Halloweentown from the forces of evil and even introduce the human world to otherworldly friends.

To Switch a Witch

In the first three films, Marnie was played by actress Kimberly J. Brown. For the fourth and final film in the series, Return to Halloweentown, Marnie was recast with actress Sara Paxton, despite many of the other actors playing Marnie’s family reprising their roles. It’s unclear why the part was recast, with Brown confirming she would’ve been available. Over the years, the cast change proved infamous with fans of the series, with some suggesting that Paxton should’ve at least played an older version of Marnie’s sister or another relative.

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12 The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) – Maria Bello Replaces Rachel Weisz

Evelyn Carnahan O’Connell is the female lead of The Mummy, a loose remake of the 1932 film, starting out as a librarian who finds herself caught up in the Egyptian adventure and fighting off the villainous undead mummy Imhotep. Evie also appears in the sequels, The Mummy Returns and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.

The Big Change Was Revealed at the Book Signing

In the first film of the trilogy, Evie was portrayed by actress Rachel Weisz, who reprised her role for The Mummy Returns. By The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, however, the character was recast with actress Maria Bello. The film notably poked fun at the change, with the camera taking its time to reveal the new actress, with the character at a book signing. When asked about the book, the new Evie appears, claiming her former self was practically another person.

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11 Inspector Gadget 2 (2003) – French Stewart Replaced Matthew Broderick

Inspector Gadget is a live-action movie based on the cartoon character of the same name. In the film’s version of events, Gadget starts out as a security guard named John Brown, who is rebuilt as the titular cyborg after an accident.

Brain Also Got a New Voice

The film proved popular enough that a direct-to-video sequel came out a few years later. However, most of the original cast were replaced. Most notably, Gadget went from Matthew Broderick to French Stewart, although Broderick actually was going to return to play the part in early stages of the film. In another notable change, Brain went from being voiced by Don Adams, Gadget’s original voice actor, to Jeff Bennett. The only actor to reprise their role was D.L. Hughley, who voiced the Gadgetmobile.

There’s also some irony to the change in actors, as Inspector Gadget is something of a parody of Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther films. In fact, the character even had a mustache like Clouseau in the original pilot, but this was changed to avoid him looking too much like the character and infringing on intellectual property. Clouseau himself would also be the subject of a well-known recast.

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10 Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022) – From Adam Sandler to Brian Hull

Hotel Transylvania Dracula plays with a toy Gulliotine
Sony

Hotel Transylvania is an animated franchise revolving around a hotel run for and by monsters, owned by Count Dracula himself. The famous vampire has various adventures with various monster friends, as well as his daughter Mabel and her human love-interest Johnny. Throughout the series, Dracula has to learn to be more accepting of humans and the ever-changing world.

Even The Count Can Change

In the first film, Dracula was voiced by comedian Adam Sandler, who went on to reprise the voice in two sequel films. By the fourth film, Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, however, scheduling conflicts caused the role to be recast with Brian Hull. Notably, Hull had previously played the franchise’s version of Dracula in the short film, Monster Pets. In the television series, the character had been voiced by David Berni and Ivan Sherry, due to the series employing a Canadian-based voice cast.

hotel transylvania 4
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

The fourth instalment in the Hotel Transylvania series. Johnny may be in trouble as he changes into a monster, while everyone else becomes human. Starring Andy Samberg and Selina Gomez.

Release Date
January 14, 2022

Director
Derek Drymon , Jennifer Kluska

Runtime
1hr 27min

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9 Aladdin: The Return of Jafar (1994) – Robin Williams Was Replaced by Dan Castellaneta

Aladdin the genie with the applause sign next to aladdin, abu, and the flying carpet in the cave of wonders
Disney

In Disney’s Aladdin, the title character’s wishes come true with the help of the Genie, who grants three requests to the master of his lamp. In the first film, Genie was famously voiced by Robin Williams, who ad-libbed many of his lines for the part. However, after the movie’s release, Disney went on to defy some of Williams’ contractual agreements for the role, such as giving Genie too much focus in, or using his voice for, the film’s merchandise. This was done to avoid overshadowing the film Toys.

Williams Eventually Came Back For the Third Film

Thanks to this, Williams refused to voice the character in the sequel, Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, where he is instead voiced by Dan Castellaneta of The Simpsons fame. Castellaneta also went on to voice the character in the television series, for which the sequel served as a pilot for. The Simpsons would later poke fun at Castellaneta’s time as the character in the episode, “Mypods and Boomsticks,” where Homer meets the Genie in a dream sequence. However, Williams later returned to voice Genie in the third film and the miniseries, Great Minds Think 4 Themselves.

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8 Addams Family Reunion (1998) – Almost the Entire Family Was Recast

The Addams Family brought the classic spooky family to the big screen, effectively conflating elements from the original cartoons and the television series. The film was popular enough to garner a few sequels, notably Addams Family Values and Addams Family Reunion.

It Started With Grandmama

Notably, much of the original cast reprised their roles for the second film, with one notable exception being Carol Kane taking on the role of Grandmama from Judith Malina. Heavy makeup was used to cover the fact that Kane was only in her early 40s at the time, too young to play the witchlike family matriarch.

Addams Family Reunion, meanwhile, had an almost entirely new cast. There were various reasons for this. The original actor to play Gomez in the films, Raúl Juliá, had passed away, while the child actors had simply aged out of their roles. Similarly, most of the other actors declined reprising their roles. Two exceptions were Christopher Hart and Carel Struycken, who came back to play Thing and Lurch, respectively.

7 Queen of the Damned (2002) – From Tom Cruise to Stuart Townsend

Interview with the Vampire is a horror film based on the work of Anne Rice. In the story’s framing device, a reporter gets an interview with a man that claims to be a vampire, who shares the story of his transformation from a New Orleans aristocrat to a member of the undead, transformed by the vampire Lestat.

Vampires Do Not Age, but Can Change

In the original film, Lestar was played by Tom Cruise. The film gained a sequel in Queen of the Damned, an adaptation of another book in the series. This time, Stuart Townsend took on the role of Lestat after Cruise allegedly declined to reprise the role. The character of Armand, originally played by actor Antonio Banderas, was also replaced with actor Matthew Newton. This change is less noticeable, as dialogue identifying the character as Armand, as well as many of the character’s scenes, were cut from the final film.

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6 The Pink Panther Films – Peter Sellers Was Replaced by Alan Arkin and Roger Moore

The Pink Panther sees Sir Charles Lytton, who is secretly a thief known as “The Phantom,’ who faces off against Inspector Jacques Clouseau. While the original film painted Clouseau as Lytton’s bumbling antagonist, but later films made him the star of the franchise.

Peter Sellers originated the character in the first film, but the third film cast Alan Arkin in the part. Despite this, Sellers returned for the fourth film, The Return of the Pink Panther, and would return for a few follow-up films.

After Sellers’ death, footage of him, mostly taken from deleted scenes, was used posthumously in Trail of the Pink Panther, which led to a lawsuit from Sellers’ estate. Roger Moore would take on the character in Curse of the Pink Panther, explaining his new appearance with plastic surgery. Interestingly, this is presented as a surprise twist, with Moore initially seeming to play himself. The casting also poked fun at Moore for famously being one of the actors to play James Bond.

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5 Halloween Franchise – Various Actors Played “The Shape”

Read Our Review of Halloween Ends

Michael Myers is the famous serial killer of the Halloween franchise. In the first film of the series, Halloween, Michael murdered his older sister while still a young boy and returns to his home years later, looking for more blood. Michael is famous for his white mask, which covers up his face. As the primary antagonist of the series, Michael appears in most of the films, except the standalone Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

The Monster Hidden Beneath the Mask

Over the years, various actors have appeared in the role. In fact, even in the first film, he was played by Nick Castle until his face was revealed, with Tony Moran appearing as the character in the final scene. Dick Warlock took on the role in Halloween II, as well as playing another character in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

Other actors who’ve played the part include George P. Wilbur, Don Shanks, Chris Durand, Brad Loree, Tyler Mane, and James Jude Courtney. Of the group, Castle, Wilbur, Mane, and Courtney are the only actors to play the character more than once.

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4 Hannibal (2001) – Julianne Moore Replaced Jodie Foster

In The Silence of the Lambs, FBI trainee Clarice Starling is tasked with catching the serial killer Buffalo Bill, who skins his young victims. In order to get some insight into Bill, Clarice profiles Hannibal Lecter, a known cannibal and serial killer. Of course, neither Bill nor Lecter should be underestimated, as the FBI will soon learn.

Another Character Was Written Out Entirely

Jodie Foster famously played Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs. For the sequel, Hannibal, however, the part was recast with Julianne Moore. This can be all the more noticeable as Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, returned to play Lector for the sequel. Foster was set to appear in a sequel even before Hannibal was released as a book, but allegedly declined due to disliking Clarice’s characterization in the new story.

A similar issue allegedly happened with the Jack Crawford character. Despite appearing in the original book, the character was written out of the story and was even said to have died offscreen in a deleted scene. However, Scott Glenn, the actor who played the character in the first film, also declined to appear. Reportedly, this was due to Glenn already being disturbed from researching for the role for the first film.

Hannibal
Hannibal

Release Date
February 9, 2001

Runtime
2hr 11min

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3 Batman Franchise in the ’90s – Michael Keaton to Val Kilmer to George Clooney

While Batman has been played by a variety of actors over the years, there have even been a few times when his actors switched between films and their official sequels. The most famous example of this may just be the Warner Bros. films released between 1989 and 1997.

Sometimes, Batman’s Supporting Cast Changed, too

The first two films saw Michael Keaton played the Caped Crusader. For the third film, he was replaced with Val Kilmer. In turn, the fourth film saw George Clooney take the role. Decades later, Keaton would later play Batman again in The Flash, as well as a parody of the character in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

This has also been true of Batman’s various supporting characters over the years. Rachel Dawes, for example, switched from Katie Holmes in Batman Begins to Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight, with both films making up The Dark Knight Trilogy.

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2 The Avengers (2012) – From Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo

The Hulk, and his Bruce Banner alter-ego, like many famous superhero characters, have appeared in a variety of films, but they aren’t always officially connected. Edward Norton taking on the role in The Incredible Hulk, after Eric Bana played the character in Hulk, is sometimes seen as a recast, for example. However, both films are considered their own continuity, with only The Incredible Hulk being considered part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

A New Hulk For the Avengers

However, The Avengers, which is also seen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, also saw Mark Ruffalo take on the role from Norton. Notably, thanks to the use of motion capture technology, Ruffalo’s notably the first actor to play the Hulk and his alter-ego Bruce Banner in live-action. Ruffalo’s popularity as the Hulk also sparked interest in producing a direct sequel to the 2008 film, but these plans fell through.

The casting was later poked fun at in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, with the Hulk even claiming to be a practically “different person” since he last dealt with Emil Blonsky.

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1 James Bond Franchise – A Variety of Actor Replacements

Read Our Review of No Time to Die

James Bond, Ian Fleming’s famous spy character, is famous for changing actors over the years. The first actor to play the part on the big screen was Sean Connery. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service saw George Lazenby take on the role, with Connery returning for Diamonds Are Forever. Other actors to play the part in Eon Productions’ James Bond films have included Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

Then There’s the Code Name Debate

Of course, given that Bond is a spy, fans often speculate if the different actors are really playing the same character or just different spies who share a codename. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, after his love-interest runs off, leaving her shoes, Lazenby’s Bond quips, “This never happened to the other fellow,” ambiguously implying he’s a different character. On the other hand, he could just be making a reference to Cinderella, joking that the prince never dealt with any goons. An early draft of the film, however, explained the change in appearance with plastic surgery.

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