10 Actors Who Regretted Leaving Hit TV Shows

BBC
BBC

Actors leave TV shows at the height of their popularity all the time, but sometimes their exits come back to haunt them. Here are 10 famous actors who regretted departing their hit TV shows.

1. CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON // DOCTOR WHO

In 2005, after years of lobbying the BBC, lifelong Doctor Who fan Russell T. Davies was given the opportunity to reboot the classic sci-fi series for a new generation, and there was a lot of excitement around the announcement that Christopher Eccleston had been cast as the Ninth Doctor. Although the show was an immediate hit, Eccleston left after just one season due to creative differences with the show's producers; he was replaced by David Tennant.

"It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn’t play him for longer," Eccleston admitted in 2016, during an interview with an Australian radio show. “He’s a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that.”

Eccleston's relationship with the series has remained strained over the years, and he's recently revealed more about why. In March, he told The Guardian that, “What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career. I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press, and blacklisted." Right around the same time, he told Radio Times that, “My relationship with my three immediate superiors—the showrunner, the producer and co-producer—broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered. They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them.”

Despite all that, Eccleston is scheduled to make his first convention appearance later this year, when he appears at the London Film and Comic Con in July (where an autograph will reportedly cost you more than $100).

2. JASON PRIESTLEY // BEVERLY HILLS, 90210

In 1998, Jason Priestley left Beverly Hills, 90210 during the show's ninth season. Although he earned two Golden Globe nominations for his role as Brandon Walsh, and got the chance to direct a handful of episodes, Priestley believed he had explored every aspect of his character and could no longer play the role. However, he was disappointed with how the show ended in season 10 and felt that if he stayed on for one more season, it would’ve had a much more satisfying final year.

"In retrospect, I do regret leaving," Priestley told CNN in 2014. “Understanding what I do now about story and character, I believe that [Aaron Spelling] was pushing the story in a direction that would have had Brandon and Kelly end up together at the end of the show and I think I probably should have stuck around to its fruition."

Priestley was also upset that his leaving the show in some ways turned the series into something very different than what it was when it first aired in 1990. Beverly Hills, 90210 was originally about the Walsh family adjusting to life after moving from Minnesota to Beverly Hills, but quickly turned into a teen soap opera.

"I think there was no more moral center to the show," Priestley said. "There was no more linchpin. There were no more Walshes in the Walsh house. It kind of didn't make sense anymore. So, I regret leaving the show for all those reasons."

3. KATHERINE HEIGL // GREY’S ANATOMY

Actress Katherine Heigl accepts the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series award for 'Grey's Anatomy' onstage during the 59th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on September 16, 2007
Vince Bucci, Getty Images

After gaining commercial and critical success as Dr. Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, Katherine Heigl left Grey’s Anatomy in 2010, after a very public feud with ABC and showrunner Shonda Rhimes. Despite winning an Emmy Award for the part in 2007, Heigl wasn't happy with her work on the medical drama. In 2008, she withdrew her name for Emmy consideration, saying that, “I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."

Though her movie career was beginning to take off with plum roles in box office hits, another public feud—this time with her Knocked Up director Judd Apatow and co-star Seth Rogen—led to her being branded as "difficult" to work with. “There’s certainly things I regret about it,” Heigl told The Wall Street Journal of the episode in 2014.

In 2016, Heigl told Howard Stern that she had apologized to Rhimes. "I went in to Shonda and said, 'I'm so sorry. That wasn't cool. I should not have said that,'" she said. "I shouldn't have said anything publicly, but at the time, I didn't think anybody would notice.”

4. CHEVY CHASE // SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE

Chevy Chase was one of the original cast members on Saturday Night Live in 1975. While he was one of the show's first breakout stars, Chase left the now-iconic series after only one season to marry his second wife, Jacqueline Carlin.

“I tried to pretend that everything was great,” Chase told the Los Angeles Times in 2011 of leaving New York for Los Angeles. “I was leaving really because there was a girl I wanted to marry that I was infatuated with out here. The whole thing was crazy because I was a young fellow who was infatuated with the wrong person. Everybody there knew it except me. [A woman] who would not move to New York and insisted that I come there. It was all nuts, looking back on it. But I did regret it.”

5. WIL WHEATON // STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

During the first four seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wil Wheaton played Wesley Crusher, the only son of Beverly Crusher, the chief medical officer aboard the USS Enterprise. He left the show in 1991 to pursue more acting opportunities in movies and TV.

“I left Star Trek: The Next Generation when I was 18 years old, and initially I thought it was a really smart business career move," Wheaton said during a Star Trek reunion at the Calgary Expo in 2012. "In some ways it was, and in more ways it wasn’t. What I was unprepared for was how much I was going to miss the people on this stage. After that ended, I just felt really ashamed of myself. I felt like I just couldn’t go to the set, and I felt like I couldn’t look them in the eye. I felt like I didn't have the right to invite them to my wedding. Years after that, I sort of saw them at a few conventions and I just, you know, I just tried to sort of say, 'I apologize for being a kid.'"

6. SUZANNE SOMERS // THREE’S COMPANY

Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter (1948 - 2003) and Suzanne Somers in a full-length promotional portrait for the television series, 'Three's Company', 1979
ABC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

In 1977, Suzanne Somers was cast to play Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company and immediately became a major celebrity. Before the beginning of season five, Somers requested a pay raise and a percentage of the show’s profits, but the producers denied her request and reduced her role to merely 60 seconds of screen time, which she shot separately from co-stars John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt.

Somers eventually quit Three’s Company, which divided the cast and escalated into a very public feud with producers. In addition, Ritter and DeWitt felt betrayed because of her request and completely shunned her for decades afterwards.

“To this day, I feel a sadness for not being able to finish out Three’s Company,” Somers told the Television Academy Foundation in 2012. “I still have a heartache that it ended so badly, this wonderful thing. Joyce DeWitt, to this day, doesn’t talk to me. John Ritter and I made up right before he died, which I was so glad.”

There's a happy ending to this story, though: In 2012, DeWitt and Somers reunited on Somers's talk show after 30 years of not speaking to each other.

7. DAVE CHAPPELLE // CHAPPELLE’S SHOW

During the massive success of Chappelle’s Show in the early 2000s, co-creator Dave Chappelle walked away from Comedy Central because he didn’t like where the show was heading and hated that his work was reduced to a series of catchphrases. He also believed that working 20 hours a day took away from his family and stand-up comedy career. 

In 2005, Chappelle left the show and a new $50 million contract, and for the next eight years, he stayed out of the spotlight until he restarted his stand-up career. In 2014, he went on the Late Show With David Letterman to talk about life after Chappelle’s Show, as Letterman asked if he ever regretted turning down Comedy Central’s money.

“It’s very hard to go through something like this because no one’s really done it before. So there’s not too many people that don’t think I’m crazy, right?” said Chappelle. “Okay, fine, I don’t have $50 million or whatever it was. But say I have $10 million in the bank. The difference in lifestyle is minuscule. The only difference between having $10 million and $50 million is an astounding $40 million. Of course … of course, I would have liked to have that money.”

But what tens of millions he may be lacking in his bank account, Chappelle has more than made up for with perspective on his life and career. He spent more time with his family and produced a 2005 documentary with director Michel Gondry called Dave Chappelle's Block Party. In 2016, he signed a $60 million deal with Netflix for three comedy specials.

8. MCLEAN STEVENSON // M*A*S*H

Although M*A*S*H is one of the most beloved shows in TV history, its massive appeal made actor McLean Stevenson, who played Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, very uneasy because he was part of an extremely talented cast instead of being the sole superstar.

While he received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, Stevenson left the show after his contract expired at the end of the third season in 1975—then had trouble finding work that matched the caliber of what M*A*S*H was producing.

"I've never been able to work with a group that's as talented or scripts that are as good,” Stevenson told The Baltimore Sun in 1990. “I made the mistake of believing that people were enamored of McLean Stevenson when the person they were enamored of was Henry Blake.”

9. BRIAN DUNKLEMAN // AMERICAN IDOL

Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman at FOX-TV's 'American Idol' finale at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood on September 4, 2002
Kevin Winter, ImageDirect/Getty Images

In 2002, during the first season of American Idol, there were actually two hosts: Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman, who left the reality TV competition at the very beginning of its success. Dunkleman quit American Idol to pursue a career in stand-up comedy and acting, but his ambitions didn’t pan out as he planned.

“[T]he undeniable truth is, I just didn’t have the wisdom at the time to handle what was happening,” Dunkleman wrote in Variety in 2016. “Do I regret not remaining on the show now that it’s coming to an end? Yes. Especially when I open my bank statements.”

10. MICHAEL LEARNED // THE WALTONS

From 1972 to 1979, Michael Learned played Olivia Walton on The Waltons. After seven seasons as the family’s matriarch, Learned left the hit TV show because she didn’t feel the role was challenging enough as an actress, despite winning three Emmy Awards and earning four Golden Globe nominations for her performance.  

“There’s been times when I’ve regretted it only in that it probably would have been better to complete the whole show,” Learned told Fox News in 2017. “But frankly, when John-Boy came back with a new face and a new voice, it was like something happened. I just couldn’t do it anymore … and also, I felt a lot of the times I was sitting around for 14 hours saying, 'More coffee John.'"

Olivia Walton was written out of The Waltons with the character developing severe tuberculosis and being sent to a sanatorium in Arizona. Learned returned to make a few special guest appearances, while she also reprised the role in four made-for-TV reunion movies.

Watch Kit Harington Gag After Having to Kiss Emilia Clarke on Game of Thrones

HBO
HBO

The romance between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen might be heating up on Game of Thrones (though that could change once Jon shares the truth about his parentage), but offscreen, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke's relationship is decidedly platonic. The two actors have gotten to be close friends over the past near-10 years of working together, which makes their love scenes rather awkward, according to Harington.

A new video from HBO offers a behind-the-scene peek at "Winterfell," the first episode of Game of Thrones's final season. At about the 12:20 mark, there's a segment on Jon and Dany's date with the dragons and what it took to create that scene. Included within that is footage of the two actors kissing against a green screen background, which would later be turned into a stunning waterfall. But when the scene cuts, Harington can be seen faking a gag at having to kiss the Mother of Dragons.

“Emilia and I had been best friends over a seven-year period and by the time we had to kiss it seemed really odd,” Harington told The Mirror, then went on to explain that Clarke's close relationship with Harington's wife, Rose Leslie, makes the intimate scenes even more bizarre. "Emilia, Rose, and I are good friends, so even though you’re actors and it’s your job, there’s an element of weirdness when the three of us are having dinner and we had a kissing scene that day."

As strange as it may be, Harington finally came around and admitted that, "I love Emilia and I’ve loved working with her. And it’s not hard to kiss her, is it?"

[h/t Wiki of Thrones]

11 Surprising Facts About Prince

BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images

It was three years ago today that legendary, genre-bending rocker Prince died at the age of 57. In addition to being a musical pioneer, the Minneapolis native dabbled in filmmaking, most successfully with 1984’s Purple Rain. While most people know about the singer’s infamous name change, here are 10 things you might not have known about the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

1. His real name was Prince.

Born to two musical parents on June 7, 1958, Prince Rogers Nelson was named after his father's jazz combo.

2. He was a Jehovah's Witness.

Baptized in 2001, Prince was a devout Jehovah's Witness; he even went door-to-door. In October 2003, a woman in Eden Prairie, Minnesota opened her door to discover the famously shy artist and his bassist, former Sly and the Family Stone member Larry Graham, standing in front of her home. "My first thought is ‘Cool, cool, cool. He wants to use my house for a set. I’m glad! Demolish the whole thing! Start over!,'" the woman told The Star Tribune. "Then they start in on this Jehovah’s Witnesses stuff. I said, ‘You know what? You’ve walked into a Jewish household, and this is not something I’m interested in.’ He says, 'Can I just finish?' Then the other guy, Larry Graham, gets out his little Bible and starts reading scriptures about being Jewish and the land of Israel."

3. He wrote a lot of songs for other artists.

In addition to penning several hundred songs for himself, Prince also composed music for other artists, including "Manic Monday" for the Bangles, "I Feel For You" for Chaka Khan, and "Nothing Compares 2 U" for Sinéad O'Connor.

4. His symbol actually had a name.


Amazon

Even though the whole world referred to him as either "The Artist" or "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince," that weird symbol Prince used was actually known as "Love Symbol #2." It was copyrighted in 1997, but when Prince's contract with Warner Bros. expired at midnight on December 31, 1999, he announced that he was reclaiming his given name.

5. In 2017, Pantone gave him his own color.

A little over a year after Prince's death, global color authority Pantone created a royal shade of purple in honor of him, in conjunction with the late singer's estate. Appropriately, it is known as Love Symbol #2. The color was inspired by a Yamaha piano the musician was planning to take on tour with him. “The color purple was synonymous with who Prince was and will always be," Troy Carter, an advisor to Prince's estate, said. "This is an incredible way for his legacy to live on forever."

6. His sister sued him.

In 1987, Prince's half-sister, Lorna Nelson, sued him, claiming that she had written the lyrics to "U Got the Look," a song from "Sign '☮' the Times" that features pop artist Sheena Easton. In 1989, the court sided with Prince.

7. He ticked off a vice president's wife.

In 1984, after purchasing the Purple Rain soundtrack for her then-11-year-old daughter, Tipper Gore—ex-wife of former vice president Al Gore—became enraged over the explicit lyrics of "Darling Nikki," a song that references masturbation and other graphic sex acts. Gore felt that there should be some sort of warning on the label and in 1985 formed the Parents Music Resource Center, which pressured the recording industry to adopt a ratings system similar to the one employed in Hollywood. To Prince's credit, he didn't oppose the label system and became one of the first artists to release a "clean" version of explicit albums.

8. Prince took a promotional tip from Willy Wonka.

In 2006, Universal hid 14 purple tickets—seven in the U.S. and seven internationally—inside Prince's album, 3121. Fans who found a purple ticket were invited to attend a private performance at Prince's Los Angeles home.

9. He simultaneously held the number one spots for film, single, and album.

During the week of July 27, 1984, Prince's film Purple Rain hit number one at the box office. That same week, the film's soundtrack was the best-selling album and "When Doves Cry" was holding the top spot for singles.

10. He screwed up on SNL.

During Prince's first appearance on Saturday Night Live, he performed the song "Partyup" and sang the lyric, "Fightin' war is a such a f*ing bore." It went unnoticed at the time, but in the closing segment, Charles Rocket clearly said, "I'd like to know who the f* did it." This was the only episode of SNL where the f-bomb was dropped twice.

11. He scrapped an album released after having "a spiritual epiphany."

In 1987, Prince was due to release "The Black Album." However, just days before it was scheduled to drop, Prince scrapped the whole thing, calling it "dark and immortal." The musician claimed to have reached this decision following "a spiritual epiphany." Some reports say that it was actually an early experience with drug ecstasy, while others suggested The Artist just knew it would flop.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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