Actors who stopped a movie from getting made

Everyone needs a mental health day sometimes. Think about the last time you played hooky from work. The careful preparation, the Ferris Bueller-esque commitment to character as you called, raspy and clearly unwell. The careful corroboration with your co-conspirators, ensuring that everyone would have their story straight should management cross-examine.

Now imagine you're the star of a major motion picture. There will still be days when the idea of facing the public is too much. But with millions of dollars of the studio's money at stake, there will probably be a lot more high drama if you want to stay home and play Halo in your underwear or eat way too many Sun Chips because you convince yourself they're somehow healthier. Sometimes, one actor can be the difference between a movie getting made and an army of key grips moving back in with their parents. It doesn't happen all that often, but it isn't out of the question. Here are some times when an actor actually stopped a movie from getting made.

John Travolta isn't seeing Double (and neither is anyone else)

It can be hard to remember these days, but John Travolta used to be hard to beat at the box office. A young superstar in the '70s, he rebounded with a surprise comeback in the mid-'90s, breaking $100 million at the box office with three movies (Pulp Fiction, Phenomenon, and Face/Off) over a four-year span.

Studios were drooling all over him, so expectations were high when Travolta teamed with Roman Polanski on a new picture called The Double. The film was set to shoot in France. Travolta reported to the set and seemed ready to film all summer, even going so far as to send his personal jet back home. But after rehearsing for just a few days, the Saturday Night Fever star picked up and left.

As Travolta told it, one of his children needed a minor surgery and he wanted to make sure he'd receive the best care available. But the star's absence was a blow the production couldn't bounce back from. The film folded and a contentious legal battle erupted, according to The Guardian. The production company sued Travolta, and it took five years before the lawsuit was settled out of court. We won't ever see the movie, but it is nice to see a star putting his family first.

Baron trumps Queen

One of the most talked-about upcoming movies of recent years is Bohemian Rhapsody, the high-profile biopic of Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen. Heads were turned in 2010 when it was announced that Sacha Baron Cohen would be taking the lead role. The project flirted with active development for years — until 2013, when Cohen dropped out.

So what happened? According to Cohen, the remaining members of Queen were dead set on making the movie about them. They wanted a film in which Mercury's death was presented halfway through the runtime, leaving plenty of extra script pages to focus on how they'd continued to flourish as a band.

Cohen, however, wanted to make a more gritty, true-to-life representation of Mercury's life. He left the project and it bounced around development hell for a few years, picking up and losing various actors and directors. At last report, in December 2017, Bohemian Rhapsody stars Rami Malek. The world will just have to keep wondering what Cohen singing "Bicycle Race" would sound like.

Jerry Lewis and The Day The Clown Cried

The Day the Clown Cried is the Sasquatch of canceled movies: It's been heard of by many, kept locked away in a vault, and seen by few outside the Hollywood elite.

Set in Nazi Germany (because that's comedy for ya) it follows the story of a clown who is sent to a concentration camp and forced to walk children to the gas chambers. (There are more upsetting words per sentence in that description than you're going to find in any other plot synopsis — and if that's wrong, we don't ever want to know.)

So why weren't these pure gold film reels ever released to the public? Turns out the star of The Nutty Professor just didn't have it in him to subject the world to his artistic … vision, which he later described as "bad, bad, bad." He pulled the movie and had the prints destroyed, only saving one, which he kept locked away from the world, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Jerry Lewis remains a divisive personality even after his death in 2017. His contributions to comedy are polarizing and his assertion that women aren't funny has soured more than a few people on him. You know what actually isn't funny, Jerry? Holocaust clowns. Rest in peace, you nut.

Howard Stern v. Fartman

We take you now on a journey way back to the '90s. It was a magical, alien time when Nintendos were still Super and it was only just becoming obvious that superhero franchises were a rubber-stamped check for a dump truck full of money. Shock jock extraordinaire Howard Stern had just appeared at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards as National Lampoon's Fartman, a satirical character whose various subtleties you can probably figure out from the name.

Stern's high-profile costumed appearance on the show drummed up a decent amount of interest in a Fartman movie. New Line in particular was especially hungry for more, agreeing to an informal deal with Stern to produce a big screen adaptation of the Fart Knight.

Unfortunately (?) Stern put a stop to production in 1993. He became frustrated with New Line, which refused to give Stern the go-ahead on an R-rated script, hoping to recapture the box office magic of Ninja Turtles by cultivating a more family-friendly PG-13 rating. Stern bowed out, swearing that this wasn't the last we'd see of Fartman. And that's the last we saw of Fartman.

Ashton Kutcher can just buy a new car

Let's just get this unpleasantness out of the way up front: Yes, Dude, Where's My Car? almost got a sequel and yes, we're serious.

As far back as 2002, Fox has been trying to get a second Dude movie off the ground. Tentatively titled Seriously Dude, Where's My Car? the picture would follow Ashton Kutcher's Jesse and Sean William Scott's Chester as they, one can only assume, get real high and try to find their car. Again. As with so much that comes out of Hollywood, asking why would only lead to madness. The real question is "why not?"

As you might recall, Ashton Kutcher got kind of big there for a second. He starred in blockbusters that really ran the gamut in terms of subject matter, all the way from No Strings Attached (a film about him sleeping with Natalie Portman) to What Happens In Vegas (a film about him sleeping with Cameron Diaz). With his plate so full, Kutcher kept turning down the Dude sequel and the unavoidable extended movie universe it would undoubtedly have spawned.

Don't lose hope, friends. Kutcher's been less busy lately, and in 2016 said the sequel could still happen.

Dude. Sweet.

Kevin Spacey and the Gore ragnarok

Fans of the 1995 classic The Usual Suspects shouldn't have been surprised when they found out Kevin Spacey was probably the bad guy all along.

Spacey enjoyed a long, illustrious career until 2017. He'd crooned as Bobby Darin in Beyond the Sea, convinced the A.I. kid to Pay It Forward, and been thoughtful enough to send Brad Pitt what can only be described as the last word in personal gifts in Se7en. More recently, he'd found acclaim and success working with Netflix on the critically lauded American adaptation of House of Cards, giving a chilling performance as Frank Underwood for five seasons.

Netflix's relationship with Spacey seemed to be pretty sweet for the actor. In July 2017, it cast him as Gore Vidal in a biopic of the playwright, simply titled Gore. However, allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against Spacey in November of that year put every nail in the project's coffin, even though filming had already been completed (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Bill Cosby 77 doesn't happen because Bill Cosby

Say you're a digital media distribution company. You've recently started producing your own content, including original programming, sequel seasons to beloved cult television shows, and so on. Things are really starting to look up for you! Plus, you've just secured the rights to a stand-up special from one of America's most beloved cultural icons of the last 50 years. That's a home run! To paraphrase every Michael Crichton book ever written, what could possibly go wrong?

And lo, I saw a pale horse, and on that horse was Bill Cosby, and "whoops" followed with him.

In 2014, Netflix was all set to premiere Bill Cosby 77, a one-hour comedy special recorded on the comedian's 77th birthday. It feels strange to contemplate anymore, but that seemed like a pretty good idea at the time. A little more than a week before the special was scheduled for release, the punchline to every joke about the Ghost Dad star went from being "zibba zabba pudding pops" to something a lot more dark, and the comedian's behavior forced Netflix to cancel it altogether.

Joan Crawford has a bad day

Joan Crawford developed a reputation as being sort of an unpleasant person. Some of her less charming qualities were documented in the book (and later movie) Mommie Dearest, a firsthand account of her instability written by her adopted daughter Christina. More recently, she was a subject of the FX series Feud, which chronicled her rivalry with fellow actress Bette Davis. By most accounts, Crawford was high maintenance and difficult to work with, to put it mildly.

One of the more shining examples of Crawford's behavior came from the making of her movie Great Day. Never heard of it? There's a good reason for that. Shortly after filming started, Crawford decided the picture wasn't up to snuff and approached the head of the studio, Louis B. Mayer. She convinced him to relieve her of her role and put her in another project. Mayer did her one better, pulling the plug entirely. Theoretically, the script was to be reworked with production starting again the next year, but those plans were quietly scrapped, and Great Day was never released.

Robin Williams really didn't want to do Mrs. Doubtfire 2, you guys.

If you're a millenial, you probably have a special place in your heart for Mrs. Doubtfire. It was the ridiculously successful, universally heartwarming, and retrospectively creepy story of a middle-aged man who disguises himself as an elderly woman to circumvent a court order to stay away from his children. The '90s were bananas.

Yes, the premise is odd on paper, but there wasn't much that Robin Williams couldn't make amazing, and the picture did gangbusters business at the box office. It's no surprise the studio wanted a sequel, but the film's star kept turning down the project, citing problems with the script.

But time and boatloads of money wear down the mightiest of mountains. By spring 2014, Williams had reportedly changed his mind and said he was ready to give the character another go. His tragic death in August of that year put an end to the project for good.

Will Ferrell turns down a wheelbarrow full of money for Elf 2

At some point, everyone has considered how much money it would take to get them to do something embarrassing. For Will Ferrell, the answer is apparently "more than $29 million."

Elf was something of a surprise hit when it was released in 2003. Released the same week as The Matrix Reloaded, it still managed to grab a hefty chunk of the box office, and eventually pulled in over $200 million on a $33 million budget. Obviously, the studio felt like the only logical follow-up was to sign the star man-child actor up for a sequel and then clear out room in their basements for another Scrooge McDuck money pool.

And then Ferrell said "nah."

It's a shocking move, but even after he was offered $29 million to put the tights back on, Ferrell had no interest in the project. His reasoning? He didn't want people to think he was doing a bad sequel just for the money. That's a high-integrity move, and one we're sure never haunted him during the press junket for Daddy's Home 2.