Julianne Moore Was Fired From Can You Ever Forgive Me And It's Still 'Painful'

Julianne Moore in Still Alice and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

(Image credit: ( Sony Pictures Classics / Fox Searchlight))

Oh, sweet rejection! We’ve all faced it at one point in our lives, and actors are certainly no stranger to it in the cutthroat business of Hollywood. Even with the status and acclaim Oscar winner Julianne Moore has achieved in her over 30 years as an actress, she is not untouchable to it either.

During a recent visit to What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Julianne Moore was asked why she left the film Can You Ever Forgive Me? which was a buzzy award season title. Here’s her blunt response:

I didn’t leave that movie, I was fired. Yeah, yeah, Nicole [Holofcener] fired me. ... I think she didn’t like what I was doing. We hadn't [started filming yet], we'd just been rehearsing and pre-production and stuff. And I think that her idea of where the character was was different than my idea of where the character was, and so she fired me. I haven't [seen the movie] yet, because it's still kind of painful. I love Melissa McCarthy, I worship her, I think she's fantastic, so I'm sure she's great.

Wow! It’s hard to wrap our heads around such a phenomenal actress being fired from a role. However, every director has a vision, and if the way Julianne Moore played the part didn’t match up with that, it certainly happens! Melissa McCarthy was later cast instead in the true story of best-selling biographer Lee Israel, who decides to forge letters from famous deceased authors and playwrights.

Julianne Moore admitted that she took the firing pretty hard, continuing with these words:

The only other time I was fired was when I was working at a yogurt stand when I was 15. So, yeah it felt bad.

The 58-year-old actress has been enjoying over 40 years without career rejection (after already nabbing a role anyway), so her pain surrounding the situation is understandable. That’s without mentioning the high praise the movie received throughout award season.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? also earned three nominations at the Oscars, including a Best Actress nod for Melissa McCarthy (in Moore’s former role), Richard E. Grant for Best Supporting Actor, and a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Julianne Moore signed on to the project back in 2015 when the screenplay writer, Nicole Holofcener, was also going to direct the film as well. Soon after Moore was fired, Marielle Heller took Holofcener’s place as director and Melissa McCarthy was cast. Chris O’Dowd was also previously attached to play Richard E. Grant’s role of Jack Hook; here’s what O'Dowd told the BBC in February about it:

What a heartbreak… We were ready to go, it was myself and Julianne Moore, and we had moved to New York, and maybe two days before we started filming, there was some creative differences that I wasn't really involved in. I was surprised, that the film wasn't going ahead at the last minute.

At the end of the day, Chris O’Dowd feels like it was meant to be for Richard E. Grant, and thought he did a wonderful job, but does note “I would've preferred if it was me!” The actors above all else seemed bummed because it was a project they were excited to be a part of. McCarthy and Grant delivered some incredible performances and Moore and O’Dowd will certainly have more chances to dazzle on screen.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.