How to (properly) fire an actor from set?

How to (properly) fire an actor from set?

I've worked on several films and TV shows, and I'll be the first to tell you that some of the best actors in the world have been fired from a project. It's not a pleasant experience for any party involved - whether it be the actor or producer - but sometimes, it is necessary. As with any job, part of being an acting professional means accepting criticism when it comes your way (and sometimes this is delivered by way of letting you go).

Actors can be fired at any time if the film's producers decide the actor and role just aren't a good fit.

Actors can also be fired at any time if the film's producers decide the actor and role just aren't a good fit. If you're a producer or a director and an actor seems to be struggling with their lines or performing poorly in rehearsals, you may want to consider replacing them before shooting begins. If your director thinks that an actor isn't perfect for their character, it is completely within reason for them to replace that actor with someone who better fits the role.

If your producer doesn't think you're giving a great performance on set, they might ask you to leave right away!

Although I can understand being nervous about firing actors, it's not something most producers dread doing.

While firing an actor from a set can seem like an insurmountable task, it's not something most producers dread doing. While I recognize how scary it can be for someone who has worked hard on their character and put themselves into the performance (more so than any other role in which they've ever played), there are many factors that go into deciding whether or not an actor is right for your film.

Now do I still feel bad when someone gets fired? Of course! And I'm sure that this isn't true for everyone working on set (or anywhere else). But in general, firing an actor does not automatically mean anything negative about their performance or your personal opinion of them as people.

Producers are usually advised by lawyers to let the actor go.

If a producer is considering firing an actor, they usually consult with their lawyer first. Sometimes actors can become difficult to work with, or they might not be performing as well as they were before. Actor's guilds may also have clauses that prevent producers from being able to fire actors at certain times.

If it has been decided that it is time for you to let your actor go, here are some tips on how you can do so:

  • Have your lawyer draw up an agreement for when and how this will happen so that it does not violate any guild regulations or legal requirements. This will save everyone involved a lot of trouble and make sure everything goes smoothly!
  • Be sure to let your actor know that this is coming, especially if he or she has been with you for a long time. This will give them time to prepare for the change and find another job or gig if necessary.
  • You should also notify their agent, if they have one. If this is your first time firing an actor, it might be a good idea to consult with other producers or casting directors in your area to see how they handle these situations. Some actors are very difficult to work with and may not take the news well or become angry.
  • It is a good idea to have someone else present when you tell your actor that he or she is being let go. You need to be able to show in court that the firing was done fairly and not as part of some sort of retaliation, if things go awry.

Firing actors is part of a casting directors job and they should be able to do it with empathy and confidence.

Casting directors are hired by production companies, directors or producers to find the right actor for the role. They have to work with a lot of different people over a long period of time and not everyone is going to get along or become friends.

They need to let go of any personal feelings about an actor when casting them in their project and focus on finding someone who fits the part best; if that actor happens to not be the one they wanted from the start then so be it!

It's important for a casting director who has fired someone from set before (and hopefully will again) how they handle themselves during this situation because it can make or break your career as a casting director going forward with more opportunities offered up in future projects based off what kind of reputation you've made yourself known through word-of-mouth among other industry professionals out there as well.

It can be extremely difficult if an actor is 'passionate' about their role in a film.

Passion is, generally speaking, a good thing on set—but it can also cloud your judgment and make you less objective. No matter how much someone loves what they do for a living or how badly they want to play this part, if it's not working out for you as a director and the audience won't respond well to them, then there's no way around it: You're going to have to cut them from the production.

It's not an easy thing to do, but if you're in this position, then it's important to remember that it doesn't mean your film/series/commercial is doomed. It just means that the actor wasn't right for this role. And there are plenty more where they came from.

Firing an actor is the least favorite part of any casting director's job.

Casting directors have to let actors go all the time, but they don't take pleasure in it. The good ones will do their best to make sure it doesn't affect the actor negatively or unfairly, and that another role will be available for them soon.

Casting directors should be able to do this with empathy and confidence—to explain why they've made a decision without making an actor feel bad about themselves or their performance—and if you can't find those qualities within yourself, maybe you're not cut out for this line of work! No one wants to fire someone who was cast through their efforts; when that happens, changing someone else into a role mid-shoot is way more difficult and needs to happen faster than when it happens during pre-production.

Once it's been established that an actor isn’t right for the role, it’s important to be honest about letting them go.

  • Be honest about why you’re firing an actor. If they’re not right for the role, tell them so—but also make sure they know that it has nothing to do with their performance or personality.
  • Don’t let an actor think they are being fired for personal reasons. Even if it was a bad fit, don't give reasons like "You didn't click with anyone."
  • If an actor has done something wrong, don't be afraid to acknowledge it and let them know, kindly.
  • Finally, be aware that actors might not want to hear the reasons why they’re being fired. If they don't want to hear it, at least try to talk about it with their agent and let them have that conversation.

It is imperative to explain explicitly what about their performance was not suited to the role.

If you are going to fire an actor, make sure to explain explicitly what about their performance was not suited to the role. Don't be vague or make it seem like it's personal. You might say something like: “I don't feel that your character is working in this scene because his motivations aren't clear enough for the audience."

You can also mention what you liked about the actor’s performance, even if it wasn't their best work. Say something like: “I really enjoyed seeing you take on a different kind of role and show us another side of yourself."

Don’t talk about any personal problems or issues with them as an individual; keep it professional and focus on their performance alone.

After an actor has been fired, do not make assumptions about whether or not they can handle criticism.

  • Be honest about the reason for the firing.
  • Don't assume that an actor will be upset or angry.
  • Don't make personal comments about their performance.
  • Don't assume how an actor will feel about being fired.


The best way to fire an actor from a set is to be friendly. It’s easy to forget that they are a person with feelings who can be hurt by this process, but it’s important not only for them but also for you and your reputation as a casting director. They may have worked hard on the project and poured their heart into it—and if so, you should expect them to be upset when you break the news.

If there are disagreements about what went wrong during the process or if someone feels like they were treated poorly by someone else involved in production (like production staff), then those issues should be addressed before firing takes place so that everyone on set feels heard and supported during this time. In addition, make sure all parties involved understand what will happen next.

To summarize: treat people with respect through every step of the process!


Jane Horowitz

Jane Horowitz

Published November 22, 2022

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