In an interview with Total Film, Terrence Howard talked about why he was replaced by Don Cheadle in the Iron Man films.
In the 2008 film Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr., Howard played the role of Rhodey, Iron Man's high-ranking friend. Many liked Howard in the role. He appeared to have good chemistry with Downey Jr., so it was a surprise when Howard did not return for the sequel. All that I remember reading from the media was that Howard wanted more money. With Iron Man 3 set to be released this year, Howard opened up about the experience, in his own words.
According to Howard, the studio always wanted Cheadle for the role. Howard said:
"Don [Cheadle] and Robert [Downey Jr.] get along well. Initially, they wanted Don for that role, but my agent pushed me in. So I never had any beef with Don about it."
Regarding the contract and wanting more money, Howard said:
“[I was paid] about $4.5m [for the first film],” said Howard. “The second time, [the studio] said 'We think the movie will be successful with or without you. So, instead of the $8m that we said we were gonna pay you, we're going to let you come back for a million dollars.'"
It seems like it came down to a misinterpretation of the contract.
"We did a three-picture deal already, [but] I forgot, I didn't know it wasn't a mutually binding contract; it was only beneficial for them and they could bring me back or not. They can honour it or not."
Slashfilm ran an article last month about the dealmaking process at Marvel. In that article, Managing Editor Russ Fischer, writes:
"Before an actor tests for a Marvel role, a deal is written and signed. That last part is important. If an actor wants to read for a role, or go on tape to test for the producers on a Marvel film, they start the process with a deal that specifies salary, the number of films in which that actor can be optioned to appear, and so on. This happens whether or not a part is offered.
Thus, when a role is offered, there is already a deal. It’s a fairly unique setup."
If this is true, then Howard had this deal in place before he was even offered the part.
"Why do actors want this, despite the fact that Marvel’s process isn’t traditional, or particularly accommodating?
It should be obvious, but look at someone like Chris Hemsworth. He didn’t earn much to play 'Thor' originally, and he likely didn’t get a lot more to be in 'The Avengers', or 'Thor 2'. But before he was Thor, he was just another Australian import. Now he’s Chris Hemsworth. He’s a name, and he can get a hefty salary for lead roles outside of Marvel."
This example is just to give you an idea. I think a better example for us would be Robert Downey Jr., whose career (hadn't been the same since the 90's) exploded after the Iron Man role. I imagine that if Howard had stayed for two more movies, he would have really grown as a character and he would have really "grown" on moviegoers. This in turn may have led to a huge demand for Howard to star in other projects. Sure he's been getting work but his media presence isn't on the level of Downey Jr. or Hemsworth.
I love Terrence Howard, I wish he had stayed. However, as the article by Fischer mentions, the way that Marvel casts is an odd process, one that many actors and agents at the time (2008) were probably unaccustomed to.
Do you like the chemistry between Downey Jr. and Cheadle? Will Cheadle get more work after Iron Man 3? Sure he's an Oscar-nominee but again, he isn't in high demand the way Downey Jr. or Hemsworth are right now.
Iron Man 3 comes out May 3rd, 2013.
SOURCES: Total Film, Slashfilm