Constance Wu Isn't the Only One: When TV Stars Bite the Hand That Feeds Them

For these people, the old adage of "If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all" is a truly foreign concept.

By Billy Nilles May 17, 2019 6:42 PMTags

Remember the old adage, "If you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all"? Constance Wu sure didn't.

It's been a week since the Fresh Off the Boat star took to social media to express her dismay over the news that ABC had...renewed the sitcom that made her a breakout star for a sixth season, leaving the rest of us to wonder what, exactly, she was thinking.

"F--king hell," Wu tweeted before telling a fan who said the renewal was great news, "No it's not."

Very quickly, it was clear that she'd rubbed plenty of people the wrong way. "Someone please tell Constance Wu that Melissa McCarthy was on Mike & Molly until 2016 and everything seems to be OK," Keep It podcast co-host Louis Virtel tweeted. When Fox renewed The Orville for a third season, star and creator Seth MacFarlane shared the good news with a tweet that read, "Oh f--king goddamn hell f--kf--kdicks--t!" 

In fact, "f--king hell" became a bit of a meme for most folks celebrating their renewal announcements.

It became clear that Wu needed to clarify things—and fast. 

First she offered this: "Todays tweets were on the heels of rough day & were ill timed w/the news of the show. Plz know, Im so grateful for FOTB renewal. I love the cast &c rew. Im proud to be a part of it. For all the fans support, thank u & for all who support my casual use of the word f--k—thank u too."

And when it became clear that that wouldn't be enough, Wu issued a lengthy statement the following day in which she explained that the renewal had forced her to walk away from a new role that would've been more artistically challenging than the comfortable routine she'd settled into playing matriarch Jessica Huang for the past five seasons. As she explained, that's what she was actually dismayed over. "But I understand how that could feel interconnected and could get muddled," she said. "So here is me unmuddling it with my truth: FOTB is a great show that I'm proud of and that I enjoy. I've gotten to fully explore my character and I know her like the back of my hand. So playing Jessica is fun and easy and pleasant. I get to work with a kind and pleasant cast/crew. Which makes it all quite enjoyable—So obviously I don't dislike doing a show that is fun and easy and pleasant."

"People 'assumed' that that meant I don't love and enjoy FOTB," she continued. 'But I do love and enjoy it. I hope you believe me. People can hold conflicting feelings in their hearts—that conflict is a part of being human. So I can both love the show/cast/crew but at the same time be disappointed that I lost that unrelated job. I appreciate those who have given me the space and faith to believe what I say about both parts of my heart. Thank you. It's meaningful when you make the choice to believe women."

While ABC has no plans of replacing their seemingly ungrateful star—Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, told press this week "I'm going to choose to believe Constance's most recent communication about the show, that she is happy to return, and the cast and crew is happy to have her back and we're thrilled to keep her in the show"—that hasn't stopped those at her network from continuing to poke fun at her. 

During his annual appearance at ABC's Upfronts presentation, Jimmy Kimmel displayed her tweets on the giant screen behind him in David Geffen Hall at NYC's Lincoln Center while he cracked, "Only on ABC is getting your show picked up the worst thing that can happen to you. Sorry Constance, at least you got 9,300 likes"

Wu is far from the first TV star to bite the proverbial hand that feeds her, however. Take a look at all those who've come before her.

Shannen Doherty, Charmed

When Aaron Spelling gave former his former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Shannen Doherty a second chance at TV stardom with a lead role on his 1998 WB series Charmed following her highly-publicized bad behavior and somewhat early exit from the landmark Fox soap, it seemed like one of TV's most notorious actresses had changed her ways. For a while at least. But by season three, amid reports of increasing tension between her and co-star Alyssa Milano, Doherty's Prue Haliwell was written out of the series. On her way out, she offered Entertainment Tonight an exclusive interview about her hasty exit, saying, "There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work. You know, I'm 30 years old and I don't have time for drama in my life anymore." She also took the opportunity to slam the show further while speaking with Movieline magazine, saying that the "couple of moments" on the show where she "gave the most brutally honest performance I ever could have given as an actor" weren't given "their proper due, because they were on Charmed. It's a show for 12 year olds!"

Paul Wesley, The Vampire Diaries

When The Vampire Diaries aired its third season finale, star Paul Wesley took issue with the fact that his character Stefan let Nina Dobrev's Elena drown and become a vampire to save her friend Matt instead and he wasn't afraid to make it known. Speaking with Digital Spy in August 2012, he admitted, "I don't buy it. I'll be completely honest. The writers are probably going to get mad at me! I don't buy it, but it is what it is and so we have to live with it." And live with it he did. The show went on for five more seasons, with Wesley's Stefan front and center the entire time.

Mandy Patinkin, Criminal Minds

For the first two seasons of Criminal Minds, Mandy Patinkin starred as experienced criminal profiler Jason Gideon. But leading into the third season, he failed to show up for a table read and subsequently did not return to the show. Weeks prior to his sudden departure, Patinkin spoke with journalists at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in June 2007, where he made his stance on the grim show rather clear. "I loathe those violent images and I want no part of that type of violence. I work with the writers and producers constantly to try and tamper that violence down," he said, according to the Monaco Revue. "I want to see more humor coming to television...I want to live long enough to see the appetite for comedy become greater than the appetite for violence." Years later, in the fall of 2012, he opened up about the decision to leave the show's creators in the lurch, telling New York Magazine, "The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place. I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again."

Chevy Chase, Community

When SNL icon Chevy Chase landed the role of Pierce Hawthorne in NBC's Community in 2009, it was viewed as a comeback of sorts. But the notoriously prickly comedian quickly turned on the show that brought him back into the public eye. After repeated clashes over the material he was being given, creator Dan Harmon made public scathing voicemails he'd received from Chase in 2012. Released by Celebuzz, one recording found Chase saying, "It's just a f--king mediocre sitcom! I want people to laugh and this isn't funny. It ain't funny to me because I'm 67-years-old and I've been doing this a long time. I've been making a lot of people laugh a lot better than this." Speaking with Huffington Post that same year, he slammed the show as "like being relegated to hell and watching Howdy Doody for the rest of your life." "It's not particularly necessary," he added. Having completed the fourth season by that point, he returned simply for a cameo in the fifth season premiere and that was that.

Chace Crawford, Gossip Girl

As Chace Crawford was preparing to say goodbye to Gossip Girl in the final weeks of filming the fifth season in the fall of 2012, he took a dig at the show that made him a household name, telling Us Weekly that, during his time as Nate Archibald on the CW soap, he'd lost something rather important to him. "I'm gonna look for my dignity," he said, making an odd joke. "My dignity is somewhere on set. I think it happened around season two. Leading into season three, it was all out the window."

Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy

When Katherine Heigl landed the role of Izzie Stevens on Shonda Rhimes' breakout hit, she became the show's first breakout star, launched a successful movie career, and even earned herself an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 2007. But she got perhaps a little too big for her britches and, in 2008, declined to submit herself for Emmy consideration, explaining in a statement, "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 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." Alrighty, then. 

A year later, while appearing on The Late Show With David Letterman, she took the opportunity to publicly complain about the show's long hours. "Our first day back was Wednesday, and I keep saying this because I hope it embarrasses them...a 17-hour day," she told the late-night host. "I think it's cruel and mean." By March 11, 2010, when she reportedly failed to show up for work, she and Rhimes reached an agreement and she was immediately released from her contract. 

After attempts to return to TV with starring roles in NBC's State of Affairs and CBS' Doubt, both equally short-lived, she joined the cast of USA's Suits in 2018 for its eight and upcoming ninth and final seasons.

Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men

By January 2011, Charlie Sheen's struggles with addiction issues brought him to a rehab center for the third time in 12 months, forcing Two and a Half Men into hiatus yet again. The decision forced CBS and Warner Bros. Television to put the show on hiatus for an indefinite period of time, effectively canceling the remainder of the show's eighth season. And after creator Chuck Lorre, who'd apparently had enough of his leading man's destructive ways, wrote in one of his famed vanity cards that if Sheen outlived him, he'd be pissed, Sheen lost it. He called Lorre "a contaminated little maggot," made thinly-veiled anti-Semitic references to the man by calling him Haim Levine (Lorre's real name is Charles Michael Levine), and took credit for the show's success, ranting on the Alex Jones Show, I've spent, "I think, close to the last decade, I don't know, effortlessly and magically converting your tin can into pure gold. And the gratitude I get is this charlatan chose not to do his job, which is to write." After more interviews with 20/20, Today and Piers Morgan Tonight, in which he repeatedly slammed Lorre and the network, his contract was terminated on March 7, with CBS and WBTV citing "moral turpitude" as their main reason. After filing a $100 million lawsuit against Lorre and WBTV, he continued to slam both the show and his replacement Ashton Kutcher, telling TMZ, "I'm tired of lying. I'm tired of pretending the show doesn't suck. I'm tired of pretending Ashton doesn't suck."

Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries

Paul Wesley wasn't the only TVD actor to speak his mind during the show's eight season run. When the show earned a spinoff from the CW, transplanting the Mikaelson family down to New Orleans for The Originals, Ian Somerhalder made it known that he wasn't exactly over the moon with the idea. Speaking with Digital Spy in the summer of 2013, he said, "I'm excited for Julie [Plec], and for Joseph and all my people, but I'm a selfish actor - I'm not a producer on the show, I'm not a writer. My only concern is Damon, and my show. Now, they're going to be taking these characters that mean so much to our show. I'm insanely happy for everyone, but I'm not thrilled. Not that I mind sharing, I just don't want to lose all these amazing actors on our show."

His concern, it seemed, lay in who the network might find to replace the trio of actors—Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies and Claire Holt—getting their own show. "Who are the other people who are gonna be coming on the show? Are they gonna be good? Because it's The CW, and everyone has to be pretty, and there aren't a lot of pretty people that can act well," he added. "I'm not joking! I'm one of them, that can act well." So humble.

Angus T. Jones, Two and a Half Men

Similarly, Sheen wasn't the only Two and a Half Men actor to eventually turn on the show. In 2012, Angus T. Jones, who'd starred as the titular half-man Jake since he was 10 years old, found religion with the Seventh-day Adventist movement and released a testimonial video for Forerunner Christian Church in which he actively pleaded with fans of the CBS comedy to walk away from a show he no longer felt he could be a part of. "If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching Two and a Half Men," he said. I'm on Two and a Half Men, and I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it, and filling your head with filth." (He also urged people to stop watching TV altogether in the lengthy video, asking them to "do some research on the effects of television and your brain." The day after the video went viral, he released a statement apologizing if his remarks reflected him "showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed." He did not return to the show the following season and, in 2014, stated in an interview with a Houston TV station, "I was a paid hypocrite because I wasn't OK with it and I was still doing it."

Constance Wu, Fresh Off the Boat

In May 2019, on the very day that her ABC comedy Fresh Off the Boat was renewed for a sixth season, Crazy Rich Asians star Constance Wu took to Twitter to voice her...displeasure at the good news. "So upset right now that I'm literally crying. Ugh. F--k," she wrote in one tweet, following that up with another that simply read, "F--king hell." While the vague tweets certainly offered her some plausible deniability regarding the intention behind them, she took things a step further and, responding to a fan who dared tell her the renewal was "great news," said, "No it's not." Not only that, but she then went to the show's official Instagram page and, on the post celebrating the renewal, left a since-deleted comment that read, "Dislike." A day later, she attempted to clarify what appeared to be a very public tantrum, saying that she was upset over having to turn down a new and challenging role in light of the renewal of a show that's begun to feel safe, however enjoyable it may be. "My words and ill- timing were insensitive to those who are struggling, especially insensitive considering the fact that I used to be in that struggle too," Wu said in her statement. "I do regret that and it wasn't nice and I am sorry for that. I know it's a huge privilege that I even HAVE options—options that FOTB has afforded me. But if one does have privilege, they ought to use that privilege as best they can. For me— that means pushing myself artistically. Constantly challenging myself by doing what's unfamiliar and scary. So I'm trying my best to use it well."

Fresh Off the Boat returns for season six this fall on ABC.