Stars from Meg Ryan to John Travolta have backed out of movies

In Hollywood, a contract isn’t always ironclad — especially when Tinseltown-size egos are involved. At best, tests of wills between stars and studios can lead to last-minute casting scrambles, raising questions like, Who’ll replace Keanu Reeves on Speed 2? At worst, well, just take a look at Jodie Foster’s recent spat with PolyGram. Here’s a look at some other projects where the famous faces are suddenly changing.

Star: John Travolta. Movie: The Double. Inside track: Travolta clashed big time with director Roman Polanski over the script. ”The situation is very delicate,” says one source close to the film. ”Any possibility is possible.” At press time, Steve Martin was supposedly being considered to replace him. Official explanation: Travolta left the Paris set on May 31 and flew to L.A. to be with his 4-year-old son, Jett, for a medical emergency.

Star: Meg Ryan. Movie: Easy Women. Inside track: ”She got cold star feet,” says disgruntled writer-director Don Roos. ”It wasn’t a perky part. She would’ve played a woman who doesn’t know what she wants and causes enormous pain as a result.” Official explanation: Script problems. It was ”a matter of tone,” says Ryan’s agent. ”Meg wanted to make a comedy with drama. Roos wanted to make a drama with a comedic lining.”

Star: Emma Thompson. Movie: The Horse Whisperer. Inside track: When production stalled, Thompson — who wasn’t officially signed to the Robert Redford project — decided to move on. Official explanation: ”Emma wants to take the rest of the year off,” says a source at Redford’s camp. She hopes to gallop back into the movie in ’97.

Star: Robert Rodriguez. Movie: Zorro. Inside track: Budget concerns. Early reports had the renegade director and TriStar bickering over the movie’s cost; Rodriguez wanted a bigger budget. Not true, says Rodriguez: ”I didn’t want to work on a movie that cost this much [$44 to $45 million].” Official explanation: A spokesman for TriStar confirmed there were budget issues, but had no additional comment.