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Why Did Jennifer O’Neill Lose Her Role in Disney’s “The Black Hole”?

Disney gambled $20 million in 1979 when they created the film The Black Hole. It was obviously a response to George Lucas’ 1977 hit Star Wars.

Jennifer O’Neill was casted for the role of Kate McCrae, but the director wanted to cut her hair for the zero gravity scenes. She gave in and had her hair cut on the set. She drank wine during the process and got into a car accident on the way home.

What Happened to Jennifer O’Neill?

Gary Nelson, the director of the film, needed the female lead to have short hair to keep the zero-gravity scenes more realistic. They did test shots, with Jennifer O’Neill’s long hair and it going as planned. “This is not working. You have to cut your hair.” Nelson told O’Neill. She initially disagreed but he insisted.

She eventually called in her personal stylist, Vidal Sassoon, to get the job done. Sassoon started cutting O’Neill’s hair in the star’s dressing room. He trimmed her hair one inch at a time. O’Neill then requested for wine, and was drinking until the whole process was over.

By the time the cut was done, her hair was incredibly short and she was obviously drunk and not fit to drive herself anywhere.

The haircut was a disaster and O’Neill just got up, got in her car and drove home. She got into an accident on Sunset Boulevard which landed her in the hospital for serious injuries.

Due to the incident, the director had no choice but re-cast. After all the trauma of getting her hair cut, she was replaced by Yvette Mimieux. They had to stay on schedule with the production of the film. (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

Was Jennifer O’Neill the First Choice for the Role?

Dr. Kate McCrae, one of the lead characters in the film, shares a telepathic connection with the robot Vincent. Nelson revealed that he initially wanted Sigourney Weaver for the role. But the head of the casting department was not on the same page with the director. They finally decided to cast Jennifer O’Neill, who was a model for Cover Girl at the time.

After her accident, they casted Yvette Mimieux, who also had to cut her hair into a bob. Co-star Robert Foster explained, “In space, her long hair would be flying all over the place and would not be appropriate, so she got a haircut and then she became a beautiful short-haired woman in outer space.” (Source: Hollywood Reporter)

What Happened to Jennifer O’Neill?

After the accident, her movie career slowed down but it did not stop her. She continued acting and started taking roles for television series instead. She starred in series like Bare Essence and Cover Up. She continued to act and made a few movies in the past decade.

The most recent film O’Neill made was released in 2016. She played a supporting role in the true-to-life drama I’m Not Ashamed.

Today, O’Neill and her family are living in a horse ranch in Nashville, Tennessee. See more of what she does today by checking out her official website here. (Source: IMDB)

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