Here's why James Garner didn't renew his contract with Warner Bros.
"I remember my lawyer asking, 'do you want a new contract, a raise, or do you want out?' I said I want out."
When the star of a popular show leaves the series, fans go through many emotions. Sometimes things happen behind the scenes, such as an actor leaving a role for better opportunities. Yet, there are times when production companies attempt to lay off the cast and crew for things they can't control.
For James Garner, the star of the classic western series Maverick, Warner Bros. laid him off because of a writers' strike. However, the actor sued them for breach of contract and realized that he didn't want the fate of his career to be in the hands of people who didn't care about it.
In an interview with the Television Academy, Garner revealed the events that led to him being laid off and why he chose not to renew his contract after winning the lawsuit.
"I left [the show] in '60, uh, what happened was there was a writers' strike," he said. "I had a 52-week contract with Warner Bros. and not very much money, $1250 a week to be exact. The writers' strike came along in January, and Warner Bros. laid me off because they said they couldn't get scripts."
According to the actor, there were several other things, including appearances, that the studio could've used him for, so he wasn't worried about the strike. "I said, 'I don't care whether you got scripts or not.' They had [me] for public appearances, for movies, they had requests for all of these things," he added. "They could've used me in [them], but they said, 'well, we don't have writers for Maverick.' Therefore, they're going to lay me off."
Garner told Warner Bros. that legally they couldn't do that, so he sued them, won and got out of his contract. "I remember my lawyer asking, 'do you want a new contract, a raise, or do you want out?' I said I want out," the actor said. "I didn't want to be under contract with a studio anymore. Cause they're making the decisions of my career, and these are people who don't care about my career."
The actor said that he valued his career more than anyone and wanted to be responsible for both the ups and downs of it.
"I want to be in control of my career, and I didn't want anyone else to make those decisions," he said. "If I was going to be a success, I want it to be my success. If I was going to be a failure, I wanted it to be my failure, and nobody else's because they made the wrong choices."