Sometimes, casting decisions leave audiences scratching their heads. Whether it be a poor performance forced upon moviegoers, or simply a bad fit, some films would be greatly benefited by a different actor or actress. A bad day at the office for an actor or actress can drag an entire film down, by turning key roles into black holes that ruins everything good that surrounds them.
While there is a debate about whether or not one actor or actress could change the trajectory of an entire film, it is certainly fun to speculate on whether or not films would improve significantly with a different actor or actress in a key role. For this list we looked at actors or actresses who, for whatever reason, provided subpar performances in films that otherwise, had a lot of potential.
Here are 12 Movies That Would Have Been Great With a Different Lead Actor.
12. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – George Lazenby
The response for this 007 film was mixed upon its release, although now that some years have passed, it appears as though this film has grown on several Bond fans. That being said, while the critical consensus today is that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a fine James Bond film, most agree that the movie would have been much better served with a different lead actor.
After the successful run of the first five films in this spy series, Sean Connery decided to end his term as the iconic secret agent, and this left the studio with the task of finding the next James Bond. During the search to fill the void left by Connery, the studio turned to unknown actor and model, George Lazenby. Bond is only Lazenby’s second credited role, and for many critics, his performance reflects that fact.
The film, and the franchise, would have most likely benefited from either finding a way to hold on to Connery, or from locating the next long-term solution to the Bond character before offering the part to Lazenby. Whether or not the casting directors should have gone in another direction after Lazenby’s subpar portrayal of Bond quickly became a moot point as Sean Connery decided to come back for the seventh installment of the franchise, Diamonds are Forever.
11. Spider-Man 3 – Topher Grace
Whether or not a film would have been good with a different actor in a particular role is an argument with merit on both sides, but most agree that Topher Grace was absolutely not the right fit for his character in the critically reviled Spider-Man 3. It is true that the third installment in this superhero trilogy had many problems, such as: inconsistent tone, studio interference, and an overcrowded storyline, but the miscasting of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock and his villainous alter-ego, Venom, certainly belongs near the top of this list as well.
For many viewers, the former That ’70s Show star simply did not contain the gravitas or menacing demeanor needed to pull off the fan-favorite villain. Still, it’s hard to think of any well-known actors that would have fit less with a faithful comic book representation of the character. Perhaps it would have been better for the studio to trust their director, Sam Raimi, and hold off on the Venom storyline until Spider-Man 4 (which was never actually made).
10. Oz: The Great and Powerful – James Franco
For better or for worse, Franco’s presence was felt in every scene throughout Oz: The Great and Powerful. James Franco’s character was the lens through which the audience saw this film. In a film in which the titular character plays such a prominent role, the actor really needs to carry the film, and for most of those in attendance, Franco did not live up to expectations.
In the eyes of many critics, Franco’s portrayal of Oz, in this spiritual reboot of the classic film, fell flat. Moviegoers simply did not buy in to the lovable con man-turned-hero routine from this actor. It did not help matters much that the two of the names that the studio wanted to lead this film were Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr. – both of which would have probably done a better job than Franco.
9. Catwoman – Halle Berry
There is very little to enjoy about the 2004 movie adaptation of Catwoman, but even still, Halle Berry’s performance left much to be desired. Over a decade after the critical and commercial success that was Batman Returns, Warner Bros. thought it was the right time to bring back the Catwoman character, but this time with a new lead.
In 1993, a Catwoman spinoff was announced, with Michelle Pfeiffer reprising her role as the anti-heroine and Tim Burton back to direct. After years of kicking the proverbial can down the road, the project was eventually scrapped. So, instead of the fun and innovative Burton/Pfeiffer team-up, much like what fans witnessed in Batman Returns, moviegoers were instead treated to this critically reviled superhero film.
8. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Kevin Costner
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a film that failed at being a fun, entertaining, or even interesting take on the classic story, but perhaps some of these flaws would have been rectified or overlooked if only the performance from the lead actor was at least passable. The movie was criticized for mostly for the lazy performance of the titular character.
Mostly, Kevin Costner was slammed by critics for his unwillingness to commit to the English accent – signifying the level of effort (or lack there of) that was put into this role. Surrounded by phenomenal actors such as Alan Rickman and Morgan Freeman, the poor performance by Costner was obvious to everyone.
7. Daredevil – Ben Affleck
Daredevil is the role that has superhero fans concerned about Affleck and his future portrayal of the caped crusader, and for good reason. While it is certainly true that Ben Affleck has come a long way in his acting career, this is one performance that everyone would just rather forget.
Even Affleck himself has expressed regret about taking this role. There is terrible acting throughout this film from the likes of Colin Ferrell and Jenifer Garner, but perhaps those performances would have been elevated by someone who was a better fit for the main role at the time.
6. Abduction – Taylor Lautner
Abduction was Taylor Lautner’s attempt to move from teen heartthrob to action hero, and for most critics and audiences, it did not bode well. For almost the entirety of the 105 minute run time of this film, audiences were waiting for Lautner to take off his shirt, or for the credits to finally start rolling.
Abduction is a film that could have been decent with the right charismatic, young action star in the lead role. Studios were perhaps hoping to cash in on the popularity of the Twilight saga by casting one of the stars, but failed to realize one simple fact: Taylor Lautner cannot carry a franchise on his own.
5. Alexander – Colin Farrell
Colin Farrell in Alexander is yet another example of one bad performance more or less ruining a film. Farrell’s performance as the titular character was not the only subpar display of acting, but it was most certainly the most offensive. Farrell’s bleach blonde locks certainly didn’t help, but but it would have paid to have an actor with more gravitas take on the role of Alexander the Great.
As a result of this terrible performance, Colin Farrell was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor. The source material is very interesting, and the story could be brilliant if told well and with a capable lead actor. One of the biggest criticisms of the film was the lack of historical accuracy. The cast is loaded with talent, and with the right person leading this film, it could have been much, much better.
4. The Wicker Man – Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage is an actor who can turn in a fantastic performance, and in the same year, hand in a pitiful effort in a separate film. The Wicker Man is a film that showcases the worst of Nicolas Cage’s abilities, as he engages in his tendency to overact.
The biggest argument for this film being better with a different lead actor is the fact that the original film from 1973 is a critically successful cult classic. Since the original film was already a hit, its hard to imagine that the remake does not have the same potential; the only problem being the fact that Cage, arguably, hands in a career worst performance.
3. Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Keanu Reeves
Keanu Reeves has had incredible success in Hollywood despite not having the same acting abilities as others in his field. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a film that had all of the potential in the world with Oscar Nominations in minor categories. With the biggest criticism of the film being the casting of Keanu Reeves, it is almost certain that a better fit would have greatly benefited this film.
Hot off the Bill and Ted franchise, Keanu Reeves seemed like an odd choice for this period piece, even then. Casting directors perhaps thought that they saw something in Keanu Reeves that proved that he was more than a time traveling, lovable dunce, but this apparently did not translate to audiences, as he appeared out of place in almost all of his appearances on screen.
2. Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones – Hayden Christensen
At this point, the fact that Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role of Anakin Skywalker is almost common knowledge. While fans have qualms about many aspects of the Star Wars prequels, the absolute worst offender above all is the wooden performance of Hayden Christensen.
Firstly, the chemistry between Christensen and Natalie Portman is absolutely terrible. Any different dynamic would be welcome on screen. While DiCaprio’s performance may not be enough to entirely save this film, it would certainly elevate the efforts of those around him. While it would be tough to sell some of the horrible dialogue in this film, there was perhaps no better young actor (at the time) than Leonardo DiCaprio.
1. The Godfather Part III – Sofia Coppola
Coming off of two of the greatest films ever made, most felt that The Godfather Part III was a great letdown, and one of the biggest reasons for this is the subpar performance from Sofia Coppola. There may be no better example of nepotism in film than the casting of Sofia Coppola, the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola, as Mary Corleone.
Sofia’s lackluster performance was by far the worst part of this film, and served to pull audiences out of the story, poorly delivered line after poorly delivered line. Sofia Coppola has proven herself as a fantastic writer and director, but her trial run as an actress was unfortunately a trainwreck. The most offensive aspect of this poor display of acting is the fact that it follows two of the greatest films in the history of cinema.
Do you agree with the list? Which stars would you like to have seen replaced in films? Let us know in the comment section below.
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