There are some roles we simply can’t picture being played by anyone else – Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface, Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Alien, Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining, and the list goes on. So how does Hollywood know how to get it right? Well, sometimes they do, but there are plenty of times that even the best casting directors get it wrong.
It’s difficult to know how an actor will perform in a role until the film is finished. Sometimes the most seemingly bizarre choices end up paying off big time, but there are just as many instances where bold choices end up being the worst possible option.
It’s not easy making a great film, and even with the biggest names in the business, and years of planning, sometimes it all comes down to the luck of the draw.
These are 10 Miscast Actors Who Turned Out Amazing (And 5 Who Failed Miserably).
15. Amazing: Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
When news first broke that Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen in the popular YA novel turned film series The Hunger Games, fans were less than impressed.
Many fans were under the impression that Katniss was a woman of color, though others say the books never really made her race clear. Besides the potential white-washing controversy, people were also skeptical about Lawrence’s ability to play the role convincingly. Everyone knows how critical of women’s bodies Hollywood can be, and with Lawrence curvy figure, she didn’t seem to fit the bill for the small, starving Katniss.
Lawrence found a way to make the role her own, and The Hunger Games became a worldwide success, along with Lawrence herself becoming one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood. She proved everyone wrong in a huge way, and now it’s hard to picture anyone else as Katniss.
14. Amazing: Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
After an ttempt back in 2003 as Matt Murdock in Marvel’s Daredevil, Ben Affleck renounced superhero films for good… or so we thought. Fast forward to 2016, and he was back on our screens as a superhero again, only this time as Bruce Wayne.
When it was announced that Affleck would be taking over the role of Batman, everyone immediately thought back to the huge flop that was Daredevil. Naturally, most people were afraid of another repeat of the disastrous film, and almost nobody was excited for Affleck to appear in the batsuit.
While Batman v Superman didn’t get the greatest reviews, fans were pleasantly surprised with Affleck’s rendition of Batman. Not only did he bulk up an impressive amount for the role, his acting was far better than his cheesy attempt at Matt Murdock. Ultimately, Affleck redeemed himself, and showed that he’s capable of playing a convincingly badass superhero.
13. Failed: Ben Affleck in Daredevil
While Ben Affleck may have redeemed his DC reputation in his new role as Batman, there was a time when it seemed like he would never play a superhero again. Daredevil was a disaster on all fronts. On top of being a bad movie in general, Affleck just couldn’t convincingly make the jump into the superhero world. The script, along with his strangely restricting costume, didn’t help anything either.
While all of the blame for this flop can’t be placed on Affleck, his lackluster acting got horrible reviews, and the overall consensus on the character was negative.
Thankfully Netflix found a way to redeem Matt Murdock’s character in their Daredevil series, but Affleck’s stint as Daredevil will forever be remembered as one of the worst superhero films of all time.
12. Amazing: Tom Cruise in Interview With A Vampire
This is another rare case of straying far away from the source material actually paying off. The movie Interview With the Vampire was based on Anne Rice’s hit novel of the same name. When Tom Cruise was cast as lead vampire Lestat, Rice was famously and outspokenly confused.
In an interview with the LA Times, Rice even went so far to say, “Cruise should do himself and everyone else a service and withdraw.” Wow, talk about a harsh response. Rice just couldn’t picture the short brunet in the role of what was supposed to be a tall, proud blond man.
As soon as the film was complete, Rice and her skeptical fans immediately changed their tune. Rice admitted that her specific vision had made her biased, but said that “From the moment he appeared, Tom was Lestat for me.” Lestat remains one of Cruise’s most well received roles to date.
11. Amazing: Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman
It may come as a surprise that Patty Jenkins herself said that if it was up to her, she wouldn’t have cast Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Jenkins admits that she likely would have just looked at American girls instead of going international, and was even slightly disappointed in hearing the decision had been made without her. But once Jenkins looked into Gal Gadot, she was immediately impressed, saying she couldn’t have made a better decision herself.
Unfortunately, Gal Gadot couldn’t avoid fan criticism, especially referencing her physique. People cited her slim build as a poor match for the super strong Wonder Woman. Gal took it all in stride, and worked her butt off training for the role of Diana.
It obviously all paid off in the end, and Wonder Woman became a huge hit, breaking the record for highest grossing live-action film by a female director.
10. Failed: Scarlett Johansson in Ghost In The Shell
When it was announced that Scarlett Johansson was cast as Major Mila Killian in the live-action adaptation of Japanese media franchise Ghost in the Shell, reactions were overwhelmingly negative, and rightly so. Being such an iconic Japanese franchise, fans were expecting a heroine of Japanese heritage.
To worsen the blow, reports circulated that Paramount experimented with CGI effects to make Johansson look more “Asian,” to which sources replied that the idea was immediately turned down. The fact that it was even an idea in the first place just goes to show what a poor casting decision this was.
Producers tried to explain their decision by claiming they were taking an “international approach,” but fans were still not impressed. Ultimately, the film barely made its budget back, and Paramount learned a huge lesson in the faults of white-washing.
9. Amazing: Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption
While it may seem like there’s no role Morgan Freeman can’t play perfectly, being cast as a red-headed Irish man in The Shawshank Redemption (based on Stephen King’s novella) left fans wondering.
Ellis Boyd Redding, aka “Red”, gets his nickname in the novel for his red hair. This obviously isn’t the case for Freeman’s character, but they had fun with the source material all the same. The line “maybe it’s because I’m Irish” was left in the film as a sort of an ironic nod to the original character.
This miscasting clearly did nothing to hurt the film. If anything, it elevated the movie – and Freeman’s career. This is still one of Freeman’s most memorable movie narrations, and the film has been hailed as one of, if not the best movie of all time.
8. Amazing: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
Considering what we know now, calling Heath Ledger’s Joker a miscast role seems insane. But there was a time when people weren’t too fond of the idea of Ledger as the infamous Batman villain.
When it was first announced that Ledger would be playing the role of The Joker in The Dark Knight, the internet went up in flames. Angry fans referenced his pretty-boy roles in films like 10 Things I Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale. Ledger’s well-received role in Brokeback Mountain, and some lesser known dramatic roles, didn’t seem to be enough to convince viewers that he could play the complicated and twisted Joker.
Well, if the internet has ever been wrong about anything, it was wrong about this. Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker has been called one of the greatest roles of all time, and he even won a posthumous Oscar for his work.
7. Failed: Colin Farrell in Alexander
In a casting decision that we may never understand, Colin Farrell once infamously played Alexander the Great in the flop of a film Alexander. Even director Oliver Stone admitted that he completely screwed up the film. From the casting to the script, it was all a mess that he takes responsibility for.
Unfortunately though, the main target was Farrell. Farrell’s interpretation of Alexander the Great was more of a basket case and less of a world conqueror. His performance, complete with an Irish accent, was totally lambasted by critics and audiences. In fact, Farrell admits that all the hate he got after the film almost caused him to quit acting for good.
6. Amazing: Charlize Theron in Monster
While Patty Jenkins was set on casting Charlize Theron in Monster from the very beginning, everyone else, including Theron herself, was skeptical.
The role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos doesn’t exactly bring to mind the fit, beautiful blonde Theron. In fact, Wuornos is the exact opposite – unattractive, with a less than fit physique. Theron was worried about pulling off the twisted serial killer role, as was everyone else, so she and Jenkins did a ton of prep to make sure she did Wuornos justice.
Jenkins had some communication with Wuornos, and really dove into the details of her story. From her insecurity about her hair to the sun damage on her skin, they made sure to include everything in Theron’s rendition. It all paid off in the end, and the movie received rave reviews, and got Theron her first Oscar win.
5. Amazing: Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad
Before Breaking Bad, most TV viewers knew Bryan Cranston as the goofy dad from Malcom in the Middle. His role on the family comedy made it pretty difficult for anyone to picture him in the complex role of Walter White.
One person needed no convincing, and that was creator of Breaking Bad himself, Vince Gilligan. Gilligan had previously worked with Cranston on The X-Files, and he knew right away that he wanted Cranston to play Walter White.
Thankfully Gilligan was right, and with the help of Cranston, Breaking Bad became a smash hit TV show. It went on to win multiple awards and solidified Cranston as a dramatic actor.
4. Failed: Vince Vaughn in Psycho remake
If you can believe it, there was once a time that actor Vince Vaughn was worried about being typecast as a murderer. When Vaughn got cast in the 1998 Psycho remake as Norman Bates, he thought that this could be the start of a dramatic, killer acting career.
Thankfully for fans of Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, and his many other iconic comedies, Vaughn wasn’t the least bit convincing in the role of Bates. The movie flopped – getting a sad 37% on Rotten Tomatoes – and Vaughn went on to become a comedy king.
3. Amazing: Sissy Spacek in Carrie
There are endless examples of how straying from the source material can end miserably, but the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Carrie is a huge exception to this rule.
When Sissy Spacek was cast as the lead character Carrie White, it definitely raised some eyebrows. Not only would a 27 year old woman be playing a 16 year old girl, but in King’s original novel, Carrie is nothing like the thin, beautiful Spacek. In fact, Carrie was described as overweight and ugly, making her an easy target for bullies.
Despite the obvious physical miscasting, Spacek played the awkward, tortured innocence of the role so well, that viewers forgot there was ever another Carrie White. Spacek went on to get an Oscar nomination for her role, solidifying that this was a stellar casting decision after all.
2. Amazing: Leslie Nielsen in Airplane!
It might be hard to remember a time before Leslie Neilsen was the king of deadpan comedy. But before his career defining role in Airplane!, Neilsen was mostly only known for his dramatic TV and film roles.
For a while, Neilsen mainly played serious roles, many of which were stints on TV in the form of doctors, lawyers, and other business types. It wasn’t until much later in his career that Neilsen got to show the world his comedic genius. Naturally, when he was cast for a leading role in Airplane!, people were confused. The only person seemingly excited about this was Neilsen himself, who had expressed interest in trying his hand at comedy.
Neilsen’s impeccable deadpan and comedic timing immediately made him a comedy king, and he went on to star in many classic comedies, most notably The Naked Gun franchise.
1. Failed: Russell Crowe in Les Miserables
Russell Crowe can’t sing, period. So why anyone thought it was a good idea to cast him as Javert in the classic musica-turned-film Les Miserables is confusing, to say the least. Even after months of training, Crowe simply couldn’t hit the right note, both literally and figuratively.
As wonderful as the film Les Miserables was – it was nominated for and won multiple Oscars, including Anne Hathaway for her leading role – people could not get past Crowe’s horrible rendition of Javert. Many went so far as to say that he’s the reason the film couldn’t quite get that Best Picture Oscar, which went to Argo that year.
While there’s no doubt that Russell Crowe can act, he should probably steer very clear from any musicals from now on.
Which “miscasting” did you love and hate the most? Sound off in the comments!
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