Casting is not an easy job. Fans like to think that casting directors should be able to pick up a phone and get their first choice for every role that they work on, but they just can’t do that. This is because people refuse to see movie making as what it really is, a business. Studio contracts, schedules, and box office draws are three of the most important things that go into casting a blockbuster movie. Yea sometimes they get the first choice, but more often than not they don’t. Some movies and show are better for it; could you imagine if Sean Connery played Gandalf instead of Ian McKellan? Or if Matthew Broderick was Walter White? Some should have looked past their first choice.
Many movies go through long and arduous casting processes where they can’t decide who to cast. Maybe there’s a lot of great choices, maybe the studio needs a specific actor to honor a contract written 15 years before. Who knows?
Once the announcement is made, apparently everyone thinks they could have done better. Articles are written by bloggers like us criticizing studios for not following what we imagined, even if what we imagined wasn’t right. Lenny Kravitz as Cinna in The Hunger Games movie was poo-poo’d by “fans” until they actually read the book. We all think we are experts at casting movies, but here are 12 performances that were needlessly panned that turned out to be great choices.
12. Daniel Craig As Bond
How could a blonde man possibly be Bond right? That was one of the early arguments for why Daniel Craig had no business playing the super spy. I mean it’s not like hair dye was a thing, or wigs. To this day there are nay-sayers who argue that Daniel Craig is the worst James Bond based on his hair color alone. Every past Bond praised the casting, but still the fans were vehement about what an outrage it was. The strangest part about the outrage was that it was purely appearance-based. Rarely did fans comment on the shaky resume of films like Tomb Raider or Sylvia. As Bond, Craig has been hot and cold, appearing almost bored in the recent Spectre, but his fantastic performances in both Casino Royale and Skyfall prove that the producers knew what they were doing when they chose Craig. There’s a chance that they’ll be “brave” and break the Bond stereotypes once again to choose the best man for the part in upcoming films after Craig leaves. We can only hope they recognize that Idris Elba would be amazing, even if he doesn’t “look” like James Bond.
11. Charlize Theron As Aileen Wuornos
Charlize is the whole package. She’s talented, funny, and beautiful; so why were people so shocked when she landed the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the 2003 movie Monster? Well at this point in her career, Charlize had made a name for herself as the beautiful woman in high budget movies. The role of Aileen was nothing like that. She gained 30 pounds for the role, wore false teeth and had Oscar worthy makeup artists on call to make sure she looked the part. It worked as she won almost every major acting award for the role. As Roger Ebert said in his review of the movie, “What Charlize Theron achieves in Patty Jenkins’ ‘Monster’ isn’t a performance but an embodiment… [It] is one of the greatest performances in the history of the cinema.”
10. Robert Downey Jr. As Kirk Lazarus
When people heard that Robert Downey Jr. would star in the 2008 comedy Tropic Thunder alongside guys like Jack Black and Ben Stiller, they were pumped. When they heard he would be playing a black man they were… extremely pissed off, which is completely fair. On paper this is as offensive as it gets. Black face is a huge stain on American media and is best to be avoided at all costs, so needless to say that RDJ was running a risky path. He even spoke about the controversy saying, “At the end of the day, it’s always about how well you commit to the character. If I didn’t feel it was morally sound, or that it would be easily misinterpreted… I would’ve stayed home.” The part was fairly well-handled and even garnered an Oscar nomination for RDJ as it was an excellent parody of method actors like Daniel Day-Lewis, but it still rightfully angers a lot of people. The film was meant to parody Hollywood personalities, which it did very well, so they were able to sweep most of the controversy away. This would have been a disaster for RDJ and director Ben Stiller if the movie stunk.
9. Robert Downey Jr. As Iron Man
Comic book movies often take the heat from fans for their casting choices, as is apparent by this list. Fans have a hard time believing that anyone can play the roles of the iconic heroes and the Internet has given them a soap box to rant on. When RDJ was cast as Tony Stark, he was not spared. Going back to when it was announced that RDJ was going to take on the, at the time, semi popular Iron Man character, people were a bit confused. After having been told that Tom Cruise would be playing the role, the change of cast threw people off as RDJ was best known as the addict, not the actor. Yes he had starred in some great movies (Zodiak, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang), but they didn’t receive all that much fan attention until years later. Now even some of the most devout Iron Man fans can’t even imagine anyone else playing the role.
8. Kelsey Grammer As Beast
When it was announced that Kelsey Grammer would be playing Beast in the third installment of the X-Men franchise, the news was not met well. People just couldn’t imagine Frasier playing a bad-ass fighting monster. For some reason everyone forgot that Beast is Dr. Hank McCoy, one of the smartest people in the Marvel Universe. Yea he may not have been the most powerful Beast we have seen, but he was a very good Hank McCoy. Most of The Last Stand was complete garbage, and they ruined some great X-Men (Angel to be specific), but Kelsey Grammer can not be held responsible.
7. Zachary Quinto As Spock
“The evil dude from Heroes is gonna play Spock? Whose idea is that?” This is some of the talk amongst fans after it was announced Quinto was cast as the Vulcan in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. It’s not surprising that fans had a negative view of Quinto as they really only knew him as the serial killer in Heroes (a very un-Spock-like character). In fact Star Trek was his first movie. As it turns out, with some coaching from the original Spock – Leonard Nimoy, Quinto turned in a wonderful performance that fans and critics agreed was something special.
6. John Travolta As Vincent Vega
Let’s go back to 1994 when Pulp Fiction was released and take a look at John Travolta. It had been almost 20 years since Travolta had a big hit with Grease, he had just starred in Look Who’s Talking Now, the terrible sequel to Look Who’s Talking Too, which was a bad sequel to the average Look Who’s Talking. Yea he was still working, but it looked like his time in Hollywood was coming to a close. Then the little known director Quentin Tarantino cast Travolta to play a drug-fueled hit man, and the world all sighed a collective “Pass.” Holy moly were they wrong. Travolta turned in arguably the best performance of his career in arguably the best movie of all time. The movie jump started his career and made him the superstar we know now.
5. Steve Carell As John Eleuthère du Pont
Most people didn’t know who John E. du Pont was when it was announced that Carell would be playing him in Foxcatcher. Upon quick Wikipedia searches, people became confused about the casting, not believing that Carell (known for his comedic work) had the dramatic chops to play a drug addicted murder with severe mommy issues. What fans never seem to recognize is that when comedians choose specific dramatic roles, they are excellent. It is often said that comedy is harder to act in than drama, so the best comedians are often the best actors. Carell received an Oscar nomination for his role, adding his name to the likes of Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Dan Ackroyd, Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Foxx and Robin Williams as comedians with Oscar nominations for dramatic roles.
4. Krysten Ritter As Jessica Jones
There are a lot of people who still have not watched aka Jessica Jones because they “can’t see that girl as a superhero.” Good, she’s not. We are pretty big fans of the show, and Ritter’s performance as the title character was one of the big reasons it was so successful. Even though she put on a magnificent performance in Breaking Bad, people don’t want to give her a chance citing shows like Don’t Trust the B**** in Apartment 23. Much of the criticism came from those who weren’t familiar with the character and were confused how a girl who looks more like the heroin addict she once played could be able to lift a car. She was breathtaking as a rape victim who is powerless to help so many people (even though she has super powers). Krysten was a great Jessica Jones and if you don’t believe she’s a good casting choice, do yourself a favor and actually watch the show.
3. John Boyega As Finn
John Boyega’s casting outrage was for all the wrong reasons. It was discovered early on that Boyega would be playing a storm trooper in The Force Awakens and people didn’t know how to take it. The first reason people were annoyed was because there was no way he was a clone of Jango Fett, and we all saw that is how the storm troopers came to be in the prequels. Those people just were so touchy about their beloved Star Wars that they couldn’t imagine people adding their own creative touches to the story line. The other reason many people were upset was that he was black. There’s no defense for feeling that way. He turned in a fantastic performance and was lauded (along with Daisy Ridley) as one of the best characters in the movie.
2. Heath Ledger As The Joker
Heath Ledger did more than do a great job playing The Joker; he transcended the role. When he was cast people loudly complained saying that the star of 10 Things I Hate About You could never fill Jack Nicholson’s shoes as The Joker. They were just wrong. Ledger turned in one of the most memorable performances in movie history, helping the character achieve a legendary status as one of the “greatest” villains of all time alongside Norman Bates, Hannibal Lector, Nurse Ratchet and Darth Vader. His performance was arguably better than Nicholson’s, and he received a golden statue to prove it. It’s an absolute tragedy that we will never know what else Ledger could have accomplished with his talent.
1. Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck As Batman
Yep, most every movie Batman that has ever been was met with pretty equal criticism. Michael Keaton was “too funny,” Christian Bale was “too dramatic,” and Ben Affleck was “too Ben Affleck.” All three did a great job playing the caped crusader regardless of what people thought of the initial casting choices. Bale and Keaton have become so well known for the roles that people sometimes don’t credit them for anything else (even though they both have Oscar wins). It’s far too soon to tell for Affleck, but his performance was not the problem in Batman vs Superman. This kind of thing shows that fandoms will probably never be happy with the castings of their favorite characters. People will always find a reason to say that it was a bad choice, especially with characters that are so beloved and well known. We as fans need to wait to see a movie before we judge the casting. They might just surprise us.