Casting is often one of those things that when it works really well, you don’t notice it. It’s not until someone is grossly miscast that they stand out, and for the entirety of a film, you can’t shake this incoherency from your mind. What’s more, the right casting has a chance to vault young stars to becoming a great celebrity, with opportunities in mainstream, blockbuster roles, serving as a platform for more dramatic turns, for greater choice and of course, for more fame and regard. And when there is a coveted, iconic role that needs to be filled, fans are going to take notice and make judgments, for better and worse.
Great casting and great roles aren’t necessarily relegated to great films. For example, Jack Reynor starred in his summer’s fourth installment of the Transformers series, widely recognized as a loud, soulless piece of noise with no redeeming value. Well, he was impressive and he’s a young actor who has been doing good but small work, and with a chance in this film, he’s seized the spotlight.
On the other hand, there are anticipated films and spectacles that range from good to great that are held back by poor casting. That is, a high profile production, maybe awards swirling around it, or at least tons of money and hype, yet it doesn’t raise all boats. Someone doesn’t deliver. Whether by his or her own hand, fate, or simply bad luck, it didn’t work out the best for the actors on this list, and such wonderful roles were wasted. Maybe they were simply miscast, perhaps they were misused, or maybe they just weren’t ready; it’s a combination of things and there is plenty of blame to go around. While that is open for discussion and debate, what we do know is that these roles were wasted, hurting the movie and forever ruining what could have been a great experience for the viewer and indeed, whoever was cast in these pivotal, important or iconic roles.
13. Bruce Wayne – Val Kilmer, Batman Forever
The big screen has seen four different actors portray the caped crusader over the last two and a half decades, with another one on its way. Christian Bale’s performance was acclaimed, and George Clooney’s turn was seen as awful, but both are Academy Award-winning actors. Michael Keaton’s Batman films were solid as well, and he’s looking at an Oscar too. Then there is Val Kilmer, whose unimpressive Batman Forever was silly, but saw his star fade following. Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Tommy Lee Jones and Drew Barrymore, all took part in the disaster, but Kilmer apparently did not get along with director Joel Schumacher, and was also filming The Saint, so did not return to the series. Or much else for that matter.
12. Tauriel – Evangeline Lilly, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
Lilly was put in a tough spot here, and done no favors by director Peter Jackson and the writers. Due to the utter lack of women in The Hobbit, Lilly’s character Tauriel, was fabricated by the film team in order to have a female presence in the film. She didn’t get written anything good though, and as often as she shows up as a tough, determined, independent fighter, she is also subject to the strengths of men and the follies of love, relegated as a second class character. We can applaud the filmmakers for putting a female in, but she needs to be given something to do other than be saved by men and look pretty.
11. Gale – Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games
The younger brother of the world’s sexiest man has much to live up (Chris is also Thor, after all), but plenty of opportunity. His role as Gale in the much beloved series, The Hunger Games puts him beside starlet Jennifer Lawrence, an impressive ensemble cast, and tons of hype and promotion around the world. Unfortunately, the younger Thor doesn’t seem to have much to offer. Gale is a forgettable, expressionless character, and Hemsworth doesn’t do much to elicit any sympathy for his quest to win the heart of Katniss.
10. Dr. Christmas Jones – Denise Richards, The World is Not Enough
Arguably one of the worst Bond girls ever selected, neither those that chose her, nor Richards herself, seemed to care that much about what they were doing with a beloved franchise. While the women who share the screen with Bond have occupied a variety of occupations, been fighting for both good and evil, Richards’ nuclear physicist was so egregiously unreal and unbelievable, that she ruined every scene in what isn’t that bad of a film. While yes, quite beautiful, she lacks the exoticism, charm, brains, or cunning that the role a Bond Woman fills.
9. Mutt Williams – Shia LeBeouf, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
While most didn’t expect too much from the fourth installment of Indiana Jones, that was coming some 20 years since the last, it was Shia LeBeouf who proved most frustrating (well, and those aliens). However ridiculous this film was going to be, though, it at least could have been fun, but LeBeouf’s brazen, cocky attitude was not fit for this heralded action adventure. He played a similar role in Transformers, across three big budget movies and since then, has been opting for more dramatic and artistic roles, while gossip swirls around his off-camera behavior, and everyone has pretty much ignored this movie.
8. Batgirl – Alicia Silverstone, Batman and Robin
More Batman failures! Alicia Silverstone was among the star-studded and pun-filled Batman & Robin, and while it was universally panned, with Schumacher and George Clooney later apologizing for it, it didn’t really hurt the careers of anyone. Except for Silverstone. She was terrific in Clueless, and got this turn in a big-budget and widely publicize blockbuster, but failed to find anything after. Nothing materialized after playing Batgirl on the big screen, with Silverstone working in TV and on some small budget films.
7. Snow White – Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman
Following the incredibly successful Twilight series, Kristen Stewart opted for a part that seemed to fit in her looks, but not at all in her personality. She was Snow White, the fair and precious maiden in what would be an interesting dark twist on the classic tale. Chris Hemsworth was the titular Huntsman, and Charlize Theron the evil witch, but Stewart just didn’t feel right with this incarnation of the fabled princess. Stewart continues to find success, but this iconic role was an afterthought.
6. John Carter – Taylor Kitsch, John Carter
Following success with Friday Night Lights, Taylor Kitsch was being groomed to be an action hero. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t really alerted to this, and across three films in 2012 (Battleship, Savages), Kitsch bombed. The most notorious was John Carter, a mess of a film that was critically and publicly panned. Based on the cherished and inspiring Barsoom sci-fi series, when the story finally made it to the big screen, it was disastrous. Kitsch isn’t entirely done yet, though, looking to rebound with an arc on season two of True Detective, but his chances as a leading man have probably run out.
5. Scarlett – Rachel Nichols, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
It took quite some time for the live-action version of the beloved cartoon G.I. Joe to reach the big screen, and when it finally did, it was a mess. Sure, it was action-packed and full of big name stars, but it was a sloppy and reckless piece of mindless entertainment, with awkward comedy. It also failed to serve up worthy representations of classic characters, including Scarlett, one of the original Joe. Played by Rachel Nichols, Scarlett here served as eye candy, and while the role was underwritten, Nichols did little to help her cause. She was one of many characters who didn’t return for a sequel. She’s found a consistent job on TV, but hasn’t had anything as high profile on film since.
4. Hal Jordan – Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern
The viewing public is certainly not averse to superheroes. Chris Evans, George Clooney, Ben Affleck; they’ve all been in bad super hero movies and rose to the top. But Ryan Reynolds’ turn as a leading man just didn’t work out. The film by Martin Campbell was too esoteric for mainstream audiences, too silly for ardent fans, and too uninspired for critics. Reynolds wasn’t believable as a superhero, and while he is still churning out films, it doesn’t look like he or the Green Lantern will be leading a movie anytime soon.
3. Clark Kent & Lois Lane – Brandon Routh & Kate Bosworth, Superman Returns
Playing the All-American hero and his love interest, is a perfect chance for any acting duo to hit it big and find success. Except for Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth. The pair were Clark Kent and Lois Lane in Superman Returns, Bryan Singer’s generic iteration of the much beloved series. The film never seemed to find the right tone, with Kevin Spacey being a bit cartoonish as Lex Luthor, and Routh and Bosworth lacking the chemistry or charm to carry the film. Bosworth hasn’t had a high a profile film since, while Routh has been relegating to playing a superhero on television.
2. Venom – Topher Grace, Spider-Man 3
This will be a recurring theme here when you have a hyped summer blockbuster, filled with a variety of big names. Often the film is less than memorable, but those involved don’t see their star power or potential hurt. Grace, however, poorly cast as the famed villain Venom, didn’t do anything to stand out in a wildly uncontrollable Spider-Man 3. He had to battle the likes of Tobey Maguire, James Franco, and Kirsten Dunst for screen time, but Grace was neither interesting nor believable as Venom. Grace is still plugging away, but Venom could and should have been much better, and someone in that role could have seen bigger things (spinoff?!).
1. Anakin Skywalker – Hayden Christensen, Star Wars
Widely held as one of the worst casting decisions ever made, the long-awaited Star Wars sequels featured a most unlikable, frustrating and annoying Anakin Skywalker. At no point did he become an interesting character in the most pivotal role in the entire trilogy, adding to what was seen as a trio of tragic (pre) sequels. Christensen is still acting, but nothing comes half as close as the opportunity he had with Star Wars. Maybe they can go back and replace him digitally with another actor. And get rid of Jar Binks too.