Let’s just deal with the big problem up front here. Despite what this title says, it’s impossible to know how a film would have done if it had a different cast. Sure we can imagine and dream what it would be like if the casting director would have made a different decision, but it’s all pointless bellyaching at the end of the day. Plus, it’s not like the general public always knows what cast would be best. Remember when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker? Basements everywhere were in an uproar.
Sometimes the casting can seem absolutely perfect for a character, but, after everything is all filmed and set, the character doesn’t quite match the film that’s been laid out. Other times it’s obvious right from the get-go. For whatever reason, certain stars get put into roles that they have no business being a part of. From bad accents to bad acting, woeful late replacements to unloved actors, there are so many different reasons why miscast actors can ruin a character or even an entire movie. We’re going to go through the worst of the worst and even play a little ‘what if’. What if the actors were different? What if we could go through and recast certain movies, imagining what the movies would have been like in an alternate reality with a different actor or actors in the main roles. Here it is. 15 movies that would have been great with different casting.
It’s possible that Oliver Stone‘s Alexander receives some unfair criticism, but it is a pretty boring film. That’s the game when you play when you’re filming a historical event or episode. There’s a fine line you must walk between historicity and entertainment, and Alexander leaned way too far to the historical side. Most of all, however, it is Colin Farrell’s performance in the film that is criticized. He frequently slipped in and out of his non-distinct accent into his natural Irish notes. Angelina Jolie doesn’t really do much better, and her weird Russian-type accent was an odd choice. There’s gotta be something said for Alexander’s hair too. I get that guy was blonde, but they should have tested out how Farrell looked with that mop head before casting him because he looked insanely awkward.
Now that Ben Affleck has been a fairly decent Batman in Batman v Superman, the criticisms of his stupid-looking chin aren’t as funny or valid as they once were, but Affleck was really a dud in Daredevil. The movie was a mind-blowing disaster that defied all odds. I mean, people thought it would be bad, but no one thought it could ever be as bad as it was. Affleck was in a real low point in his career at the time of making it too, so that didn’t help anything. Neither did the poorly fitting red leather chaps that he wore. It was awkward all around, and now that we’ve seen what an effective Daredevil looks and acts like on the Netflix show (Charlie Cox), we now know how truly awful Affleck was in those dark days. It should be noted that Colin Farrell was also in this one, but he actually wasn’t half bad.
13. V for Vendetta
Natalie Portman is often criticized for her weird accent in V for Vendetta, but there’s a lot more to her performance than just that. The character is supposed to hardened over time, but Portman always feels a little like a lost lamb just happy to be there. Some people have suggested that Carey Mulligan, or another actress with a natural British accent, would have been a better choice, and I agree with that. It can be distracting when a role that is so heavily indebted to language and place is filled by an actress who looks and sounds nothing like that language or place. Guy Fawkes is a famous English figure and casting an American probably wasn’t the wisest decision.
12. The Flintstones
The year 1994, brought us the live-action film The Flintstones, which featured some really brilliant casting choices… with one major exception. There is a large pocket of the population that think Betty Rubble is quite the looker, despite the fact that she’s a bloody cartoon. Her little waist, pretty face and petite nature make her attractive, even if she is only animated. For many people, Betty is the closest thing to a girlfriend they’ve ever had. So when the casting crew chose none other than Rosie O’Donnell to play the part, people of all genders and sexualities rose their eyebrows. This must have been an ironic choice. “But she’s gross,” people cried. Not me, but I definitely heard other people say that. O’Donnell is better known for being a loud-mouthed comic, not a sex-symbol, never a sex symbol, so fans were a little justified in their collective revulsion.
11. Gangs of New York
Some people will suggest that Leonardo DiCaprio was miscast as Amsterdam in Gangs of New York, but we won’t go that far here. That being said, putting Cameron Diaz that close in proximity to the amazing talents of DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis is a recipe for disaster. Even though Diaz doesn’t necessarily fall flat on her face, she does seem wildly out of place. There’s major problems with her accent and her demeanor in the role, and it stands out every scene she’s in. It’s tough to say that changing her to someone else, say Jessica Chastain, would dramatically change the movie, but it would definitely make it closer to the incredible movie it was so close to being.
10. Red Dragon
It wasn’t necessarily about who was cast for Red Dragon, but how the character was played and portrayed. Edward Norton got the role of Will Graham and was asked to go head to head with Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). I think it’s safe to say that Norton would have done well if he didn’t play Graham as such a soggy noodle. Thomas Harris’ novels are well-known, yes, but did they really need the character Will Graham to have blonde hair to satisfy the novelist’s fans? Like what a dweeb Norton looked like. He even died his friggin’ eyebrows. It would have been nice to see Norton play the role a little tougher, or maybe get an actor with some more mustard in his delivery. We don’t need him running around flexing because that would be too far from Graham’s character, but he was more effeminate than Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) for heaven’s sake.
9. Hunt for Red October
[To be read in a Connery dialect.] When the Hunt for Red October team casht the most Scottish man on the planet, Sean Connery, to play a Russian shubmarine captain, thingsh were obvisoushly going to be shcary bad, and were they ever. Every other member of the casht took on the Russian wordsh admirably, but not Connery. He pretty much jusht shpoke in his natural Connery voish. Looking back, it’sh actually kind of embarrasshing to lishten to, and I’m not even Russian. Taking the famoush debut novel and turning it into a film set up some high hopesh for The Hunt for Red October, but they were all dashed when Connery opened his mouth. For shuch a great actor, you would think he would at least try to alter his voish a little to fit the character. Ishn’t it a bit ironic that Connery’s firsht name doesn’t have an “H” in it? Heh. [And, scene.]
8. Godfather 3
When Francis Ford Coppola cast his own daughter, Sophia Coppola, as Mary Corleone in the final and concluding chapter of the epic trilogy The Godfather, fans held their collective breath. Every scene that Sophia showed up in, she seemed like she was a little girl among giants, just happy to be there. Fans weren’t even mad with her performance and her inclusion, they were disappointed. I think Sophia is supposed to be a major sex symbol in the film too, which is a bit of stretch. I mean, she is not ugly, by any stretch, but she wouldn’t exactly be someone that would cause such a commotion either. In the end, the films are Coppola’s, but they were so loved by the public at that point that it felt like a betrayal to selfishly cast his own daughter in such an important role. Rumor has it that Madonna was in consideration for the role, which might have been even worse.
Long before George Clooney and Sandra Bullock were signed on as the main cast in Gravity, five other actresses and Robert Downey Jr. were being considered. In fact, RDJ was apparently ready to go until they went forward with Bullock. Other potential options included both Marion Cotillard and Natalie Portman, both actresses who would have been excellent in Bullock’s place. Gravity wasn’t a bad movie at all. Actually, it was quite good. But Bullock’s performance was a bit distracting, to say the least. So was Clooney’s, but Bullock seemed like a weird choice for the role. Really the entire thing was her doing a lot of loud and heavy breathing, gasping and crying, and these are not the best of Bullock’s abilities. There were several times in the movie when I actually was pulled out of the film and made to think about how stupid Bullock sounded. It makes you wonder if they actually tested out Bullock’s ability to cry and breathe loudly or if they just cast her on star power alone. Ahh, the mysteries of Hollywood.
6. Spider-Man 3
It is unclear if Topher Grace was chosen for the character Venom in Spider-Man 3 because he looks exactly like Tobey Maguire or for some other reason. Well, whatever the reason, it was a terrible decision. Grace is graceless in the role. He looks like a complete nard. No one would be scared of him as a villain, regardless of what type of abilities he had. This is Eric Forman from That ’70s Show we’re talking about here, the guy who Donna dwarfs when she stands next to him. Just pick him up and throw him if he’s attacking you. Venom is crazy and huge, not nerdy and tiny. Very disappointed.
5. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
If there is something to be learned from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, it is to cast an Englishman in the role of the famous English folkloric hero Robin Hood, and not a dude from California. At least, if nothing else, cast someone who can speak in a passable English accent. While everyone else in the movie does their best to keep the language police at bay, Costner struggles constantly. He looks awkward in almost every moment of the film and it’s impossible to buy that he can even shoot an arrow, let alone save the English people from a tyrannical King. Apparently, the director just told Costner to forget about the accent all together, so in various scenes throughout he just speaks in his normal voice. Christian Slater is beat up a lot for his acting ability, but at least he tries to change his voice.
4. Star Wars II & III
It might be a tad unfair to put all the wrongs with the Star Wars prequels on Hayden Christensen’s lap, but he is something truly awful to behold. More of a robot than anything resembling a human, Christensen chops his way ham-fistedly through the already wooden dialogue. It’s impossible to listen to his delivery and not think what the films would have looked like if, say, Leonardo DiCaprio wouldn’t have turned down the role. Jake Lloyd, the kid who played baby Anakin, even looks exactly like a young Leo. Hmm, too bad. Maybe Leo would have been too big of a star to play the role without dwarfing the character, but anything would have been better than Christensen. He was so bad that he just hung up his acting cleats a few years after these movies. He definitely still gets hate mail for ruining so many hopes and dreams.
3. They Live
Rowdy Roddy Piper wasn’t awful in They Live. Well, actually, he was, but that was all part of the charm. But They Live is more than just charm. This film should have been amazing as it is one of the smartest and apt social critiques ever made. If John Carpenter had cast Kurt Russell, who looks a lot like Piper but can actually act, the film might have become a masterpiece. Still loved by a massive cult following, They Live didn’t necessarily need star power to make it successful because the film is all about the message, but that doesn’t mean that someone with a bit more acting chops wouldn’t have made it a much better film in the long run.
2. Ghost Rider
They say that Nicolas Cage is one of the biggest comic book fans around. Even his name “Cage” is from the comic book character Luke Cage. Cage also named his first born son after Superman, Kal-El, seriously, that’s the poor kid’s name. Once upon a time, Cage was even going to play Superman in a Tim Burton movie that never came to fruition, so when he cast as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider, he was ready for it. He had been training his entire life for a comic book movie role. Unfortunately, people don’t really love Nic Cage. He’s a bit of an odd duck and his wooden, awkward line delivery isn’t always appreciated. I think it’s safe to say that Cage’s second comic book attempt in Kick-Ass was much better, but we can’t help but think what might have been if someone like Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) played the character instead.
1. Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Keanu Reeves struggles to shed his surfer dude exterior and line delivery in many, if not most, of his movie roles. Cast as Jonathan Harker in Dracula, Reeves had to stand beside the great Gary Oldman throughout and even act alongside him, a daunting task for many legends, impossible for a guy named Keanu. After hearing of the criticism over their casting choice, the filmmakers said that they chose Keanu for his “matinee idol” appeal because the role was slightly boring. But this just seems like punishment for poor Keanu. He was so far out of his depth that he seemed like he was drowning the entire time.