When it comes down to it, actors and actresses pretty much make or break the films that they star in. Sure, good writing and a great story goes a very, very long way. However, talented and charismatic actors and actresses can make even the most cliché material seem palatable. When the acting is poorly done, though, even the most masterfully written scripts don’t really shine – it’s a tough thing to get past.
The decision on who to cast in every film is likely a tough one for producers and casting agents, but for the most part, they manage to find talented actors and actresses that can channel the characters they’re playing impeccably. Even the greatest agents, however, get it wrong every now and then – and sometimes they get it very, very wrong. Sometimes, the actor or actress just isn’t believable as the character they’re supposed to be playing, for whatever reason. Sometimes, they just don’t have the talent to back up a meaty role and end up delivering a wooden performance. Sometimes they just can’t nail that accent that their character has, and sometimes, things just get downright offensive.
Here are 15 of the worst movie casting choices – ever.
15 Jessica Alba as Sue Storm - Fantastic Four
In the comic books where she originally appeared before coming to the big screen, Sue Storm was a pale-skinned blonde with blue eyes. There are countless actresses who fit that physical description and have some pretty serious acting chops, so you’d select one of them for the role, right? Well, not exactly. Producers of the film picked the dark-haired, olive-skinned Jessica Alba, and then they proceeded to give her electric blue contacts, dye her hair an unflattering shade of blonde, and lighten her skin. I mean, what was the point? The decision was partly because Alba was the rising hot girl at the time, but still – come on.
14 Colin Farrell as Alexander the Great - Alexander
Okay, there are certain roles where Colin Farrell’s lovable, party-boy Irish persona fits right in, and helps him portray a character convincingly. And then there was Alexander. First of all, the hair alone was enough to make this a terrible casting (which terrible stylist dyed it that awful shade of blonde?). The heart of this casting problem, however, was that Farrell just didn’t have the skill to pull off a character as iconic as Alexander, the bloodthirsty leader. And, while many actors take a few liberties with accents when portraying someone from an earlier time, Farrell’s choices were terrible.
13 Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze - Ghost Rider
Okay, there’s a chance that in an earlier day and age, Nicolas Cage may have been able to pull off this role. However, when the producers cast him as the daredevil stunt rider who spends the whole movie fighting evil, he was a middle-aged man with terrible hair and a less than toned physique. We’re not saying that Johnny Blaze should have a six pack, but in this movie, Cage looked a little more like Johnny Blaze’s dad than a stunt rider himself. I mean, the leather jacket may as well have come from the Midlife Crisis Coat Factory.
12 Kevin Costner as Robin Hood - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Kevin Costner is basically the definition of all-American. I mean, the guy has starred in a shockingly large amount of movies centered on baseball, the great American pastime. So, when you’re looking to cast an outlaw Englishman, naturally you’d pick… Costner? This casting decision made no sense, and Costner even earned himself a Razzie Worst Actor award for his performance. Oh, and did we mention that he didn’t exactly excel in his lessons with his vocal coach on developing a British accent? His faux-accent faded in and out throughout the movie, and was terrible to start with – and, considering how many actors manage to successfully put on accents, it’s a bit of an insult that he couldn’t put in a bit more work.
11 Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan - Green Lantern
Since the film was released so recently, when it comes to Ryan Reynolds, everyone’s mind is on his awesome portrayal of a superhero in Deadpool. However, true superhero film fans weren’t quick to forget his less than desirable portrayal of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern. Reynolds wasn’t quite as bad as some of the casting mistakes on this list, but he was just, well, blah. And considering how much audiences look forward to superhero films, regardless of whether the script is any good, it’s almost an accomplishment to star in one and turn it into a flop.
10 Linday Lohan as Ashley Albright - Just My Luck
This film wasn’t exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but even in the sphere of rom coms, the casting was way, way off. Lohan played a character who was supposedly a big shot at a successful public relations company in Manhattan. First of all, Lohan was way too young to be playing a woman who, based on what was implied about her career, should have been in her early 30s at the latest. Second, let’s be honest – age aside, she just wasn’t believable as a successful career woman. Party girl, yes. Rising star in one of the most competitive cities in the world? Not so much. Lohan’s character wasn’t the only reason this film was a flop, but it certainly didn’t help matters.
9 Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone - The Godfather Part III
Okay, let’s get one thing straight – as a director and screenwriter, Sofia Coppola is pretty amazing. I mean, she won an Oscar in screenwriting for Lost In Translation – it takes skill to do that. However, in her childhood years before she had a career of her own, she occasionally popped up in her famous father Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic films. She had small, uncredited roles in the first two Godfather flicks, but it was Godfather III where her wooden acting became truly cringe-worthy. She played the character of Mary Corleone, and she was, well, incredibly boring and uninteresting. Thankfully she’s stayed behind the camera rather than in front of it in recent years.
8 Emma Stone as Allison Ng - Aloha
This casting choice caused a ton of controversy – and given what a soft spot the public has for the hilarious Emma Stone, that’s saying a lot. When it came to casting Allison Ng, a young Air Force pilot who was one-quarter Hawaiian and half-Chinese, the producers opted to cast the red-haired Caucasian Emma Stone. The entire casting of the movie was critiqued for failing to include many actors of Asian or Hawaiian ancestry, but Stone’s role was perhaps the most controversial, with many feeling that it was not only a miscasting, but an incredibly insensitive and offensive one.
7 Topher Grace as Venom - Spider-Man 3
Topher Grace has built a career by playing, well, the lovable goofball. He rose to stardom as the guy next door, Eric Foreman, in the hit sitcom That ‘70s Show, and then went on to play the lovable best friend and goofball in films. And then, for some strange reason, the producers of Spider-Man 3 figured that this nice guy would be the perfect choice for superhero villain. Now, we’re not saying that actors can’t convincingly play both good guys and bad guys. However, he didn’t have the sheer testosterone and attitude necessary to play such a supervillain, and his weird snarls and ‘scary’ faces were just laughable.
6 Demi Moore as Hester Prynne - The Scarlet Letter
We get it – when you’re an actor or actress, playing a character from classical literature probably gives you a bit of street cred. It communicates the message that you’re a serious artist, not just someone content to star in ‘80s movies and Charlie’s Angels sequels. However, the character of Hester Prynne in Nathanial Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is complex, and portraying her accurately on the big screen is difficult. It just wasn’t a task that Moore was up to, and instead of being a phenomenal portrayal of a classic character, it ended up feeling like an amateur aspiring actress reading her lines straight from the script.
5 Brad Pitt as Achilles - Troy
Achilles is basically one of the most fascinating mythical warriors. He’s notoriously handsome, but he’s also complex, with a long history and a lot of drama in his personal story. Now, when it came to the movie Troy, the producers basically just took the ‘handsome’ part of Achilles’ character description, plopped a blonde wig on Brad Pitt, got him all buff and bronzed, and called it a day. He was more of a Ken doll than Achilles – Pitt is undeniably handsome, but he just doesn’t have the grit and complexity that a character like Achilles demands.
4 John Wayne as Genghis Khan - The Conqueror
Oh, man. Okay. There are bad castings decisions where the producers just don’t quite get it right, and end up picking someone who doesn’t bring much to the role and turns the movie into a snooze-fest. And then, there are bad castings that are offensive, like in The Conqueror. In this film, the all-American John Wayne basically stuck on a moustache, got a few layers of make-up applied, pulled on a costume, and suddenly transformed into a Mongolian warrior king. I mean, that’s all it takes, right? While Wayne crafted quite the reputation for himself in the Western genre, we have a feeling that they just hired him because he felt comfortable riding horses, because there’s really no other logical explanation for this terrible casting choice.
3 Denise Richards as Christmas Jones - The World Is Not Enough
Denise Richards is absolutely gorgeous, but let’s face it – she’s generally known for playing the gorgeous love interest, ditzy best friend, or sensual sex kitten, such as in Wild Things. She’s not exactly the first actress you think of when you’re looking to cast a character who has a highly intellectual occupation. Someone in the casting department of The World Is Not Enough must have been a big fan of that topless scene in Wild Things, because Richards was cast as a nuclear scientist. I mean, one that spend the majority of the movie in short shorts and a teeny tanktop rather than a lab coat, but still.
2 Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker - Dracula
Keanu Reeves has certainly earned his fair share of success over the years, but he’s really at his best when he plays characters who are either California goofballs or silent action stars. However, someone thought it would be a good idea to cast him as the young lawyer Jonathan Harker in an interpretation of Bram Stoker’s iconic novel. First of all, his attempted English accent is basically one of the worst accents in cinematic history. Second, he was alongside venerable talents like Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, who made him look even worse in comparison, I mean, writer Nathan Ditum has described Reeves in this role as “a dreary, milky nothing,” and that about sums it up.
1 Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi - Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the iconic film starring Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, earned countless fans over the years, but there’s one minor character that pretty much everyone fast forwards past because they’re so cringe-worthy – Mr. Yunioshi. Now, we get that this film was made in the 1960s when things were a little bit different. However, casting the definitely Caucasian Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi is a terrible decision no matter what decade you’re in. From the glasses to the buck teeth to the awful, over-the-top accent, there was just nothing good about this decision. I mean, seriously – they couldn’t find a single talented Asian actor to play this small role?