Casting is a very important part of any movie, and it can cause a lot of controversy depending on what the issue is. Perhaps the most prevalent controversy when it comes to casting is white-washing. A good example of this is when Emma Stone was cast as Allison Ng in the 2015 romantic comedy-drama film Aloha. Allison is described as being of Hawaiian-Chinese-Swedish descent while Emma Stone is white, inciting a lot of criticism from people who couldn’t get past her fair skin, strawberry-blond hair, and freckles. To make matters worse, most of the extras seen in the background were white, confusing many as the white population of Hawaii only accounts for 30% of the country’s population.
Another casting controversy is race-switching, such as when a black actor is cast in a role previously held by a white actor. Michael B. Jordan received a lot of hate after he was cast as the Human Torch in 2015’s Fantastic Four.
Some fans just have a specific idea of how a character should look or act, outside of white-washing and race-switching. People debate over who should play Batman or Spider-Man or James Bond. Some casting decisions made by producers and directors have been questionable, but there have also been some that initially seemed questionable but turned out to be amazing. It can be hard to tell at first. Here are 15 controversial decisions that infuriated fans.
15. Idris Elba—Heimdall (Thor & Thor: The Dark World)
The debate over race when it comes to casting actors in movies was sparked when Idris Elba was tapped to play Norse god Heimdall in Thor. Some Thor fans opposed the decision, as the character had been white in all comic book appearances. In fact, a white supremacist group known as the Council of Conservative Citizens issued a boycott of the movie after the news broke.
They stated that Marvel had “declared war on Norse mythology” with an “insulting multi-cultural makeover.” They went on to accuse the studio of attacking conservative values and orchestrating social engineering in European mythology. Idris was able to brush the “ridiculous” racist remarks off and delivered a well-received performance that led to him reprising his role for Thor: The Dark World.
14. Ben Affleck—Batman (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice)
Ben Affleck is still a bit of a polarizing pick when it comes to his casting as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Comic book fans still aren’t enthused about him. Perhaps it’s because of his disastrous performance in 2003’s Daredevil. Perhaps it’s because Christian Bale is widely regarded as the best actor to play the Caped Crusader. Or, perhaps it’s a bit of both.
Either way, the Internet went into a frenzy when it was announced that Ben had scored the role, which he called a “boyhood dream come true.” Just minutes after the news broke the Internet, a petition went up on change.org that demanded DC Comics to pick another actor to replace Affleck as Batman. The petition received more than 95,000 signatures.
13. Zoe Saldana—Nina Simone (Nina)
Zoe Saldana was met with swift and heavy backlash from the African-American community following the announcement that she was to play jazz musician and civil rights activist Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic Nina. It angered a lot of people when the movie’s trailer dropped in early 2016 showing the Dominican actress wearing dark makeup, a prosthetic nose to make her nose look bigger, and an Afro wig. Singer India Arie called the casting “tone deaf.”
Even Nina’s estate weighed in on the issue, tweeting, “Cool story but please take Nina’s name out your mouth. For the rest of your life.” Saldana responded to the criticism, saying, “There’s no one way to be black,” along with other remarks. Unfortunately for Zoe, the movie received overwhelmingly negative response from critics, who called it a “wholly misguided tribute to its subject’s searing talent and enduring impact.”
12. Adam Driver—Kylo Ren (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
It seemed people were a little worried about the possibility of Adam Driver appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and their fears increased when the Primetime Emmy Award-nominated actor was confirmed for the role of Kylo Ren. This was the guy to play Han Solo and Princess Leia’s son, a villain working for the dark side? People looked at Adam as the guy who played Hannah Horvath’s boyfriend, Adam Sackler, in the HBO comedy-drama series Girls and wrote him off as a “goth poseur” who wouldn’t do justice to the dark side.
Fans aside, most critics received Driver’s performance well, finding Kylo Ren to be a compelling character. There were a few detractors, though, who called Kylo Ren an “uninteresting whiner” and said he looked like some “teenager Star Wars fanboy.”
11. Gal Gadot—Wonder Woman (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice & Wonder Woman)
When Gal Gadot was cast as Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Twitter pretty much freaked out. The Israeli actress was criticized for pretty much everything. People called into question her height, saying that she wasn’t tall enough to play the Amazonian princess, complained she had an accent, she wasn’t muscular enough, she was too skinny, and—get this—her boobs weren’t big enough for her to play the role.
Funny how they would complain about that given the frequent criticism the character of Wonder Woman has gotten for being a “s*xual object” ever since the ’70s Wonder Woman TV series. But Gal Gadot proved that she was the perfect for the role, earning critical acclaim for her performance in Wonder Woman and leading Wonder Woman to become one of the biggest movies of the year and the fifth highest-grossing superhero film domestically.
10. Tom Cruise—Lestat (Interview With The Vampire)
After Tom Cruise was picked to play Lestat in Interview with the Vampire, it didn’t just upset fans of the book; it also upset the book’s author, Anne Rice. “[Cruise] is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler,” she said. “The casting is so bizarre that it’s impossible to imagine how it’s going to work.” Tom just didn’t have the look Anne thought the vampire should have.
Lestat was tortured yet playful with a sense of seriousness, and Cruise just didn’t seem like he could effectively pull off those complex qualities. To this day, movie fans still debate over whether or not Tom was superb or terrible in the role, but when all was said and done, Rice was very pleased with his performance, praising it greatly.
9. Anne Hathaway—Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises)
When the first photo of Anne Hathaway in her Catwoman costume dropped, people took issue with two things—the Catwoman costume and Anne Hathaway. People weren’t exactly impressed by the costume, pointing out the lack of ears and questioning what was up with the weird-looking goggles she had on her head. And then they started taking issue with the casting of Anne Hathaway as the clever cat-themed thief. Someone called Hathaway a perky girl-next-door type who couldn’t possibly pull off someone as dark and dangerous as Catwoman.
Other people thought the same, thinking that the actress wasn’t “edgy” enough for the role. There were also people who just thought Anne was ugly. She may not have been everyone’s favorite, but I think we can all agree that the Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises is a lot better than the one we saw in the disaster of a movie Catwoman starring Halle Berry.
8. Jennifer Lopez—Selena Quintanilla (Selena)
Jennifer Lopez had to endure an intense auditioning process before she was given the titular role of Selena in the biopic based on the life of the Mexican-American singer. She also had to deal with some backlash from members of the Latino community. A small corner of the Latino community felt that Jennifer was the “wrong kind” of Latino to play the part; Jennifer was Puerto Rican while Selena Quintanilla was Mexican-American.
Jennifer’s co-star, Constance Marie, commented on the criticism, “I was really upset about that. Everybody should have been so thankful that an actual Latina was playing [Selena].” Lopez’ successful performance in her first leading role helped her move her acting career to the fast lane, and it became one of her standout performances in her career.
7. Tom Cruise—Jack Reacher (Jack Reacher & Jack Reacher: Never Go Back)
The issue that fans of the Jack Reacher book series have with Tom Cruise doesn’t have so much to do with capturing Jack’s character as it does matching Jack’s physical appearance. In the books, Jack Reacher is explicitly described as a brutal ex-military officer who’s 6’5″, weighs 220 pounds, and has a large chest that’s 50 inches wide. Not to mention he has massive fists “that bunch into fists the size of footballs.”
Reacher fans were quick to point out that Cruise was only 5’7″ and far from physically-imposing. Many fans were dissatisfied with the casting and hoped the movie would flop. But, series author Lee Child was pretty cool with Tom’s casting. The movie received mixed reviews from critics but did well at the box office, resulting in a sequel released last year titled Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
6. Heath Ledger —The Joker (The Dark Knight)
When The Dark Knight was released in July of 2008, it broke numerous box office records and received acclaim from audiences and critics alike, especially for Heath Ledger‘s performance as The Joker. But when he was cast as the Joker, he wasn’t exactly greeted with welcoming arms by the Batman fandom. After all, the “pretty boy” who starred in the teen romance flick 10 Things I Hate About You couldn’t effectively portray one of the most diabolical and eccentric comic book villains of all time, right?
How wrong they were. Ledger proved all the critics wrong and delivered such a memorable performance as Batman’s iconic archnemesis that was so memorable, he posthumously won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Award for it, the first ever for a comic book movie actor.
5. Val Kilmer—Jim Morrison (The Doors)
Before he auditioned to play The Doors frontman Jim Morrison in the biographical film based on the band of the same name, Val Kilmer memorized the lyrics to all songs written by the late Morrison and even sent the director, Oliver Stone, a video of him performing a few of them. For a year prior to production, Val lived and breathed Jim Morrison, dressing like him and hanging around his old haunts on the Sunset Strip.
That dedication and commitment weren’t enough to impress some fans who didn’t think Kilmer had the look one needed to play the late singer, in addition to the fact that one of his best-known roles up to that point was in high-octane and hyper-masculine Top Gun. In the end, critics were pleased with Jim Morrison at the helm. Some have even said that The Doors was the last time Kilmer was great at something.
4. Jennifer Lawrence—Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
There were two casting controversies surrounding the first film in The Hunger Games franchise. After Amandla Stenberg was cast as 12-year-old District 11 tribute Prue, it incited some racist comments from people who took issue with the character being cast as a black girl, claiming that it ruined the movie. The other casting controversy lied with Jennifer Lawrence being cast as the protagonist of the movie, Katniss Everdeen.
People thought she was too old, too big, and that her hips were too wide. Some people thought she was too pretty while others thought she was too ugly. Some thought she wasn’t tough enough while others thought she wasn’t feminine enough. Despite the complaints, the Hunger Games became a massive box office success and received critical acclaim, especially for Jennifer’s portrayal of Katniss.
3. Hayden Christensen—Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader (Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones & Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith)
The Star Wars prequels are infamous among the Star Wars community. Depending on who you ask, they may be not so bad or downright terrible. For the Star Wars fans who lean towards the downright terrible side of the spectrum, one of the reasons for their dislike towards the prequels is Hayden Christensen. Hayden portrayed Anakin Skywalker, showing how a promising young Jedi with lots of potential slowly transformed into the intimidating and ruthless Sith Lord Darth Vader.
However, some Star Wars fans weren’t exactly thrilled with the portrayal. They thought the future Darth Vader should have been more menacing, instead of coming off as an impatient and ****y man who whined like a baby. But really, it’s just as likely for self-absorbed whiners to go to the dark side as it is for sinister psychopaths.
2. Mos Def—Ford Prefect (The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy)
The 2005 film adaption of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy largely divided the fan base, particularly when it came to the casting. Casting Martin Freeman as the protagonist of the film, mild-mannered Englishman Arthur Dent, was considered a genius move by many, who thought he was the perfect actor for the role. To some, casting Mos Def as street-smart alien Ford Prefect wasn’t the right move. Some people took issue with the fact that Mos Def was a “rapper” playing in a nerdy comedy.
And then, of course, some people took issue with Mos Def’s race, as he was a black actor playing a character that was largely perceived as white. There were plenty of comments on the Internet that started with, “I’m not racist, but…” News flash: If you start off with a sentence with that, 9 times out of 10, you’re about to say something racist.
1. Daniel Craig—James Bond (Casino Royale, Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre)
Sean Connery is probably the favorite when it comes to actors who played James Bond over the years. Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan delivered great performances but didn’t quite come close to matching Sean. So, when it was announced that Daniel Craig had been cast as the latest actor to portray the smooth and classy secret spy, it seemed like a bizarre choice to many.
Daniel was criticized over his acting repertoire, his rugged looks, and even his blond hair, gaining the nickname “James Blond.” Daniel just didn’t have the “look” people thought James Bond should have. So what did Daniel do? He played James Bond so well that many agree now that he’s the best 007 of them all.
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