No one likes the new guy, but there’s a difference between “just different” and “just terrible”. Here are some casting choices that prove that beloved characters occasionally turn into garbage under the reigns of an inappropriate actor.
Evelyn – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
After winning the Oscar for The Constant Gardener it was only a matter of time before Rachel Weisz realized that she was far too good to reprise her role as Evelyn Carnahan in another Mummy film. Hilariously enough, in the same year she would win for Best Supporting Actress she had actually expressed interest in a Mummy sequel.
In other words, had they only made this film a year or two earlier they probably would have got her. But by the time production began she dropped out because she didn’t like the script, so they replaced her with Maria Bello. You can’t really blame Weisz. This film has yeti fights in it.
Night King – Game Of Thrones
There’s no official reason why the role of the Night King was switched from the extremely creepy Richard Blake to stuntman Vladimir Furdik. Not even the actors seem to know. But if we had to guess, we’d say it was because the showrunners didn’t think the role required an actual actor. They were wrong.
The Night King might not have much to say, but Blake’s facial expressions in the first five seasons brought a sinister sense of impending doom to the performance. It’s a subtle change that we’re all going to lament as this zombified Blue Man Group reaches their final destination.
Batman – Batman & Robin
What a gradual downfall the role of Batman took between the late 80s and late 90s! We’re going to go out on a limb and say that regardless of how you feel about the Zack Snyder films, Ben Affleck is a great choice on par with Christian Bale’s previous portrayal.
And if you twisted our arms, we’d even give Val Kilmer a pass on this, putting all the blame on poor George Clooney. Solely because if we had to pick one qualification for the role of Bruce Wayne, it would be “handsome and productive member of society that may or may not kill animals on their downtime.”
Alex Murphy – Robocop 3
Nobody expects you to remember or have even seen Robocop 3, so you’ll probably just have to take our word for it when we say that the film considerably suffered for the lack of Peter Weller in the Alex Murphy role. That said, it suffered for a lot of things despite having robot ninjas and a jetpack sequence.
And if you think that it doesn’t make a difference who is in that Robocop costume, keep in mind that even replacement actor Robert John Burke would disagree. The costume itself was apparently hell to wear since it was recycled from the second film, and therefore wasn’t fitted for the new occupant.
Bruce Banner – The Hulk
However you feel about director Ang Lee’s Hulk film from 2003, the role of Bruce Banner is best portrayed by an actor with the subtle waft of weakling nerdom. A real noogie receptacle.
Both Eric Bana and Mark Ruffalo gave off that glorious waft. And while Edward Norton is a great actor, something about his performance ultimately failed to sell the character. Maybe it’s his status as an actor overshadowing the role, or perhaps it was simply just a terrible film (and it was).
Kevin McCallister – Home Alone 4
To be totally honest, we’ve never seen Home Alone 4. So if any of you hardcore fans (Aloners? Alonenthusiasts?) are super angry about this then we are deeply sorry. But there’s no way you can replace Macaulay Culkin with some other weiner kid for the role of Kevin McCallister. That should be illegal to do.
And you know what? Same goes for the role of Marv. There’s nothing wrong with replacement French Stewart, but he’s no Daniel Stern and never will be. Also, did you know that this movie is apparently about Kevin saving a prince from kidnapping after learning that his parents are getting a divorce?
The Flintstones – Viva Rock Vegas
Okay — much like Home Alone 4, we have never actually seen this movie. All we do know is that you can’t take Rick Moranis and turn him into Stephen Baldwin and expect to get away with it. Once again, that should be illegal. Whoever did that should be seeing concrete walls for at least a year.
Should we be this angry about a sequel we never saw to a film that has a 22% on Rotten Tomatoes? Probably not. But you can’t deny the serious downgrade in casting from the first film, that along with main characters played by John Goodman and Rosie O’Donnell had villains played by Halle Berry and freaking Kyle MacLachlan.
Jack Ryan – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
The whole appeal of Jack Ryan is that he isn’t an action hero. But as movies and TV became obsessed with turning everyone into a lowkey superhero, this CIA analyst just had to jump on a motorcycle and do some killer tricks. The result is yet another blurry action film lost in the horde of Bourne copycats.
For as awkward a transition it was, at least Ben Affleck didn’t have elaborate bathroom fights in The Sum Of All Fears. At least that movie knew it was a political thriller and not a tiresome action reboot. Also it has a sweet nuke scene, and that’s definitely worth a few points.
Agent Mulder – The X-Files
Technically not a recast in the traditional sense — but when David Duchovny choose to leave The X-Files, the series should have thrown money at the problem or died with him. Ultimately that’s what they were forced to do, but not before attempting to replace him (and later Gillian Anderson) for an entire season.
If there’s one thing this list has made very clear, it’s that whether or not an actor is good for a part has nothing to do with talent. And so while Robert Patrick is fantastic, he’s simply not the lunatic Agent Mulder we all grew to love.
Sarah Connor – Terminator Genisys
This won’t be the last time Terminator: Genisys appears on this list, because it is an incredibly bad movie. For that reason it’s hard to tell if Emilia Clarke’s emotionless portrayal of Sarah Connor is the fault of the actress or the half-assed screenwriting.
Either way — the deck was stacked against her from the beginning. Sarah Connor is, after all, a role that can only be played by Linda Hamilton. And yet, for some bizarre reason, the people who went out of their way to de-age Arnold Schwarzenegger failed to realize that.
Gellert Grindelwald – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
The idea that Colin Farrell, a gruff sort of gentleman who definitely doesn’t believe in magic, would be in a Harry Potter film was downright delightful. It was a great time to be alive. We all knew that no matter who he played, this brilliant and secretly-comedic actor would be an absolute pleasure to watch.
And it was true; he was great in this movie. Then he turned into Johnny Depp and the world wept. Society crumbled, for there was no more reason to progress. And now we’re stuck with him for as many movies as Warner Bros can scam out of a 120-page book until the sun explodes and the pain is finally over.
Shrek – Shrek
It’s hard to criticize a movie that made half a billion on a $60 million dollar budget, but here we are doing just that. Because while Shrek is a lot of fun — the version of this film about a misunderstood ogre in which Chris Farley recorded almost all of the dialogue before his untimely passing would have been far more profound.
But instead of this, the studio recast the role with Mike Myers — who unholstered one of his four voices to make this fantasy character inexplicably Scottish. It’s not the worst portrayal (again, this movie made so much money) but you can’t help and feel like he put way less consideration into this than what Farley would’ve brought to the table.
Kyle Reese – Terminator Genisys
Considering that the next Terminator is on its 4th “do over”, we’re fairly convinced that the entire franchise is secretly some kind of tax shelter of laundering scheme for James Cameron’s secret aquatic crime syndicate. Case in point: the infinitely baffling decision to take a war-shaken Kyle Reese and reboot him as a blank-faced flesh monolith.
Terminator: Genisys wasn’t just a grammatical insult, but an all-out assault on fans when it completely re-wrote the first two (and only good) films of the franchise. It was a bold choice compounded especially by the amazingly poor casting decisions it featured. What a nightmare film.
Lestat – Queen of the Damned
Friends, we have nothing against Stuart Townsend. Between The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and being passed up for Lord Of The Rings, the man has had a hard enough career as it is. This is rather about how unique the role of Lestat is in the career of Tom Cruise.
Lestat is ghoulish, bisexual, blonde predator who flies around assaulting Brad Pitt and Christian Slater. It’s way out of Cruise’s comfort zone. And for that alone, not seeing him reprise the role in Queen Of The Damned is a big letdown. It’s not Stuart’s fault; he was doomed from the beginning.
Mary Corleone – The Godfather Part III
While this does technically count as a “recasting” thanks to a child Mary appearing in The Godfather Part II, what makes this decision so particularly frustrating is that it was made out of desperation. You can’t, and shouldn’t, blame anyone involved in this crazy zero hour casting that forced Francis Ford Coppola to hire his own daughter.
It turns out that this role has originally gone to Winona Ryder, who got so far into the production that she even flew to Rome to play the part. However once there, Ryder suffered from nervous exhaustion and had to pull out of the film. After a brief studio panic, Coppola threw his completely untrained kin into the mix.
Clarice Starling – Hannibal
There’s no denying that Julianne Moore is a fantastic actress but putting aside the obvious observation that Jodie Foster absolutely owns the role of Clarice Starling, there’s another reason why this recasting is so frustrating. And that reason has very little to do with either actresses.
Once it was clear that Foster wasn’t coming back, the next in line for this iconic role was reportedly none other than Gillian Anderson. And rumor has it that due to her contract with The X-Files, she was forbidden from playing another FBI agent role at the time, forcing her to turn it down. What a missed opportunity!
Superman – Superman Returns
This isn’t actually about Brandon Routh, who was a perfectly acceptable stand in for Christopher Reeve’s version of Superman. No, this is about the other film that might have been. Unfamiliar? It was called Superman Lives and would have starred Nicolas Cage.
We’re not saying this Tim Burton-directed film featuring a giant spider fight would have been good… but rather way more interesting than the soft reboot we got instead. Superman Returns is an ultimately forgettable film — so it might as well have been crazy terrible on a level that only Batman & Robin could compete.
Genie – The Return of Jafar
Story goes that instead of his asking fee of $8 million dollars, Robin Williams took on the role of the genie for a mere $75,000 under the condition that Disney not use his name or image for the film’s marketing, nor have his character take up more that 25% of advertising artwork. Needless to say, Disney didn’t hold their end of the bargain.
And so, for the direct-to-video sequel, we got the voice of Homer Simpson instead. Not a bad choice, but certainly not Williams. Luckily for everyone, the newly hired movie chief eventually apologized to Williams and he returned for King Of Thieves (with a one million dollar salary).
Everyone – Captain Planet and the Planeteers
What if we told you that in its first few seasons, Captain Planet and the Planeteers featured the voice talents of Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, James Coburn, Dean Stockwell, Meg Ryan, Martin Sheen, and Sting? Would that sound crazy to you? Because it’s absolutely true.
For one reason or another, these actors eventually were replaced — presumably because their schedule couldn’t accommodate six seasons of eco-friendly superhero adventures. But don’t worry, because the later seasons still had LeVar Burton, Tim Curry, and freaking Malcolm McDowell to keep us entertained — the ladder replacing Sting in what is definitely an upgrade.
Shaggy – Scooby-Doo
Aside from a brief scene in The Descendants reminding everyone that he can actually act — Matthew Lillard has been making his living perfecting the role of Shaggy in over 130 appearances in the Scooby Doo franchise. For this reason, it’s not hard to give him ownership over the role right after Casey Kasem.
This is why it’s kinda heartbreak to learn that Lillard not only has been replaced by Will Forte for the reboot, but didn’t even get to learn he was being replaced until the reboot was announced. We know it’s hard to judge something that we haven’t even seen yet, but that’s pretty cold no matter how you try to slice it.
Freddy Krueger – A Nightmare on Elm Street
It seemed like such a no-brainer to give Jackie Earle Haley the role of Freddy Krueger that even Robert Englund was on board — expressing in interviews how happy he was with the casting. But for whatever reasons (perhaps the directing), the remake gave us a bafflingly serious portrayal.
Being one of the most unique horror monsters, what made Freddy work was how much fun he seemed to be having murdering sleeping teens while spouting off an encyclopedia of dad puns. The mix of tone made him scarier, something that was lost when the character was tweaked into a less-playful demeanor.
The Joker – Suicide Squad
We were never going to be happy with whoever stepped in to fill Heath Ledger’s clown shoes — so it made perfect sense to take the character of The Joker in a drastically different direction. That said… this was not the correct direction. This was not the correct direction at all.
The reason The Dark Knight’s portrayal was so effective is largely do to his elaborate attention to detail put into an overall nihilist worldview and appearance. The Joker wasn’t lazy, but ultimately didn’t care. And he certainly didn’t need to cover his body with expensive and elaborate “rebel” tattoos like a depressing edgelord.
Lex Luthor – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
One thing is for sure: Lex Luthor isn’t a bald Mark Zuckerberg. But, to be perfectly honest, we’re not sure if any of these actors completely nailed it when it came to the comic version of Lex Luthor. What we do know is that these casting choices got progressively worse with time, leading to the Jesse Eisenberg version we see here.
After all… had you asked me in 2006 what I thought about Kevin Spacey’s performance in Superman Returns — playing a rather abusive and terrible man — we would have said we really enjoyed it. Now? Not so much.
Norman Bates – Psycho
Obviously this was a bad choice. Obviously everything about this film was a bad choice. we’ve even heard a rumor that director Gus Van Sant’s decision to remake it shot-by-shot was an intentional protest to the absurdity of a studio remaking such a classic film.
And of course, choosing Vince Vaughn as the key role — while a pretty interesting choice — just didn’t work. While he’s more than proven himself to be a great dramatic actor since, hiring the dude from Swingers was the perfect statement on the futility of this remake.
Nick Morton – The Mummy (2017)
Sure, 2017’s The Mummy doesn’t technically include the same characters as the 1999 version — but the same archetypes are in place. There’s the adventurous male lead, the reluctant love interest who needs to be saved, the annoying sidekick, and of course there’s a mummy. Except in this version, everything is wrong and bad.
And while we’re giving this to the entire cast — it really goes to Tom Cruise himself, whose heavy star power no doubt altered the gravity of this film and made it more focused on his brand than the story itself. Nor does it help that the “original” 90s Mummy is absolutely fantastic while this version is a pandering slog of a tentpole.
Aside from this being a movie that no person should have ever thought to remake, what specifically made Min-sik Choi such a perfect choice for the role of a man imprisoned for 15 isolated years was the unmistakable gleam of wiry desperation in his eyes and face. He’s not a traditionally imposing man, but rather too crazy to pick a fight with.
You simply can’t recreate that with Josh Brolin, who looks and acts more like a bar brawl drunk than a dude who might take on a hallway of dudes out of the sheer necessity of it. But it’s not Brolin’s fault; there simply isn’t anyone who could have played this role like Choi — which is once again why no one should have remade this film.
Okay we guess this isn’t technically a casting decision… but while it’s still better than the grim, actionless 2014 version, the 1998 version of this iconic monster is downright insulting. That said, it’s easy to understand why the filmmakers felt they needed to update the character for modern CGI.
Coming off the heat of Jurassic Park, it’s clear that director Roland Emmerich was trying to ride that success with a more dinosaur-like representation. The result was obvious pandering in an otherwise incoherent film, leaving the audience groaning once we got to the obvious raptor-esque baby-Godzilla sequence.
What made Craig T. Nelson kinda perfect for Poltergeist was that he looks and acts like the ultimate suburban father — a walking grill cook setting up slip ‘n slides in between avoiding any affection with his sons. At least when he’s not getting high in bed with JoBeth Williams.
Sam Rockwell, on the other hand, looks like a guy who would get kicked out of a bowling alley for saying creepy things to someone’s kid. And for a film like Poltergeist, which is focused on the torment of an all-American suburban family, one patriarchal look is definitely more effective than the other.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
This might be the only item on this list that has nothing to do with performance but rather principle. If you’re not aware, the role of Lavender Brown had originally been played by two people: Kathleen Cauley and Jennifer Smith, both of which are black British actresses.
But when it came time for the character to have a romantic relationship with Ron, the role was given to Jessie Cave — a white-skinned actress. And while there are a million reasons she may have got that role, fans couldn’t help notice how the coincidental whitewashing for the now-speaking part. Pretty awkward of you, HP.
Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Putting aside the fact that a Japanese god of thunder should be played by, ya know, a dude from Japan… Christopher Lambert managed to make what could have been a boring character actually charming to watch. And while in terms of talent, landing James Remar as his replacement is actually a pretty sweet deal.
Alas, it didn’t work. And yes, perhaps that’s because this movie is painful to watch on levels that don’t involve the casting whatsoever. And yes, the original Mortal Kombat film isn’t that great either… so what are we even doing talking about this? Let’s all agree to never speak of this again.
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