Chris: We all know these kinds of films. You will be watching and thoroughly enjoying a great film when BAM! Like a drunken uncle stumbling through a family reunion scaring the kids, an unwanted face will appear on the screen that just has no place in the film. Maybe it is a music star trying to make a breakthrough in films, maybe it is an animated annoyance, but whatever it is you immediately start singing the song, “One of these things is not like the others…” until it completely distracts you from the movie. Pac and I are going to regale you with some of the greatest casting missteps. Let’s get it started with one of mine…
#10 Kevin Costner in The Untouchables
What a great film. There are so many classic lines and moments of passion and rage played out by the likes of Sean Connery and Robert DeNiro. It has a great script and a great director, what could possibly go….wait…who is that cardboard cut out in a trench coat and fedora delivering his lines with the conviction of professor who has given the same lecture on organic chemistry 500 times? It is none other than Kevin Costner, trying to drain the energy from Connery in every scene.
I'm pretty sure his face stayed like this the whole movie.
He is like that guy in an improv group that no one wants to do a scene with because he blocks them at every turn. It took all of Connery, DeNiro, and Andy Garcia’s effort to salvage that movie and they did a great job.
Now look here, son. When they call 'Action!' You have to do something. I don't care what it is, but please for the love of God do something.
Costner did not do nearly enough justice to such a great ending line as, “I believe I’ll have a drink” and I can just hear Brian DePalma explaining to his friends, “We did 97 takes and that was the best one.” There are so many other actors who could have played that better. I mean Kevin Bacon was in everything in the 80’s. Why couldn’t they get him?
Pac: Sure Chris, if you had to pick a weak link in the Untouchables It’d definitely be Costner, but The Untouchables is still a great movie, certainly in my top 25, so I can’t say that he ruined it too much, for me at least. Besides, Costner made great baseball movies like Field of Dreams and Bull Durham so don’t rag on him too much. Not to mention he had two very good performances in a row in 2006/2007, first with The Guardian followed up by Mr. Brooks.
#9 Dane Cook in Mr. Brooks
Too bad Mr. Brooks was almost ruined by Dane Cook.
Dane Cook is only an average comedian and his comedic performances aren’t even very good. Sure he was funny in Waiting but name me another movie you liked with Dane Cook. Mr. Brooks is a very good psychological thriller and otherwise well cast. Hell, the tension between Mr. Brooks (Costner) and his imaginary counterpart Marshall (William Hurt) really carried the movie and the kill scenes were chilling, this movie could have been great. This is a prime example of poor casting, this role should not have gone to a comedic actor. You can’t really blame the director though, he probably didn’t realize Dane Cook was a comedian.
"Was that a joke? No seriously, I wouldn't know a joke if I heard one. Was that a joke?"
Chris: I have no argument with that. But, what I do have an argument with is….
#8 Katie Holmes in Batman Begins
I really wonder how much Tom Cruise paid the casting crew for this genius move?
Christian Science went uncredited for a hefty portion of the production cost.
While, in my opinion, this was one of the most pointless uses of a love story in a superhero movie , couldn’t they have picked someone who at least could have brought some more depth to the role? What I do have to give Christopher Nolan and crew credit for (outside of having one of the greatest filmographies right now) is the fact that they got rid of her for the second film. Since, in the first film her character doesn’t really have a point other than to hold Batman back, you would think she would try to make herself known by bringing a little bit of screen presence to the table, but it almost seemed like every time she came on the screen it’s like she wasn’t there anyway because she was so dull and lifeless.
Christian Bale moving Katie Holmes off the set to continue with the scene.
You know what she would have been a good pick for? The Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four because then at least she would have an excuse for not having screen presence.
Pac: Katie Holmes was terrible, you have to give a lot of credit to the Nolans for replacing her with Gyllenhaal mid-franchise. You can’t say that her character was pointless though; Rachel Dawes was a catalyst for a lot of the plot in the 2nd movie, and her death is important to Bruce Wayne’s character development. You know what character was pointless…
#7 Chris Tucker in The 5th Element
There is a reason this movie has become a cult classic. It is much smarter than the campy science fiction film it first appears to be (it is strongly rooted in theology), the cinematography and effects earned it an Oscar nomination, and it is very well cast. Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich had great chemistry, and Gary Oldman is one of the best actors in Hollywood; unfortunately all of that almost came undone with Chris Tucker as Ruby Rhod. I’m not sure whether to blame Tucker for his over-the-top and often annoying portrayal as a flamboyant DJ escorting Korben Dallas on the planet Fhloston Paradise or blame Luc Besson for writing this character in the first place but I would have rather Katie Holmes played Ruby Rhod because I would have been able to ignore her.
Also, I’m still unsure whether the character was supposed to be a man, woman, or some sort of alien. Decide for yourself, if you can endure it…
Chris: My vote is for a mix of all three. With that pleasant thought I will continue on with….
#6 Emile Hirsch in The Girl Next Door
When Pac and I were first coming up with the idea for this list I tossed this one out there as an afterthought and never thought I would actually keep this one on the list. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Hirsch deserves it for playing this character so blandly. The only time he shows any charisma is when he is on ecstasy at the award reception. It is one thing to be shown up by one or two supporting characters, but he gets shown up by every single one of them. I mean, Timothy Olyphant was perfect as Kelly, Elisha Cuthbert was not only va-va vooom sexy, but she played her part extremely well. Then, there was Paul Dano who brought some depth to what could have been a stock character and Chris Marquette played a great motor mouth. Why couldn’t Hirsch feed off of the energy? If it wasn’t for these people around him, the movie would have failed. His role was important and could have been more sympathetic, but instead he plays it boring and I wished Elisha Cuthbert had ended up with Klitz or Eli or someone who at least deserved it.
The expression on Cuthbert's face seems to echo my sentiments.
I am pretty sure that Olyphant was like, “Can I really beat him in the car scene? Please?” Maybe he did and the director just let it go. I wouldn’t blame him.
Pac: That’s twice now you’ve included the main character/protagonist of a film on this list, I feel compelled to do the same and I know you’ll support this choice.
#5 Nicolas Cage in Con Air
It was hard for me to put this performance on this list, not because I like Nicolas Cage, but because I couldn’t decide which of his movies to include on this list. If I ever need a Hollywood agent I will most definitely hire Cage’s agent. How he was able to successfully sell this man as an action hero is a mystery to me. The Rock and Con Air should have been enough to end that phenomenon but somehow Cage got the following resume:
- Gone in Sixty Seconds
- National Treasure
- Ghost Rider
- Bangkok Dangerous
- Drive Angry 3D
Seriously!?! In what world does Nicolas Cage get to be an action star? Why don’t we just make that dorky kid from Disney’s Even Stevens an action hero while we’re at it…
...Life is unfair sometimes
But back to Con Air. With an ensemble cast including: John Cusack, John Malkovich, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, and Dave Chappelle, how did they miss the mark so terribly with Nicolas Cage? My thoughts are that Jerry Bruckheimer intended to have someone else star in this film (Bruce Willis?) and either couldn’t secure him or was convinced that Nicolas Cage would be a good alternative. The acting was one dimensional, the accent was terrible, and the fact that Nicolas Cage was capable of kicking ass was a joke.
Not to mention the hair
Chris: I’ll tell you what happened. Cage whined to his Uncle Francis, one of the greatest directors of all time (if you exclude Jack). You know who else is a great director? Martin Scorcese. He is one of the best eyes for talent too, but there is one thing I have to take up with him. Why the heck did you pick….
#4 Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York
If there is one thing about that film that bugs me, it is her. I think she got her Irish accent from watching a Lucky Charms commercial, but then the thing about it is that it comes and goes whenever she feels like it. I’m sure Scorcese had so many other options for women to play that role, but for some reason he picked Diaz. I keep running the repeated Arrested Development line about George Michael’s girlfriend, Ann, right now.
She has almost no dramatic capability whatsoever. Every time she says something dramatic, I just end up laughing to myself and I lose the ruse of the great movie for a split second. I like how Leo DiCaprio never looks interested in her either, but sucks it up because he is working with Scorcese or something. Fortunately, she isn’t in the film that long, but had just a big enough role to bother me. I kept praying that one of those knives from Daniel Day Lewis would miss just slightly and remove her character from the film entirely.
So close...whoa, she really looks determined to ruin this film.
Pac: I’m Irish and from New York so I felt personally insulted by that performance; and to make matters worse, they costumed her as a ginger. At least Scorcese didn’t miscast two roles in that movie like Michael Bay did with…
#3 Ben Affleck & Liv Tyler in Armageddon
I mentioned in my Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time how much I dislike Liv Tyler as an actress, so it’s no surprise I didn’t enjoy her in this movie. I don’t like Liv Tyler in any movie she is in, but why ruin a great action movie with a love story subplot involving her and Ben Affleck? A lot of notoriety has been given to Ben Affleck recently for resurrecting his career with movies like The Town, but in order to resurrect your career you need to kill it first. Affleck did that in three easy steps:
- 3. Jennifer Lopez
The love story between Ben Affleck’s character A.J. and Liv Tyler’s character Grace Stamper (daughter of Bruce Willis’s character Harry) took up way too much screen time in this movie, had little to no chemistry, and was entirely soundtracked by Aerosmith. Additionally, both characters were given too much screen time apart from each other, especially Liv Tyler who’s climactic scene in the control room is unemotional and boring. Not to mention they ripped of a much better scene from Days of Thunder and substituted “Sweet & Low” for an animal cracker.
Ben: "This scene was much sexier with Nicole Kidman." Liv: "Baby you have such sweet pillow talk."
Now only if Michael Bay could resurrect his career…
Chris: If Michael Bay never makes another film, I could die a happy man. I hope he never even attempts to resurrect his career and he just stays buried beneath the pile of money and crap that came out of the Transformers series.
For my final entry in this article…
#2 Julia Roberts in Ocean’s Eleven
The Ocean’s movies tried to resurrect the coolness of the Rat Pack. The combination of George Clooney and Brad Pitt was meant to mimic the duo of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. So a group of cool guys deserves a cool chick to fill out the movie, right? When you think cool chick did you ever think it would be Julia Roberts? I sure as heck didn’t. She is a downer on the whole movie. She is like that girlfriend that keeps your best friend away and whenever she hangs out with the group complains loudly the whole time.
It looks like that part in Anchorman where everyone looks away when Julia Roberts looks at the camera.
George Clooney never looks excited to see her when they are on screen. He looks like he would rather be hanging out with the cool kids, but is contractually obligated to spend time with her, like a business partner…or a male escort.
I told you not to look at me while we negotiate price.
They could have found so many other women to play a cool chick trying to move on from her past. The only reason they brought her on was to be a big name to match the clout of the other names on the docket. However, I would have settled for a lesser known actress to match the cool factor instead of the marquee name.
Unfortunately, they brought her around for a second time in the sequel and gave her a double role. The first film was at least salvaged by the great ensemble cast, but it wasn’t enough to counteract two Julia Roberts in the second film. Not even George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, and Andy Garcia combined could do that.
Pac: That is true, she wasn’t involved in Ocean’s 13 and that film was much better than the …12. Despite all the names we’ve discussed, there’s one actor that comes to mind though that ruins every good movie he is in. I’m sure readers have been screaming his name in anticipation ever since number 10 and it’s no surprise that the #1 great film almost ruined by poor casting would be…
#1 Keanu Reeves in Dracula (and everything else in his filmography)
Poor Gary Oldman. This is the 3rd film included on this list in which Gary Oldman has been involved (Batman Begins, The 5th Element). This is no coincidence, he is a great actor and rarely does he make a lackluster film but it’s disappointing he often gets stuck in films remembered more for their terrible performances by other stars. Maybe this is why he’s never won an Oscar. I have no doubt that he will some day though.
- I’d like to thank my director for not casting Katie Holmes, Chris Tucker, or Keanu Reeves this time.
Dracula was Oscar bait for Oldman. He had the titular role in a classic noir film with a lot of history of critical success. Anthony Hopkins had a supporting role and was fresh off winning an oscar for playing Hannibal Lector, not to mention that the film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy). Since this movie’s release Coppola has criticized his decision for casting Reeves in the film, claiming that he wanted a young, hot star to draw the female demographic. Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise were both young hot stars at the time (though Pitt hadn’t really made a name for himself yet) and they did make a pretty good vampire movie themselves just two years later, but hindsight is 20/20.
And what about everything else? Here’s a list of other movies Reeves almost ruined in chronological order:
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
- Speed (1994)
- Chain Reaction (1996)
- The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
- The Matrix (1999) I’ll admit though this role was perfect for him
- The Watcher (2000) He actually did ruin this movie
- Hard Ball (2001)
- Constantine (2005)
- Street Kings (2008)
- and I’m sure there are others that I haven’t seen as well
Whoa! Harsh Bro.
This list is probably very incomplete. So what are some of your least favorite casting decisions? Leave them in the comments!