Whilst I’ve always placed more importance in factors like writing, directing and producing, a choice of actors can make or break a film. After all, for the casual movie fan The Godfather is an Al Pacino film, not a Francis Ford Coppola film. Star factor is often the difference between financial success and a flop. When the casting is off, even the most well produced film can come apart at the seems. When we watch a film we expect to be immersed into a convincing cinematic world, and a bad casting choice can be unforgivably jarring. So, here are those times when the casting was really off:
Mickey Rooney – Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Want to know why this notorious decision is so awful? Mickey Rooney plays a character called Mr. Yunioshi. Do I really have to say anymore… I get that the 1960’s were far less politically correct than the modern day, but, come on, surely this was insensitive by the standards of any era. Rooney, once the biggest Hollywood star in the world, gives a shameful performance, playing the most stereotypical and offensive Asian caricature imaginable. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the best romantic comedies ever made, and luckily is a fantastic watch which has aged incredibly well, but this piece of miscasting really does taint the affair and threaten to lay bare its age. It’s almost hilarious because of how unacceptable it is within the context of a mainstream Hollywood movie.
John Wayne – The Conqueror (1956)
How did this even happen? I wish I had been in the boardroom when this idea was discussed. For this to happen there were people who genuinely believed that John Wayne was the best choice to play Genghis Khan. G E N G H I S K H A N. The Mongolian warlord was played by the king of Westerns. Makes about as much sense as people paying to see a Transformers film. Wayne was a fine actor within the Western genre, but he was never going to pull this one off. Which American star could have to be fair to him? This baffling piece of casting was one destined for notoriety, and deservedly so. It was an awful choice which fit right in with an equally awful film. Hey, at the very least it’s the only reason anyone knows this otherwise forgettable film. Maybe it wasn’t so bad a choice after all! Okay, it sucked…
Eddie Redmayne – Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Eddie Redmayne + Villain = Crap. Yep, because when I think of an intimidating antagonist, Redmayne, the dimple faced, giggly, skinny guy is definitely the most fear inspiring actor I think of. Redmayne is, for the most part, a decent enough actor, but his turn in Jupiter Ascending was catastrophic. His nice guy demeanour was far too clear to see. Whether it be his hilariously sporadic and over the top shouted lines, or his attempts to create a brooding and ominous tone, it was far too artificial. Whilst this film is dire regardless of this Redmayne misfire, it definitely drags it further down. Eddie, the bad guy role is not for you buddy.
Vince Vaughn – Psycho (1998)
A shot for shot remake of arguably Hitchcock’s most beloved film? Yeah, this one was doomed from the start. However, Vince Vaughn did no favours to this much maligned disaster. Now an established comedy actor (though not a great one at that), Vaughn was still trying to find his feet at the time of this film. Fair enough, a young actor has every right to try and find their calling in the filmic world, I’m just glad Vaughn learnt from this. He is not an actor who can play a complex, disturbed antagonist, and he sure as hell can’t do justice to one of the greatest films ever made. Thank you Vaughn for not subjecting us to a performance like this again.
Noah Ringer – The Last Airbender (2010)
There are so many things wrong with picking the Caucasian American actor Noah Ringer to play the Asian Aang. Shyamalan could have been bold and given an Asian actor, a group hugely underrepresented in Hollywood, a chance to shine. But, nope, he went for an American instead. It’s an insult to both fans of the series and the Asian community, and isn’t really excusable in the present day. However, even though this was a huge mistake, it might’ve been somewhat forgivable if the chosen actor could at least have shone. Of course they didn’t. Ringer is the definition of wooden. He seems to have been given one take per scene, and clearly hasn’t heard of the word ’emotion’. Even though he got the clunkiest of Shyamalan nonsense, he is to blame for such a horrendous performance. No wonder he’s a relatively unknown actor.