Top 10 most WTF casting decisions of all time
#10 – Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher
Reacher is 6’5″ tall with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds. He has ice-blue eyes and dirty blond hair. He has very little body fat, and his muscular physique is completely natural.
Yes that sounds like Tom Cruise.
#9 – Katharine Hepburn, Dragon Seed
It’s a well known fact that back in the Forties, if you needed a non-Caucasian character on screen, all you had to do was rub something brown on a nice white actor’s face and put them in an ethnic robe. So easy!
Of course, some filmmakers made the extra effort by using actual makeup and not just reaching for the nearest handful of dirt. In the case of Dragon Seed (which is, despite what you might suspect, not a martial arts porn film), Katharine Hepburn – she of the most RP accent it is possible for a Yank to have – was cast as a fiesty Chinese peasant.
Just check out those fake Chinese eyes! That’s what I love most about the makers of Dragon Seed. Their attention to detail.
#8 – Keanu Reeves, Little Buddha
Who better to play notorious sexpot Buddha than beautiful glossy manhunk Keanu Reeves?
Yes, it’s true. Perma-stoned Keanu Reeves played Siddhartha himself, totally finding enlightenment all the way back in 1993. Of course, it is possible that the filmmakers were subtly trying to suggest that Buddhism is just a big fat metaphor for getting high but even still…Keanu Reeves? As BUDDHA?
If’s that still not enough weirdness for you, this film also starred Chris Isaak.
#7 – Keira Knightley, Domino
Tony Scott’s 2005 film Domino is based on a surprising true story: the eponymous heroine Domino Harvey was the public-school educated daughter of wealthy English actor Laurence Harvey, who shirked a life of comfort and glamour to become a bounty hunter in LA. What with this being an incredibly appealing story (Harvey was also a total hottie, having signed to Ford models for a short time) Hollywood came calling and, lo and behold, cast starlet Keira Knightley in the lead role.
Now Keira is not, as many people like to clamour, a terrible actress. However, she’s also certainly not someone possessing a physique that would lead you to believe she could ever beat you in an arm wrestle, or open a fridge without someone else’s assistance. She is a teeny tiny person who could probably not even hold up a gun, is what I’m trying to get at here and – no matter how cutglass her English accent, or pretty her face – that’s seriously distracting in a film where she plays someone whose job it is to literally kick butts and take names.
#6 – Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie, Alexander
Angelina Jolie is eleven months older than Colin Farrell. In fact, she has been pretty much her whole life. Even when she was playing Farrell’s mother Olympias in Oliver Stone’s notorious biopic of the famous Macedonian. What a difficult birth that must have been.
A lot of things are confusing about the performances of these two. Farrell’s golden locks for example (we all know Alexander the Great had strawberry blonde hair). But perhaps most baffling is that Jolie does a sort of Eastern European accent the whole way through, while Farrell – and indeed the rest of the cast – are deliberately Irish.
#5 – John Wayne, The Conqueror
Now we’re all familiar with the ol’ story that 1 in every 2 people or whatever is the great-nephew or something of Genghis Khan – what with his being an incorrigible shagger back in the day. But it’s one thing to impress someone in a bar by telling them you’re 1/8000th Mongol, and another to actually dress up and pretend to be Genghis Khan. Yes, we’re looking at you John Wayne.
In a decision Wayne would seriously come to regret, he signed on to play famed cheeky chappy Genghis Khan – who you might remember from “Creating the Mongol Empire” and “Wholesale Massacre”. Panned by critics, The Conqueror has gone down in history as one of Hollywood’s biggest blunders, which is in no small part due to the casting. John Wayne, a man who built his career upon being the most American man alive, as a Mongolian Emperor? NOPE.
Not only that, but this film was so bad it literally gave everyone cancer.
#4 – Joseph Gordon Levitt/Bruce Willis, Looper
Rian Johnson’s Looper – or “I Liked This Movie But I Couldn’t Stop Looking At The Fake Nose” as it’s known to most people – is a great sci-fi flick, full of headachey time paradoxes, and fancy guns and one really badass telekinetic child. What is hard to explain, though, is the casting of the leads. Bruce Willis, being the seasoned action star that he is, makes perfect sense on his own, as does Joseph Gordon-Levitt. But putting them together, as younger and older versions of the same man?
If there’s one thing bound to distract your audience, it’s blatant contact lenses and even blatant-er prosthetics all up in JGL’s nice face. Why they didn’t just cast Keanu Reeves as the older version and turn it into a movie about Buddha we’ll never know.
#3 – Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert, Highlander
“There’s not a chance in hell we’re hiring TWO actors with completely inappropriate accents! There can be only one!” said the producer of Highlander, puffing on his cigar. “Specifically that French guy,” he added, pointing at Christopher Lambert, who was at that moment eating a baguette.
Just then there was a great crash and the doors of the swanky Hollywood board room flew open. “That’sh where you’re wrong!” shouted Sean Connery, clattering into the room on the back of a magnificent black stallion. “I shall play the great Egyptian Shpaniard Juan Shanchez Villa-Lobosh Ramirez and it will be glorioush!”
“Bof,” said Christopher Lambert.
#2 – Robert Pattinson, Little Ashes
Edward Cullen as Salvador Dalí, one of the most eccentric, flamboyant and pointy-faced men in the history of art? What is this, OPPOSITE WORLD?
Not only does Pattinson – who could on most occasions be replaced by a softly-spoken slice of bread – bear no resemblance to Dalí in terms of his personality, manner or speaking voice, he doesn’t even LOOK like the guy. He would literally have done a better job as one of the melting clocks.
#1 – Half the cast, Prometheus
There’s bad casting, there’s stunt casting, and then there’s the utterly inexplicable casting of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Let’s have a sitdown and talk this through, shall we?
In the lead is the very Swedish Noomi Rapace as the supposedly English Elizabeth Shaw. Instead of just making the character Swedish, or hiring an English actress – or at the very least, one who could actually pull off the accent – Scott hired Rapace, before going on to cast (American) Patrick Wilson as her barely glimpsed father, for some reason or other.
With the lead out the way it was time for Scott to pick someone for the pivotal, emotionally anchoring role of Elizabeth’s love interest Charlie. Acknowledging that it had to be someone with real gravitas and intensity, he naturally went for Logan Marshall-Green, aka the Tom Hardy-lookin’ motherfucker who was totally dreamy as Ryan’s brother in The OC.
Think that’s enough weird casting for one film? ENTER GUY PEARCE AS AN OLD MAN FOR NO REASON. As became clear after the film was released, Pearce was initially supposed to film some scenes without the old age makeup, as the younger Peter Weyland. In the end – before they even got round to filming them – Ridley Scott decided that these scenes would be “a little distracting”. So…more distracting than Guy Pearce dressed up like Winona Ryder at the end of Edward Scissorhands for absolutely no reason?
Oh, and just for good measure, Scott also threw in the very English Rafe Spall to do a very dodgy sometimes-Southern American accent.
Ridley Scott, you crazy diamond.