More often than not, Hollywood gets it right when casting actors for roles. They have turned already established actors into legends by giving them that role they will always be remembered for. In other cases, they have produced some epic movies which have made superstars out of unknowns. But sometimes, something goes seriously wrong with the casting process and the most unlikely or unsuitable actors are chosen for the role.
In this list, we’ll concentrate on those specific movies. This list doesn’t focus on the movie itself necessarily being bad, although that may be an unfortunate side effect of bad casting. Instead, the list looks at how for some unknown reason the actors who were chosen managed to beat out the competition; who in some cases were better suited to the roles.
The movies listed don’t necessarily fall into the same genre, and you’ll find a TV series listed as well. However, they all have one glaringly similar thing in common: The casting sucked!
10. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop
Schwarzenegger plays John Kimble, a detective who has been chasing Cullen Crisp for many years. When he finally catches up with Crisp, he still has to locate the money Crisp stole. Enter Crisp’s ex-wife, who is supposed to have all the money. The problem is she has moved to a small town with their son, and changed their names.
In order to find them, Arnie has to take on the undercover role of kindergarten teacher. Obviously the idea was to choose a “tough guy” to play the role of Detective Kimble. Apparently the idea was the tougher the actor playing the hapless Detective John Kimble, the better.
Arnold obviously fits that description to a T, with movies like Terminator and Commando helping to cement his image. But on what planet was anyone going to believe that the police department would chose a candidate whose Austrian accent was thicker than pea soup? The choice of Arnie for this role was not the best one, despite his ability to do comedy. The accent was a major problem as it didn’t fit into the storyline anywhere.
9. Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire
Quite probably, most people’s reaction when they heard this movie was coming out was that it would be tongue-in-cheek – that there would be plenty of opportunities for Anderson to poke fun at herself and the ludicrous idea that she could be a serious action hero. Sadly, that was not the case.
Instead of jumping on the chance to make a lighthearted movie where a loveable bimbo managed to save the day through humor and good fashion sense, they tried to make their audience believe she was serious. Watching Anderson in Barb Wire was akin to watching Barbie in heels shoot up the “icky bad guys”.
8. Christopher Reeve as Superman
He is by far probably the most famous image in anyone’s mind when they think of Superman, but that doesn’t mean he was initially the best choice. This was a classic example of Hollywood picking the wrong person for the role.
Many people are unaware that actor and bodybuilder David Prowse (better known for playing Darth Vader in the Star Wars series) tried out unsuccessfully for the role of Superman. Instead, Hollywood decided to give the role to Christopher Reeve, a relatively unknown actor at the time. Prowse was not discarded all together however; he was given the task of turning an asthmatic, 175 pound unknown into the Man of Steel.
For this, Reeve needed to gain an extra 40lbs of pure muscle. This was accomplished by sticking putting Reeve on a strict diet of steak for breakfast, lunch and dinner. His workout routine included two hours a day weight lifting, running and jumping on a trampoline for an hour and a half every day. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just pick Prowse for the role?
7. John Wayne in The Conqueror
The fact that it was ridiculous and highly offensive seemed to be irrelevant. John Wayne was at the height of his career when he auditioned for the role of Genghis Khan in the movie The Conqueror.
Apparently, after reading the script John Wayne decided he must have the lead role. In and of itself, the decision by the casting director to actually consider Wayne for the role, let alone go on to award it to him shows a serious lack of judgment to say the least.
Hardly surprising then that the movie filmed in Utah instead of the Gobi Desert, with Wayne proclaiming “I feel the Tartar woman is me, and my blood says, take her!” was a flop. Indeed, the movie was such fiasco it earned itself a place on the list of 100 worst movies of all time.
6. David Carradine in the movie Kung Fu
Kung Fun was a spin-off of the series of the same name, also starring Carradine. The most obvious reason for not casting Carradine in the role of Kwai Chang Caine would be because he wasn’t half-Chinese. But, perhaps an even more legitimate reason for not casting him is that for a series whose very name was “Kung Fu”, you would expect the lead to be an expert.
As it happens, Carradine didn’t know any kung fu when the series started and instead drew on his skills as a dancer to try to fake the movements required.
This was one of the reasons why the martial arts scenes were often shot in slow motion. It required skill and expertise to carry out the moves and Carradine simply didn’t have any. He did eventually learn martial arts however and went on star in his own instructional videos. But at the time of filming “Grasshopper” didn’t have a clue what he was doing.