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The 10 Worst Movie Casting Choices of All Time

31 March 2017 | Features, Other Lists | by Claire Strauch

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

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

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

superman III

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

Hollywood seems to delight in picking Caucasian actors and trying to pass them off as Asian with some rather ineptly applied eyeliner. In the 1950’s before political correctness had taken hold, it was common to have white actors playing the roles of other ethnicities. 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-fu-carradine

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.

 

 

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  • Zwei

    colin farrell in alexander

  • bourgeoisie scum

    what sort of know nothing plebian wrote this article? Prowse can’t act and Reeves was iconic as Superman. Arnold was great in Kindergarten Cop and Dalton is a great actor who was perfectly cast in some unfairly dismissed films.

    • AmazingAmy

      Yes Reeves is the best superman ever….writer simply discredit him merely because his physique.

      Dalton’s pitch perfect for Bond (he is most underrated James Bond ever). Alba quite good for F4

      If you ask biggest miscast ever…i will answer every asian role that should be played by asian, instead played by hollywood actor aka whitewashing…

      • Hanz Offman.

        People complaining about whitewashing should go and fornicates themselves with a splintered piece of wood.

      • bourgeoisie scum

        problem is that when it comes to big budget movies, no sane executive is going to greenlight the films without a major bankable star. So until a bankable asian actor emerges, yer gonna get what you get.

        • Ga5ton

          The thing is, plenty of blockbusters have been made with almost an entire cast of nobodies. Perhaps there could be a succesful movie featuring an asian actor who doesn’t need to start in dozens of small budget films before he’s somewhat renowned, but of course, that would still be a risk for the studio.

          • bourgeoisie scum

            name a $150m+ budgeted film starring a cast of nobodies over the last 20 years. sure back in the old days blockbusters could risk it as even with inflation the budgets were less risky, these days, when you are locking up $150m production and $100m marketing budget, nobody is going to take that risk. it would be career suicide

  • Colombiarocks Nrules

    What about Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, all the casting of Dragon Ball. Christopher Reeve? Seriously? Maybe you are the only ones that think he was a bad choice. Schwarzenegger wasn’t a bad choice in Kirdergarten Cop, put someone like hime was the purpose of that comedy garbage.

  • Keith Casey Ahlas

    Christopher Reeves as Superman? Really? That guy WAS Superman. Arnold made Kindergarten Cop probably ten times funnier than it should have been. Timothy Dalton is the most under appreciated James Bond in the entire series, I’ll say he’s even better than the over rated Roger Moore. If you want bad casting, Keanu Reeves in everything but the Matrix, Bill & Ted, or John Wick, Sandra Bullock in “The Net” and Ryan Reynolds as “The Green Lantern”

  • Doby Gillis

    Get the fuck out of here with Christopher Reeve wrong for superman. That’s some ignorant bs right there.

  • Tim O’Hare

    I’m sorry but you are way off the mark in many cases. Kindergarten Cop was an Arnie vehicle. It wouldn’t have worked without the biggest action star of the time in the lead role. That was the whole joke, an action man totally out of his depth teaching a kindergarten class.

    David Prowse could play Superman, but he would have struggled as Clark Kent. Christopher Reeve was great as he was made for the part of Clark Kent and, with a bit of training, he could become Superman. In any case, it’s not unprecedented for an actor to need to extensively prepare for a role. That’s what acting is.

    And Timothy Dalton was the greatest James Bond. If you apply the same barometer you used for Jack Reacher, Dalton is the most similar to Fleming’s Bond of all the actors.

  • Max Blancke

    The raving about “whitewashing” is pretty tiresome. The whole point of acting is about portraying a person who you are not. Quvenzhané Wallis gets to play “Annie”, and that is great. Even though she is not an orphan.
    You are just too obsessed with race. Would anyone remember “Kung-Fu” without Carradine? It was a popular show for four seasons plus the film, and carried on to “Kill Bill”.
    I remember only two things about “Kindergarten Cop”. one, a kid giving a basic anatomy lesson. The other moment was Arnold exclaiming that ‘Its not a tumor!”.

  • Padraig McWeeney

    Cruise was good as Jack Reacher.

    • Hanz Offman.

      I really came around to cruise as reacher. Cruise for a Reacher round, if you will.

  • Raphael Bruckner

    Cruise as Reacher was a great choice. Who is the dim twat that wrote this article….apparently taste of cinema made a really bad choice…how about Star War and young Darth Vader there was a bad casting choice

  • Sonny Maxwell

    I disagree mightily with Dalton as Bond but you can never miscast Jessica Alba. Ever.

  • Gill

    Reeves, Arnie and Dalton miscast? Is this article some kind of April Fools joke?

  • fantail31

    Um..Mickey Rooney as the Chinese neighbour in Breakfast At Tiffanys. Didnt even make this list! Still unsure about Alec Guiness as an Arab in the majestic Lawrence Of Arabia. And Mark Hamill – Star Wars. Sacrilege I know but….. and Jeff Chandler as Cochise the Apache Warrior in Cochise.

    • Grace Skerp

      Let us not forget Donna Reed as Sacajawea in The Far Horizons. That’s blue eyed WASP princess Reed.

  • Adrian

    I agree with your writing on many actors on this list, but Reeves added a lot of charm to his part as Superman, so much that still very few, even with the abundance of superhero movies today, have yet to surpass. And I kind of think Tom Cruise fits, although I haven’t read the books.

  • Aisha Sabila

    BEN AFFLECK AS BATMAN!!

    • I’m sorry, nope. BEN KICKS ASS.
      As much as i hated his casting at the beginning, he proved everyone wrong. IMO, he is in the top 3 with Keaton and Bale. His Batman & Bruce wayne has the potential to beat both of them in future.

      • Maryanne

        LOL!!!

  • Lars Franssen

    My pick would have been Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings. He had exactly one facial expression through six hours of film.
    And then, of course, there’s Hayden Christensen in Star Wars.

    • Terek Brajan

      9+ hours…..

      • Lars Franssen

        In the first one he actually smiles once or twice!

  • Fredric Dong

    Chris Pine as Captain Kirk.

  • Grace Skerp

    Re Chris Reeve as Superman. So Christian Bale and Robert De Niro were poor choices for The Machinist and Raging Bull because they altered their physical appearance for those roles?

  • Mortimer

    Leonardo Di Caprio as Howard Hughes in The Aviator. He looked like a kid pretending to be 40 y o man. Not believable at all.

  • fcosta

    This is maybe the worst list ever on this site.

    “Wouldn’t it have been easier to just pick Prowse for the role?” This doesn’t meen it would be better. It would have also been easier to just cast a fat older guy to portray old Jake Lamotta in Raging Bull… this argument doesn’t make sense.
    A good casting choice is finding the best actor for the role, not the easier one.. Reeves IS Superman.

    Arnold miscast in Kindergarten Cop? The whole point of that movie was his “fish out of the water” kind of comedy… The big, tough, action guy teaching young kids.

    Alba did a great job bringing the character of Sue Storm to the screen???
    Really??? This is one of the worst superhero movies ever! And the actors are just so bad in it. And probably, Alba, from all of them, is the worst one.

  • Luke Parker

    A few things about this article really piss me off. Here they are in reduced/list form:
    -Christopher Reeves was indisputably the best Superman we will EVER see. No questions about it.
    -Dick Van Dyke, though not the best with the Cockney accent, has delighted millions of children as the exuberant chimney sweep for decades. Just because he didn’t have the greatest impression, you cannot downgrade the majesty he brought to ‘Mary Poppins,’ one of the greatest children’s films of all time.
    -Oh, and here’s a newsflash: NO ROBIN HOODS EVER HAVE AN ENGLISH ACCENT (with few exceptions)! Look at Errol Flynn, probably the most iconic actor for the portrayal: he didn’t have an english accent. Why isn’t he here? Costner wasn’t the best Robin Hood, for sure, but you can’t say he was the worst because he didn’t have an english accent. That is a terrible argument.

  • Hal Jordan

    Terrible list. Maybe the worst list I’d seen in Taste of Cinema. Christopher Reeve a bad choice just because would be easier to cast David Prowse? Really?

  • Ga5ton

    So basically, let’s forget about the talent and cast people acording to their ethnicity? Nobody gives a damn about the tone of the skin of Jessica Alba, people were paying attention to her awful performance, she didn’t do a ”great job bringing the character of Sue Storm to the screen” and the fact that she wasn’t as wite as snow had nothing to do with it.

  • Otto T. Goat

    Timothy Dalton was OK as bond, however he could have been a great Bond villain.

  • aceblack1965

    Unfortunately there can only be one #1 on this list: Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone in The Godfather Part III.

  • V.C. Privitera

    Seriously, you people need to get over Tom Cruise being cast as Jack Reacher.

    Making such a fuss about simply the character’s height and build as being the focal argument is retarded, yes retarded.

    I don’t care if fans of the book-series are all butt hurt over Cruise’s casting in the role, cause the 1st Jack Reacher kicked serious ass…
    Christopher McQuarrie delivers in both Direction & Screenwriting and Cruise delivers a very memorable & fun performance that I hadn’t seen him done in years.
    I think people just want piss & hate on Tom Cruise cause he’s Tom flipping Cruise, I can’t think of another actor in his League that has such a solid career that’s lasted for as long as he has…sure there are misses here & there, but overall he’s continued to execute great films.

    Sure, the sequel is debatable and I think had McQuarrie had helmed the sequel instead of Edward Zwick, maybe the film would’ve been different overall to accommodate the 1st installment…and I hope McQuarrie does come back for a 3rd Jack Reacher film, cause I was highly impressed with what he & Cruise did with the original.

    I think for any asshole to list Tom Cruise in the Top Spot for a List like this…and there’s plenty others around that place Cruise/Reacher in similar categories with the same argument and it’s ridiculous cause you’re trying to tell me out of all of CINEMA: This is your #1 Miscast?
    #NOPE

  • Daniel Hammerberg

    It’s a jolly ‘oliday with MARY. No wonder that it’s mary that we love. Nobody else could be Bert.

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    Yay! I love it when Taste of Cinema goes negative, just like every other click bate site.

  • Jacob Lyon Goddard

    I read a few of the 007 books before I saw any of the movies, Dalton was far and away the closest to what I saw in my head. I don’t blame him for his movies being boring.

  • Matthew Noble

    This article mostly lost me at Christopher Reeve, and then completely lost me at Timothy Dalton. Those are my favourite portrayals of those characters, who also happen to be two of my favourite characters in general. Dalton remains criminally underrated as 007, and Reeve simply IS Superman. Not cool.

  • Dave

    Christopher Reeve as Superman? You must be tripping!

  • jcsandino

    it’s April

  • jason malinoski

    The Christoper Reeve entry is a pure troll move to get us riled up.

  • Veronica Clarke

    Most of these are very, very wrong.

  • Gary Hodgkinson

    Nope, you can’t say Reeves was miscast as Superman because of his physique, the fact that he worked so hard to make himself fit the role, a role he then went on to play perfectly, just shows he was probably the best ever superhero casting. Even if the films all kind of sucked. But he sold them.
    As for Costner. As an Englishman, born and raised near Nottingham (where Robin Hood lives) I never noticed his accent as being that unusual, we don’t all talk like Hugh Grant you know. And even if we did, nobody knows what a medieval accent would sound like, much less that of a nobleman who has been off in the crusades for years, then living in a Moorish jail for a long stretch. People’s accents change when they live in other cultures. When you think about it, a slightly strange (very slightly) accent actually makes for perfect casting. Okay Slater doesn’t have that excuse. But actual English people barely register it anyway.

  • Smurphftw

    Strongly disagree with Reeves and Van Dyke being on this list. Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher I also think is fine. No major issues with the rest of the list.