If one job in the entertainment industry doesn’t get enough credit, it’s the casting director. A movie or TV show may have a great storyline and director, but if an actor isn’t right for the part you can kiss success goodbye. Whether they’re distracting, offensive, or just plain bad, casting mistakes ruin entire films and series. Of course, casting directors often get things right. Can you imagine anyone other than Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood on House of Cards? Katniss without Jennifer Lawrence?
Bad acting aside (we’re looking at you, Nicolas Cage), these are 25 of the worst casting choices in film and TV. They are all so terrible that it was hard to decide the very worst, but wait until you see who we picked for the No. 1 slot … We promise it’s not a spoof!
25. Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane in Gangs of New York
Gangs of New York is jam-packed with incredible performances from Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Liam Neeson … and then there’s Cameron Diaz. Her laughable attempt at an Irish accent distracts from any scene she’s in, while the fact that she’s supposed to be a daring pickpocket only complicates things further. With another actress in the role of Jenny Everdeane, it may have actually won the Academy Award for Best Picture instead of losing to Chicago.
Next: Offensive casting is even worst than bad casting.
24. John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror
American film legend John Wayne is a white man from Iowa — so what is he doing playing Mongol chief Genghis Khan in 1956’s The Conqueror? Not only was it an offensive casting choice, but some say it was deadly. Of the 220 cast members, 91 died of cancer, including director Dick Powell and Wayne himself. Although it’s never been confirmed, many attribute the deaths to The Conqueror, which they filmed on nuclear testing ground in Utah.
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23. Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard
As a general rule of thumb, it’s never a good idea to cast a pop star in a lead role — talk about distracting! Sure, Jessica Simpson might look like Daisy Duke, but her acting skills (if you can call them that) left a lot to be desired. It’s not like anyone was expecting greatness from a film headed by Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville, but an actual actress in the role of Daisy Duke could have made all the difference.
Next: This casting choice hurt a legendary franchise.
22. Hayden Christensen as young Darth Vader in Star Wars: Episode II and III
All in all, the Star Wars prequels massive disappointed fans. In Episode I, we endured Jar Jar Binks, and just as he faded into the background and everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief, Hayden Christensen walked on screen.
In all fairness, Christensen is probably a great guy, but if there’s one role he was never meant to play, it’s that of Anakin Skywalker. With his ill-timed lines and lack of emotion, no one could believe that this guy would grow up to be Darth Vader. Nowadays, most fans like to pretend the Star Wars prequels never happened.
Next: This TV show serves us double the bad roles.
21. Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs as Max and Caroline in 2 Broke Girls
Despite falling ratings, CBS has repeatedly renewed 2 Broke Girls, which means we’ll have to continue frantically changing the channel whenever we land on this show. While Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs’ bad acting and lack of humor and chemistry fail to bring life to Max and Caroline, the script’s reliance on cheap, racist, and sexist jokes doesn’t help.
Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the show went wrong when “young viewers realized it was a waste of their time.” Hopefully, CBS will wise up and pull the plug soon.
Next: Looks aren’t everything when casting a role.
20. Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in Jobs
OK, we get it — Ashton Kutcher looks like a young Steve Jobs. But his looks alone couldn’t carry him through the difficult task of portraying one of the 21st century’s most iconic figures. And it didn’t take long for Hollywood to realize their mistake. Just two years later, Michael Fassbender took on the role in what is commonly known as “the good Steve Jobs movie.”
Next: This iconic actor didn’t even try to fake it.
19. Kevin Costner as Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
In 1991, Kevin Costner was so popular that he could get away with just about anything — including skipping out on an English accent for his role as Robin Hood. Maybe he was too busy to practice with his vocal coach. He’d just wrapped Dances with Wolves and was preparing to star in JFK, two career-defining films. However, he would have done the public a favor by passing on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, which was ill-received by audiences and critics alike.
Robert Ebert gave the film a sad review, summarizing that, “The most depressing thing about the movie is that children will attend it expecting to have a good time.”
Next: This bombshell struggled to be believable.
18. Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist in The World Is Not Enough
Denise Richards has the stunning looks of a Bond girl, but casting her as a nuclear physicist in the 19th James Bond film was an odd choice. No one could believe that Richards was a weapons expert, and her cheesy one-liners and lack of chemistry with Pierce Bronson made matters worse. Today, she’s remembered as the worst Bond Girl of all time.
Next: This is one of Game of Thrones‘ only downfalls.
17. Jessica Henwick, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as the Sand Snakes on Game of Thrones
There’s a reason HBO’s Sand Snakes are known as “the bland snakes” to Game of Thrones fans. They’re just so … blah. While George R. R. Martin wrote the characters with plenty of ferocity, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Jessica Henwick, and Rosabell Laurenti Sellers fail to deliver. Don’t act like you didn’t smile when Lady Olenna Tyrell told them to hush in the Season 6 finale — we’d all been dying to say it.
Next: This actor can’t escape his “good guy” image.
16. Topher Grace as Venom in Spider-Man 3
In the Spider-Man comics, Venom is a formidable, unearthly villain, but in director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 he’s … Eric Foreman? No actor likes to be typecast, but whoever thought we could look at Topher Grace and not see the sweet kid from That ’70’s Show was dead wrong. Kudos to Grace for trying, but watching him in the role of Venom was painful for everyone.
Next: This popular Netflix show tried a little too hard.
15. Ruby Rose as Stella Carlin in Orange Is the New Black
Ruby Rose is a great entertainer, but in the role of Stella Carlin on Orange Is the New Black? Come on! The sheer number of good-looking lesbians in Litchfield Penitentiary was already getting ridiculous, but casting Rose only added to the show’s continuing struggle to maintain a sense of reality. What’s more, she looks way too fresh to be incarcerated — after all, not many prisoners would maintain a stepped haircut behind bars, even if they did have access to a salon run by Laverne Cox.
Next: This TV comedy’s casting choice was anything but humorous.
14. Paul Schneider as Mark Brendanawicz on Parks and Recreation
Now, there’s a photo full of funny people — but wait. Who’s that guy on the far left? From day one, Paul Schneider was a bad fit on the hit show, Parks and Recreation. Why he took the role is a mystery, even to Schneider himself, who said, “That experience was very strange for me.” At the end of the second season, he quit, just before the show picked up steam and became one of the most popular series on television.
Next: This popular actor needs to reevaluate his roles.
13. Ben Affleck as Daredevil in Daredevil
We’ve always known the film Daredevil was bad, but now that we have the Netflix show to compare it to? It’s even harder to understand what the hell director Mark Steven Johnson was thinking when he cast Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock. Not once does Affleck seem concerned with the fact that his character is supposed to be blind, and his attempts at appearing tough only come across as whiny and emotional. In the words of Todd McCarthy at Variety, “Daredevil is a pretender in the realm of bona fide superheroes.” Ouch.
Next: This casting choice was culturally insensitive and just plain bad.
12. Johnny Depp as Tonto in The Lone Ranger
Anytime Hollywood needs an actor to don a crazy costume and wear lots of makeup, they call Johnny Depp. While it worked for movies like Edward Scissorhands and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, something was off about The Lone Ranger. Maybe it was the fact that Depp, a white man, was attempting to play a Native American, or perhaps he brought too much Jack Sparrow to the role of Tonto. Either way, the film is one of Disney’s biggest mistakes.
Next: Just because it worked for Jim Carrey doesn’t mean it works for everyone.
11. Mike Myers as the Cat in the Hat in Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat
After Jim Carrey’s success in 2000’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, comedian Mike Myers tried his hand at playing a Dr. Seuss character in The Cat in the Hat. Big mistake. What starts as goofy and rambunctious becomes overwhelmingly annoying as the movie drones on and on — and at only 82 minutes long, that’s saying something! Even worse, it’s loaded with Myers’ characteristic adult humor, making for an end product that’s too obnoxious for adults and too inappropriate for young kids.
Next: A perfect example of why it’s hard to bring fairy tales to life
10. Everyone who is not Rumpelstiltskin on Once Upon a Time
Seriously, how is this show still on? And who is in charge of casting? From Snow White to Prince Charming, not one person on Once Upon a Time has the look or acting prowess of a real-life fairy tale character, with the exception of Robert Carlyle’s brilliantly portrayed Rumpelstiltskin.
Next: This legendary comedic actor hadn’t found his niche yet.
9. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates in 1998’s Psycho
In 1998, Vince Vaughn was still trying to figure out who he was. He’d played a fast-talking wise-guy in Swingers and Rounders, but he hadn’t yet made it big in comedy with films like Old School and Wedding Crashers. So he decided to try playing the villain. His take on Norman Bates is just as bad as you’d expect, but the worst part is how desperately Vaughn tries to pull it off. Luckily, we still have Hitchcock’s original to fall back on.
Next: If you can’t sing, don’t sign on for a musical.
8. Russell Crowe as Police Inspector Javert in Les Misérables
Overall, 2012’s Les Misérables was a pretty good movie. Anne Hathaway picked up Best Supporting Actress for her role as Fantine, and Hugh Jackman made a fantastic Jean Valjean, but Russell Crowe? Well, he never claimed to be a singer, did he? Crowe’s three-minute solo number, “Javert’s Suicide,” is the most unbearable, distracting part of the film. Although he later defended his singing as “raw and real,” he also agreed it “could have been sweetened.”
Next: This performance hurt a legendary franchise.
7. Sofia Coppola as Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III
When Francis Ford Coppola cast his daughter, Sofia, as Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III, critics cried nepotism — and they were right. Sofia had no business being in the movie, but there she was, with all the skill and charisma of a broomstick. Need proof? Check out her death scene — it’s basically a tutorial of how not to act.
Next: Nice guys can’t portray sadistic killers.
6. Colin Hanks as the Doomsday Killer on Dexter
Dexter Morgan faced some sinister villains in the eight years he was on the air, most notably Brian Moser’s Ice Truck Killer and Arthur Mitchell’s Trinity Killer. How then, did everything go so wrong in the seventh season? We think casting Colin Hanks as Travis Marshall, otherwise known as the “Doomsday Killer,” had a lot to do with it. Much like his famous father, Hanks is simply too much of a nice guy to play the head of an apocalyptic killer cult.
Next: No amount of muscle could save this performance.
5. Jake Gyllenhaal as Dastan in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Sigh, yet another white guy getting cast in the wrong role. Noticing a trend? While there’s no denying that Jake Gyllenhaal got surprisingly ripped for the role, no amount of muscles could convince us that Donnie Darko became the Prince of Persia. As a leading man, we like Gyllenhaal more as a quirky misfit.
Next: Vince Vaughn finally learns to stick with comedy.
4. Vince Vaughn as career criminal Frank Semyon on True Detective
Poor Vince Vaughn has two spots on our list, but his role in True Detective did far more damage than the Psycho remake. Fans disliked him so much that rumors circulated that the show would be canceled, a swift end to the HBO series that looked so promising. Hopefully, Vaughn will call his old pal Owen Wilson and return to being Hollywood’s favorite funny man.
Next: Ben Affleck didn’t deserve a second chance as a superhero.
3. Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
You’d think that Ben Affleck would’ve given up playing superheroes for good after Daredevil, but in 2016, he disappointed comic book fans once again with his role as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Affleck’s Bruce Wayne comes across as pouty rather than brooding, and reviews were so bad that “sad Ben Affleck” soon became a popular meme. But it gets worse — Affleck received the green light to not only star in, but direct, the next installment of the Batman franchise. He pulled out of directing, but the future of his role in the DCEU remains to be seen. If history teaches us anything, it’s sure to be a train wreck.
Next: It’s not the first time this actor has bombed a performance.
2. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Unlike Costner, Keanu Reeves tried an English accent … and failed miserably. Bram Stoker’s Dracula was supposed to be dark and spooky, but it falls into comedic territory as Reeves slips in and out of his accent, trying desperately to deliver his lines in time with co-stars Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder.
Don’t believe us? Check out the compilation of clips above to see how bad it truly is.
Next: So many iconic actors, such a shameful movie
1. Gary Oldman as Rolfe in Tiptoes
There’s been a lot of bad casting mistakes in TV and film over the years, but none are as perplexing as Gary Oldman’s role as a dwarf in 2003’s Tiptoes. While the film features incredible actors who are dwarfs, including Peter Dinklage and Michael J. Anderson, casting directors chose Oldman as the lead, betraying the cultural acceptance that the movie was supposed to inspire from the start.
After a disappointing screening at Sundance, the film went straight to DVD, where it lingers as a stain on the resume of everyone involved. If you haven’t seen it, take a minute to watch the preview above — it seriously looks like a spoof that came off of Saturday Night Live or Family Guy, but it’s 100% real.
Additional reporting by Becca Bleznak.
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