The Top 7 Miscast Movie Roles

August 22, 2008

Nothing is quite as annoying as an actor who’s been horribly miscast in a movie. Sometimes, however, the casting is so bad that, at a certain point, the heinousness of their performance becomes a freak show to ogle at. But most of the time an actor that’s been really miscast simply makes us regret that we coughed up ten dollars or more for a ticket. In fact, we might even forget what it was that we enjoyed about going to the movies in the first place. To make a movie goer question his or her faith in the cinema is an unpardonable sin. And so this week we bring you our Top 7 Miscast Roles.

7.) Sofia Coppola in The Godfather: Part III


No, she didn’t have the lead role, and no, she clearly didn’t pursue an acting career after her cringing performance in this film. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t tarnish every single scene she was in in Godfather III. She is so god-awful that (spoiler coming up!) by the time she finally gets shot at the end, you’re cheering for the assassin. You’re wishing the assassin could have gotten his shit together about sixty minutes earlier. It really destroys the tragedy of the film when what Michael (Al Pacino) loves most happens to be the most obnoxious little twirp on the face of the earth, so that when she is taken from him our sadness is defused like a bomb. Stiff line deliveries, total absence of a believable character, and the knowledge that the awful little turd who ruined what could’ve been a triumphant end to an incredible trilogy is the director’s daughter all combine to focus our wrath on Sofia Coppola whenever the Godfather movies are invoked. Thanks for being a shit stain on the satin sheets of awesomeness that were Godfather I and II, Sofia.

6.) Halle Berry in Catwoman


This casting was ill-advised on so many different levels. Beyond the most obvious knock against Berry in this role, the woman simply cannot act. The “character” she created for this role is so paper thin you can see right through it: Catwoman’s character traits consist of talking in her best phone-sex voice and walking like a stripper. Would this movie have been horrible even if they hadn’t cast Halle Berry? Probably. Is it that much worse because she’s in it? Definitely.

5.) Mark Wahlberg in The Happening, We Own the Night, Shooter, Planet of the Apes, etc.


So at this point I think it’s obvious Mark Wahlberg isn’t about to win any lifetime achievement awards in acting. He publicly bemoaned getting miscast in Planet of the Apes (agreed, he should’ve been one of the head monkeys) as if that were the reason for his complete and total suckiness in that film. After his horrible performance in The Happening (his stilted line readings and cartoonish facial expressions make me suspect he’d do better as a male model…oh, wait…) I suspect we’ll be hearing more of the same. The fact of the matter is that Mark Wahlberg gets “miscast” in every movie where he isn’t running, punching, shooting and fighting bad guys in one form or another – with the exception of a few films, such as I Heart Huckabees and Boogie Nights (in which he plays an empty-headed naïf, but he plays it well). The thing is, Wahlberg figured out a long time ago that he delivers his lines best when he’s out of breath and/or in the midst of extreme physical exertion. It’s his “trick”, if you like. And I gotta say, I don’t like. Not one little bit.

4.) James Franco in all three Spiderman movies


I hate to hate on Franco after his admirable performance in Pineapple Express, but hate I must. I feel like no one’s said it but everyone’s thought it, so now I’m going to blog it. James Franco was abominably bad in all three Spiderman movies; the only one he might possibly be granted a reprieve from is the third, simply because it was such a terrible movie. The fact of the matter is that Franco was a terrible choice for Harry Osborn, and never managed to make the part believable or even interesting. He gave what would be a very solid performance in a high school play. For a trilogy of movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars it seems like we could’ve gotten a bigger bang for our buck. Seems like we could’ve cast someone with better acting chops like, say…Heath Ledger.

3.) Natalie Portman in Star Wars I – III


This is for all the die-hard Star Wars fans out there who had to watch as Portman slaughtered the part of Padmé Amidala in three consecutive movies. True, none of the three were great films (the first was unwatchable, the second was entertaining, the third was forgettable – with one of the world’s most memorably hilarious endings) but she played her part in sinking the Star Wars ship along with Hayden Christensen, Samuel Jackson and Ian McDiarmid. Portman’s complete inability to come across as regal, or deliver her lines with anything other than a dull stiffness, left us with nostalgia for the days when Carrie Fisher graced the screen, weak though her Leia was. For all Fisher’s incompetence, she infused her Leia with more passion and wit than the blessed Portman ever mustered for Padmé.

2.) Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator


DiCaprio looks like a kid playing an adult in this movie, and though he gives it his best college try you never shake the feeling that Scorsese should have simply cast someone who looked like a grown up. Instead we get DiCaprio, who looked like he was all of 23, flailing and screaming through the whole movie like a child throwing a temper tantrum. It didn’t help that Cate Blanchett was also horribly miscast as Katharine Hepburn in this movie – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone who looks less like Hepburn than Blanchett, and her caricatured east coast accent and cropped hair didn’t help matters. But I digress. DiCaprio’s miscasting upstaged all others in this film, and Scorsese had no excuses after the disastrous performance Leo gave him in Gangs of New York.

1.) Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder in Bram Stoker’s Dracula


Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder really take the cake for the most atrociously miscast actors (perhaps in general) in Francis Ford Coppola’s (see  how we’ve come full circle!) Dracula. The only feather in Reeves’ and Ryder’s caps is the fact that they managed to be so bad they’re good. And by good I mean laughably bad. I mean so horrible they’re hysterical. Winona can’t seem to wrap her mouth around her lines (or accent), and Keanu is so stupid he gives the impression someone told him he was going to star in a surfing comedy, only to get duped into playing a part from a book he’s never heard of, much less read. Keanu’s performance took bad acting to new levels that will always be a part of his legacy. But we are, in a sense, indebted to both Reeves and Ryder for setting the standard for miscast actors; they took the bar and pulled it down a few notches. For my part, I will never forget Keanu’s girlie scream when he sees the female vampires feasting on a baby. Before he comically flops out of the shot he wails with all the agony of an actor who has suffered the great injustice of being cast in a role he has no ability to perform. We feel your pain, Keanu, as it provides us much mirth.