Casting is everything. Getting the person that you imagined is this character and then seeing what they bring to it.Casting directors tend to be the unsung heroes in this business.They visualize a character and cast in their own, or an idealized image from a director’s point of view.
Casting sometimes is fate and destiny more than skill and talent. Presenting the castings that appeared and sounded dud and lead to an outcry amongst the fans but later turned out to be the Unforgettable characters of all times.
Daniel Craig – James Bond
In 2005 the knives were certainly out for Daniel Craig upon the announcement that he would replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and Sam Worthington were all mooted for the role, but the man who eventually ousted the popular Brosnan was seen as a poor choice by the series’ fans.
Overlooking his fine performances in a number of films, including ‘Road To Perdition’ and ‘Layer Cake’ (which saw him play a character that had Bond-esque charm), they instead wailed their disgust at a blonde man playing the suave superspy — spawning the website danielcraigisnotbond.com that is still running today.
He got back at his detractors with the success of ‘Casino Royale’, and went on to don the famed tuxedo in ‘Quantum Of Solace’. However by the time ‘Skyfall’ and ‘SPECTRE’ broke box office records, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there had ever been a challenge to Craig’s place as 007.
Michael Keaton – Batman
What makes the fury that surrounded Michael Keaton’s casting as Batman interesting was that it happened pre-internet. Nowadays, any casting news in these types of films becomes heavily scrutinised, with most outbursts ending up on forums. Essentially, it’s just fans venting their frustrations in the easiest way possible, and it happens so frequently now that few people take notice.
In the late 80s however, over 50,000 letters were sent to Warner Bros, urging them to rethink the casting of Michael Keaton who was famed for his eccentric performances in ‘Night Shift’ and ‘Beetlejuice’.
It turned out to be much ado about nothing, as the protestors (branded “DC Comics fundamentalists” by Keaton) would eventually rate his performance as one of the best Bruce Wayne/Batman portrayals on-screen. The jury’s still out on Ben Affleck’s Batman who suffered a similar backlash when he was announced for ‘Batman v Superman’.
Robert Downey Jr. – Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is an Englishman. A tall, thin, Englishman. So when Robert Downey Jr., a 5ft 8 American was announced as the iconic London Detective, it wasn’t so much fanboys, but the general public that was slightly bemused.
But it wasn’t Downey Jr. we got wrong, it was Holmes. Despite being so well known that it’s not uncommon for tourists to mistake the fictional detective for a historic figure, Holmes’ lesser known “Bohemian” side included dressing like an artist, martial arts and cocaine addiction. That’s right up Rob’s street. Downey Jr. even commented at the premiere that reading Holmes’ quirky side “could be a description of me.”
Guy Ritchie’s film broke Christmas box office records and Downey Jr. picked up a Golden Globe Award.
Heath Ledger – The Joker
Fans wanted Robin Williams or ‘Back To The Future’s Crispin Glover for The Joker – the main villain for the then upcoming ‘The Dark Knight’. Then the news that Heath Ledger was cast came, and eyebrows were raised to say the least.
Predictably, internet forums went into meltdown at the casting news – complaining that he wasn’t the right size, didn’t have the crazy shtick needed for the part etc. However, those fears were allayed as soon as the film’s trailer aired. A short preview of Ledger’s performance as the intense psycho clown elevated the film from interesting to essential.
Regardless of Ledger’s untimely death in January 2008, six months before the release of ‘The Dark Knight’, the actor’s performance came to be a critically acclaimed achievement – winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.
Renee Zellweger – Bridget Jones
Fans of Helen Fielding’s column and the subsequent book, about the adventures of a frumpy single woman in London, wanted Kate Winslet to star as Bridget Jones. Instead, they got a stick thin Texan.
They feared the much-loved character would be turned into a soya-drinking Hollywood-looking starlet. What they got, however, was a slightly frumpy Zellweger perfecting an English accent and an appealing desire to make a fool out of herself when the script called for it. Consequently, she was Oscar-nominated for the role.
Tom Cruise – Lestat de Lioncourt
Before there was Edward Cullen there was Lestat — a seductive and passionate vampire that captivated millions of readers’ hearts.
The film adaption of Anne Rice’s ‘Interview With The Vampire’ was a lavish and big budget spectacle. To justify the expense, a star was needed. And a star they got. He may have been the biggest name on the planet, but Tom Cruise’s casting was initially met with disgruntlement from fans of the book series and its author – who felt the casting decision was based on box office performances, rather than doing her source material justice.
Skip forward to release and Anne Rice publically apologised to Cruise after seeing the film, conceding that she couldn’t imagine any other actor playing the part.
Matt Damon – Jason Bourne
Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. That’s just a fact. But back before anybody had seen ‘The Bourne Identity’ in 2002, Damon was just too sensitive (think ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’) or too childish (‘Dogma’) to be taken seriously as an action star. He just didn’t have the chops to pull it off.
Both Russell Crowe and Sly Stallone were approached to play Robert Ludlum’s best selling spy-assassin, but in the end director Doug Linman cast Damon, perplexing fans of the novels and action cinema alike.
Ten years down the road to ‘The Bourne Legacy’ and the switcheroo for Jeremy Renner left fickle fans feeling lost without Damon. Don’t worry though, he’ll be Bourne again in 2016?s imaginatively-titled ‘Jason Bourne’
Robert Pattinson – Edward Cullen
It might be hard to believe now but news that a relatively unknown British actor was cast as the hugely ‘swoonsome’ vampire Edward Cullen, didn’t go down well with the fans. At. All.
Pattinson said after filming, “There was a huge, universal backlash about my being cast as Edward Cullen. Seventy five thousand ‘Twilight’ fans signed a petition against me.”
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