Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequel trilogy: This bit of bad casting not only ruined a film, it wrecked three films. While the Star Wars prequels had numerous problems, the worst was the portrayal of iconic villain Darth Vader—AKA Anakin Skywalker—as a sulky, petulant teenager. Christensen’s bland performance made the problem 10-times worse. How do you follow the voice of James Earl Jones with the whiny voice of Christensen? He also had no chemistry at all with his co-star and love-interest Natalie Portman, who played Queen Amidala.
Jack Black as Carl Denham in King Kong (2005): Jack Black didn’t know what movie he was in here. He was making a comedy while everyone else involved as making an action movie. His performance as Carl Denham was jarring because it contrasted so sharply from what everyone else was doing in the 2005 version of King Kong. When you compare his portrayal to that of Robert Armstrong, who played Denham in the 1933 original, you can see how goofy Black’s version really was. Armstrong’s Denham was a charismatic leader who defeated Kong with gas bombs. Black’s version of Denham consistently goes for a laugh, and usually at the wrong time.
Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice: This movie had many problems but one of the most head-scratching and inexplicable was the choice of turning Lex Luthor into a teenage psychopath. In previous versions, Luthor was a suave, middle-aged genius. Whether played by Gene Hackman or Kevin Spacey or even the younger Michael Rosenbaum, Luthor was portrayed in a similar style to the way the character has been written in DC Comics. Eisenberg took a wrong turn in his choice-making for this project. While there’s nothing wrong with trying a new interpretation of the character (Hackman, for instance, was the first one to bring humor to the character) not every experiment is successful, and this experiment was a total failure.
Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula: It’s odd enough to cast Reeves as a Victorian-era English lawyer (with a horrible British accent), it’s even worse to put him on screen alongside such excellent actors as Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins and Winona Ryder, who can all act rings around him. There’s only one thing to say about Reeves’ performance as Harker…Bogus!
Kevin Costner as Robin of Locksley in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Of all the big-screen (and small screen) Robin Hood actors, Kevin Costner had to be the dullest, blandest and most unexciting. When you consider that the character has been played by the likes of Errol Flynn and Sean Connery over the years, you expect a powerful, charismatic performance from whoever is playing Robin; one of the greatest fictional characters of all-time. Costner never even attepts to do an English accent, but when you consider how badly that could have turned out, it may actually be the best decision he made in this dingy, depressing film.
Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze in The Ghost Rider: Every comic book fan was shaking their heads at the news of the casting of Nick Cage as Johnny Blaze. In the comics, Blaze is a young, blonde stunt driver who sells his soul to the devil. Cage is much older than Blaze should be, with different color hair, but worst of all, it makes the Blaze character seem already too odd and quirky, even before being possessed and becoming the Ghost Rider. He often chooses to play scenes comically, rather than delivering the intensity that the scene needs.
Steve Martin as inspector Jacques Clouseau in the Pink Panther films: First, it has to be mentioned that Steve Martin is one of the all-time great comedians. When he’s on his game, he’s amazing. However, this was utterly the wrong role for him. The character of bungling, inept French inspector Clouseau requires a comedian who can do accents well. His thick, exaggerated French accent is his trademark. Peter Sellers, who originated the role in the 1960s in the first Pink Panther and it’s many sequels, was masterful at doing a variety of accents. Anyone who plays Clouseau needs to have that gift. Mike Myers and Sacha Baron Cohen can do accents very well. Martin can’t. Accents are not his strong point. His efforts to do a funny accent often sound more like a speech impediment.
Topher Grace as Venom/Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3: The first screen appearance of one of Spider-Man’s most popular enemies deserved to be a special occasion. It should not have been shoehorned into that cluttered mess of a movie known as Spider-Man 3. Venom (AKA Eddie Brock) could have been the main villain. Worse still, Venom should have been played by an actor who can convey menace and danger. Topher Grace is not that man. A wasted opportunity.
There you have it; eight examples of very bad casting that tainted movies. What other badly cast roles can you think of?