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The 10 worst casting choices of all time

For narrative features which rely on storytelling for their artistic investigations, dramatic or otherwise, it is almost imperative to get the casting right.

There are times when the casting director can get the right person for the role but the actors cannot rise up to the occasion due to their poor performances which end up detracting from the whole experience.

On the contrary, the people in charge of the casting can also drop the ball while doing their jobs. One such example is when a studio executive wanted to cast Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman, insisting that the glaring historical inaccuracy and Hollywood whitewashing wouldn’t matter: “It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.”

This entire lineup is a collection of such casting incidents which ended up having a decisive impact on the projects they were a part of. Featuring beloved actors such as Keanu Reeves as well as American icons like John Wayne, these are some of the most terrible casting choices in the history of cinema that will make you scratch your head.

Check out the full list below.

The 10 worst casting choices of all time:

10. Sofia Coppola – The Godfather III

It is universally acknowledged that The Godfather III is far inferior to the first two additions of the celebrated trilogy which ended up redefining the crime genre forever. While many have criticised the formal aspects of the film, there was also one huge casting error.

Sofia Coppola’s rendition of Mary Corleone is something that all fans of The Godfather want to forget. Winona Ryder is said to have been considered to play the part but she pulled out at the last moment while another actress – Rebecca Schaeffer – was murdered right before her audition.

9. Jared Leto – Suicide Squad

Jared Leto has a pretty extensive filmography that contains masterpieces like The Thin Red Line and Fight Club. However, he is still yet to convince most audiences that he has what it takes to be a serious actor. Instead, he has been doubling down by being petulant and calling it method acting.

Casting him in an iconic role such as The Joker must have been one of the worst decisions in the history of superhero films, resulting in a catastrophically terrible performance. In addition, Leto terrorised his co-stars on set by allegedly sending them dead rodents and used condoms.

8. Dick Van Dyke – Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is one of the most beloved musical fantasies ever made, featuring Julie Andrews as the titular character who is capable of magic. It is even regarded as the greatest live-action project of Walt Disney’s career which ended up winning five Academy Awards.

Although people revisit it for laughs now, Dick Van Dyke’s delivery of the most atrocious cockney accent of all time definitely deserves to be on his list. In Dyke’s defence, none of his English co-stars told him that he was doing it wrong and his accent coach was apparently worse than him!

7. Scarlett Johansson – Ghost in the Shell

For many anime fans, Mamoru Oshii’s sci-fi masterpiece Ghost in the Shell holds a special place in their hearts. As it is one of the most influential works in the medium’s history, those same fans were practically terrified when it was announced that a remake was in the works.

Their worst fears turned out to be true when they found out that Scarlett Johansson was going to star in the remake, playing the role of an iconic Asian character in a film that was specifically about Asian culture which is articulated through highly specific Asian frameworks.

6. Denise Richards – The World is Not Enough

The casting of a Bond girl has always been a hotly debated topic throughout the franchise’s existence but almost everyone will agree that Denise Richards was the worst Bond girl of all time. She played the role of the most outrageous nuclear physicist ever in The World is Not Enough.

From her acting to the image she projected, everything was dismissed by fans and critics who claimed that the casting of Richards wasn’t right by any means. The actress defended herself by claiming that “these Bond girls are so outrageous and if I did really look like a scientist, the Bond fans would have been disappointed.”

5. Keanu Reeves – Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Keanu Reeves is probably one of the most widely liked actors today, known for his iconic projects such as The Matrix and John Wick. With him recently returning to his most famous role in The Matrix Resurrections, Reeves has definitely won the hearts of many.

However, his performance in Bram Stoker’s Dracula is still remembered as one of his worst. His horrible English accent jeopardised his screen presence, even though Francis Ford Coppola claimed that he had worked really hard to make it as perfect as possible.

4. Mickey Rooney – Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Those who have seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s know that Mickey Rooney’s interpretation of a Japanese character I. Y. Yunioshi is extremely inappropriate. While many will defend such a thing in the name of comedy, this is more of a crude insult rather than an item of artistic value.

One reviewer at the time even went as far as to describe Rooney’s performance as “broadly exotic” but most modern audiences will find it extremely difficult to sit through Rooney’s offensive caricature. In fact, many Asian Americans have protested against this portrayal because it is injurious to their community.

3. Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman

Ben Affleck ranks high on the list of the most boring actors working right now, known for his extremely wooden expressions which he passes off as acting. This strange phenomenon reached new heights when Affleck decided to don the famous Batman costume.

The result was painful because it was very evident that Affleck was completely unable to follow in the footsteps of Christian Bale who had modernised the role. Thankfully, Affleck won’t return as the caped crusader and now it is up to Robert Pattinson to bring Batman into a new era.

2. Sean Connery – Highlander

One of the most bizarre productions ever, many were excited when a film about an immortal Scottish warrior was in the works. When the team revealed that they had managed to sign Sean Connery, people were overjoyed because it sounded like a badass proposition.

In a hilarious turn of events, Connery did not get the part of the immortal Scottish warrior. Instead, he was asked to play the role of an Egyptian pretending to be Spanish which he did with his own accent. Who got the role of the Scottish warrior? Christopher Lambert.

1. John Wayne – The Conqueror

Often cited as one of the most iconic American actors of the last century, John Wayne is mostly remembered for his work in bonafide American masterpieces such as The Searchers and True Grit. His impact on the western genre was very significant and many of those westerns are watched to this day.

For some truly inexplicable reason, they decided to cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror which has to be the most absurd juxtaposition imaginable. Often touted as the worst film ever made, the producers thought about casting Marlon Brando as Genghis Khan before they even got to Wayne.