20 Major Hollywood Casting Mistakes From The Past 5 Years

Casting is one of those unsung tricks that filmmakers have to utilize to put together a good movie. If the people making a movie want it to succeed, then they have to ensure that the right actors end up in the right roles. Otherwise, everything they’ve worked for can go out the window. Seriously, a good cast can save a bad movie, and a bad cast can ruin a good movie.

Sometimes, the entire cast comes together beautifully, bouncing off one another naturally and bringing everyone to life in a believable and memorable way. And other times, even one bad choice by the makers of the film completely derail the believability of a movie.

Sometimes, it’s because the actor doesn’t have the real world experience in the subject to really draw on it effectively for a part. Other times, it can be because an actor is trying to push themselves to a new height, and only ended up scraping the bottom of the barrel instead. And more often than we’re happy to say, it’s because someone is playing a part they have no reason to be playing. For whatever reason, even these 20 stars couldn’t salvage the films around them. Here are 20 of the biggest stars in Hollywood who were totally miscast in the past five years.

20 Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!)

Jennifer Lawrence is one the best actresses of her generation, an up and comer whose rise to the A-list surprised everyone, thanks to her youth. And when she gets the right kind of material, she can absolutely knock it out of the park. She can take otherwise bland genre tentpole roles and instill real character into them. But what a lot of filmmakers seem to like doing is putting her in roles that she really doesn’t have any real place in taking. Look at Mother!, the highly controversial arthouse film by Darren Aronofsky (director of Black Swan and Noah).

The movie is very artistic and very confusing if you’re not ready for it, which makes it understandable why an audience that had been sold on a straight-up spooky movie didn’t receive quite like the creators hoped.

But part of that disillusionment came from Lawrence in the lead role. She gives it her all, but the symbolism seems lost on her at points, with the rest of the world around her advancing and changing in tune with the plot and without her. And while that may have been part of the point, it just adds to the disbelief of the film. She’s so much younger than the rest of the cast that it becomes distracting, and we just can’t stand how it shades the movie.

19 Ben Affleck (Superman vs. Batman: Dawn Of Justice)

Upon the announcement of this casting, a lot of people were cautiously optimistic. Ben Affleck was in the middle of his career resurgence, directing Academy Award-winning feature films and on his way to becoming one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. And then, he got what must have seemed like the role of a lifetime. He was offered the starring role in the new Batman movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice! That’s huge, especially for someone like Ben Affleck. And his lived in, tired playboy approach to Bruce Wayne was a good hypothetical for optimistic fans to latch onto. Alas, that wasn’t the end result, and all those hopes fell apart like Mama Wayne’s pearls.

His Batman is weirdly intense, even for Batman. And his rejection of reason (he hates Superman because of a dream sequence that invaded another dream sequence), sheer brutality (this Batman kills at least like, eight guys) and pure rejection of the core of the character (this Batman has a gun! Why does this Batman have a gun?!) didn’t do him any favors.

By the time he reappeared in Justice League, the light had left the actor’s eyes, and it was clear he was treating one of the most iconic characters in all of western media like a bad paycheck.

He just didn’t bring the right Ben Affleck to the role, and we bet he’s just as happy as we are to see him leaving the part.

18 Emma Stone (Aloha)

Emma Stone is a fine actress, with strong comedic chops and the ability to bring the dramatic weight when the role calls for it. But she also doesn’t always get the chance to really shine in a film, either with underwritten roles (looking at you, Gwen Stacy) or with controversy surrounding the film and drowning out the actual film.

Just look at her maligned role in Aloha, an ill-planned and poorly executed Cameron Crowe romantic comedy that starred Stone, alongside Bradley Cooper, Alec Baldwin, and Rachel McAdams.

The movie was about a Hawaiian based Air Force-centric romance, which made for a forgettable but enjoyable romp. The problem here is that the character Emma Stone plays is named Allison Ng. If that wasn’t a clue as to why Stone probably shouldn’t have been playing the role, Stone’s character was a fourth Hawaiian and a fourth Chinese.

Casting Stone seemed to fly in the face of having an Asian character even in the film. To her credit though, Stone has come out and apologized for her part in the movie and how it contributed to the custom of whitewashing prevalent even today in Hollywood (but we’ll go more into that shortly)

17 Mark Wahlberg (All The Money In The World)

Despite some deplorable decisions earlier in his youth, Whalberg has really turned his life around. The Boston born actor has become one of the last true movie stars in the world, and a lot of that comes from his natural blue-collar charm. He’s perfectly at home as a schlubby buddy, an angry brawler, a foul-mouthed officer, an honorable soldier. Whereas other actors can’t bring that level of authenticity to smaller roles, Wahlberg is full of that.

On the other hand, Wahlberg doesn’t have the gravitas to bring certain other characters to life, particularly a genius or lawyer. The less said about all around boring sludge of a movie, The Happening, the better, but even in the recent All the Money in the World, Whalberg was completely out of place in the legal drama. As Uproxx critic, Vince Mancini, wrote about the casting choice, “Conversely, when you give him a rich guy haircut and a three-piece suit and fancy man glasses, it’s hilarious for some reason, like a dog wearing a hat.” Whalberg works best when he’s using his roots to inform his acting. And those Boston roots do not include him being in very many high end situations.

16 Russell Crowe (Les Miserables)

Russell Crowe has been a pretty impressive actor for over twenty years now. He’s transitioned into old age fairly well, embracing his range by switching from the big name hero and into more villainous roles over the years. But something we tend to at least try to forget about Crowe is just how much he wanted to be a big name musician too. His short-lived Australian music was often ridiculed by comediennes (most notably in an extended manner in an episode of South Park), but that passion clearly never left him.

Crowe appeared in one of the lead roles of Les Miserables, the musical adaption of the Broadway sensation. He took the role of Javert, the dogged and committed officer who follows after Jean Valjean.

The musical used very little backing music, instead, relying on the sheer talent of the cast to try and carry the musical. Anne Hathaway blew audiences away with her performance Fantine, which even ended up netting her an Oscar for best-supporting actress. But Crowe couldn’t match that level of skill, and his performance was all the weaker for it. He just couldn’t stand up to the rest of the cast, and very quickly proved to be the weak link in the film.

15 Ashton Kutcher (Jobs)

Ashton Kutcher defined his early career by his looks and his goofy charm. He was the prankster from Punk’d who would just ruin the day of anyone he came across, and the lovable idiot, Kelso, on That ’70s Show. He never really transitioned out of that pigeonhole like his costars, Topher Grace and Mila Kunis, but that’s certainly not for trying.

The actor really went for broke in a film adaptation where he tried to bring the troubled but clever face of Apple, Steve Jobs to life in, well, Jobs. But here’s the thing, Kutcher can’t just make us all forget about his past role as a goofball, and that really diminishes the effect of seeing him in that kind of role.

He just doesn’t have the chops to really explore the various complications of a man who admittedly led a tumultuous life. The movie doesn’t do him any favors, with a script that relies on all the tired tropes of the biopic genre. But Kutcher can’t give the movie or the role any of the necessary gravitas that say, Michael Fassbender would eventually bring in his (considerably better) portrayal of the character in the more successful version of the story made by Aaron Sorkin.

14 Emila Clarke (Solo)

Emila Clarke has proven to be an incredibly impressive actress for fantasy films and more dramatic fare, managing to bring real emotion to otherwise crazy fantasy stories. A lot of the heavy lifting of Game of Thrones is carried by the actress, who even makes the CGI dragons feel more real than some real-life actors in other fantasy shows. But to her misfortune, she can’t save everything. While we could talk about Terminator: Genisys (and we just want to stress the incredibly dumb name for a movie was so bad that Clarke actively hoped it would fail), we won’t. Because come on, that’s kicking a dog that’s already gotten pretty thoroughly knocked down.

But we would like to talk about the more recent Solo, and how she just isn’t the right person for the role of Qi’ra, the woman that broke Han Solo’s heart and led him to become the scoundrel that he would become in time for the original trilogy of Star Wars films.

That kind of character requires a strong core of innocence that is diminished by the air of menace that she gives off, thanks to her actions and secrets. And while Clarke does her best, she can’t convey that lost innocence as well as we had hoped she would.

The jumps between the childhood friend and the femme fatale never felt seamless, which was just disappointing.

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13 Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie)

Chloe Grace Mortez blew on the scene in Kick-Ass, which saw her sarcastic and dry tone bringing a hardened edge to the superheroic brawler, Hit Girl. Since then, she’s appeared in a host of comedies that rely on her skills and comedic timing. And even some of her more dramatic fare has been quite impressive, making for an absolutely heartbreaking (and utterly terrifying) vampire. But a role that seemed perfect for her on paper didn’t end up coming through with Carrie.

We still don’t know exactly why we had to have a remake of the 1970’s Stephen King horror classic, but if we were going to be stuck with one then Mortez seemed like a natural pick.

But she proved to be a poor choice for the role, with her conventional good looks undermining much of the conflict of the character. She was blander than she was conflicted, and never brought any real life to the new version of the movie that we never needed. She wasn’t even able to make things work with Julianne Moore, which is just sad. We wish we could see the two of them together in a great movie, and this just was not the movie we wanted.

12 Tom Cruise

Look, the wild success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has convinced studios across Hollywood to try and figure out how to make a shared film universe work. Universal, especially, has been trying to force their classic monster movie characters into one such franchise, melding superheroic adventure stories with new takes on old school monsters. But both of their attempts thus far have failed miserably. Dracula Unleashed was a laughable attempt to make Dracula into a big anti-hero, and when that failed Universal went back to the drawing board. Their eventual decision though? Somehow way worse.

The Mummy tried to convince us that Tom Cruise (who, no judgment, is getting to be over 50 at this point) was a young hotshot archeologist who stumbled upon the mystical and mythical powers of an ancient Egyptian priestess.

It was a mess of a movie, and the fact that an utterly bored and cliché, Tom Cruise was at the center didn’t do it any favors. It was exactly the kind of movie that people have no interest seeing when they see in the theater, and it just couldn’t start that monster universe. Here’s hoping the rumors about the collective universe are gone and dead for good.

11 Brad Pitt (12 Years A Slave)

Overall, 12 Years a Slave was an incredibly powerful film about the personal hell that a man had to go through when he was kidnapped from his home state and forced into slavery. The performances across the board were impressive, except in one very tone deaf aspect. Towards the latter half of the film, Brad Pitt appears as a Canadian builder who doesn’t see color and befriends the main character, Solomon. He proves pivotal to helping free Solomon in the end, and his folksy knowledge helps inspire Solomon to keep going. But here’s the thing.

In the kind of movie that 12 Years a Slave is, it’s kind of insulting to see such a blatant white savior character show up to help save the day. It comes out of left field and deflates the stakes to an extent.

We really don’t like much about this specific appearance of Brad Pitt and wish that if the character HAD to be in the film, that they at least cast someone who wasn’t, you know, Brad Pitt. It becomes incredibly distracting by the time he leaves the film, and we wish that the casting decision for the character had been ultimately chosen differently.

10 Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games Series)

We understand that a good romantic triangle can make movies entire series more engaging and interesting. And we understand why a teen-centric franchise like Hunger Games tried to bring in that kind of divide for lead character Katniss. But also, it’s one of the most incredibly one-sided love triangles in fiction. Seriously, it’s between Liam Hemsworth, who’s just made of muscles and wants to help protect lives and fight against the evil empire that controls the world, and Josh Hutcherson. And we understand that Josh Hutcherson is supposed to be playing the counterpoint to the brawny Hemsworth and that he’s supposed to be the more sensitive and approachable romantic option. But also, look at them.

Look at these two men next to one another. Look at them, hard. And try to come up with a world where Katniss isn’t going to want to end up with the muscular resistance fighter who for some reason always ends up shirtless.

Hutcherson was miscast in the role, failing to make for a viable alternative option to the other romantic interest. The best love triangles are the ones that drive fans nuts, and this one just wasn’t a good competition even for the few Hutcherson supporters.

9 Jessie Eisenberg (Superman vs. Batman: Dawn Of Justice)

In a perfect world, Jessie Eisenberg might have made for a very good Lex Luthor. Seriously, we think that the Social Network star might have been able to give us a truly memorable take on the classic Superman villain. But that’s not the world we live in. No, we live in the world where Jessie Eisenberg gave us a bizarre and bonkers take on the rich villain in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

It is not a very good movie— if you haven’t picked up on that by now. Eisenberg swings wide with the role, trying to find a way to make the character seem engaging and never finding anything to really sink his teeth into. His character gets one of the most ridiculous villain plots of any movie ever, and he keeps trying to keep it going with his sheer over the top attitude. When put up against Henry Cavill as Superman, he especially looks pathetic trying to give orders. It was a bold attempt at a new take on the character, but it just didn’t pan out.

8 Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)

Jared Leto as the Joker was… he was… look. Look! We really don’t want to think about Jared Leto as the Joker anymore. But with the recent announcement that he’ll be getting his own spin-off film from Warner Bros, we have to face the facts that this version of the Joker is the version we’re stuck with at least for now. So fine. Let’s talk about Jared Leto Joker, from Suicide Squad. He sucks. He sucks so hard.

He removes the mystery of the character and replaces it with the worst kind of shock value. He trades sudden violence for the actual dread that comes with better takes on the character.

Unlike Heath Ledger, for example, whose Joker was genuinely surprising and unexpected, the Leto take on the character is all flash and no value.

He’s woefully miscast for the role, throwing his all into a variation of the most lackluster aspect of the character. And we just, you guys, we just hate it so much. He’s a Joker who looks like he broke out of a Juggalo concert, who kills dudes in night clubs, instead of actually being inventive and taking people out in creative and exciting new ways. We just want a good Joker again, you guys. That’s all.

7 Scarlett Johansson (Ghost in the Shell)

Chalk this one up another bad cast of whitewashing in Hollywood, especially because it ended up having an actual impact on the overall plot of the movie. Scarlet Johansson has done a great job in the past bringing sci-fi and action characters to life, so it made sense why she was initially considered for Ghost in the Shell. But the creators should have foreseen the controversy that came with casting Johansson in the part. See, a great deal of the world and setting of Ghost in the Shell centers in the new version of Tokyo.

The series it’s based on is a highly influential anime and was specifically created with an Asian cast in mind. So casting a Caucasian woman was always going to be a mistake.

But this got even more complicated for a twist that came later in the film, which revealed that the robotic detective that Johansson played in the film contained the personality of a deceased Japanese woman. Which just made the whitewashing even more obvious and tone deaf. The internet responded in very unpleasant terms, quickly telling the creators that they weren’t happy with that particular case of it, especially so recently after the aforementioned Aloha fiasco, and helped to sink the film at the box office before it could even really get going.

6 Vince Vaughn (True Detective)

So, real quick, we want to shift the focus away from films and into the world of television. Even if the so-called golden age of television, which saw “greatest-of-all-time” contenders like Breaking Bad, Mad Men and 30 Rock (that’s what we said), has transformed into a more digital-based era, TV shows are still proving to be incredible in recent years. Just look at the first season of True Detective, a heartbreaking and introspective take on the cop murder mystery genre that melded spectacular performances with breathtaking filming. It was a legit smash hit for HBO, who quickly moved forward with the next season.

Unfortunately, that season ended up being a mess of a production, with no one more embarrassed than Vince Vaughn.

A former staple of comedic films, Vaughn has been transitioning more into drama in recent years, to mixed results. And his role in True Detective was the worst one. The attempt to turn his quiet bro-y charm into an intimidating and complicated criminal didn’t work out well, leaving audiences just confused with his reactions to everything. It was bad enough to derail plans for an entire further series in fact. At least Vaughn is finding better luck with stuff like Brawl in Cellblock 99.

5 Finn Jones (Iron Fist)

Finn Jones can’t get all the blame for ruining Iron Fist. What should have been a crazy fun magic kung-fu series set within the Marvel Universe (seriously, we here at the TheRichest are huge Iron Fist fans, to the point the Matt Fraction run on the book is considered a personal favorite) instead turned into a drab and pointless story about people in suits yelling at one another while a rich white boy mansplained kung-fu to a woman who already knows kung-fu. It’s incredibly insulting, and that’s on everyone who was involved to a certain degree.

Jones certainly didn’t help his case, with the actor dryly delivering condescending lines meant to sound profound but instead coming across as that really annoying guy in your freshman dorm who always smells weird.

Jones didn’t have any of the self-awareness that makes Danny Rand even remotely work as a lead character, and it contributed to an already flawed production to produce one of the worst MCU projects to yet be released. Like, it wasn’t Inhumans bad, but that was never going to work. No, Iron Fist had potential (magic kung-fu fighting tournament! That’s the entire plot!) to be great, and among other things, Jones being cast in the lead did not help.

4 Matt Damon (The Great Wall)

The Great Wall was intended to be a world-spanning smash hit, the rare film made in China that could blow up in America too. It had an explosives series of stunts, crazy battles against a monstrous horde, and generally, looked like that perfect kind of crazy movie. But in an attempt to further entice western audiences, the creators of the movie decided to cast Matt Damon as the visitor to the land the actual hero of the story. Which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best idea.

The movie never commits to it’s over the top premise, and Damon ends up doing the opposite of what he should be. Instead of making the situation bigger, his more nuanced acting style ends up bringing things even further down.

He doesn’t ham it up to the level that you kind of need to in these movies. The characters need to take the events of the plot seriously, but they can’t pensively argue the whole time and expect us to wholly enjoy it. There’s a certain wild tone that could have benefited this movie greatly, but unfortunately it never comes. And we lay a certain amount of that blame on Damon and the bad casting call to bring him aboard.

3 Johnny Depp (In A Whole Lot Of Stuff)

Johnny Depp has had a bit of a career slump, to put it nicely. For a while there, Depp was considered to be at the very tippy top of the A-list in Hollywood. He was starring in all kinds of movies, including Oscar-baity films all the way to big-budget family adventures. But as the years went on, his appeal has waned significantly. And it’s easy to see the train of bad decisions that got him to this point, where he’s more reviled and unbankable than ever.

Depp took a serious public blow when he played Tonto, a Native American sidekick character to the throwback western film, The Lone Ranger, especially considering how Depp is not actually Native American and went about portraying the character in one of the most insulting ways imaginable.

Not long after, his follow up films (like the disastrous Mordecai) tried to recapture his glory without ever grasping what made those earlier roles like Jack Sparrow work. It wasn’t that he was a weirdo, it’s that he was a compelling weirdo. Even his most recent mainstream work as Grindlewald in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them feels like a very weird fit. He’s not been cast right in years, and it’s had a real effect on those movies and his career at the same time.

2 Jennifer Lawrence – Again (Joy)

Poor Jennifer Lawrence. She can really bring her A-game to almost any role, and sometimes, that just won’t be able to help her cut it. Take for example, Joy. Now, on paper, Joy was a success for Lawrence. She even got a Golden Globe for it. On top of the movie being a bit of a drag, Lawrence just wasn’t right for the role. S

he was only 25 when the movie was filmed, and couldn’t bring the real level of pathos to the film that could have made it stand out. It’s an interesting story, but not one that we find particularly exciting or interesting to explore.

For comparison, that makes Lawrence roughly ten years younger than the character in the script needs to be. And with the rest of the cast more appropriately reflective of their ages in this retelling of a real-life event, Lawrence ends up standing out like a sore thumb. And again, she kills it! She’s a genuinely great actress, and we love seeing her get the material her talent deserves. But this film is indicative of the importance of casting. The best casting choices feel natural, real. The character in the story and the real-life person almost seem to become a single person. But in this role, Lawrence felt more like she was playing dress-up than committing to the role. And that’s how even a good actor can be cast poorly.

1 Everyone In Gods Of Egypt

Gods of Egypt was an attempt to transform the ancient Egyptian mythology into a new blockbuster fantasy franchise. And while it was inevitably going to change a lot about the specifics of the original stories, that’s not unheard of. Just look at Thor, which turned the entirety of Norse mythology into an excuse to have a lightning God fistfight a giant green rage monster. It can work, is what we’re saying. But that’s not how this one turned out, and they should had a good clue it wasn’t going to when almost the entire main cast were white actors.

Gerald Butler (300), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech), and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones) were the central members of the cast, each of whom are all talented, skilled actors. And also all of whom should not be starring in a movie about Egyptian mythology.

It’s a poor decision that reflected badly on the (otherwise still pretty bad) film. And the craziest part? They had to have known that was going to happen, because Exodus: Gods and Kings came out two years previously and got the same kind of flack for casting white actors in the Middle Eastern story. It doesn’t not look good, Hollywood. It does. Not. Look. Good.

References: Rotten Tomatoes, Cleveland.com Rotten Tomatoes, Vanity Fair, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, ScreenRant, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Vanity Fair, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Rotten Tomatoes, Uproxx

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