Try as show business might, not every role gets cast correctly. Many characters, who might otherwise have turned out fine, get ruined because the person playing them wasn’t even close to the right fit. These actors and actresses should’ve gotten the boot quick as can be, so a more qualified thespian could breathe better life into these poor, unfortunate, fictional souls.
Hayden Christensen, Star Wars Prequels
Once we lived in a time in which Star Wars had such a bad reputation that people thought the franchise was done once and for all. George Lucas’ disastrous Star Wars prequels, released between the years 1999 and 2003, were noticeably lacking in quality when compared to the original trilogy, leaving fans frustrated and annoyed. Audiences were especially annoyed by Lucas’ decision to cast Hayden Christensen to play young Anakin Skywalker, who would become Darth Vader. And rightfully so. In Attack of the Clones, Christensen recited lines with such low energy that fans couldn’t help but laugh. If Lucas had wanted to salvage the prequels in any way, he should have ditched Christensen in favor of a better, more committed actor to play Anakin in Revenge of the Sith.
Hulk Hogan, Thunder In Paradise
The basic premise of Thunder In Paradise—two ex-Navy SEALs work as high-sea mercenaries, patrolling the world’s waters for whatever nogoodnik they’re paid to extinguish—is fine, if you hire an actual actor. Instead, the show’s producers cast one of the single worst actors of all-time, Hulk Hogan, as one of the mercenaries. Nothing Hogan does is believable: his line delivery is abysmal, he mugs for the camera way too much (a by-product of decades of mugging for the pro wrestling camera), and he doesn’t even change his look one iota. It’s just Hogan playing Hogan, only now he has a gun. His co-star, Chris Lemmon, was an accomplished actor who might’ve made this show succeed with another co-star, or simply working solo. Sadly, nobody thought to try that.
George Clooney, Batman & Robin
Try as he did, George Clooney just wasn’t the right fit to play the iconic role of Batman in 1997’s Batman & Robin. He was weighed down by a number of unfortunate things, including, but not limited to, Batman’s infamous nipple suit. In fact, Clooney was so wrong for the part that he’s still apologizing for agreeing to do it in the first place. “I thought at the time this was going to be a very good career move. Um, it wasn’t,” Clooney told BBC’s Graham Norton in 2015. He added: “I actually thought I destroyed the franchise.” The only silver lining: if Clooney hadn’t been so miscast, Christopher Nolan may not have been inspired to completely gut and retool the franchise with his Oscar-winning Dark Knight trilogy.
Sibel Kekilli, Game Of Thrones
Yes, even an amazing show like Game Of Thrones can go awry when casting—case in point, Sibel Kekilli, who played Tyrion’s prostitute/girlfriend/fiance/betrayer, Shae. That character was always meant to antagonize Tyrion and challenge his loyalties to her, but the actress HBO brought onboard couldn’t have been more annoying. Her condescending, hateful tone, that oftentimes bordered on baby talk, made every one of her scenes cringe-inducing, which was clearly not the point of the character. Perhaps HBO kept her around knowing the fate that awaits virtually every character on that show, but it still would have been nice to watch an actress we liked to hear speak. Instead, we got one who got our attention, not due to her beauty or subtle nuances, but because we kept screaming “SHUT UP ALREADY!” and missing out on actual dialogue.
Kirk Cameron, Growing Pains
Growing Pains was a super-successful sitcom, at least until its star, Kirk Cameron, became a born-again Christian, alienating many of his co-stars by judging them for their non-saved status. He even allegedly got Julie McCullough, his character’s girlfriend, fired because she dared to pose for Playboy. The producers were initially fine with her decision but, since Cameron was the show’s star and most popular character, they had to cut her to appease him and his sanctimoniousness. Thing is, Cameron wouldn’t have been the first (or last) sitcom actor to have his role played by somebody else. Doing so might have saved the show, which otherwise sputtered to a stop within two seasons of McCullough’s canning.
Taylor Lautner, The Twilight Saga
The ironic thing about including Taylor Lautner here is because he was actually almost recast in the first sequel to Twilight, New Moon. Many people behind the lucrative franchise did not feel the actor matched the tall, beefed-up description of his character, Jacob, in the second book. But despite all the muscle Lautner ultimately gained to keep the role, Hollywood missed a real chance to inject some blood into this dead-as-nails franchise by not sticking to their guns. Leading into New Moon, Twilight was already saddled with two monotone leads—Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson—who performed as if they were in a brooding music video rather than a multi-million dollar franchise. Assuming they found the right actor, recasting Jacob would have livened up the franchise in ways that Stewart and Pattinson never could—at least long enough to keep that whole love triangle storyline interesting through the fourth and final movie. Instead, the franchise was left with three main characters who, much like the audience watching, couldn’t care less about anything happening in the movie.
Dave Coulier, Full House
Full House was a cheesy enough show as it was—the last thing the show’s creators needed was to cast somebody who added even more cheese. And yet that’s just what happened, with standup comedian (or rather, “standup comedian”) Dave Coulier playing standup comedian (once again, “standup comedian”), Uncle Joey. Tragically, Joey’s sense of humor was Coulier’s: cheesy, corny, and designed to be as light-PG as humanly possible. There were tons of other comedians who could’ve re-written Joey’s jokes as better, funnier, more interesting, and still clean enough to keep the show family-friendly, but nobody figured that out in time. There’s a very good reason Coulier’s done virtually nothing since Full House ended, but John Stamos and Bob Saget keep getting work.
Jamie Dornan, 50 Shades Of Grey
True, the source material for 50 Shades Of Grey was so bad, you could only have made a great movie out of it if you instead made an entirely different movie. But the guy cast to play Christian Grey, Jamie Dornan, was not right at all. Grey’s supposed to be hypersexual and psychotic, and Dornan interpreted that as “be as bland and generic as humanly possible.” He didn’t look, nor sound, like anything interesting, much less a guy with rage issues and his own domination room. If the movie had stuck with the book’s depiction of Grey as a redhead, its casters at least would have been able to hire somebody with a unique look, and preferably somebody with a visible edge to their personality. Because the whole “plain, boring psychopath” thing can work, but only if it’s American Psycho and punctuated with axe murder.
Katherine Heigl, Grey’s Anatomy
Katherine Heigl’s exit from Grey’s Anatomy was obviously contentious; years later, series creator Shonda Rhimes admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that Heigl’s notorious on-set behavior completely changed the way she managed her subsequent hit shows. But despite everything, Heigl was actually able to negotiate out of her contract when she should have been downright fired. By the time she wanted out, Heigl had made it clear she was over Grey’s; in 2008, she removed herself from Emmy consideration, basically blaming her decision on the show’s writers for not providing her with some award-worthy material. So, why didn’t anybody at the time rip the band-aid off and save fans the headache of watching someone sleepwalk through a role? Even some of her co-stars have since gone on record to say that Heigl’s downfall was ultimately her own fault. Speaking to The New York Daily News in 2013, Ellen Pompeo confessed, “You could understand why she wanted to go—when you’re offered $12 million a movie and you’re only 26. But Katie’s problem is that she should not have renewed her contract. She re-upped, took a big raise and then tried to get off the show. And then her movie career did not take off.”
Elisha Cuthbert, 24
After spending the first two seasons getting kidnapped by drug dealers or caught in cougar traps, 24’s Kim Bauer, played by Elisha Cuthbert, finally starts to grow up. She even becomes a member of CTU (her father Jack’s Counter-Terrorist Unit) in Season 3. Unfortunately, that’s also when Cuthbert suddenly decided the show was beneath her. After all, she was a movie star now, appearing in cinematic masterpieces like House Of Wax and The Girl Next Door. So the show had two options: recast Kim with somebody who would actually stick around, or kill her off and give Jack yet another series of ulcers. It chose neither, but instead, writing Kim as having moved away to start a family. Whenever Cuthbert needed money and a decent role, she was free to come back and film a useless scene or two. 24’s producers neither fished nor cut bait, and the show became worse for it.
Paul Zaloom, Beakman’s World
The idea of a children’s science show with education and humor is a proven one. But the producers of Beakman’s World absolutely cast the wrong guy to play Beakman. Actor and puppeteer Paul Zaloom chose to bless Beakman with the very worst style of comedy imaginable: “loud, wacky mugging,” which lasted from intro to credits and completely distracted us from the actual science he was supposedly presenting. If the producers had cast an actual scientist, or even an actor who could keep it low-key and leave the craziness to his hyperactive assistants, Beakman’s World might be looked at today with the same reverence as Mr. Wizard or Bill Nye The Science Guy. But instead, the show has left behind the least desirable legacy of all: a collective empty feeling of “we actually watched that?”
Michael Jordan, Space Jam
Space Jam’s entire premise—a basketball player teams with cartoons to play basketball against other, scarier cartoons—is plenty odd. Why the casting crew hired a humorless, too-cool-for-the-room superstar like Michael Jordan is beyond us. Jordan’s performance, aside from slight bewilderment and acknowledging the failure of his brief baseball career, boiled down to “whatever, I’m Michael Jordan and I’m better than everyone here.” Obviously, whoever played his role would inevitably be the straight man to Bugs, Daffy and the other Looney Toons. But Shaquille O’Neal was also a huge star, with a great sense of humor to boot, and could have killed it as an actual funny straight man. Jordan should’ve either gotten the boot mid-shoot or simply been recast as one of the athletes who lost his abilities to the aliens. But sadly, Jordan was way too cool and full of himself to allow either to happen.
Mischa Barton, The O.C.