10 Times Actors Played Against Their Typecast and It Didn’t Work Out Well

Many actors find themselves typecast for something they do well. But most actors want to take on roles that show their range and ability to inhabit various characters and bring different kinds of people to life. So we regularly see actors who audiences have come to know and love through one type of role, taking on something completely different. Sometimes it works (looking at you, Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems), and sometimes it doesn’t. So when one movie fan asks an online film forum about casting against type that didn’t work, other film lovers are ready to offer their opinions on some major casting misfires. 

1. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

It’s always difficult for an actor to take on the role of an iconic character, especially if they give it a completely different spin than we’ve seen before. That’s what Jesse Eisenberg did when he played Lex Luthor as a twitchy and almost giddy supervillain in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and for many people, it just doesn’t work. 

One fan says, “the jolly rancher scene is easily one of the weirdest and dumbest things I’ve ever seen in a mainstream movie.” Another disagrees and says that he’s playing a different version of Luthor than we’ve seen before and that while they don’t like that character, they don’t have any issues with his acting in the role. I agree with the latter, and as a Zack Snyder and DC comics fan, I am a massive defender of Eisenberg’s performance. 

2. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, is another iconic comic book character with a massive legacy, perhaps even more so because Michelle Pfeiffer delivered such a perfect performance in Batman ReturnsSome fans think Anne Hathaway’s performance as the beloved cat burglar in The Dark Knight Rises just doesn’t fit. One says “she is a Disney princess type pretty, not at all the seductive and sexy kind needed for the role.” 

Others strongly disagree, highlighting that Hathaway is, in fact, very sexy and “sure can wear that suit.” Once again, I find myself in the latter camp, especially after her performance in Ocean’s 8.

3. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula 

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Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

Keanu Reeves’s acting talent has been debated for decades now. But many fans feel it’s not a matter of his acting talent so much as his casting that makes or breaks a Keanu performance. For example, several fans say they love Keanu, and he’s excellent in The Matrix and John Wick movies, but his casting as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula was completely wrong. 

4. Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough 

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Image Credit: MGM

Denise Richards is one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the screen. But she’s not exactly known for playing the most intelligent characters. One James Bond fan says that while it made perfect sense to cast Richards as a Bond girl in 1999, it didn’t make as much sense to cast her as a nuclear scientist. They think she could deliver an excellent performance in a Bond movie, though, and note that she would have been much better in the role played by Sophie Marceau in The World Is Not Enough. 

5. Chris Rock as Detective Zeke Banks in Spiral: From the Book of Saw

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Image Credit: Lionsgate

Some movie and TV fans say that Chris Rock’s performance as criminal Loy Cannon in the fourth season of the Fargo TV show doesn’t quite work, while others say they enjoy his performance. What people all agree on, though, is that Rock’s performance as Detective Zeke Banks in Spiral: From the Book of Saw does not fit into the ultra-gory world of those films. As a devoted Saw fan myself, I have to agree. 

6. Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog 

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Image Credit: Netflix

The original poster includes some examples of casting against type they think failed. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as cowboy Phil Burbank in The Power of the Dog lands high on their list of major miscasts. Others disagree, though, highlighting that it’s exactly because Cumberbatch is not believable as a rugged cowboy that the casting is perfect as Phil is, in fact, a wealthy landowner from the East Coast who wants to act like a cowboy. 

7. Vince Vaughn as Frank Semyon in True Detective Season 2

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Image Credit: HBO

Vince Vaughn’s role as gangster Frank Semyon in the second season of True Detective is another casting choice that doesn’t work for the original poster. Others say it’s not Vaughn’s fault and blame the show’s writing for his and others’ poor performances that season. But some think he’s excellent in the role and highlight his other serious roles like Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Clay Pigeons.  

8. Meryl Streep in 80s & 90s comedies 

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Image Credit: Universal

One film fan takes a broader historical approach to the question of miscasting, saying Meryl Streep’s shift into comedies in the late 1980s and early 1990s received significant backlash. Streep wasn’t bad in these movies; film fans just preferred to see her in the serious dramas that made her an awards favorite. While this may have been true then, many of the movies that Streep made during this period, like She-Devil and Death Becomes Her, have become cult classics. 

9. Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Many agree that Tom Hanks’s recent performance as Elvis Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis makes no sense. Hanks’s accent in the movie, in particular, receives a lot of criticism, with some viewers saying that the real-life person Hanks was playing didn’t even sound like that. 

10. Cameron Diaz as Jenny Everdeane in Gangs of New York 

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Image Credit: Miramax

Martin Scorsese has made movies with some of the best castings in cinema history, from Rober De Niro in Taxi Driver to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. But sometimes, there’s something off about the casting in one of his movies. 

Cameron Diaz’s performance as Irish immigrant Jenny Everdeane in Scorsese’s Gangs of New York is likely the worst case of a person simply not fitting into a movie in the director’s lengthy career. Several fans agreed that she just doesn’t make sense in the film, and her attempt at an Irish accent is, at the very least, distracting. 

This thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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Kyle Logan is a film and television critic and general pop culture writer who has written for Alternative Press, Cultured Vultures, Film Stories, Looper, and more. Kyle is particularly interested in horror and animation, as well as genre films written and directed by queer people and women. Along with writing, Kyle organizes a Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd.