14 Times Actors Took a Risk Playing Against Type, and It Didn’t Quite Work Out

death becomes her

Actors sometimes find themselves typecast, doing the same types of roles over and over. Sometimes they branch out to show their range in a different type of part and it works — and other times, it falls flat. Someone in a popular online forum asked, “What are times that actors tried to play against their type and it didn't work out well?” Here are 12 of the top responses.

1. Vince Vaughn as Sergeant Howell in Hacksaw Ridge

vince vaughn
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Vince Vaughn's take on a tough drill sergeant in Hacksaw Ridge left many movie lovers underwhelmed. A lot of viewers felt like Vaughn's acting chops weren't up to the challenge of this movie and many said it felt like he was copying Full Metal Jacket.

2. Chris Rock as Loy Cannon in Fargo

chris rock
Image Credit: FX.

Many fans thought Chris Rock missed the mark in the last season of Fargo. Some of the fans talked about how they couldn't take his character seriously and that it just felt like he never got the role down.

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

Jesse Eisenberg in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
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. 

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

the dark knight rises
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, is another iconic comic book character with a massive legacy, perhaps 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 doesn’t fit. Others strongly disagree, highlighting that Hathaway can for sure pull that suit off.

5. Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula Gary Oldman Winona Ryder Anthony Hopkins Keanu Reeves
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Keanu Reeves’ 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 utterly wrong. 

6. Denise Richards as Doctor Christmas Jones in The World Is Not Enough 

Denise Richards in The World is Not Enough
Image Credit: MGM.

Denise Richards is among 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 Sophie Marceau played in The World Is Not Enough. 

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

Spiral :From the Book of Saw (2021, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman) Chris Rock
Image Credit Lionsgate.

Some movie and TV fans said that Chris Rock’s performance as Loy Cannon in the fourth season of the Fargo TV show doesn’t quite work, while others say they enjoyed his performance. What people all agreed 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. 

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

The Power of the Dog Benedict Cumberbatch
Image Credit: Netflix.

The original poster included 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 disagreed, though, highlighting that it’s precisely 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. 

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

Vince Vaughn in True Detective Season Two

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 said he’s excellent in the role and highlighted his other serious roles, like Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Clay Pigeons.  

10. Meryl Streep in 80s and 90s comedies 

Death Becomes Her Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

One film fan took 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. 

11. Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis

Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker in Elvis
Image Credit: Bazmark Films.

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

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

Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York
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 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 doesn’t make sense in the film, and her attempt at an Irish accent is, at the very least, distracting. 

13. Topher Grace as Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3

spider man 3
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Topher Grace is mostly known for his role as Eric Forman in That 70s Show, so when he showed up in Spider-Man 3 as a villain, it was a little off-setting to see the boy-next-door as the bad guy. He does a lot better in roles where he's more likable and funny.

14. Seth Rogan as The Green Hornet in The Green Hornet

the green hornet
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Some of the biggest casting blunders seem to come up in superhero movies, and we have another case with Seth Rogan when he was cast in The Green Hornet. Overall, the movie has been kind of forgotten and it luckily wasn't the end of Rogan's career.

Source: Reddit.

Author: Kyle Logan

Title: Contributing Writer

Expertise: Film, TV, Horror, Animation, Queer Cinema


Film and TV Critic, Pop Culture Writer

  • Expertise: Horror, Animation, Queer Film
  • Education: Master's Degree in Philosophy from Boston College, Dual Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston College
  • Organizer of Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd
  • Over 200 reviews, essays, articles, and lists across various sites

Experience: Kyle Logan has been writing about film since studying film and philosophy as an undergraduate at Boston College. Kyle began writing about film professionally in 2020 and has written for many sites including Screen Anarchy, Film Stories, and Fangoria. Kyle has also organized the Queer Film Challenge on Letterboxd since 2020, highlighting the queer history of film and bringing attention to rising queer filmmakers. Kyle now works full time with Wealth of Geeks, contributing lists, reviews, and podcast appearances on topics as varied as film, travel, and Halloween candy.