Casting is by far the most important aspect of creating a great movie. Some people were born to be actors. Some of these actors are lucky enough to be born to play a role or have a character created with them in mind. We would struggle to imagine Forrest Gump as anyone other than Tom Hanks and Harry Potter as anyone other than Daniel Radcliffe. Over the years we develop expectations when we hear an actor or actress' name attached to a movie. If we hear Seth Rogan as a top bill actor in a movie you can expect an extremely gross, laugh out loud comedy. If you hear Keira Knightley, chances are it is going to be a historical, romantic drama. But every once in awhile we hear a name attached to a movie that makes us question this logic, especially when the casting choice sounds so wrong on paper, but feels oh so right on the big screen.
Sometimes, a director can make a casting choice that is so far left field that it ends up going right. So that is what we will be taking a look at, the odd casting choices that shouldn’t have worked but really did.
Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
By far, Heath Ledger’s role in the biggest and easily best DC movie has to be one of the most talked about odd casting choices of all time. Known originally for his roles in 10 Things i Hate About You and A Knight’s Tale, Ledger was easily a go to guy cast for the romantic lead thanks to his good looks and approachability. His turn as the psychopathic, mass murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor among other awards.
Albert Brooks - Drive
Born Albert Einstein in 1947, Brooks changed his name when his comedy career took off in the early 70s. He instantly became a regular on talk shows and led the baby boomer comic generation along with Steve Martin and Andy Kaufman. His role as the violent, foul-mouthed Bernie Rose in the 2011 crime drama Drive was a role that was offered to him but one that everyone assumed he would turn down as it was so different to anything he had done previously. He received a Golden Globe nomination for this role and won a New York Critics award.
Robin Williams - One Hour Photo
Stand up comedian Robin Williams, the guy known as the lovable doofus in many of his roles. We had become accustomed to his PG rated outings on both the big and small screens over the years and saw his acting talents shine during the 90s when he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting. As the new Century turned so did Williams’ casting choices as he took on the sinister, creepy roles in Insomnia and One Hour Photo. His role as Sy Parrish in the psychological thriller about a lonely guy who takes more than a shine to the "perfect" family is the reason that this blog post exists, one of the odd casting choices so against-type that it shouldn’t have worked but it did.
Cameron Diaz - Being John Malkovich
Known for her sex symbol status throughout the later part of the 90s, Cameron Diaz wouldn’t have been the viewer's choice to play Lotte Schwartz in the 1999 surrealism comedy Being John Malkovich. Hidden behind a big, dark haired, frizzy wig and plenty of makeup, Diaz was unrecognisable in the role that earned her critical acclaim as well as BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress that year.
Leslie Nielsen - Airplane!
“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” Who would’ve thought that one of the greatest and most memorable kings of comedy was originally a dramatic actor? At the time of production Airplane! was Leslie Nielsen's first comedic role. Writer and director, David Zucker stated that the slapstick comedy would only star actors known for dramatic roles as he believed them to be funnier than the comedians at that time. Nielsen went on to star as Frank Drebin in the Naked Gun trilogy and a comedy legend was born.
Mike Myers - Inglorious Basterds
A guy with almost no dramatic acting roles under his belt, known solely for comedic character acting for two decades, Mike Myers role as General Ed Fenech in Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 hit Inglorious Basterds shouldn’t have worked. Tarantino, being the best at unconventional casting that works may have known that his choice of Myers would be questioned but it worked due to his family past (his parents had been in the British Armed Forces) and his creative character portrayals.
Can you think of any other odd casting choices that sound wrong on paper but worked well? Let us know over on social media on our Facebook page, or by finding us on Instagram or Twitter. If you’re not feeling all that social that leave us a comment in the section below and let’s get talking.