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Great moments in miscasting

There's something touching about watching epically miscast actors. You sense their pain. You can see they know that they are not credible. They know their performance is doomed from the outset. But here's the thing: by jingo, they're still going to give it their best shot. They're going to act their socks off, as they wrestle with the role they were born never to play.

It's a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit.

And since we like to think of the Make It Sticky Advertising team as tenacious and spirited too (and human, right enough)... we humbly present some of our favourite moments in movie miscasting. Go on, make space in your life to enjoy each of these absolute corkers.


Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler (2014)

Don't get us wrong, Marky Mark is a very competent actor. But he's a competent actor who looks like he can bench press a bus. As such, he has a long history of playing physical roles - roles, for example, where he's punching people a lot.

In the 2014 film The Gambler, Mark shows up as a professor of literature with a gambling problem (though admittedly, he's not so buff as he is here). The problem is not so much that he can't play the part. It's more the sense that a seminar on identity in the 19th century American novel (for example) probably isn't his natural habitat.

He's Mark Wahlberg, and that means he'd rather be in the gym.

mark wahlberg

Coming soon to a seminar on literature near you.



Elijah Wood in Green Street (2005)

Here's our second case of a decent actor who can't possibly overcome the burden of of his past movie casting. In Green Street, Elijah Wood is Matt, a disgraced-journalism-student-turned-football-hooligan. Except he's not Matt, is he? He's Frodo Baggins of The Shire. In the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Woods was beautifully, perfectly cast as the brave little hobbit. In the nicest possible way, and even without the prosthetics, he really looks like a hobbit.

So we spent the entire of duration of Green Street commenting, "Frodo's changed his hair. Frodo's swearing. Frodo's fighting. Now look what Frodo's doing. I can't believe that Frodo could do that!"

Just give in Elijah. Accept you are Frodo and everyone will be happy.


elijah wood

Frodo, longing to return to Bag End



Reb Brown in Captain America (1979)

Since 2011, Marvel has produced three Captain America films. They've done rather well - the most recent grossed $1.15 billion. All three films star a beautifully sculpted Chris Evans, who looks, sounds and moves like you might expect Captain America to do. Here's Chris doing his stuff:


However, long before Marvel had a film budget like a small country's GDP, they made two Captain America films for television. Both starred former football player Reb Brown. Please, please, pleaaaaase feast your eyes on the clip below. We recommend you pay special attention to 1:50 -2:06:


Clearly, the film's many shortcomings don't begin and end with the miscast star. But even the kindest assessment would have to admit Reb wasn't very superhero-ish. You might point out that in 1979, no one looked like a superhero, but you'd be mistaken. By then, Lou Ferrigno had been a perfectly passable Hulk for two years.

Disclaimer: Reb still looks better than any of us do in spandex.


Meg Ryan in Courage Under Fire (1996)

If you follow the rantings of film critic Mark Kermode, you'll know that "Meg Ryan as a helicopter pilot" is his shorthand of communicating a spectacular piece of miscasting. Watch this 1996 Gulf War movie, and you'll understand why.

In our view, Meg gives a solid performance in a good movie. But think about it for a moment. This is the same Meg Ryan, who was voted by People magazine as one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world, the Meg Ryan who Glamour Magazine considered the sexiest woman alive. Two years in a row. At 55.

Is it likely that someone so blessed would join the US Military? In real life, surely she would become a Hollywood actress and be so in demand that she ended up being miscast as a helicopter pilot. Or something.

(You can see her doing her helicopter pilot thing below)


Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher (2012)

Author Lee Childs is deliberately sketchy in his description of modern knight-errant, Jack Reacher. One of his few clearly defined characteristics is his height. And the colour of his hair.

He's 6'5". And blonde.

In the 2012 film version, Reacher is played by Tom Cruise.

Enough said.

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise. Good, but not 6'5".


All the actors from our blog post on terrible movie accents

If you're a keen student of horrible miscasting, you should also visit our blog post on terrible movie accents. They are two sides of the same coin. After all, part of being able to play a part convincingly is to sound something like the person you're playing. In case you really can't spare a moment to check out those wondrous accents, we'll mention our favourites, both in the 1986 film Highlander:

  • Geneva-raised Christopher Lambert playing 16th Century Scottish warrior Connor MacLeod, sounding uncannily like Inspector Clouseau putting on a Scottish accent.
  • Edinburgh-born Sean Connery playing Egyptian-born Spaniard Juan Sánchez Villa-Lobos Ramírez, sounding like Sean Connery ordering paella.


Christopher lambert

Je suis Connor Macleod, et j'habite Glencoe.


Who gets your vote?

When is a movie epically miscast? Having looked at this selection, that's easy - when your suspension of disbelief requires the use of a crane, you know it's the real deal. You've seen our top picks - why not let us know yours?


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