Casting Choices Turned Iconic
IMDb (2017) Wonder Woman via Warner Bros. Pictures

Questionable Casting Choices That Turned Out Great


| LAST UPDATE 10/19/2021

By Scarlett Adler

Some Hollywood stars are loved by movie fans from the moment the casting choices are announced, and others are not. Here's a list of actors and actresses who caused upset at first but ended up wowing the crowd anyway.

Spiderman: Toby Maguire

Before the Tom Holland Spiderman we know today, came none other than Toby Maguire. Believe it or not, as well as he may have performed, the movie's directors weren't completely convinced with Maguire when he was first hired.

Spiderman Toby Maguire CastingSpiderman Toby Maguire Casting
IMDb Spiderman (2004) via Columbia Pictures & Marvel Entertainment

Maguire's shy and reserved characterization of Peter Parker supposedly rubbed the production team the wrong way. Why? Apparently, Toby's more stern roles in other films, such as Cider House Rules and Seabiscuit, didn't imply that he could also portray a superhero who flew through the sky saving civilians via spiderweb.

Burn After Reading: Brad Pitt

Burn After Reading is widely known as a dark comedy flick, but when the rumors of an adult Brad Pitt staring as a teenage childish jock turned out to be true, many didn't know how to feel. But, as it turned out, Pitt put on his figurative letterman's jacket and performed on par with what the directors were looking for.

Casting Concerns Brad PittCasting Concerns Brad Pitt
IMDb Burn After Reading (2008) via Working Title Films

At the end of the day, Pitt turned out to nail the role of gym-head Chad right on the money. He must have reverted to his earlier teenage days in Fight Club. Nevertheless, Pitt pulled out all of the stops to play the character just right and wow the masses.

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Captain America: Chris Evans

When superhero fans found out that Chris Evans, the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four was destined to play Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America, they nearly went crazy! Was the Captain going to have arsenic abilities too? Was Evans going to be able to play a more mature role?

Chris Evans Captain AmericaChris Evans Captain America
IMDb (2011) Captain America via Marvel Entertainment & Marvel Studios

The answer was yes! After seeing Chris in action, fans fell in love with his portrayal of the character and the Captain America franchise soared. As the first Avenger, there's no denying that the actor set the bar even higher...which, we didn't even know was possible!

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Speed: Keanu Reeves

When Keanu Reeves was cast to portray Jack Traven in 1994's Speed, he wasn't an experienced enough actor for the masses to be immediately comfortable with him genre-hopping. So, when he hit the big screen, Reeves had large expectations to meet, including buffing up for the role.

Keanu Reeves Speed CastingKeanu Reeves Speed Casting
IMDb Speed (1994) via 20th Century Studios & Mark Gordon Productions

But, when it came time for action movie fans to see what he was made of, many were pleasantly surprised! Aside from hitting the gym in preparation for the film, his hair was buzzed in hopes of adding a couple of years to his on-screen persona. In the end? It all worked and Keanu quickly became a widely loved action actor!

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Casino Royale: Daniel Craig

Many actors have embodied the role of James Bond throughout the years, such as Connery, Moore, or Dalton. But when they found out that Daniel Craig was due to be next, lovers of the series were supposedly not happy about the idea of a blonde James Bond. Yikes, it sounds like hair dye was out of the question.

James Bond Daniel CraigJames Bond Daniel Craig
Han Myung-Gu / Contributor via Getty Images

But even more than that, back when Craig was cast in 2005, he wasn't a widely known actor yet. So, aside from the hair fiasco, many action movie fanatics weren't sure if they could trust him to meet the same expectations that had already formed from the previous movies in the series.

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Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot

Supposedly, people were mad that a non-American citizen would play an American superhero, Diana Prince. The Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, was cast to play Wonder Woman, but instead of excitement leading up to her big debut, some fans were more concerned with comparing her to her predecessor.

Wonder Woman Casting GadotWonder Woman Casting Gadot
IMDb (2017) Wonder Woman via DC Comics & Warner Bros. Pictures

But, when fans finally had the chance to see the movie after it was released, they fell in love and it quickly became DC's most successful outgoing movie in several years. In the end, Gadot wowed fans to the max and has since been considered a ruler of the screen by many.

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Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr.

It's arguably hard to talk about classic modern superhero movies without mentioning Iron Man. Possibly more so, Robert Downey, Jr.'s role as the one and only Tony Stark. That being said, when the masses heard of this casting choice, they weren't convinced the decision would turn out favorable.

Tony Stark Robert Downey Jr.Tony Stark Robert Downey Jr.
IMDb (2008) Iron Man via Marvel Studios & Paramount Pictures

But, this isn't how all of the hero-lovers felt in the beginning. After hitting the set and showing the world what he was made of, Downey surprised many fans. His ability to portray the infamous billionaire seemed to widely meet and surpass expectations.

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The Hunger Games: Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence starred as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movie series. But not everyone was convinced that she was the best fit for the role. According to fans who read the book series before seeing the movies, Everdeen already had determined characteristics that Lawrence did not manifest.

Hunger Games Casting LawrenceHunger Games Casting Lawrence
IMDb (2012) The Hunger Games via Lion's Gate Films

The other concern in question was if a less-known actress would be able to pull out all of the stops for an action movie right out of the gate. But, as soon as the first movie hit the big screen, fans were hooked on Jen's embodiment of the kick-butt character.

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Mad Max: Fury Road: Charlize Theron

Furiosa's character in Mad Max was notoriously known to fans as a strong and powerful lone wolf. So, when Charlize Theron appeared as a partner, some people began to ward off the idea of her being cast at all. But, her on-screen persona wowed fans, including members of the Rolling Stone staff.

Charlize Theron Mad MaxCharlize Theron Mad Max
IMDb (2015) Mad Max: Fury Road via Warner Bros. Pictures & Village Roadshow Pictures

Some people were upset that Theron received more speaking lines and screen time than Tom Hardy, who many fans viewed as the "true protagonist." But, Peter Travers of R. Stone stated, "This is Theron's show. She's a knockout in a sensational performance that blends grit and gravity and becomes the film's bruised heart and soul."

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Avengers Assemble: Mark Ruffalo

The green muscle man many of us know as the Incredible Hulk began being played by Mark Ruffalo years back as a successor to Edward Norton. But, when some fans heard of his casting, the Marvel lovers voiced some pushback due to how quickly the masses had developed a liking to Norton.

Mark Ruffalo The HulkMark Ruffalo The Hulk
IMDb (2012) Avengers Assemble via Marvel Studios & Paramount Pictures

Many fans had only known Ruffalo's name from an assortment of romantic comedy movies, such as 13 Going on 30 and Begin Again, so skepticism was at an all-time high. But, according to later accounts, after fans saw Hulk in action under Mark's watch, they were widely impressed.

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Westworld: James Marsden

When Westworld, the TV series, was created as a reboot of the 1973 classic film, fans were nervous when James Marsden was scheduled to appear as a robotic cowboy. Typically, he appeared in romantic comedy flicks and joke-filled shows such as Enchanted and 30 Rock, but this time around, he got down to serious business.

Westworld Casting James MarsdenWestworld Casting James Marsden
IMDb (2016) Westworld via HBO

Marsden managed to impress viewers when his boy-next-door charm disappeared and turned into a reprogrammed robot who went on a Westworld elimination spree. Not only did he pleasantly surprise the producers of the show, but he apparently wowed fans left and right as well.

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The Dark Knight Rises: Anne Hathaway

When it was announced that Anne Hathaway was to be Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, she was put into a bit of a bind. Unfortunately, at the time, she was wrapped up in controversy over what some considered fake-sounding interview answers and bumpy acceptance speeches. This put her in a position of needing to prove her ability.

Batman Catwoman Anne HathawayBatman Catwoman Anne Hathaway
IMDb (2012) The Dark Knight Rises via DC Comics & Warner Bros. Pictures

When the widely known rom-com actress put on her catsuit, many people didn't know how to act and had a harder time thinking of her as an action star. But, to their surprise, many fans felt that Hathaway rocked the role and nailed her character portrayal. In 2012, Vanity Fair even said Anne was "The best Catwoman ever."

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Bridget Jones's Diary: Renee Zellweger

After the thought-up diary entries of Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones came to fruition in The Independent way back in 1995, fans couldn't wait for Bridget Jones's Diary: the movie, to come out! But, when Renee Zellweger was announced as the actress of choice to portray Jones, fans grew nervous.

Bridget Jones's Diary ZellwegerBridget Jones's Diary Zellweger
IMDb (2001) Bridget Jones's Diary via Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, & Miramax

In the writings, Jones was a London-based woman in her 30's. But with the American actress Zellweger cast, those who waited for the scenes to hit the big screen grew curious if the actress could embody the leading lady's role. In the end, Renee not only knocked it out of the park but earned herself an Oscar nomination to boot!

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The Dark Knight: Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker has since become one of the most well-known villains in the superhero world. It even won him the nomination for an Oscar! But, when initially cast, not everyone was sure he could pull out all of the stops due to his previous roles in more light-hearted flicks.

Casting Controversy Heath LedgerCasting Controversy Heath Ledger
IMDb (2008) The Dark Knight via DC Comics & Warner Bros. Pictures

He had previously taken the screen in movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, so the idea of him also being this jokster, was hard for people to wrap their minds around. Supposidly, some were worried that the role would be a flop, but in the end, Ledger's unhinged portrayal of Joker wowed many.

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Batman: Michael Keaton

On the other side of the superhero world is Batman. Many actors had played the mysterious crime-fighting role. And, when Michael Keaton's name was added to the mix, fans were apparently worried that he wouldn't be able to leave his previous comedy-driven acting skills behind.

Batman Casting Michael KeatonBatman Casting Michael Keaton
IMDb (1989) Batman via Warner Bros. Pictures & DC Comics

But, when this Bruce Wayne took over the screen, his bat wings spanned so wide that jaws everywhere were left on the floor. While he might not be the fan's ultimate favorite Batman, his ability to tap into the intense drama of the character left the masses pleasantly surprised.

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La La Land: Ryan Gosling

When the masses found out that Emma Stone was going to star in a song and dance-filled production, excitement grew. But, when her costar was announced, fans weren't entirely convinced that Ryan Gosling would be able to, well, sing...or dance. While it may be true that his singing didn't blow everyone's minds...

Ryan Gosling Movie Casting Ryan Gosling Movie Casting
IMDb (2016) La La Land via Summit Entertainment

At the end of the day, movie fanatics gave him the benefit of the doubt after seeing his immense efforts! But, let's be real; it was likely his on-screen chemistry with the one and only Emma Stone that drew people in more than their footwork. Nevertheless, Gosling made it work!

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The Bourne Identity: Matt Damon

Matt Damon had already gained widespread fame with his performances in Saving Private Ryan and Rounders, but when he was cast for the role of Jason Bourne in what we now know to be the Bourne series, not everyone was convinced he could bring the energy necessary. But director Doug Liman was confident.

Matt Damon Casting ControversyMatt Damon Casting Controversy
IMDb (2002) The Bourne Identity via The Kennedy/Marshall Company & Universal Pictures

While Damon himself had been reported to have some doubts about his own role, Liman was determined to follow through with his vision to keep the actor in the flick. In the end, the movie and series turned out to be a huge success that surprised many, even Matt!

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A Quiet Place: John Krasinski

There's simply no denying that John Krasinski made a name for himself as Jim, a young man with a big heart, in The Office. So, after an initial rocky-reviewed stint in the action game with 3 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, it took some convincing that he could play a convincing horror actor.

Quiet Place John KrasinskiQuiet Place John Krasinski
IMDb (2018) A Quiet Place via Platinum Dunes & Paramount Pictures

But, when he got to star alongside his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, fans saw that anything was possible in A Quiet Place. Krasinski's role as a man trying to keep his family safe from a monster and horror-filled world captivated many and helped him gain more widespread acknowledgments.

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Star Wars: Adam Driver

Several Star Wars casting choices have been controversial throughout the years, but possibly none more than when Adam Driver was cast as Kylo Ren. This could be due to his slightly later entrance to Hollywood. Before becoming a galaxy traveler, he spent time in the military, so his big-screen portfolio was still in the works.

Star Wars Adam DriverStar Wars Adam Driver
IMDb (2019) Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker via Lucasfilm & Bad Robot Productions

Because the experience he did have was in the realm of comedy, such as Logan Lucky, lovers of the lightsaber-filled movie series were a bit confused. But, when viewers saw Driver's willingness to dive into the role, his high-energy acting made fans fall in love.

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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: Michael Cera

Many fans couldn't look past the dorky persona Michael Cera had taken on after staring in Juno and Arrested Development. But, when he declared himself more or less enough of a "Terrible person" to understand how the character needed to be portrayed, Cera impressed nearly everyone and delivered tenfold.

Michael Cera Casting ChoicesMichael Cera Casting Choices
IMDb (2010) Scott Pilgrim vs. The World via Marc Platt / Big Talk Productions & Universal Pictures

Because the flick was based on a graphic novel read by thousands, the character was already ingrained in reader's minds. But, the actor's hilarious and widely accurate portrayal of what people expected of the role calmed most doubtful tempers. Way to go, Michael!

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The Dark Tower: Idris Elba

Many lovers of The Dark Tower series who hoped the movie portrayal of the books would be spot on to what was written on the pages were surprised with this casting choice. According to the publication, the main character, Roland Deschain, was supposed to be a white cowboy...

Casting Controversy Idris ElbaCasting Controversy Idris Elba
IMDb (2017) The Dark Tower via Columbia Pictures / MRC & Imagine Entertainment / Weed Road Pictures

But when the Black British actor, Idris Elba was cast instead, fans were confused. The author of the series, Stephen King, later endorsed this casting choice and declared that he never directly stated that the Roland character was, in fact, a white man. In the end, Elba silenced naysayers and rocked the role as well as he could.

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Jurassic World: Chris Pratt

Many people came to know Chris Pratt thanks to his hilarious antics as Andy on Parks and Recreation. So, when movie fans heard that he was scheduled to star in Jurassic World, many were worried he wouldn't know how to act past his goofy class clown portfolio.

Jurassic World Chris PrattJurassic World Chris Pratt
IMDb (2015) Jurassic World via Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment & Legendary Entertainment

Thankfully, Pratt proved the masses wrong when he transformed into a chiseled and sometimes grumpy dino trainer. In fact, he went on to be nominated for a People's Choice Award for "Favorite Movie Actor." And he won the "Best Action Performance" MTV Award for the flick!

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Ant-Man: Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd is commonly known for his slap-stick funny roles in comedy movies. And, when thinking about it, not many superhero film fans even thought of his name when considering the next hero that would grace their screens. So, when Rudd was cast as Ant-Man, fans were unsure but hopeful.

Ant-Man Casting Paul RuddAnt-Man Casting Paul Rudd
IMDb (2015) Ant-Man via Marvel Studios & Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In the end, the comedy man was able to add drama to his resume. With many fans anticipating this film to be a flop as Marvel's first failure, things actually turned out differently than expected. To widespread surprise, Rudd's acting helped the movie become one of Marvel's funniest flicks yet!

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The Lord of the Rings: Liv Tyler

Fans were thrilled when they found out that actors such as Elijah Wood would be playing Frodo and Ian McKellan as Gandalf. But, many grew upset when they learned that former model Liv Tyler was set to play the role of Arwen Undomiel in The Lord of the Rings.

Liv Taylor Casting ControversyLiv Taylor Casting Controversy
IMDb (2001) The Lord of the Rings via New Line Cinema & WingNut Films

With some doubt that the daughter of an Aerosmith frontman would portray the character they knew and loved, many fans held their breath until they saw Taylor take the screen. And? They were happily surprised at all that the model could do in terms of embodying the character.

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X-Men: Hugh Jackman

Due to his lack of rugged looks at the beginning of when Hugh Jackman was cast for the role of Wolverine in the X-Men franchise, fans were worried that he wouldn't be able to portray the character they already knew and loved. But, thanks to his ability to grow facial hair, things soon changed.

IMDb (2000) X-Men via 20th Century Studios, Lauren Shuler Donner, & 20th Century Studios

Jackman surprised both the movie's directors and, later on, fans with his ability to not only play the character well but hide his Australian accent too! Yes, that's right: Hugh somehow snarled, growled, and acted all in an American accent. Now that's good acting!

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The Departed: Leonardo DiCaprio

Many of us know Leonardo DiCaprio best from his initial stints as a young charming boy in romantic movies such as Titanic and Romeo + Juliet. So, when he was cast for a heavier, non-romantic role in Martin Scorsese's The Departed, people became curious if he could do it.

Leonardo DiCaprio Casting ConcernsLeonardo DiCaprio Casting Concerns
IMDb (2006) The Departed via Warner Bros. Pictures & Plan B / Vertigo Entertainment

In the end, DiCaprio was able to hide his lovestruck side to wow even Scorsese with his portrayal of the rugged undercover cop who uses his wits to discover the secrets of crime in the flick. This performance has been said to have set Leonardo apart from the rest.

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Pulp Fiction: John Travolta

When Quentin Tarantino thought about who he wanted to play the role of Vincent Vega in his movie, Pulp Fiction, he initially wanted Michael Madsen. But, when Madsen passed on the role, Tarantino's second choice was John Travolta, who, by the way, is said to have taken a lesser pay to do the film.

John Travolta Casting ControversyJohn Travolta Casting Controversy
IMDb (1994) Pulp Fiction via Miramax, A Band Apart & Jersey Films

Thus, John Travolta took on the smaller pay and role of the hitman in hopes that he would be able to impress Tanatino with his abilities. Not only did this flick show the actor that he could do more than he initially thought, but it proved to movie-lovers that he deserved to be in the spotlight again!

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Aloha: Emma Stone

There's no denying that people were a bit confused when Emma Stone was cast as Allison Ng, a character in Aloha of Hawaiian and Asian heritage. Having neither of those backgrounds, Stone was seen as an inappropriate portrayal of the character by some. But, as good as her acting skills turned out to be, the movie still flopped.

Emma Stone Aloha ControversyEmma Stone Aloha Controversy
IMDb (2015) Aloha via Columbia Pictures / Regency Enterprises & LStar Capital / Scott Rudin Productions

This might have been no fault of hers, as many skeptics admitted that in the end, their opinions of Stone's ability to play the role had changed. It's been said that the flick didn't do as well as expected due to a lack of interest in the storyline of the film altogether.

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Ghost in the Shell: Scarlett Johansson

In another example of casting choices causing a bit of uproar, Scarlett Johansson's role in Ghost in the Shell was disliked by many. Not because the actress was thought to be incapable of portraying the character, but more so because she was chosen for the role in the first place.

Scarlett Johansson Casting ConfusionScarlett Johansson Casting Confusion
IMDb (2017) Ghost in the Shell via DreamWorks Pictures & Paramount Pictures

Her character, Motoko Kusanagi, was not expected to be played by a white woman, but when Johansson entered the set, she knew she had a big road ahead of her. In the end, many still felt that the role should not have been given to Scarlett, but she still managed to do a good job.

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Fast & Furious 7: Rhonda Rousey

Around the time that Fast & Furious 7 came out, Rhonda Rousey was rising to the top of nearly everyone's list as one of the it-girls taking over the scene. She was not only winning majorly in wrestling but was beginning to take on roles in Hollywood. But, her role in this fast-paced flick rubbed people the wrong way.

Furious 7 Rhonda RouseyFurious 7 Rhonda Rousey
IMDb (2015) Furious 7 via Universal Pictures, One Race Films & Original Film

Mostly because her main movie scenes in the car-racing film were spent standing around in a ballgown, without many speaking parts, the audience felt as if she did the best with what she was given. But what the fans really wanted was to see Rousey kick villain-butt.

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