Five Movie Roles I Wish I Could Go Back and Recast

Sometimes when you’re watching a movie, a thought pops into your mind. “Why is (insert actor) IN this?” It’s a casting decision that seems out of whack with either the character, everything else around them, or both. If I had a time machine, one thing I’d do after killing Hitler would be to recast some of these roles.

I tried to match it up with someone who would have been the appropriate age and look at the time. For example, if I wanted to recast Indiana Jones, I wouldn’t pick Chris Hemsworth. The mere writing of that sentence was blasphemy, and I promise I’ll never do it again.

Check out the list below, and suggest your own picks in the comments.

Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith

To be replaced by: Heath Ledger

I’ll start with one that’s probably the most obvious. Yes, Lucas’s scripts for the new Star Wars films were pretty bad and could make even Oscar worthy actors look foolish (Neeson, Portman, McGregor), but Hayden Christensen was horribly cast as Anakin Skywalker, and managed to make nearly all of his scenes borderline unwatchable as he attempted to project “angst” as violently as he could.

Who to replace him with? Heath Ledger was just two years older than Christensen and by 2002 had appeared in 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, Monster’s Ball and A Knight’s Tale. If Lucas could have recognized talent, he could have scooped him up back then, and we’d have very different movies today.

Kevin Bacon in X-Men: First Class 

To be replaced by: Jason Isaacs

I thought that X-Men: First Class and actually ALL the other X-Men films have been very well cast in nearly every single role, a tall order for such an ensemble cast. But when it was announced Kevin Bacon would be the Hellfire Club’s Sebastian Shaw, the collective reaction was “Kevin Bacon??” And it didn’t go away while you were watching the movie either.

Jason Isaacs might be too much of a “traditional villain,” as he’s played the role countless times from Harry Potter to Peter Pan, but he would have been great in this role and not a jarring figure the way Bacon was. Incidentally, I’d probably swap out January Jones for Alice Eve for the Emma Frost part, but I’ll say despite her rather terrible performance, she did look the part.

Halle Berry in Die Another Day

To be replaced by: Thandie Newton

I appreciated the Brosnan 007 films after Goldeneye even if they were a bit goofy. Die Another Day ended up being Brosnan’s last attempt at a Bond film, and unfortunately, it was a terrible note to go out on largely based on one character, Halle Berry’s “Jinx.” She had terrible line after terrible line and made Denise Richard’s lambasted Christmas Jones look like the best Bond girl since Pussy Galore.

I probably would have replaced the too-sassy-for-her-own-good Jinx character with someone else entirely, but if anyone could tone it down while still being gorgeous from that time period, I think it’s Thandie Newton. If I was recasting the film today, I’d probably say someone like Zoe Saldana, but I won’t as I’m attempting to stick to my own rules here.

Ben Affleck in Daredevil 

To be replaced by: Timothy Olyphant

Ben Affleck is many things. A good writer (Good Will Hunting), a director (The Town) and a good actor (citation needed), but he’s not a superhero, and he’s certainly not Daredevil. That film may have suffered from a number of issues, but his casting was mistake number one, and might be rectified in an upcoming reboot.

The original Daredevil was released before Timothy Olyphant was as beloved as he is now, but I think it could have been a pretty big break for the actor who would have made a better Matt Murdoch than Affleck without question. As for whether he could have saved the entire film, that’s unclear, but it would have been a more promising start.

Will Smith in I Am Legend

To be replaced by: Denzel Washington

Will Smith is almost always likable in every role we see him. Chances are if he’s cast, the movie is good or at least he’ll be good in it. But there are some parts he should stay away from altogether, and his casting in I Am Legend completely changed the tone of the movie from what it should have been. His appearance, the CGI vampires and a radically altered ending are what made the film bad, and at least one of those could have been fixed.

Denzel would have been great here. With a better adapted screenplay and an R-rating, this could have been on hell of a feature. It’s most unfortunate that when he did decide to do something post-apocalyptic, it was The Book of Eli instead of this.

  • JohnnyIgaloo

    If Heath had have been cast in Star Wars he would never have got cast as The Joker.

  • MurderBot

    Terence Stamp as Magneto.

  • Tim

    Interesting replacements. Although, I wouldn’t recast Will Smith in I Am Legend — He was great! I’m sure Denzel can make talking to mannequins look interesting too, but Smith pulled off that role perfectly. The problems were more in the script.

  • uncoolaidman

    I actually like most of these replacements. I don’t have as much of a problem with Hayden Christensen, though. As you mentioned Neeson, McGregor, and Portman weren’t much better. We all know those three have tremendous acting talent, and I think Christensen displayed some impressive acting chops in shattered glass. The acting in the prequels really sucked, but i’m not sure that good acting would have improved the films much. Igaloo also makes a really good point. There’s a good chance Ledger wouldn’t have been the Joker, of course that might mean that Heath would still be alive.

    I liked Kevin Bacon in First Class. He was mainly there just to turn Erik into Magneto, so there wasn’t really a deep character there to be fleshed out. I think Bacon took it about as far as it could go.

    I like Thandie Newton. Very underrated actress, but if you’ve seen Mission Impossible 2 you know that she can be just as bad in a cheesy action movie as Berry can be.

    Olyphant wouldn’t be able to do his awesome sneer with a mask on, but I suppose anyone would have been better than Affleck. Matt Damon and Guy Pearce were offered the role, but they both turned it down, unfortunately. I’m kind of surprised Damon has not played a superhero. His name gets tossed around a lot as a potential actor for a lot of different comic book movies.

    Denzel could be a good choice. I also picture Viggo Mortensen as Robert Neville, though that might just might be due to his role in The Road. I Am Legend was almost made in the early 2000’s by Michael Bay. Thankfully, him and Will Smith decided to do Bad Boys 2 instead.

  • uncoolaidman

    @ Murderbot
    You dare to recast Sir Ian McKellen? He simply pretended to be Magneto while he was being filmed. That is his secret method for acting.

  • Javier

    @ uncoolaidman re: Olyphant sneering as Daredevil
    If I recall correctly, DD’s mask has a mouth opening like Batman’s but bigger…the sneer would’ve been fine

    and speaking of Olyphant, he was 47 in the Hitman movie but I never saw him fit for that film…ever since the film was announced and up until I saw it I kept thinking “Now this is a film with Jason Statham written all over it”

  • uncoolaidman

    @ Javier
    It’s all in the eyes.

  • Lou

    All good picks…however I would of picked Paul Walker from the Fast n Furious movies to play Anakin Skywalker.

    As for Daredevil….uhh…Thomas Jane?

  • HatguyMark

    I’m sorry, but Kevin Bacon was FANTASTIC in X-Men First Class. Definitely up there with Fassbender, who was perfectly cast as Magneto.

    The only actors that needed replacing in that film were the kid playing young Magneto and January “I Can’t Act to Save My Life” Jones. I’ve never been able to figure out how she has a career. Seriously, it’s not like she’s pretty enough to get by without having talent. She is the most plain and boring looking “sexy” person I’ve ever seen.

  • uncoolaidman

    @ Lou
    … Paul Walker? I wouldn’t pick Paul Walker to play himself in a documentary about Paul Walker’s life because it wouldn’t be even slightly believable.

  • Nick D Pags

    I always thought Nick Stahl would have been better than Hayden.
    Though Ledger’s voice is closer to James Earl Jones, seems decent.

  • The Wolf

    sorry, paul. but i don’t agree with any of these. interesting choices, though.

  • Alaric

    I’ve got no beef with this list, although I have a hard time picturing a better Anakin Skywalker. Not because I like Hayden Christenson, but because the character was a whiny emo crybaby and that’s going to annoy the hell out of me no matter how well that’s acted out.

  • Diablo

    While I would agree that Hayden Christenson was a poor choice…no one could make that dialogue work. And as mentioned by someone else, Hayden was great in “Shattered Glass”. The prequels are so damn flawed that no single change is going to fix them.

    You know its kind of funny to me that you mention “I am Legend” and “The Book of Eli” together as both films are basically flawed by terrible twists at the end. I loved “The Book of Eli” until the lazy ending. Any other possible reason, such as a language barrier (which would have worked perfectly with the idea that when society collapses, we would naturally start ethnically cleansing each other) than the actual twist at the end.

    “I am Legend” basically did the same stupid thing they have always done which is puss out from the ending in the book.

    Per Ben Affleck, while he was definitely a weak lead, again, the film has so many flaws that I am not sure the right lead could save it. In my mind, Jennifer Garner is far and a way a much worse choice and a bigger issue than Affleck.

    And in closing, Halle Berry is a victim of her character. Give her a good character and she is a fantastic actress. Replace her and at best you get a similar performance you got in the Bond film.

  • Bah, Book of Eli was great. Ok, good. But by no means unfortunate.

  • Josh

    Re: Thandie Newton in Bond

    At that point, she had already been an “Impossible” girl. Those two franchises have tried to steer clear of each other, it seems, so Newton would never have happened. That said, I agree. Newton is one of the best, most underrated actresses around

  • Orleanas

    If Heath had been cast in Star Wars, he would never have been cast as Ennis Del Mar.

    Halle Berry as Storm in the X-Men films was a horrible casting decision as far I and my friends are concerned. Maybe the Fox animated series from the early 1990s ruined our perception of Storm because we thought Halle’s voice and presence was too weak for a character we always thought was strong, commanding and powerful. Halle was none of those. Her bad wigs didn’t help matters.

    Thandie Newton, to me, is always overacting. I have yet to see her in a performance I’ve like, so her casting as Jinx may not have been much better than Halle’s, though I do think she might have been better at being sexy-sassy than Halle. Halle was just sexy trying to pull off sassy. I agree with you, though, that Halle’s casting as Jinx was not the best decision.

    The only films in which Halle is any good are the ones in which a “good” character is one who is abused, broken, and down in the gutter: Jungle Fever, Quuen, Losing Isaiah, Monster’s Ball. I surmise it’s because the experiences or emotions of those characters come closer to what she has experienced in her own personal relationships, so she can better project/portray them. Everything else she does is just subpar.

  • Grey

    The first mistake in Daredevil is writer, director, stunt coordinator Mark Stephen Johnson. Jennifer Garner wasn’t a very good pick either.

    Ben Affleck is actually a very good actor, when he’s directed well. I like him a lot in Chasing Amy, Dogma, Good Will Hunting, and (though many hated it) Jersey Girl. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t seem to work well with most directors, and his performance suffers.

  • wevs

    3 words: Sand it’s rough.

    Nobody could fix the prequel dialogue.

  • Jackie

    I really wish they had cast someone other than the 5′ 6″ Tom Cruise to play the 6′ 5″ 250# Jack Reacher in the upcoming movie based on Lee Childs’ novels.

  • Skip Person

    Pretty much agree w/ all but the Will Smith/Denzel swap although it probably would have been just as epic.

  • Lemm

    Halle’s boobs are unreplaceable. Thandie is hot and all, but don’t you dare replace Halle’s boobs.

  • blastor138

    Affleck was great in Hollywoodland.

  • Kienan

    Ghost General: Release us, you gave us your word.

    Aragorn: eeeeehhhh…. how about since you can’t die you just march on the black gate with us so we don’t have to worry about Frodo.

    Ghost General: Good point.

  • tassie devil

    Anyone would have been better than Wynona Ryder in Alien: Resurrection. She was terrible. Even more so than usual.

  • Segashredder88

    Everybody agrees that Manakin Skywalker should have been played by a different actor but Heath Ledger would not have been close to any choice I personally would have come up with.

    Kevin Bacon was awesome as Sebastian Shaw. I do however do like your choice for his replacement.

    Your alternative for Daredevil isn’t so bad but they are rebooting that character anyway and I have a feeling it is going to be awesome but who knows considering it’s a 20th Century Fox kind of deal and they have a track record for failing at a Marvel properties.

  • Anonymous

    No, what made i am legend bad was the dogs death, period, end of story.