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Top 10 Surprisingly Good Casting Choices

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Clayton Martino. Wait, they cast WHO in that role?! Join as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Surprisingly Good Casting Choices. For this list, we’re looking at actors and actresses who were cast in movie roles that didn’t seem to fit their particular skill set, but ended up being excellent choices in the end. Special thanks to our users Victor Gustavson, TimaTamaandRa, Caridad Chang, DejoMasters, Sean Wareing, aldqbigsquare, Mormonster, SlashinatorZ, afroinness, arkhamresident, stivi700, Chance Ellison, BrickBuster2552, AllenWalker7, Marie Scraeyen and ReaderGamerSinger for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Clayton Martino.

Top 10 Surprisingly Good Casting Choices in Movies

Wait, they cast WHO in that role?! Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Surprisingly Good Casting Choices.

For this list, we’re looking at actors and actresses who were cast in movie roles that didn’t seem to fit their particular skill set, but ended up being excellent choices in the end.

#10: Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos
“Monster” (2003)

Some people questioned whether stunning beauty Charlize Theron could believably portray the unattractive, mentally ill serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Theron, however, didn’t only use her skills as a thespian, but also committed her body to the role by gaining 30 pounds and donning prosthetic teeth, completely transforming her appearance. Called one of film’s greatest acting performances by Roger Ebert, Theron also won an Oscar, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for her efforts.

#9: Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt
“Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles” (1994)

After a series of film successes in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Tom Cruise was one of the most marketable actors in Hollywood. This led director Neil Jordan to cast him as the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt in this adaptation of the Anne Rice novel. Fans of the book didn’t think Cruise was right for the imposing anti-hero though, and “The Vampire Chronicles”’s author called the decision bizarre and absurd. Nevertheless, Cruise was able to successfully shed his pretty-boy persona and give one of the most memorable performances of his career. As a result, Rice retracted her comments and even went as far as saying “Tom was Lestat” for her.

#8: Zachary Quinto as Spock
“Star Trek” (2009)

When J.J. Abrams announced he was re-booting the “Star Trek” series, one of the most difficult things he had to do was cast a new Spock to replace the iconic Leonard Nimoy. Enter Zachary Quinto. Up to that point, Quinto had appeared in several television series, but had never appeared on the big screen. This caused some fans to question the casting decision, especially after the actor admitted that he had only seen a couple of the previous “Star Trek” films. Nimoy, however, who played a large role in the casting choice, approved of Quinto after his impressive audition.

#7: Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones
“Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001)

An iconic British role given to…an American? Many of our friends across the pond were upset when Renee Zellweger was given the part of Bridget Jones, considered to be a British heroine by many fans of the fictional character. Others also believed the actress was far too skinny for the role. Zellweger beat out the likes of Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, and Helena Bonham Carter, however, and dedicated herself to the role by gaining 20 pounds and developing a believable British accent. In the end, she became the lead of a critical and commercial smash and was further rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

#6: Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose
“Drive” (2011)

More known for his comedy chops and for his distinctive voice in “Finding Nemo” and “The Simpsons,” it was somewhat surprising to find out the actor was given the role of the crude, villainous Bernie Rose in “Drive”. Brooks accepted the role because of the character’s complexity and because he wanted to go against his usual “type” casting. His performance was met with much critical acclaim, and it was considered one of the biggest Oscar snubs of the year when he wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for his performance. Luckily, he was recognized for a slew of other awards though!

#5: Michael Keaton as Batman
“Batman” (1989)

Batman fanboys can be very sensitive about who plays the role of the caped crusader (ahem, Ben Affleck), so when comedy-based actor Michael Keaton was cast in Tim Burton’s flick in the late ‘80s, thousands of comic book enthusiasts made their anger known to Warner Bros via snail mail. Fans also complained that Keaton lacked the height, muscular physique and handsome features to play Bruce Wayne. Talk about a tough crowd. Keaton gave a terrific performance, however, and helped make “Batman” one of the biggest hits of the year and is arguably responsible for launching the superhero movie era of recent times.

#4: Channing Tatum as Gregory Jenko
“21 Jump Street” (2012)

Typecast as a pretty boy with mediocre acting skills with a bunch of awful romantic comedies under his belt, it seemed that the decision to cast Channing Tatum in the revival of “21 Jump Street” was doomed from the start. Not so fast though; Tatum and Jonah Hill had instant on-screen chemistry, and the hilarious antics and self-deprecating humor of Tatum’s Jenko quickly transformed him from every girl’s crush to every guy’s hero. The film went on to make over $200 million at the box office and Tatum’s performance was praised by fans and critics alike.

#3: Daniel Craig as James Bond
“Casino Royale” (2006)

His blond hair led to people calling him “James Blond”. He wasn’t handsome enough. He didn’t have enough acting experience. These were just some of the many complaints from fans and critics when it was announced that Daniel Craig would be succeeding Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. There was even an internet campaign against Craig with fans threatening to boycott the film. Despite the negative publicity, the English actor delivered one of the best Bond performances of all-time in “Casino Royale”, with people even comparing him to the iconic Sean Connery, and he has since starred in several more films as 007.

#2: Jonah Hill as Peter Brand
“Moneyball” (2011)

The obnoxious, foul-mouthed fat kid from “Superbad” playing a Yale economics graduate who becomes an assistant general manager in Major League Baseball? We don’t blame you if you had your doubts. Cast as Peter Brand, a character loosely based on former Oakland Athletics’ assistant general manager Paul DePodesta, Hill didn’t only overcome his doubters but he also hit it out of the park. In his first dramatic role on the big screen, Hill received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank
“The Truman Show” (1998)
- Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven
“Speed” (1994)
- Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne
“Gone Girl” (2014)
- Helen Mirren as Victoria Winslow
“Red” (2010)
- Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011)

#1: Heath Ledger as the Joker
“The Dark Knight” (2008)

When it was revealed that Heath Ledger would play the Clown Prince of Crime in the 2008 sequel to “Batman Begins,” many wondered whether the Australian actor was edgy enough for the part. After the opening scene of the film though, we were all convinced. Ledger completely dedicated himself to the role, spending a month living alone in a hotel room to develop the Joker’s voice, among other characteristics. He didn’t only fully embody the villain but also made it his own, and for that he was posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite surprisingly good casting choice? For more enlightening Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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