Top 10 Most Controversial Movie Recastings

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Top 10 Most Controversial Movie Recastings

VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild WRITTEN BY: Mimi Kenny
These actor swaps left audiences baffled. For this list, we'll be looking at recasting decisions made by the studios in bad faith or which caused contention/upset amongst fans. Our countdown includes "Iron Man 2", “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse”, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, and more!
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Top 10 Most Controversial Recastings


Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Controversial Recastings.

For this list, we’ll be looking at recasting decisions made by the studios in bad faith or which caused contention/upset amongst fans. We won’t be including characters who were recast in reboots of popular series, such as James Bond or Shaggy from “Scooby-Doo.”

Which of these recastings upset you the most? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Bruce Wayne / Batman

“Batman & Robin” (1997)
Having George Clooney in your movie is usually a mark of quality. But when Clooney donned the nippled-Batsuit for 1997’s “Batman & Robin,” people weren’t exactly kind. After the previous Caped Crusader, Val Kilmer, bowed out of director Joel Schumacher’s followup to “Batman Forever,” Clooney, then best known as a TV star, stepped in. While Clooney has the rugged good looks and strong chin for Batman/Bruce Wayne, his portrayal falls flat. But even the best actor of all time would have trouble getting through “Batman & Robin’s” dialogue. Clooney himself has remarked on the film’s poor quality, and both he and Batman have recovered from this momentary embarrassment.

#9: Victoria Sutherland

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (2010)
In the first two “Twilight” films, the vengeful and cat-like vampire Victoria was played by Canadian actress Rachelle Lefevre. However, in “Eclipse,” Lefevre was replaced with another, arguably more famous redhead: Bryce Dallas Howard. Howard had been offered the role previously, but reportedly turned it down due to it being too small of a role. Lefevre expressed her immense disappointment in the recasting, which distributor Summit Entertainment said was due to scheduling conflicts. Howard is a great actress who did well in the part. But we still wish Lefevre could’ve been able to complete Victoria’s arc.


#8: Marnie Piper

“Return to Halloweentown” (2006)
The first three “Halloweentown” movies are among the best Disney Channel Original Movies. The fourth one, “Return to Halloweentown,” is held in less-than-high regard. Released just two years after “Halloweentown High,” this installment recast the series protagonist, Marnie Piper, swapping out Kimberly J. Brown for Sara Paxton. Brown was reportedly available and said she was disappointed to not reprise the role, which was blamed on a dispute between Disney and her reps. However, she spoke positively of Paxton. It’s that kind of positive attitude and supportive nature that made Marnie Piper such a beloved character to begin with.

#7: Evelyn O’Connell

“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” (2008)
Sometimes, a recasting can make it painfully clear how important chemistry between actors is. The interplay between stars Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz is one of the best parts of the first two “Mummy” movies. But for the widely maligned third installment, the character of Evelyn was recast with Maria Bello taking over for Weisz. The American Bello’s British accent is distracting, and she just doesn’t click in the role overall. There are many conflicting reports for why Weisz didn’t return, including script issues, scheduling problems, and her not wanting to play the mother to a 21-year-old son. But considering “Tomb of the Dragon Emperor’s” harsh reception, she’s probably relieved she turned it down.



#6: Clarice Starling

“Hannibal” (2001)
Recasting any role is difficult enough. But when the previous actor won an Oscar for the role, it’s a whole new challenge. For 2001’s “Hannibal,” released a decade after “The Silence of the Lambs,” Jodie Foster opted not to return as FBI Agent Clarice Starling. Although she initially expressed enthusiasm about being involved in the project, she reportedly didn’t care for the development of her character and bowed out. In her place was another future Oscar winner, Julianne Moore. “Hannibal” isn’t terrible, and neither is Moore’s performance. But they both can’t help but pale in comparison to what came before.

#5: Lavender Brown

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009)
Some recastings are more noticeable than others, like this one, in which the role of Hogwarts student and member of Dumbledore’s Army Lavender Brown was recast with Jessie Cave in the role. What’s the issue? Cave is white, and the actresses who previously played Brown - Kathleen Cauley and Jennifer Smith - are Black. While Lavender hadn’t been part of the “Harry Potter” series for two movies before returning with a much larger role in “Half-Blood Prince,” there’s no reason they couldn’t have found the right Black actress to play her. This recasting is problematic, both in terms of diversity and logic.

#4: Genie

“The Return of Jafar” (1994)
It’s hard to describe just how important Robin Williams’ hilarious performance as Genie was to the success of Disney’s “Aladdin.” But the comedian and the studio’s relationship hit a snag after Disney reneged on an agreement to not use Williams for marketing purposes. So, he didn’t return for the straight-to-video sequel, “The Return of Jafar.” Cast in his place was Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson. The studio later issued an apology to Williams, who returned for 1996's "Aladdin and the King of Thieves." Unsurprisingly, Williams’ involvement in this “Aladdin” sequel was touted on the cover of the VHS.


#3: Kevin McCallister

“Home Alone 4: Taking Back the House” (2002)
The main problem with “Home Alone 3” was a lack of Macaulay Culkin. But to the makers of “Home Alone 4,” it seems the issue was the lack of Kevin McCallister. Since Culkin was far too old to play young Kevin at this point, this made-for-TV sequel cast Mike Weinberg in his place. It’s impossible to miss Culkin’s absence or even find a justifiable reason for “Home Alone 4’s” existence. We don’t blame Weinberg for the lousy final product, but we do blame the studio for clearly being more concerned with making money than with actually making a decent movie.

#2: James Rhodes / War Machine

“Iron Man 2” (2010)
It seems unthinkable now, but the actor who received the highest salary for the first “Iron Man” movie wasn’t Robert Downey Jr. or Gwyneth Paltrow; it was Terrence Howard. The “Empire” star played Tony Stark’s friend and military man James Rhodes, who suits up as “War Machine” in the sequel. But Don Cheadle took over the part. There are multiple reasons given for Howard's departure, including a significant pay cut for the sequel as well as dissatisfaction with Howard’s performance from director Jon Favreau. Cheadle has played Rhodes several times in Marvel movies. So, this is one recasting that could be called an improvement, even if Howard might not agree.

#1: George McFly

“Back to the Future Part II” (1989)
When you first saw the second “Back to the Future” movie, did you assume Crispin Glover had returned as Marty McFly’s father, George? Well, he had, sort of, but not with Glover’s consent. Due to a pay dispute and reported creative differences, Glover stepped away. But director Robert Zemeckis, known for his ingenuity with special effects, made it seem like the actor had never left. Using archival footage of Glover and donning actor Jeffrey Weissman in prosthetics, Zemeckis pulled off an impressive illusion. But Glover hadn't agreed to let his image be used for the movie and sued the producers. This case was settled out of court, but it set an important precedent, in which actors' likenesses can’t be replicated without prior permission.
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