Borders Line: Pondering Casting WTFery of Yore

Jennifer Garner will play Agatha Christie’s elderly detective Miss Marple in Disney’s new series. In honor of this baffling decision, today I celebrate the ten most inappropriately cast characters ever!

So! That septuegenarian woman? Will be played by Jennifer Garner. Obviously. (At least if Disney has its way. Agatha Christie’s estate might have something to say about that.) This kind of flagrant point-missing is almost delightful in its stupidity. I chuckle and shake my head every time I think about it, all, “Oh Disney, you wacky dumbass!” Will this be some sort of reverse 13 Going on 30 where instead of giggling and lisping throughout the movie, Garner hobbles and knits? Why can’t she leave her house to solve the crimes? Is she agoraphobic? Or is she a Miss Marple who visits the crime scenes, thereby not actually Miss Marple at all? Can’t she simply be some other female detective? One her own age? These are questions best left to the geniuses in charge. So in honor of this baffling decision, today I celebrate the ten most inappropriately cast characters ever! (well, so far. Hollywood never lets me down.)

10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII in The Tudors  (2007):

Sure, young Henry was hot and charismatic, and Rhys Meyers has that in spades. But c’mon: TUDOR RED. It’s a thing, you know? Red rose, red-gold hair, ginger beard. I know it’s a petty thing to complain about, but I am a huge Tudor nerd, and while that show is inarguably hot, Rhys Meyers represents the infuriating inaccuracy that besets The Tudors from all sides. Better choice: Prince Harry! Or, okay, Damian Lewis.

9. Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill in North By Northwest (1959):

Possibly a controversial choice, although that depends: has anyone else noticed that Cary Grant is a wholly heinous actor? True, he’s suave and gorgeous with a voice like velvety bourbon, but the man cannot act. His hammy, stilted performance weakens Hitchcock’s otherwise brilliantly-executed thriller. Better choice: Marlon Brando.

8. Jack Black as Carl Denham in King Kong (2005):

Writer/director Peter Jackson obviously intended his update of Denham’s character to reflect the frustrated megalomania of Orson Welles, and sure, Jack Black has a latter Welles thing going—facially, at least. But Black plays the role to a tiresome, cartoony pitch; I kept expecting him to twirl a mustache and tie Naomi Watts to the train tracks. Better choice: Christian McKay.

7. Matthew Goode as Ozymandias in Watchmen (2009):

Ozymandias should boast an aristocratic air of nonchalant power. He’s the smartest man in the world, and one of the richest, most famous and influential. He has a lot of provocative depth in the graphic novel, and he makes grave decisions based on his terrible integrity. He’s intense, is what I’m saying. Matthew Goode, however? Doesn’t so much sell the intense. Or the aristocratic. Or the powerful. Or the brilliant. You see what I’m getting at? Better choice: Aaron Eckhart.

6. Cammie King as Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone With the Wind (1939):

It’s probably uncool of me to call out a little kid here, and most likely no one cares about this but me, but MAN, she is the worst. I find it endlessly irritating that child performers in old movies are uniformly terrible. Surely there was a little scamp out there who could actually act? This one was a toss-up between Bonnie and that obnoxious boy in Shane, but as so much of Rhett’s and Scarlett’s relationship and choices are informed by Bonnie’s death, it would be nice if Fleming could have cast a girl for whom I might feel some genuine distress when she’s tossed from a horse. Better choice: Shirley Temple? She’s the only age-appropriate actress I know from that period.

5. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins (2005):

I generally find that Nolan does a solid job casting his movies; hiring Holmes to play a principled assistant district attorney was an uncharacteristic misstep. Dawes’ speeches about injustice and corruption are gratingly ineffectual in Holmes. She does okay in the right role, but she brings down the entire film with her floundering performance here. Better choice: Maggie Gyllenhaal, clearly.

4. Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates in Psycho (1998):

Anthony Perkins terrified me in Psycho. I had nightmares for weeks after seeing that movie as a tween, and I still harbor an unshakable distrust for slender brunette men who talk about their mothers at any length. Hey, you know who’s not scary? Ever? Vince Vaughn! Better choice: For that remake to be cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came. Barring that, Michael C. Hall.

3. Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp in Wyatt Earp (1994):

In addition to being a Tudor nerd, I’m also an Earp Brother nerd. Earp was a hard-assed lawman, ladykiller and entrepreneur. It should be pretty easy to make that role fun, no? Costner sucks the life out of it; his performance just bums me out. Obviously I could have easily listed Costner’s turn as Robin Hood here, but I’m more personally offended by the Earp travesty because I love that story so much. Better choice: Dude, really? Kurt Russell!

2. Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane in Superman Returns (2006):

Sure, Lois hasn’t always been a brilliant, determined, ball-busting career gal (Jezebel has a great piece on Lane’s “How can I trick Superman into marrying me?” phase), but that was her origin and thankfully, that’s who the character is again today. Superman Returns Lois has won multiple Pulitzer Prizes and has given birth to Superman’s baby. Bosworth was 23 when she played the role, and she acted it. There was no depth or strength to her performance; she played Lois as weakly sardonic. Fortunately (?), Brandon Routh was also weak, so they made sort of a sad, cute couple together. Better choice: Kerry Washington.

1. Keanu Reeves as John Constantine in Constantine (2005):

The great thing about Sir Reeves is that he’s been woefully miscast in almost every role, but he’s in at least four of the awesomest movies of all time! (Name ‘em.) There are so many roles for which he was ill-used, but this tops the list for me. Constantine is a blond, grizzled Brit with a foul mouth and a hefty dose of despair. I’m talking depths to which even Sad Keanu cannot reach. He’s cynical, brilliantly insightful and casually rebellious. He’s one of my favorite comic characters, and while I can forgive the lack of blondness and, less so, the lack of Britishness, Keanu is missing the most key element in his portrayal of Constantine. Johnny Utah cannot sell brilliant, okay? It is not happening. The dude can’t even cough convincingly, and—spoiler alert!—playing Constantine requires a lot of coughing. Better choice: A rumpled Daniel Craig.

So let’s hear it. Give me your picks in the comments or defend one of the performances on my list.

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