Weekend Roundtable: Movie Recasting

Remember that scene at the end of the revamped ‘Return of the Jedi’ where George Lucas used his CGI trickery to erase original actor Sebastian Shaw and replace him with Hayden Christensen? Yes, most of us will probably agree that was a horrible cinematic travesty. However, let’s pretend for a moment that this technology could be used for good rather than evil. Isn’t there some movie out there that you’d love to retroactively recast one of the important roles? For this week’s Roundtable, let’s indulge in some fantasy wish fulfillment.

We’re joined this week by David Vaughn from Ultimate AV. We’ll even let him start things off.

For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll leave it up to each person to decide whether the role should be recast with a modern actor stepping into the old movie, or whether some other actor at the time should have taken the job.

David Vaughn (Ultimate AV)

With the theatrical conclusion of the ‘Harry Potter’ series arriving this summer, I think I would recast Albus Dumbledore. While Richard Harris was a great casting decision in the first two movies, his untimely passing left a vacancy that was ultimately filled by Michael Gambon. But in my mind, Gambon isn’t the ideal steward of Hogwarts. I would recast the role with Ian McKellen, who fits the description of J.K. Rowling’s powerful wizard to a tee. For all we know, he was a candidate but had a scheduling conflict playing another wizard – Gandalf the Gray.

Josh Zyber

Personally, I’d like to replace Jennifer Lopez in ‘Out of Sight‘ with Carla Gugino. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love ‘Out of Sight’ just as it is, and J.Lo is actually fairly good in it. (It’s one of her few sympathetic screen roles). However, a few years after the movie came out, Gugino starred as the same character in a spin-off TV series called ‘Karen Sisco’ that was tragically short-lived on the ABC network. The show was really entertaining, and Gugino was just fantastic as the character. She was sexy and tough and sassy, and took command of the screen in an effortless way that Lopez has never been able to achieve. As soon as I saw the pilot episode, I immediately started wishing that Steven Soderbergh would reshoot all of the character’s scenes, and digitally swap out Lopez for Gugino. I’ve never stopped wishing that.

Aaron Peck

This is a simple one for me. I’d love to have Jack Ryan recast in ‘The Hunt for the Red October‘ with Harrison Ford. I like Alec Baldwin, but Ford is THE Jack Ryan. Thanks to Baldwin not accepting the subsequent movies, Ford came on board and made the role his own. When you think of Jack Ryan, you automatically think of Harrison Ford, even though Baldwin was the original. Having Ford in ‘The Hunt for the Red October’ would make the Jack Ryan franchise seem more complete. Don’t even get me started on Ben Affleck, sheesh!

Luke Hickman

I’d replace Seth Rogen in ‘Paul’ with… anyone else. Being a huge fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, I wanted to love ‘Paul’. But just like the rest of the world, I’m exhausted from seeing so much Seth Rogen. He usually plays the same character – himself – in everything. So, to see him taint a Pegg/Frost screenplay drove me bonkers. Had the character Paul been less like Rogen and more like anyone else in the world, I truly believe that ‘Paul’ would have been more comically refreshing. Instead, our little green man was just annoying.

Mike Attebery

I’m struggling to come up with one movie in particular. I’d like to say Rene Russo in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair‘, but she was good in the scenes where she kept her clothes on. So, I guess I’ll just say anything Ashton Kutcher has ever appeared in. Man, is that guy terrible. Oaf-like. Wooden. Smug.

Killers‘ had Tom Selleck and Catherine O’Hara, who can basically do no wrong, but it was also had Katherine Heigl (another box office terror) and Mr. Kutcher, so I will never, ever, ever see it. Same goes for ‘The Guardian‘. Yes, I enjoy a bit of Costner movie magic from time to time, but Kutcher… Kutcher… I don’t think I can stomach him, so I’m afraid to watch the movie. ‘Spread‘, ‘My Boss’ Daughter’, ‘No Strings Attached’. Dear God! How does this man get so much work? And if I needed further proof that this guy is a cancer on cinema, I submit his next collaboration with Garry Marshall, ‘New Year’s Eve’, the apparent unofficial follow-up to ‘Valentine’s Day‘. Not since Hector Elizondo has a mediocre to bad actor received so much inexplicable screen time (much of it thanks to Garry Marshall, the DGA’s Ashton Kutcher, but I digress). Recast every movie he’s been in and watch them improve. Instantly.

Dick Ward

When I saw the 1998 Roland Emmerich disaster ‘Godzilla‘, there was one big casting decision that I disagreed with – that of the monster known as Godzilla. Instead of using a man in a suit as is tradition for the series, the director and producer decided that a crummy CG velociraptor was the way to go. Rather than the digital effects group that created the dinosaur-like Godzilla, I’d cast Tsutomu Kitagawa, who played the titular monster in ‘Godzilla 2000’ and the more recent ‘Godzilla: Final Wars’. Would it require an entirely different approach to the movie? Sure it would, but that’s the point.

OK, now it’s your turn to go to town with this nutty concept. Tell us in the Comments which actor in which movie you most wish you could replace with someone better.


  1. Garrett

    I would replace Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. With the exception of the Bill and Ted movies and River’s Edge, Keanu has been horribly miscast in just about everything else he has appeared in. I really like the Matrix, but don’t care for Keanu as an actor. Replace him with Brad Pitt or Guy Pearce or almost anyone really.

    • Alex

      I’ve heard a myth that Will Smith was the Wachowskis’ first choice for Neo. That would have made for a very, very different movie. While I’m not sure about the original, I think Will Smith could have carried the sequels far better.

  2. Alex

    Aaron, I have to agree with you. The Hunt For Red October is already a remarkable movie, a masterpiece of suspense where the tension is palpable even thought there is virtually no violence. If it had been Harrison Ford facing off against Sean Connery it could very well have been the greatest film of all time.

    Now if there’s one movie that I’ve always wanted to love it’s First Knight. Sean Connery, Scottish though he might be, was born to play King Arthur. However, the rest of the cast for that film is an abomination. First off, I’d take out Richard Gere and put in Christopher Lambert (Lancelot was French, get over it). If you want an alternative, grab Clive Owen. Second, I can’t bear Julia Ormond as Guinevere. In my mind, Jane Seymour would be a perfect Guinevere. Finally, I’d drop that ponce who was playing the villain (who should have been Mordred, not Maligant for starters) and drop in Sean Bean. Now you’ve got an Arthurian legend with some real possibilities.

  3. Whoa. Mine is actually about the Matrix too, I was watching it last night on Blu Ray and my room mate and I were discussing how different it would be with different actors, I also suggested Pitt as Neo to my room mate but my real replacement for it would have to be Sean Connery as Morpheus. He turned the role down and regretted it, just think how wonderful it would be to have him in the Matrix telling Neo “Its not real old boy!”. Go even further and put Will Smith in as Neo and you might even be able to get him to yell “YOU’RE THE MAN NOW DOG!” while hes fighting Smith.

    Also, Josh Zyber, I’m going into HD Advisor withdrawals.

  4. Brian H

    Although it would be nice to take Will Smith out of Independence Day, I, Robot, I am Legend, etc. the damage of his presence has already been done.

    I would really rather Kubric’s “the Shining” not have Danny Torrence’s Tony voice. When the Tony character is speaking (a six year old Danny Lloyd’s scary voice), the film comes to a screeching halt for me. This has always really hurt the film for me.

    I’d take Helen Bonham Carter out of Terminator: Salvation and probably half of the other movies she has ever been in. The smartest casting decision on every Pirates movie thus far has been not having Helen Bonham Carter involved.

  5. I have to disagree about “The Hunt for Red October.” While I’m not a big fan of Baldwin, he fits the description of Jack Ryan (age, etc.) that Clancy wrote. While I’m a huge fan of Harrison Ford, I think he was always too old for the part. As for Ben…well, if you can’t say something nice you shouldn’t say anything, right?

  6. While Miranda Richardson did a good job as Rita Skeeter in Harry Potter 4, I’ve always thought Eddie Izzard would have been briilliant in the part. The books even describes Rita as having “manly” hands.

  7. Alex P.

    First thing that comes to mind is the character Rachel Dawes from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I cringe every time I see Katie Holmes on screen; something about her acting doesn’t do it for me. Though Maggie Gyllenhaal is the better actress, she doesn’t seem right in the role either (or attractive lol). I would replace them both with Rachel McAdams. I remember reading she was considered for the part at one time. Sure she can be bubbly but I think she has the acting chops to do it and bring the annoyance of the character down and make it work better overall

    • Alex

      See now that’s kinda funny. I would have taken Kate Bosworth out of Superman Returns and put Rachel McAdams in as Lois Lane.

  8. EM

    As good as Raymond Massey was as Jonathan Brewster in Arsenic and Old Lace, I’d like to see Boris Karloff in the role. Obviously, the change would make the references to Johnny’s post-plastic-surgery resemblance to Karloff all the funnier. In fact, Karloff originated the role on Broadway but was, alas, unavailable for the film (because he was still doing the play, whose producers didn’t want to lose their big star). I would try to content myself with Karloff’s stage performance, but his death prior to my birth has made such contentment difficult.

  9. Pedram

    I would recast Jake Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia with someone who looks more, um, Persian. I heard Hrithik Roshan almost got the part. Don’t get me wrong, Jake did a good job and brought big name appeal to the movie (though I don’t know why everyone had English accents), but the fact that there were no Persians in any of the main roles was kind of a travesty – especially the main actor who was constantly referred to by the title “Persian” in the movie.

  10. kinko

    This is easy… Ellen Page in ‘Inception’ is the worst casting decision ever.
    She is meant to be the audiences guide into the world Nolan has devised but ends up being the person you wish would get trapped in limbo and never come back. Annoying, unengaging and self righteous…absolutely dreadful.
    (other then that it was a great movie by the way)

      • kinko

        hmmm… I think Natalie Portman would have been better suited to the role. You need someone who can do brainy (but believable) but also have a little charisma, so when all the whinging starts, “Cobb, you can’t this” “Cobb, don’t do that” you at least have 2 points of view to contend with, not just a soundboard to help the audience digest the concept.

    • Pedram

      I totally agree with that one. I kept thinking “why is this kid in there with them”? I can’t think of someone I’d choose for sure off the top of my head, but I’d probably go with an older female, like Carla Gugino, or Gillian Anderson from her X-Files days 🙂

  11. Vince

    I’m shocked nobody’s mentioned Sofia Coppola in Godfather III. Thought that was an obvious one.

  12. hurin

    Jessika Alba in Fantastic Four, I mean seriously, I can barely think of a female actor less suited for that part.
    Ironically Pixar created the perfect Susan Storm in The Incredibles, she just went by another name.

  13. Pedram

    I think Nick Stahl wasn’t a good fit for John Connor in Terminator 3 at all. I just didn’t see him as the saviour of humanity. I would have cast someone like Chris Evans instead. He seems more of the type that would eventually lead the resistance and rescue human kind.

    • motorheadache

      Agreed. Nothing against Nick Stahl, but I didn’t buy him as John Connor at all. No way he’s the tough, gritty guy we caught a brief glimpse of in T2. Christian Bale, that was more believable. Not a great movie, but he was a much more believable John Connor than Stahl.

  14. Queen of the Damned. The entire cast. Shoot, redo the script as well! Interview With The Vampire was wonderful (and one of the best book-to-movie adaptations EVER) but it is really hard to buy that QOTD is the sequel.

    Chamber of Secrets, replace the actor that played Lockhart with, well, ANYONE! I think Pierce Bronson would have been ideal for that role – his presence on-screen is what I pictured when I read Rowling’s description of him.

    Oh, here is one that will probably start the hate-mail! Wizard of Oz – replace Judy Garland with Abigail Breslin (from like 4 years ago) or Baley Madison. Granted, I am not sure if Breslin or Madison can sing or not, but I always had trouble buying the concept that Garland is supposed to be eight years old. I may be mistaken about this, but I am thinking that in the books, Ozma was the burnett and Dorthey was blonde. So maybe Elle Fanning (from 5 years ago) as Dorthy.

    I may come back in a few hours and list a few more movies. Caffeine has not kicked in yet.

    • BTW, totally agree with David’s Ian McKellen as Dumbledore comment – many of my friends and I thought he was a shoe-in for that role. Totally shocked that the part went to Michael Gambon.

      • Josh Zyber

        I don’t know. Don’t you think McKellen would have been a little too on-the-nose to play *another* famous wizard with a long white beard right after playing Gandalf?

        Personally, I’d like to digitally swap out Richard Harris in the first two movies for Gambon.

    • Good call, but I think Sheen as Lucious Malfoy or Gildroy Lockhart is a better call. Cast John Cryer as Dumbledore, Angus T Jones as Dudley, Conchata Farrel as Umbridge and Marian Hinkle as Professor McGonagle. Oh, and recast Hagrid as Jack Black! And Recast Professor Trelawney as Ellen! Oh, and Mel Gibson as Harry, so he can go off at everyone in the 5th movie. Now THIS should make for some interesting movies!