Making a book into a movie isn't easy — ask Peter Jackson. The man took on the task of turning four of the world's favorite books, The Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit, into six three-hour movies, and it definitely wasn't easy to please everyone. There were plot changes, extra characters, questionable costumes, and everything in between. Overall, the movies were successful, but people still had a lot to say. Books captivate our minds, creating worlds we could never dream of, and we want them to exist exactly on screen as they did in our brains. It's a big undertaking to turn a book into a film, and many people have taken the risk for better or for worse. We think Jackson got it mostly right, especially when it came to character casting. When plot lines turned from weird to questionable in The Desolation of Smaug, at least we knew Ian McKellen's Gandalf would make it better.
We've seen some of our favorite books get the big screen treatment and have flourished over time because of their casting: Harry Potter, The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, and more. But what happens when a bad casting call is made? Does it spoil the whole movie? In some cases, yes. In others, it's just a blip in the bigger picture. But, we can still see the toll it takes on readers turned viewers and their beloved stories. Every movie and every book is only as good as the characters who tell the story, and when those characters are poorly cast, well, it's hard not to comment. Check out our list of 21 book-to-movie character adaptations that we think were cast all wrong.
You know we had to start with the big one, right? Ghost in the Shell is a beloved franchise from Japan created by Masamune Shirow for both a manga series and subsequent anime show. The story follows Major Mira Killian, a human who is turned into a cyborg soldier after being injured beyond repair in a terrorist attack. She now fights for an anti-terrorist bureau but struggles to remember any part of her past. You can imagine what follows next. The franchise has served as inspiration for The Matrix and Avatar, but when it was turned into its own American adaptation, they missed the mark. Scarlett Johansson was cast as the main character, and viewers were rightfully upset that the producers didn't choose a Japanese actress. Though we appreciate ScarJo's desire for taking on different roles, it's important to remember that the heart and soul of films lie in their culture, and that shouldn't be ignored or changed.
Let us be upfront: we love Keanu Reeves, but his role as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula was a less than stellar performance. His character, a lawyer who is sent to make arrangements for real estate with the vampire and ends up a prisoner, was critiqued by many. His poor accent and the lack of depth he provided his character were cited as major issues, and his work was shown in stark contrast to his incredible and practiced co-stars Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman. He was a distraction from the quality parts of the movie. The book is a classic and a clear inspiration for many existing movies and books, and we were sad to see the actor stumble through the story. We're glad to say he came out on top in other roles.
Russell Crowe is a man of many talents, but we wouldn't necessarily put singing on that list. The actor starred as main villain, Javert, in the 2012 musical Les Miserables, and he gave a weak performance. His singing chops compared to his co-stars, including Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit, were lackluster at best and made it difficult to take him seriously as the evil and vindictive police inspector. Don't worry, we're not alone in this thought. The actor himself has admitted that the vocal work was poor, responding to critiques and comments on Twitter from stars and audience members like Adam Lambert. We weren't crazy about this performance, but we love self awareness.
If you have a problem taking Vince Vaughn seriously, raise your hand. The Wedding Crashers actor has been known for his comedy skills throughout his career, and even a season on the highly acclaimed show True Detective wasn't a super convincing argument for his ability to work in other genres. So, as you can imagine, his turn as Norman Bates in the horror classic Psycho was difficult to watch. It's a little hard to watch the actor in any movie and not expect him to break out in bro lingo at any moment, and throwing him into a role in the psychological Hitchcock hit made it all the more weird. We want the Fred Claus leading lad to be able to break out of his comedic shell, but we're not sure this was the role to do it.
Stick with us here because we know this one is controversial. We love Josh Hutcherson, and for the most part, we loved the Hunger Games film series. But when we read the books, we had a different Peeta Mellark in mind. The character, described as stocky with wavy blond hair and a penchant for self-deprecating humor, was not totally the Peeta we got. We definitely warmed up to him after four movies, and his casting didn't mar the total success of the film, but we certainly had other images in our head for the baking boy turned 74th Hunger Games victor. All in all, this was an issue of not accurately following the description, and we guess we'll let it slide.
Spider-Man has been through a lot. If you add up all the movies, he's lost his Uncle Ben no fewer than three times, and that's just family business. He survived Thanos, failed to rescue Emma Stone, and worst of all, he went through an emo phase. We didn't hate Tobey McGuire's take on the web-slinging superhero when it came out. Those were different times, after all. Now that we've got some comparisons though, it definitely falls short. We had a hard time remaining convinced when he got into character as the brainiac high schooler who happened to be best friends with snobby rich kid James Franco and hanging at William Dafoe's penthouse. We need a whole other article to talk about the third movie of the franchise and his time as Venom. Tobey lacked the high school look, the superhero look, and the top-dollar Marvel treatment, but hey, at least we got to see him say, "go web go."
Speaking of poorly cast superheroes, we can't even begin to explain the injustice that was DC Comics casting Ben Affleck as Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We we're coming off a Batman high, delivered by Christopher's Nolan's epic Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale, so the Good Will Hunting actor was basically set up for failure. The lackluster DC movie franchise didn't do him any favors either as it attempted to compete with the MCU. Despite his many accolades and acting successes, Ben fell flat. He lacked emotion, conviction, a realistic costume and the rest of the franchise, like the very poorly written Suicide Squad, wouldn't give him much to work with. He went on in early 2019 to announce that he'd be passing on the cape to someone else because he felt he "couldn't crack it." It's for the best.
There's certainly a lot to be said about the Twilight franchise. It can be cheesy at times and awkward at others. Bella Swan and Edward Cullen's rapidly-aging animatronic baby was definitely one of the weakest CGI moments in movie history. But as far as casting goes, we think the poorest choice on the list was picking Dakota Fanning to star as Jane, one of the powerful and pain-inducing Volturi members. Jane was born in 800 A.D., and after being turned into a vampire, possessed her psychic powers and a penchant for torturing others. The I Am Sam actress struggled to possess the air of old royalty and cruelty at the same time, and her one-liners often came across as corny. Her character was integral in the later plot lines of the series, but her performance didn't quite do Jane justice. It's hard to convey both innocence and intimidation, and it would've been a challenge for anyone who took on the role.
When Lee Child created the character Jack Reacher, he had a pretty specific person in mind. The man would be an ex-military police major, 6'5" and 250 pounds, with fast reflexes and few fears, if any. He'd be surprisingly kind and a bit of a feminist, but complex to strangers who'd need to observe before they unlocked what was underneath all the muscle and rage. Does this sound like Tom Cruise to you? Not so much. The Mission Impossible actor surely seemed like a good choice for Jack Reacher with his extensive stunt training and spy experience, but he doesn't match up to the idea that the author had in mind. One person doesn't have to play all the spies, you know. We think Hollywood had plenty of other people who would have been up for the job and a better fit in all aspects.
If you've read The Girl on the Train then you know that the main character, Rachel Watson, has a lot going on. She's divorced, her husband has moved on, and she's become an alcoholic with obsessive tendencies. She also frequently blacks out, is irresponsible and a blatant stalker. This should've been an easy task for seasoned actress Emily Blunt to knock out of the park, but it just didn't work out. The movie featured a few changes, such as location, which contributed to the film's poor showing and the character was much less disheveled and extreme on the screen compared to on paper. We needed a level of messy that The Devil Wears Prada actress didn't deliver, and her co-stars couldn't help her out.
Whoever casts for the MCU better never quit. They hold the secret to casting superheroes, and clearly based on this list, it's not an easy task. Fantastic Four is a superhero series that's been attempted time and time again, and it has never really felt right. Ioan Gruffudd led the 2005 version as Mr. Fantastic and wasn't exactly the super captain of our dreams. He had the dreamy scientist role down but wasn't always believable as the leader of the wild superhero gang. He needed a little more of that fantastic aspect everyone is always talking about. Unfortunately, it would be seven years before Mark Ruffalo could show him how it's done as the incredible Bruce Banner/Hulk. We like you, Ioan, but we're just not sure you're super.
Sony Pictures Entertainment
The Dark Tower is a great series by Stephen King, but it made for a pretty terrible film. One of the worst parts? Casting Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick or The Man in Black. King describes this villain, named Randall Flagg in the novels, as a practiced sorcerer and demon, a devoted servant of the dark who can see the future, communicate with the dead and control others. He aims to become a god and destroy the world. We love to see the How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days actor in an all black suit, but he doesn't quite capture the essence of someone hellbent on destruction even if it involves taking on numerous identities. He lacked the serious and terrifying evil that the Carrie author is so fascinated with.
We love Hayden Christensen, and because of that, we were willing to tolerate some poor acting moments in Star Wars. He hates sand? Fine. He'll end up as Darth Vader eventually and it will all be worth it. When it comes to Jumper, we're not sure we can let the missteps slide. The 2008 film destroyed a lot of the plot from the 1992 Steven Gould book, and the actor, who played the main character David Rice, couldn't help make sense of what story was left. He lacked depth, purpose, and emotion. The movie seemed thrown together and so did its main star's efforts. We couldn't find a connection to the character, and the rest was lost on us.
Dino De Laurentiis Company
Dune is a complicated book, and it made for an even more complicated movie. Maybe that's why they decided to cast Sting, former frontman of rock band The Police, as Feyd-Rautha. He was cool, smooth, and desirable, but was he a good fit for Feyd? Not so much. The character is supposed to be a ruthless, dark-haired, 16-year-old set to one day lead House Harkonnen after he inherits the rights from his uncle, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Sting gave us a ridiculous blonde hairdo, a lot of uncomfortable wide-eyed moments, ridiculous and over-the-top gestures and a very weird scene in a galactic speedo. It made his role and the movie more of a joke than epic science fiction. We're calling for a recast with this one.
The Geffen Film Company
Brad Pitt's sideburns weren't the only thing wrong with his character in Interview with the Vampire. The 1994 film, based on the 1976 Ann Rice book of the same name, received mixed reviews and casting was definitely part of the problem. Opposite Tom Cruise, the Ocean's Eleven actor starred as forlorn and newly-turned vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac. He's anguished by his old life and his new life, which leads to him make basically the same pained face for three hours. You could photoshop him into Twilight and you wouldn't notice the difference. The moral of this article? Cast better vampires, please and thank you.
In the Percy Jackson books, Annabeth is the daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and warcraft. She's intelligent, brave, and self righteous just like her mother. She stands her ground, proves her prowess and becomes a leader of the pack. She and Percy don't get along initially, fighting for the right to make the decisions. In the movie, however, she mainly thinks about her flirty feelings for Percy. We know that Alexandra Daddario has grown as an actress since Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief came out in 2010, and we're glad to hear it. Her role as Annabeth diminished what could've been a powerful leading lady into a lackluster love interest.
We've seen Bridget Jones stuck between two men before, and the story was no different in Bridget Jones's Baby. The goofy and awkward journalist spent her young adult life in a love triangle between Colin Firth's Mark Darcy and Hugh Grant's Daniel Cleaver and when Hugh got the boot, Patrick Dempsey's Jack Qwant sauntered in just in time. We loved watching Renée Zellweger dabble between her two British beaus, but the Grey's Anatomy star's appearance in the third movie just didn't add up. They meet in Yurt at a musical festival, which seems a bit out of place for both of them, and when the extreme bachelor discovers he's a possible dad-to-be, he throws himself into the role and asks his baby mama to move in with him. The role and the chemistry between the proud parents isn't very convincing and the relationship doesn't quite make sense. We love the former brain surgeon star, but we think we would've preferred another awkward British babe for the role.
Jacob Elordi has made headlines for his excellent work portraying the very dislikable and scary Nate Jacobs on HBO's hit show Euphoria, but before there were glitter makeup and toxic masculinity, there was a lot of corny, bad acting in The Kissing Booth. The actor stars as bad boy and older brother Noah Flynn, who falls in love with his brother's best friend Elle Evans. The movie is cute in its essence, but the acting is stiff, amateur, obvious, and a little painful. Netflix is known for putting out great content and we know the film is highly watched, but we're hoping it's only up from here for the star.
20th Century Fox
The X-Men franchise has had its highs and lows. They hit the jackpot hiring Hugh Jackman to take the lead as feisty mutant Wolverine, and they struck out casting Taylor Kitsch as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The card-throwing mutant is supposed to be a proud Louisianan who can manipulate kinetic energy and punch like nobody's business. He had the look and an okay accent, but his character was still weak in comparison to Wolverine and Liev Schreiber's Sabretooth. He was easily punched out by his co-stars, and his whole aesthetic was a bit corny. The Covenant star has definitely been in similar cheesy roles (looking at you, Snakes on a Plane), so it was hard to expect anything different.
We loved Jim Sturgess in Across the Universe. He was dreamy as can be as he hummed out Beatles classics. When you take away all the songs and fantastical scenery, however, like in the heist drama 21, he falls a little flat. Compared to the exciting story told in the book Bringing Down the House about MIT's team of blackjack players that counted cards and conned casinos, the actor's performance was a little boring, not to mention whitewashed. The actual team, composed mainly of Asian-Americans, was played mainly by American and, in Jim's case, British actors. The casting crew missed the mark with this one and lost a lot of the intensity of the events. The dull performance turned the spectacle down a couple more notches than it deserved.