Booking Through Thursday: Nightmare Cast

Booking Through Thursday: Nightmare Cast

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about (mostly) books and reading. Here is this week’s question:

And, the reverse–which actors have been particularly badly cast in roles of characters you first met in the pages of a book? Do you blame the actors or the writers and other film-people for the failure? Who would you have cast instead?

This is another hard topic just like last week’s as it is so subjective. My miscast actors may be someone else’s absolute favourites.

Miscast actors

  • Winona Ryder as Mina Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Mina in the novel is a study of contrasts as she is at times angelic and then also unholy. She is maternal towards the crew of light but treated like a child. She is above all well-educated. I don’t think that Ryder was able to capture many of these qualities.
  • Keanu Reeves as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula – he’s too wooden and can’t compete with the uber-awesomeness that is Gary Oldman. If he was acting alongside a normal, run-of-the-mill actor then you probably wouldn’t notice as much but Oldman literally oozes talent.
  • Winona Ryder as Abigail Williams in The Crucible – Abigail is again a complex creature. Is she really a selfish, evil being or is she perhaps a product of her childhood? She was raised in a loveless household after the murder of her parents and fell in love with the first man that showed her the slightest bit of kindness. Ryder’s Abigail is merely wanton and vengeful which was the easy road to take.
  • Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier in War of the Worlds – I just don’t buy Cruise as the dock worker turned alien killer. It was, as is with many of Cruise’s movies, Tom Cruise playing the role of Ray the dock worker. I can’t put my finger on what it is precisely but somehow the verisimilitude was lacking.
  • Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy (based on The Illiad) – same issue that I had with Cruise. Brad Pitt’s fame is such that we go to see him play a role.
  • Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins – he wasn’t necessarily miscast but the accent ruined it for me.

I don’t think there is anyone really to blame except perhaps the film-going public that wants big name stars when they see a movie. Film making is a commercial industry and big stars usually equal big dollars. The writers have very little say in who is cast and it is difficult to see if an actor is capable of a role or will work well with the other actors unless they are extensively tested. I would have really loved to see a little known actor in War of the Worlds and Troy because I have preconceived notions of Cruise and Pitt.


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