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The 7 Best and Worst Recasting Choices of All Time

Wait, who’s the new guy? I don’t remember seeing him in the previous movie. 

Hollywood is no stranger in the recasting business. From creative differences to behind-the-scenes drama, sometimes a movie can’t proceed without a recast. Look, we get it, no one likes seeing the new guy, especially if he’s playing the lead, but sometimes things just don’t work out. 

Sure, there are many instances where recasting leads to a failed production. Yes, we’re talking about George Clooney’s infamous Batman role, but there are also times where a studio is able to find a perfect replacement for the iconic role. Sometimes, the new guy even surpasses the performances of his predecessors. 

Let’s take a look at some of the best (and worst) recasting choices of all time. 


HIT: Edward Norton/Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner/The Hulk

Best and Worst Recasting: Edward Norton/Mark Ruffalo

When The Incredible Hulk first released in cinemas back in 2008, no one knew that it’s going to be part of a mega franchise. After all, there are only a few superhero movies in the market back then and Marvel movies aren’t exactly as popular as it’s rival, yet. After the commercial success of Iron Man and Iron Man 2, we’re starting to notice that there’s a chance that they’re going to do a superhero crossover down the line, seeing how both movies are from the same studio.

Unfortunately though Edward Norton was not invited back to play the iconic green superhero in The Avengers and Norton explained in an interview that he parted ways with Marvel Studios due to creative differences. The audience were obviously crushed by the news, seeing how incredible (pun intended) his performance was in the movie, when compared to Eric Bana. But there’s a silver lining here and that is Mark Ruffalo. Sure, it’s not the superhero that we want, but we’ve got to admit, Ruffalo did bring a fresh perspective to Hulk and he showed us that Hulk’s not just angry, tantrum-throwing monster, he has a sense of humour too! And seven movies later, we simply can’t imagine anyone else playing Hulk other than him. 


MISS: Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney – Bruce Wayne/Batman

Best and Worst Recasting: Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney

To understand why Batman’s such an iconic character and why movie studio’s willing to make a movie about the defenders of Gotham again and again (there are a total of 15 Batman movies in history), we first have to take a look at history. The Batman character has always been a favourite in the comic series, but it wasn’t until 1989 we see Batman take the world by storm. Michael Keaton played the titular character and boy, the movie was both a critical and commercial success. It even spawned a sequel, a threequel and a quadquel? 

After the success of the first two movies, the studio decided to take a different approach and opted for a less “dark” version of Gotham. After reading the script, Keaton decided to part with the movie and the studio casted Val Kilmer to take on the iconic role in Batman Forever. The movie, though was weak in its plot, still holds the number one spot in its opening weekend. It did, however, lose its titular character again, which George Clooney will soon fill in for Batman & Robin – a movie that, in our opinion, will be known as the worst Batman movie in history. 

Read more: Assessing Every Batman We Know From the 1960s to the 2010s


MISS: Richard Harris/Michael Gambon/Jude Law – Professor Albus Dumbledore

Richard Harris/Michael Gambon/Jude Law

Richard Harris was, undoubtedly, the best version of Professor Dumbledore, but he only managed to film the first two Harry Potter movies before his passing. Then enter Michael Gambon. He would play the role for the next four movies before Dumbledore’s ultimate demise in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. While Gambon’s performance was up to scratch, there are also the occasional few scenes where he acted totally out of character. One example would be the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where he shouted at Harry Potter for putting his name in the Goblet of Fire. Any Potterhead who read the books would know Professor Dumbledore doesn’t have a temper nor he would shout at a student.


After the epic conclusion of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling signed on another deal with Warner Brothers to create the Fantastic Beasts series that will take place decades before the events of Harry Potter. In this new prequel series, Professor Dumbledore is played by none other than Jude Law. We haven’t seen a lot of his character in the movie yet, so we can’t judge if he would make a good Professor Dumbledore, but hopefully the next Fantastic Beasts movie would shed a light on the soon-to-be headmaster of Hogwarts.


HIT: Terrance Howard/Don Cheadle – James “Rhoney” Rhodes/War Machine

Terrance Howard/Don Cheadle

Terrance Howard’s Rhoney character was introduced side-by-side with Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. The duo’s set to be the foundation of the MCU franchise. However, months after Iron Man premiered, news broke that Howard will not be returning in the sequel and he revealed that it’s due to Downey’s pay being increased in the next film while his salary was cut. Don Cheadle was brought in to replace Howard’s Rhoney’s character in the sequel and the rest is history. 

The transition was a nasty one, there’s no doubt about that. At one point, Cheadle’s character even nudges the audience in Iron Man 2 and says “Look it’s me, and I’m here, so get over it and move on,”. It’s as if the dialogue has a double meaning – it’s a reply to the audience in the movie, but it’s also a clear message to the rest of us that Don Cheadle is War Machine and he’s here to stay. 

As much as we love seeing Cheadle in the War Machine suit, we are, however, still feeling a little sentimental over the fact that at the end of Iron Man, Howard looks at Tony’s suit and says “next time, baby.”


Read more: Every Phase Four MCU Movie Release Date [UPDATED]


HIT: Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllanhaal – Rachel Dawes

Best and Worst Recasting: Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllanhaal

It’s inarguable that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series is one of the best superhero franchises of all time. The series excels in terms of its plot, score, casting, cinematography, costume, villains, choreography and direction. The only weak spot: Katie Holmes’ role as Rachel Dawes. Holmes’ performance wasn’t bad, but it was a forgettable one, especially when she’s surrounded by big names like Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Liam Neeson. 

When the sequel came around, Holmes decided to pass on the role of Rachel Dawes and Maggie Gyllanhaal stepped in to replace her. The choice was perfect and Gyllenhaal gave the character more depth and genuity. And who would forget the performance she gave during her final moment? That was a phenomenal performance and it’s something Holmes would struggle to elicit. 

Read more: First Look at Robert Pattinson’s Batmobile


MISS: Linda Hamilton/Emilia Clarke – Sarah Connor

Linda Hamilton/Emilia Clarke

So here’s something that we’re still trying to figure out. Why is it possible to CGI Arnold Schwarzenegger’s face to look 30 years younger, but the studio can’t do the same for Linda Hamilton in Terminator Genysis? But argument aside, the 2015’s Terminator Genysis was doomed from the start. It has the weakest story in all of the Terminator series and it made so many changes to the original movie to the point where we can’t recognise the movie anymore. 

Still, casting Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor in the movie was a mistake. Sarah Connor’s character is tough. She’s rough and she’s unapologetic. It’s just something we don’t see in Clarke, no matter how great she is as Khaleesi in Game of Thrones. We do wonder why didn’t the studio cast Clarke’s Game of Thrones co-star, Lena Headley. Headley played Sarah Connor in the series The Sarah Connor Chronicles and aside from Hamilton, she’d be the second best person to play the iconic character, IMO. 


MISS: Jodie Foster/Julianne Moore – Clarice Starling

Best and Worst Recasting: Jodie Foster/Julianne Moore

This is a tough one. Both Jodie Foster and Julianne Moore are great at portraying Clarice Starling, but if we have to choose, we’d have to go with the former. When the movie first came out in 1991, there weren’t a lot of movies about strong female characters. In fact, the movie marks a turning point in the presentation of female characters on screen, all thanks to Foster for bringing such a tough, badass character to life. 

The success of the movie prompted the studio to produce a sequel, but Foster refused to reprise her role, citing that Clarice’s portrayal in Hannibal‘s screenplay had “negative attributes” and “betrayed” the original character (though this was changed in the final product). So instead of scraping the movie, an equally accomplished actress, Julianne Moore, was casted to play the FBI agent. 

We agreed that Moore is an exceptional artist and has the range to play all kinds of roles. Her portrayal of Clarice did, however, fall short when compared to Foster. Nevertheless, it is a tough position to fill, after all, Foster did win Best Actress for her role in Silence of the Lamb.


Fiona Yip
Fiona Yip

Contributing Writer

A few decades ago, before online job applications became the norm, resume objectives were the standard way to begin “snail mail” resumes. However, the internet made it possible for employers to exponentially increase their candidate pool. While this was good for employers, it has intensified the competition between job seekers in many industries.


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