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15 Riskiest Movie Castings Which Truly Paid Off

Casting is always the most crucial aspect of a movie. If the actors aren’t the most perfect, the movie may not have been successful or even ruined. Then it comes to the controversial question of how filmmakers can decide who is the best lead actor for a movie’s role. We all know whether the actor is famous in Hollywood or not, no one can guarantee the success of that actor in any movie. Therefore, choosing a movie casting has never been easy.

Normally, the producer or director chooses someone for movie roles when they see the potential of the actors. In addition, they also carefully review hundreds of castings with their experience before making the final decision to decide who can play the role. Sure, it doesn’t work sometimes, resulting in some terrible movies with top casts that people will never watch again. On the other hand, some were deemed unworthy actors but then their roles became iconic only proving the critics wrong.

Below are the 15 riskest movie castings amazingly worked. Scroll down and check them out!

#1 Johnny Depp (Jack Sparrow)

Source: @buzzhub

Originally, the role of Jack Sparrow was specially written for Hugh Jackman and even named after him. But the actor stepped down and the replacement came to Matthew McConaughey, Michael Keaton, Christopher Walken, and Jim Carrey until the role was finally given to Johnny Depp.

Regardless of Depp’s talent, he was an overly worrisome ordeal for Disney executives when they thought he was performing as either drunk or gay. The CEO of Disney even claimed that Depp would ruin the movie. The actor gave him an ultimatum – either trust me or fire me and the rest is history.

#2 Daniel Craig (James Bond)

Source: @scoopnest

Among more than 200 actors casting for the role of James Bond, fans feel confused when Daniel Craig was announced to take over the role when Pierce Brosman stepped down. The actor was described to have lacked the suave charm and traditional black hair that is considered to be associated with the character and the outrage over his casting was enormous. But Craig blew away the critics and turned that role into an iconic movie character.

#3 Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man)

Source: @radiodisneyclub

As Marvel Studios was on the verge of launching their cinematic universe, they needed the face of their franchise, and Robert Downey, Jr. seemed like the last person they wanted to do anything with. Hiring him was a risky decision because of a series of personal and professional risks.

His arrests in the past affected his acting career a lot and most of his recent movies were not remarkable at all. However, director Jon Favreau was able to see the bigger picture when he quickly realized that the actor’s real-life struggles mirrored Tony Stark’s. After months of convincing the studio that Downey, Jr. was the perfect man for the role, he was finally green-lit and Iron Man was a smashing success. 

#4 Hugh Jackman (Wolverine)

Source: @gq

It turns out that Hugh Jackman was not even on the list of actors the studio was considering for the role of Wolverine. There are some famous actors including Keanu Reeves, Mel Gibson, Viggo Mortensen, and Edward Norton were big names for that role. Thanks to his kindness and impressive audition, Jackman finally pursued the director Bryan Singer to take over that role. The singer decided to take the risk and it turned out to be successful.

#5 Chris Evans (Captain America)

Source: @steviecomfort/ twitter

Unlike his co-star Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans already had experience portraying a superhero and it was far from being amazing. The actor played Johnny Storm aka Human Torch in two critically acclaimed Fantastic Four films, and that only sparked a backlash against his casting as Captain America.

The very idea of Captain America being portrayed by “that dude from Not Another Teen Movie” seems to defy logic. Even Evans was hesitant to accept the role and turned down the offer three times. At the end of the day, Captain America: The First Avenger was a massive hit with critics, and the actor’s performance was particularly praised.

#6 Christopher Reeve (Superman)

Source: @cinemablend

With A-list actors such as Paul Newman, Patrick Wayne, James Caan, Jon Voight, and Charles Bronson, Christopher Reeve who had only one movie credit then made producers and the director believe in him. When being asked to wear a muscle suit, Reeve refused and got a vigorous exercise routine to make his role more convincing. His effort paid off when he received universal acclaim.

#7 Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman)

Source: @mns/twitter

Christian Bale was first rejected with his role in Patrick Bateman because he was not famous enough. Liongate studio wanted Leonardo DiCaprio for the role and was willing to grant him his salary demand of $21 million. But Leo turned down the offer and opted to star in The Beach instead. The studio continued to opt for a famous actor and gave Ewan McGregor an offer. The actor declined because Bale had politely asked him to do so. Lionsgate had then no choice but to accept Bale for the role of Patrick Bateman and it marked the dawn of his amazingly successful career.

#8 Michael Keaton (Batman)

Source: @world-today-news

If you thought the casting of Ben Affleck and Robert Pattinson caused outrage, you haven’t seen anything yet! Comic fans went wild when none other than Michael Keaton was announced to portray the titular character in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Warner Bros. received more than 50,000 letters protesting the request to replace the actor.

Not even Batman creator and the film’s creative consultant Bob Kane expressed any enthusiasm for Keaton’s casting. As one of the most in-demand comedians at the time, the negative reaction was understandable but Keaton proved the doubters wrong. The actor’s superb performance fits perfectly with the dark and mature themes of the Caped Crusader, and Keaton is still considered the best live-action Batman of an entire generation.

#9 Heath Ledger (Joker)

Source: @abrakadabra

There were numerous actors such as Henry Cavill, Hugh Dancy, Joshua Jackson, Cillian Murphy, and Jake Gyllenhaal auditioned for the role of Joker. Heath Ledger was picked by director Christopher Nolan. Certainly, the casting choice met with displeasure from fans and even the executives of Warner Bros. who didn’t trust Ledger’s acting competence. The actor was considered too young, too handsome, and not capable of filling the large shoes of Jack Nicholson who have previously played the character. Thankfully, it worked.

#10 Keanu Reeves (Neo)

Source: @elstas

The impressive list of actors offered the role of Neo included Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and Will Smith but all turned them down for one reason or another. Even Sandra Bullock was offered the role and then, the President of Warner Bros. Pictures, Lorenzo di Bonaventura is even willing to change Neo into a woman if she accepts.

Though Keanu Reeves was perfect for the role, it comes as a surprise that his selection was more of a necessity because every shortlisted actor had rejected the offer. In fact, Reeves wasn’t even a reliable actor at the time because he had an unreliable track record of jumping hip-hop from flops to hits and vice versa. However, the actor exceeded all expectations and The Matrix would never have been a sci-fi masterpiece without him.

#11 Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name)

Source: @pinterest

Director Sergio Leone knew the character’s potential, so he asked A-lister Henry Fonda to portray the role. But the studio could not afford a major Hollywood actor, so Leone had to look to other options.

More than half a dozen actors turned it down and among them was Richard Harrison, who recommended Clint Eastwood for the role. The résumé of the actor was less than stellar. He had uncredited roles, appearing in a supporting role and a supporting role in a TV show. However, Eastwood did not disappoint and the role catapulted him to superstardom.

#12 Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford (Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo)

Source: @epicstream

Casting an unknown actor in the lead role was worrying enough, but director George Lucas was miles ahead and decided to cast three unknown actors for his ambitious space movie, Star Wars. At the time the film was in production, actors Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher were pragmatic anonymous in Hollywood.

None of them have any acting experience but their on-screen chemistry coupled with visual and special effects have wowed audiences and critics alike. Star Wars became an iconic part of cinematic history upon its release, launching a multibillion-dollar franchise and making Hamill, Ford, and Fisher major stars only after that one night.

#13 John Travolta (Vincent Vega)

Source: @15minutenews

Although John Travolta had starred in some dreadful films, he wasn’t the first choice for the role of Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. The director Quentin Tarantino decided to take the risk on John but the actor had to reduce his salary. Finally, it paid off when the movie turned into an instant classic and revived the actor’s career.

#14 Marlon Brando (Vito Corleone)

Source: @bigtrial

Often considered the greatest movie ever made, The Godfather wouldn’t have been if Marlon Brando hadn’t played Don Vito Corleone. Based on the novel of the same name by Mario Puzo, Paramount Pictures had hoped to get Laurence Olivier for the role, but he turned it down. Brando was director Francis Ford Coppola and author Puzo’s first choice for the role, but studio executives were hard-pressed to convince.

Having starred in multiple failed attempts over a decade, the actor’s star power had waned and the then Paramount president even told Coppola that: “Marlon Brando will never appear in this motion picture.”

After intense pleas from the director, Brando reluctantly took the opportunity to try his hand at the screen and achieve success. The actor portrayed a lifetime role as Don Corleone and contributed to making The Godfather a timeless classic.

#15 Henry Fonda (Frank)

Source: @imdb

Perhaps the most striking feature of Henry Fonda’s illustrious career was being the perfect actor to take on the good guy roles. Remember, he portrayed the first juror who voted “not guilty” in 12 Angry Men and ended up saving the boy’s life from the death penalty. However, for one reason or another, director Sergio Leone wants him to play the villain Frank in his next film Once Upon a Time in the West. 

When rejected by Fonda, Leone personally flew to New York to convince him to accept the offer. Leone told to Fonda. The actor later accepted and delivered one of the best performances of his entire career.

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