Whether it be that some felt unnatural or just downright inappropriate, we all have roles we feel should have been recasted. Wouldn’t it be great for your dream cast to be a reality? Well, here are some of our writers’ top picks:
Harry Potter – The Marauders
There’s always going to be the odd character or two that people will disagree with when a film’s cast is announced. For some, there are characters who you simply cannot see as someone else, and then there are those you just want to go.
For me, I’ve found that after I’ve read the source material for a film adaptation I then have some perception of what I want a character to look like. Viggo Mortensen’s casting as Aragorn was frankly spot on, to the extent that director Peter Jackson once had an hour-long conversation with him while referring to him as the character’s name instead of his own.
But there’s one group of castings that I disagree with: The Marauders from Harry Potter. Part of their narratives in the book series is that they – particularly Harry’s father James Potter – died far too young. He and Lily were in their early twenties when they faced Voldemort after all. Having the four (and Lily) as older, takes away from the impact somewhat.
A recurring fancast of Sirius Black that I have seen was Ben Barnes, particularly images of him during The Picture of Dorian Grey – and I think it’s a perfect fit. Another fancast was Mathew Baynton as Remus Lupin, and who can deny some more Baynton?!
Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Mr Yunioshi
Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a cult classic with Audrey Hepburn’s performance becoming iconic and a pop culture phenomenon. However, the casting of white actor Mikey Rooney in the Asian role of Mr Yunioshi has destroyed the legacy of this film. Rooney wore makeup, a prosthetic mouthpiece and slanted eyes to make him appear “more” Asian, this shameful use of yellowface that was common in Hollywood. In 1961, the release of the film, Rooney’s performance was considered comical with his loud and heavy Japanese accent that was almost incomprehensible, making the only non-white character one to mock and laugh at. This reveals Hollywood’s tradition of ‘othering’ Asia, reducing its non-white characters to stereotypes and further separating the races. It was only in the 90s that critics started to acknowledge the offensive nature of casting a white actor as an Asian character, shown in The Boston Globe which described Rooney’s portrayal as ‘an offensive ethnic caricature’. Director Blake Edwards expressed regrets in casting Rooney and wished they had casted an actor of Japanese ethnicity, with Rooney as well in 2008 stating he never would have taken up the role if he had known its offensive nature. The recasting of Breakfast at Tiffany’s for this one role would make the movie a more comfortable watch, especially for those who understand Hollywood’s ability to whitewash and stigmatise its characters that are not white.
Princess Mononoke – Danes
The English dub of Hayazaki’s masterpiece Princess Mononoke is pretty excellent as far as dubs go. There’s no wonky translation (as there can often be), and the voices work well alongside the English script to communicate the film’s original vision. Minnie Driver and Billy Bob Thornton star fittingly, alongside a vastly underrated Billy Crudup, who perfectly encapsulates the stoicism and calm of his character to juxtapose the themes of violence, war and tribalism explored in the film. That being said, Claire Danes as San is unfortunately bland. The character is stubborn and determined – frustratingly so at points – and Danes leans into her being whiny and childlike. It is fitting during some moments, and the character works well as immature, but this approach across the entire picture prevents the audience from getting a full realisation of an otherwise-dynamic and interesting character. For another English cast of the film, I’d choose Florence Pugh to replace Danes. Her younger version of Amy in Little Women shows that she could confidently pull off the more immature qualities of San, and features like Midsommar demonstrate her range in terms of portraying a character deeply affected by their surroundings. Her voice and delivery could bolster the sense of rebellion and haste (even fear) of the role, rather than naivety, and help the audience get into the character’s head a bit more. In English, San winds up being quite annoying, and I think this recast would course-correct her to sound reckless and strong-willed rather than tiresome.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Robin Hood
I know, I know, Kevin Costner is pretty iconic and at the time – especially after just wrapping Dances with Wolves – nobody was going to complain about the prospect of him in a dashing, heroic role. Shamefully, perhaps on his part, it took me 10 years to realise he was genuinely going for an English accent in this movie.
In what was clearly an attempt to reel people in with his name, unfortunately Costner is not compelling enough to justify this casting decision, especially in light of his hybrid American-English accent. Bear in mind he’s playing Robin Hood, based in Nottingham – alongside Alan Rickman, this role is unfortunately pushed out of the limelight despite the movie literally being about him.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves has a special place in my heart, and while it was received poorly by critics and audiences alike there seems to have been some growing popularity, most likely due to nostalgia. However, it’s unavoidable that Costner was not perfect for the role, and any British actor in the 90s could have done a better job. For example, it would have been interesting for John Hannah to be offered the chance of a heroic lead despite this movie coming out just before his fame. Nevertheless, Costner was far from a perfect cast decision.