Until movies exclusively feature the holograms of dead actors and TikTok celebrities, casting is an important part of the filmmaking process. Can you imagine The Godfather without Marlon Brando as Don Corleone? Casablanca without Ingrid Bergman? Labyrinth without David Bowie's unnecessarily prominent junk? But Hollywood doesn't always know what they're doing, and over the years they've had some surprisingly bonkers ideas for who to put in famous movie roles, such as how...
Pretty much every time the role of Batman is cast, some form of controversy erupts. The internet got super-mad at the news that Ben Affleck would don the black rubber bat-suit, and keep in mind that this was back in the days before we even knew about his godawful back tattoo. Before that, back in the 1980s, pre-internet comic fans had a veritable meltdown over the news that Michael Keaton would star in Tim Burton's Batman. But he wasn't the only one up for the role.
In addition to nerds, the folks at Warner Brothers weren't thrilled with the idea of Mr. Mom as the Caped Crusader. Specifically they wanted to "cast it with an action star." Some of the names floated for the role included Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. Then, someone suggested Steven Seagal, who had starred in Above the Law, but had yet to write the world's worst piece of literature.Which would have been ... weird. Sure maybe Seagal would have the martial arts component of the role nailed, but the likeable human being part would have been a stretch to say the least. While he didn't get the part, reportedly, Seagal assumed that Batman would flop because he could "destroy Michael Keaton with his pinkie toe." (Pro tip: if you want to sound like a badass, never incorporate the words "pinkie toe" into your zingers.)
Even though it's been remade countless times, it's hard to imagine anyone starring as Jackson Maine in the recent A Star is Born other than its director Bradley Cooper. Seriously, can you picture anyone else in that role? Would another actor have had the same chemistry with Lady Gaga? So much so that they indulged in the musical equivalent of drawing the drapes in a by-the-hour motel room while hundreds of movie stars and millions of Oscar viewers were forced to watch in awkward silence?
Well, it turns out that Cooper originally didn't want to cast himself in the part. While he refused to divulge who at first, Cooper admitted that he wanted a real-life musician to play the part. Maybe Cooper wanted Jackson to have more of an "escaped ghost from an old-timey photo" vibe, because we later found out that the musician in question was Jack White from The White Stripes. Apparently the studio wasn't happy with a living Tim Burton character starring in the movie while one of Hollywood's handsomest leading men sat behind the camera with the rest of the uggos, so they nixed the idea. Plus, we're pretty sure White's acting career peaked with his nuanced portrayal of Elvis Presley in Walk Hard.
At this point, Kanye West is probably more known for his baffling decision-making than for his actual music. From interrupting awards speeches to recreating Tatooine to house the homeless, pretty much everything the dude does raises eyebrows. So it's not totally surprising that Kanye was planning on making a movie about his own life. But even given our cultural tolerance to being shocked by Kanye's antics, his choice for who should play him in said movie was almost impressively random: Danny McBride.
According to McBride, Kanye phoned up the Eastbound and Down star "out of the blue" to ask if he would portray him in an upcoming film. While McBride thought it was a joke at first, Kanye later travelled to his home in Charleston, South Carolina to pitch him the idea of starring in a movie based on Kanye's life. Which seems odd. You know, because Danny McBride is white and neither looks nor sounds like Kanye West. McBride theorized that Kanye thought of him because of the "sense of ego" he's able to "portray." Sadly, Kanye's film project eventually fell apart, not unlike his plan to help the poor with fictional space huts.
Before simply opting to go with a tall handsome dude with lots of muscles, there were a few off-the-beaten-path ideas for who should play Wolverine -- like Misfits singer Glenn Danzing, who claims he wouldn't have played the part "as gay" as Hugh Jackman. (Just as well, now he gets to spend more time with his loving pile of bricks on his front lawn.) Renowned comic book writer Chris Claremont, who penned some of the greatest X-Men stories of all-time, had a different suggestion: Bob Hoskins. Yes, Bob Hoskins, who you may remember as the schlubby P.I. in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the schlubby plumber in Super Mario Bros. and the schlubby racist in a godawful Denzel Washington movie.
The late Hoskins was a terrific actor, but as a rotund British curmudgeon, he doesn't exactly scream comic book hero. Claremont's reason for favoring Hoskins was also kind of strange, he particularly liked him the Tom Selleck movie Lassiter -- which was about a jewel thief boosting Nazi gold, not a handsy Pixar executive.
Claremont particularly loved Hoskins' anger and brutality and ability to shove the crap out of the 6-foot-tall Selleck. After viewing Hoskins' "instant rage" Claremont thought "bingo. That is Logan." Though to be fair, Danzig likely displayed similar levels of rage after his neighbors complained about his goddamn bricks.
Tony Todd is Candyman. Not just in every sequel, but even in the upcoming reboot of the classic '90s horror movie it seems as though Todd will once again play the hook-handed ghost-slasher. Todd is so good as Candyman, even when he shows up to play a kindly doctor in a teen soap opera, he's creepy as hell. But apparently Tony Todd wasn't the first choice for the character. The producers wanted Eddie Murphy -- presumably because instead of slashing people's throats, originally Candyman just wedged bananas in his victims tailpipes.
While Eddie Murphy was a long-shot (his salary at the time was double the film's entire budget) even when they were auditioning for the part, producers wanted "an Eddie Murphy-type." Which seems kind of weird, considering that they ended up with a menacing, baritone-voiced Tony Todd, not a wise-cracking comedian. Though, to be fair, even in three murder-filled movies, Candyman never did anything quite as horrific as unleashing Norbit into the world.
After focusing on historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, J. Edgar Hoover and the cast of Saved by the Bell, Hollywood finally made a biopic about Harriet Tubman in 2019 -- unfortunately it was mostly bad, inaccurate, and for some reason thought Tubman should have Peter Parker-like superpowers. But the one bright spot of the film was Cynthia Erivo's central performance as Tubman, though her casting wasn't without controversy. Since Erivo is British and a "non-descendant of slavery" some thought the choice was "disrespectful to black Americans." But it was almost so so so much worse.
According to Harriet screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard, when he was first pitching the movie back in 1994, an unnamed Hollywood executive suggested, for the role of Harriet Tubman ... Julia Roberts. Yes, Julia Roberts, best known for Notting Hill and for not at all being black. Casting Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman would be like ... actually we can't think of a humorous counterpoint, because that sentence already maxed out our brain's threshold for absurdity.
During the same meeting, the one black executive in the room pointed out that Julia Roberts is very, very white and therefore perhaps not the best person to play Harriet Tubman. At which point the first executive responded: "That was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference." Jesus Christ, that's not just whitewashing, that's white demolishing and rebuilding the thing you were supposed to be washing. But for all we know, though, they did continue this version of the movie, but changed slavery to weddings, and slave catchers to Richard Gere and oh God that's probably how we got Runaway Bride.
Top Image: Warner Bros.