TheWrap picks 22 of the year's casting decisions that drew cheers and jeers
The year 2013 was a busy year for casting directors who scrambled to fill high-profile roles and film reporters who raced to report those decisions. For every actor that won the casting lottery, hundreds more lost out on life-changing roles. While these decisions can't really be judged until the movies actually hit theaters and we can finally see these performances, TheWrap has ruled which choices were the best and which ones left us scratching our heads. Enjoy!
Chris Pratt, “Guardians of the Galaxy” (Feb. 5) – It turns out Pratt's surprise casting in “Moneyball” was merely a sign of things to come. The “Parks and Recreation” star is a leading man-in-the-making who has just needed an opportunity to prove himself. Marvel agreed, and the company's faith in Pratt seems to have paid off, as the first photo the actor released of his jacked-up physique was startling. Pratt has got the perfect sense of humor to fit Peter Quill, aka Star Lord. Universal clearly has faith in his rising stardom, as the studio also plans to entrust him with the lead in “Jurassic World.”
Quvenzhane Wallis & Cameron Diaz, ”Annie” (Feb. 8 & June 26) — With attitude to spare, the precocious nine-year-old who scored an Oscar nomination for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” was the natural choice for Sony's hip-hop flavored reboot of the classic musical. While Sandra Bullock initially flirted with the villainous role of Miss Hannigan, Diaz is a better fit for the character, who is getting a much-needed makeover for the new movie. We can't wait to see the sparks fly on Christmas Day.
Drew Barrymore, ”Blended” (rumored Feb. 21) – This didn't seem a big deal when it was announced, but Barrymore is the only one of Adam Sandler's love interests that he's had real chemistry with. Warner Bros. released the trailer for the Africa-set romantic comedy on Tuesday and while it seemingly stays close to Happy Madison's formula for success, there's no denying it was a stroke of casting genius putting those two back together again after “The Wedding Singer” and “50 First Dates.”
Shailene Woodley, ”The Fault In Our Stars” (March 19) – While “Divergent” may end up being a misstep for the budding “Descendants” star, this cancer-driven drama is the sort of tearjerker that will expand her fan base and could even put her back in the awards conversation. Up-and-coming director Josh Boone directs from a script by Woodley's “Spectacular Now” screenwriters Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter, who adapted John Green's bestselling novel. If Fox 2000 pulls off this tricky adaptation like it did “Life of Pi,” Woodley will likely be remembered for movies like these, not silly YA franchises.
Matthew McConaughey, ”Interstellar” (rumored March 28) – Leave it to Christopher Nolan to nab the hottest actor on the planet, who has totally turned his career around thanks to “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Killer Joe,” “Magic Mike,” “Mud” and “Dallas Buyers Club,” the latter of which is expected to earn him an Oscar nomination. The mere thought of that several years ago would've made my head explode. This is the culmination of all the hard work McConaughey has put in to turn his career around. This mysterious voyage will be much more exciting with McConaughey anchoring the cast, plus he has experience exploring space, having starred opposite Jodie Foster in Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact.”
Michael B. Jordan, “Fantastic Four” (rumored May 2) –While some “Fantastic Four” fans clamor for strict adherence to canon, I believe the best actor for the job deserves a chance, which explains why I've been lobbying for more black superheroes for years. The time appears to have finally come, with “Fruitvale Station” star Jordan all but signed to play Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch. Fox's reboot hails from Jordan's “Chronicle” director Josh Trank, so the duo already have a strong rapport. Jordan has the physique and the wise-cracking sense of humor that the role requires, so who cares if Johnny and Sue Storm are rewritten to be adopted siblings? Jordan is the next major African-American star, and Fox is smart to board the bandwagon early before his asking price goes through the roof.
Julianne Moore, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay” (rumored June 27) – You can never have enough strong women in one movie, and Julianne Moore is the perfect fit for this franchise. She'll play President Alma Coin, who leads the districts’ rebellion against the Capitol. With four Oscar nominations under her belt, Moore will add even more gravitas to the star-studded cast, and we can't wait to see her share the screen with Jennifer Lawrence.
Melissa McCarthy, ”Susan Cooper” (July 25) — When Paul Feig announced his intention to make a female spy comedy, only one actress came to mind, and sure enough, Feig got his girl. After stealing every scene in “Bridesmaids,” McCarthy established herself as a bona fide movie star this year with “Identity Thief” and “The Heat,” and she's a perfect fit for Feig's comic vision. Her casting will help dictate the tone of the movie and make it easier for Fox to sell. We can't wait for their next collaboration.
Ben Affleck, “Batman Vs. Superman” (Aug. 22) — I've covered this once before, but I can't say enough about this choice. I defended Affleck through his darkest years and felt vindicated after he rebounded as a director, though he still hasn't gotten the respect he deserves as an actor. I think he'll make a great Caped Crusader, especially considering that director Zack Snyder aims to depict a tired, more world-weary superhero. The haters came out in full force, but in time, Affleck's casting will be seen as an inspired decision.
Chadwick Boseman in “Get On Up” (Aug. 26) – A rising star after “42,” this seems like a solid match, even if other actors look more like young James Brown. Say what you will about Tate Taylor and how this story should've been told by a filmmaker of color, but if he can make “The Help” work, he can pull this off too, and Boseman is a step in the right direction. With charisma to spare, he's a star in the making. Please, please, please just trust me on this one.
Jennifer Lopez, ”The Boy Next Door” (Sept. 6) — The “American Idol” judge had been written off as a movie star in recent years but this low-budget Blumhouse thriller could be the perfect vehicle for her return to the big screen. She plays a cougar who has an affair with her teenage neighbor. This could be awful, or it could be awesome. Either way, a bold stroke of casting genius.
Jamie Dornan, ”Fifty Shades of Grey” (Oct. 23) — This Irish hunk and former Calvin Klein model is the perfect fit to slip into Christian Grey's underwear. The role requires a certain mystery, and Dornan may benefit from audiences’ lack of familiarity with his work. He showed a glimpse of his dark side as a serial killer in the miniseries “The Fall,” and “Fifty” fans have yet to complain about his abs and piercing eyes that suggest a hint of mischief. Despite his limited resume, he should be considered an improvement from Charlie Hunnam, whose heart was never really in the project. Let's hope Dornan sent him a fruit basket at the very least.
Christoph Waltz, ”Horrible Bosses 2” (Oct. 25) — This casting was a bingo! We've seen the two-time Oscar winner play humorous villains before, but he's always had to dial it back a notch due to the “serious” nature of his films. With “Horrible Bosses 2” being a straight-up comedy, Waltz will be able to embrace his inner-clown and go for broke as an evil employer who will be paired with onscreen son Chris Pine. Regardless of their profession, I'm expecting movie magic.
Ben Foster, ”Warcraft” (Dec. 4) — Even with Duncan Jones at the helm, I had ZERO interest in this fantasy film until Foster was cast as one of the leads. Foster isn't typical leading man material but he's one of the most interesting actors in Hollywood and has been for years. Foster is notoriously selective so he must believe in the project, and I'm glad Legendary believes in him enough to take the gamble.
Jack Reynor in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” (Jan. 8) – Any unknown actor would be stupid to turn down a role in a blockbuster like the fourth “Transformers” movie. I get that. But Reynor had tremendous buzz coming off the little-seen indie “What Richard Did” and should've waited for a better role like something along the lines of Jack O'Connell's role as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's “Unbroken.” While this franchise may be getting a boost with Mark Wahlberg (also a dreadful decision on his part, albeit one from 2012), I can't imagine it'll be much different than the schlock that came before it, unless director Michael Bay has finally seen the error of his moneymaking ways.
Luke Evans, ”The Crow” (May 4) – The Crow is my favorite superhero, so expectations were sky-high for Relativity's long-gestating reboot. Unfortunately, Evans has yet to prove he has what it takes to step into Brandon Lee's considerable shoes. Eric Draven has a soft, soulful, sensitive side as well as a wicked sense of humor, and Evans is a little too bland for my taste. I'm still excited about this movie, but I would've liked to see Tom Hiddleston in the role. Alas, we're left to wonder what might've been.
Michael B. Jordan, “Creed” (July 24) – Jordan is the hottest young actor in Hollywood. He could've done anything he wanted after “Fruitvale Station,” and that goes for writer-director Ryan Coogler too. So it was baffling to learn that these guys wanted to do what is essentially “Rocky 7,” in which Jordan would play Apollo Creed's grandson. I totally understand the desire to make a boxing movie, but why settle for Stallone's sloppy sevenths. This franchise has been run into the ground and not even a different perspective can change how much baggage audiences will bring into the theater.
Tyler Perry, “Gone Girl” (rumored July 25) – Director David Fincher deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to casting, but there's a lot of doubt here, as there is anytime Perry steps out of Madea's costume. I haven't read Gillian Flynn's bestselling book so I don't know much about what the role actually requires, but I'm fairly certain that while Perry may be a draw for black audiences, he'll be a major distraction on screen.
Harrison Ford, ”The Expendables 3” (Aug. 6) – Why? I'd love to know just why Ford is signing up for this dreadful action franchise? He's Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Blade Runner for crying out loud! This is a straight-up paycheck role, which Ford takes plenty of anyway. I can't imagine he was yearning to fly to Bulgaria or wherever this unnecessary sequel is filming in eastern Europe. He's so much better than this material that there's only one word for it — slumming.
Joel Edgerton, ”Exodus” (Aug. 13) –A lily-white Australian playing the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses? What year is this? This might be the single worst casting decision of the year. Edgerton is a great actor but I have a feeling he's setting himself up for failure here. Plenty of A-list actors have given Ridley Scott a chance and gotten burned, and I have serious concerns about his action-heavy take on the story of Moses… who apparently shoots bow & arrows as if he were Katniss’ father.
Charlie Hunnam, ”Fifty Shades of Grey” (Sept. 2) – It was doomed from the beginning. Hunnam's reps more or less forced him into the coveted role, which he had numerous notes about before ultimately dropping out because he didn't have adequate time to prepare for the film. Hunnam (and the project) suffered public humiliation, though perhaps he spared himself future embarrassment by leaving the role to a newcomer who could actually benefit from everything it offers.
Gal Gadot, “Batman Vs. Superman” (Dec. 4) — The femme fatale from the “Fast and Furious” franchise would be fine if she was just playing Ben Affleck's love interest, but her character will grow into Wonder Woman in future films, and I haven't seen evidence that she's up to the task. Sure, the Israeli Army veteran has some serious fighting skills, but does she have the screen presence or the gravitas to hold our attention? I couldn't even keep her and Elsa Pataky straight in the “Fast” films. I would've liked to have seen Evangeline Lilly win this role, but the “Hobbit” star must've gotten “lost” in the superhero shuffle.