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2012 Movie Roles That Should Have Gone to Someone Else

by Sophia Savage
December 28, 2012 4:10 PM
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Colin Farrell in 'Total Recall'
Colin Farrell in 'Total Recall'

As we look back at the year in film, we find -- as always -- there's room for improvement. Often by simply replacing a lead actor, a world of difference could be made on the overall effect of the film. Films come together the way they do for a reason. Often it's more about a star's marquee value or perceived bankability than it is about the part they are playing. Alas, here are the 2012 Movie Roles That Should Have Gone to Someone Else.

Colin Farrell in "Total Recall"

Farrell's casting as Douglas Quaid/Carl Hauser in Len Wiseman's remake of the Paul Verhoeven 1990 original--in which Arnold Schwarzenegger starred--was the first of many mistakes. Watching his co-star Kate Beckinsale kick more ass than him was just a reminder of how lacklustre Farrell's presence and performance was in such a CGI-heavy environment. We like him weak and pathetic, as in "In Bruges." Enough with trying to making him an action star.

Ideal Replacement: Angelina Jolie. If you're going to remake a silly '90s movie, make it great and unique. Shifting the central role to Jolie would have made for an inspired, modern film with huge potential--especially if someone like Ridley Scott circa 1990 directed it. Plus, Jolie's "Salt" made almost double what "Total Recall" made at the domestic box office.

Russell Crowe in 'Les Miserables'
Russell Crowe in 'Les Miserables'
Russell Crowe in "Les Miserables"

Well at least he embodied the title, but sitting through numerous scenes with Crowe's Javert looking like he'd rather be sitting on a toilet just dragged the whole experience down. Luckily he didn't entirely ruin the film--Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman picked up a lot of slack from the film's less engaging singers--but with a more appropriate actor in this leading role (and one who has as much enthusiasm to be there as Hathaway and Jackman) this film would actually have a clear shot at Best Picture.

Ideal Replacement: Liam Neeson. So what if he played Valjean in Bille August's 1998 version of "Les Mis," he'd make a great Javert as well. And as evidenced by Crowe, it doesn't really matter if Neeson can sing.

Aaron Johnson in "Anna Karenina"

I mean, come on now. We're talking about a role (Vronsky) that's been played by Sean Bean (1997) and Kieron Moore (1948) and Fredrick March (1935). Johnson and his adorable face just don't cut it. The role demands a man less callow, more vital and, well, masculine.

Ideal Replacement: Any of these manly men could have brought an interesting spin on Vronsky: Michael Fassbender ("Jane Eyre," "Shame"), Andrew Lincoln ("The Walking Dead"), Jason Clarke ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Luke Evans ("Immortals") or Tom Hiddleston ("The Deep Blue Sea").

Bill Murray in "Hyde Park on Hudson"

There's a lot wrong with Brit Roger Michell's take on a memorable visit by the British Royals to stamp-collecting womanizer Franklin Delano Roosevelt's country home Hyde Park on Hudson. While this slight film might have wound up where it belonged-- on Masterpiece Theater --without Bill Murray, he just doesn't cut an impressive figure as one of America's greatest presidents. He basically comes off as a pipe-sucking dirty old man.

Ideal Replacement: John Lithgow--who admittedly would not have gotten the film financed-- would have made a great FDR, upper-class, witty and sharp, yet powerful. (For the moment you can check out his supporting role in "This is 40.")


  • Janet | January 1, 2013 10:45 PMReply

    I'm wondering how is it that Bill Murray got the film financed? and who else was considered? why on Earth did it go to him? I'd love to see the film but I won't! I've seen the trailers, that is not FDR, it's Bill Murray.

  • zazou | December 29, 2012 2:52 AMReply

    I agree with the poster who said this article is crap. By the way Crowe is an excellent Javert and an asset to the film.Farrell was fine,and the script was dubious.Jolie?? are you mad? This is silly and intellectually insulting .

  • juandoe | December 28, 2012 11:23 PMReply

    BENICIO DEL TORO should have been the Argo lead----please examine this further, Indiewire. If you're not the platform for serious discourse about this historically-skewed casting, then where?

  • P | December 28, 2012 6:32 PMReply

    Eh... Aaron Johnson nailed it for me

  • Alfonso | December 29, 2012 1:19 PM

    I also think Aaron Johnson nailed it, even with that blond hair. And let´s not forget that neither of those replacements can dance like him, I am sure that was a decissive factor that made Joe Wright choose him.

  • nero | December 28, 2012 6:10 PMReply

    this article is crap

  • Alice | December 28, 2012 6:08 PMReply

    I actually liked the Total Recall remake. And Colin is best playing strong, complex characters like in Tigerland, not weak ones.

  • Angus | December 28, 2012 5:39 PMReply

    Imagine how good Silver Linings Playbook would have been with Mark Wahlberg instead of Bradley Cooper.

  • Hari | December 29, 2012 3:36 AM

    Not good at all. Bradley Cooper was PERFECT. I cannot imagine Wahlberg in the role.... there is no way he could have portrayed the childlike innocence of Pat.

  • Is Oscar season over yet? | December 28, 2012 5:00 PMReply

    Angelina Jolie with her perpetual "F*CK ME" face? No, thank you. What Total Recall needed was a better writer, point. blank. period.

  • moviefan | December 30, 2012 1:56 PM

    Wow, this is one of the worst articles I've seen here in a long time. You couldn't be more wrong about Russell Crowe in Les Mis. He may not have an operatic voice but I thought his vocals were more than fine. Every other cast member had weak vocal moments because of singing live but I think it was appropriate for the movie. Crowe's superb acting enhanced the character of Javert and the Confrontation was the best I've ever seen.

    Total Recall was pretty bad but Colin was fine. Angelina Jolie? Laughable.

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