Nine Brilliant Casting Decisions the Public Hated (At First)

Upset about Affleck as Batman or Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson as Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele? Calm. Down. Now.

People need to calm the frak down! It’s been three weeks since Ben Affleck was announced as the new Batman in the upcoming Batman/Superman feature and the fanboys are still blogospherically bloviating about it. Even Stan Lee—creator/co-creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man, and the Hulk — had to respond: “I’m one of the few people who think it’s a good idea.” But what’s the big deal? This part isn’t that special: In the last 25 years, four different actors (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale) have played the caped crusader in seven feature films.

Then it was announced last week that Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson would star Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the feature adaptation of the (excruciatingly horrible) book Fifty Shades of Grey. The interweb, again, went apeshit. As of the writing of this post, 80,163 people have supported the petition to have Matt Bomer and Alexis Bledel be cast. Seriously.

Yes, sometimes casting goes horribly, horribly wrong. (Ahem, Sofia Coppola in The Godfather III.) But sometimes, it goes right. Here are nine examples where people people’s initial reactions, were wrong.

Michael Keaton, Batman

Fearing a feature film equivalent of the campy ’60s TV show, fans were less then thrilled when it was announced that Beetlejuice‘s director would be directing Batman. Or that his Beetlejuice star, Mr. Mom Michael Keaton, would be starring. Keaton was described by The Wall Street Journal’s Kathleen Hughes as having “a receding hairline and a less-than-heroic chin… [and] stands an estimated 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs in at 160 pounds or so.” And yet, this unheroic looking actor helped the movie bring in over $400 million worldwide, and is considered by many as the best yet.

Daniel Craig, Casino Royale called for a boycott of Casino Royale. How’d that go again?

Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises

Despite more serious turns in Brokeback Mountain and Rachel Getting Married, many couldn’t picture the star of The Princess Diaries as the sexy, femme fatale Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises. How wrong they were. Hathaway’s performance is arguably one of the best things of the movie. Well, besides Marion Cotillard’s death scene.

Dustin Hoffman, The Graduate

Hoffman: “[Many people] felt ambivalent all the way through the shooting, and even into the previews. People would come up to the producer and say, ‘You’d have a hell of a movie if you hadn’t miscast the lead.’”

Lenny Kravitz, The Hunger Games

Let’s ignore the whole borderline racist “controversy” where people were upset that a young, black actress would portray Rue, a character they assumed was white. Despite the fact that Suzanne Collins describes Rue in the book has having dark skin. (But, you know, reading, like, whatever, is hard!) But even rational people were a little leery about musician Lenny Kravitz portraying the over-the-top stylist Cinna. And while his Cinna is much more tame—with only a dash of guy-liner—he provides quiet moments with star Jennifer Lawrence.

Madonna, Evita

According to the People profile from 1996, Madonna received a less-than-warm welcome from the people of Buenos Aires. “Viva Evita! Fuera Madonna!” (“Long Live Evita! Get out Madonna!”) was spray-painted throughout the city. “The next week, though it was clearly bulster, Clark Marin, 85, a onetime aide to Eva, publicly threatened to kill the star.” And while Madonna will never be known as a great acting talent, there was plenty here to appreciate and admire.

Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

Along with their distaste for Burton and Keaton, others weren’t too thrilled about the presumed-humorless Jack Nicholson portraying the Joker in Batman. But that didn’t compare to the digital-age response to Christopher Nolan casting Heath Ledger in the role for The Dark Knight. Just check out GeekTyrant’s catalogue of Internet reactions. My favorite? “Heath Ledger is not Joker material, simply put he does not have the mentality for it… There are better choices in my own opinion, but what do I know, its [sic] only been my life enjoying these comics?” Yep, RobertF23. What do you know?

Tom Cruise, Interview with a Vampire

Author Anne Rice in 1993: “I was particularly stunned by the casting of Cruise, who is no more my Vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler.” Rice after seeing the movie: “I’m no good at modesty. I like to believe Tom’s Lestat will be remembered the way Olivier’s Hamlet is remembered. Others may play the role some day but no one will ever forget Tom’s version of it.”

Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind

The highlight from Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood from January 16, 1939 on casting a non-American Scarlett: “At 5:51 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, David Selznick’s Boswell was on the phone giving out the glad tidings that at 5:50 Mr. Selznick had decided upon his Scarlett, [the English] Vivien Leigh. And Leslie Howard for Ashley. Now, why call me? Why not the House of Parliament in England, and say: ‘Well, you’ve won again.’”