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April 13, 2011

Miscast Characters

Margaret Maron

Margaret_Rutherford Who was your favorite Miss Marple?  Margaret Rutherford, Angela Joan_Hickson Lansbury, Geraldine McEwan, Julia McKenzie or  Joan Hickson?  >>>>>






So how did you react to the news that Jennifer Garner is going to be the new Miss Marple if Disney has its way?

200px-Jeremy_Brett What about Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes?   Even though I think Jeremy Britt’s twitchy Holmes is the best of the traditional takes, I can suspend my disbelief with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as a modern day Holmes and Watson.

 But a young and sexy Miss Marple?

It’s set me thinking about other actors who have—for better or for worse— inhabited iconic roles. 


007.  David Niven,  Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or Pierce Brosnan? 

Indiana Jones. George Lucas originally wanted Tom Selleck to play the role, not Harrison Ford.

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler.  Can you imagine any other actor of the time in that role?  Yet Errol DownloadedFile_3 Flynn of Robin Hood fame was a serious contender.  Even Jimmy Stewart was briefly considered.  And while Vivian Leigh’s southern accent left much to be desired,  she did look like a Scarlett O’Hara.  But so did Paulette Goddard, who would probably have played Scarlett had she not been openly playing house with Charlie Chaplin at the time.   Too much scandal for the studio heads even though Leigh was having an extramarital (but more discreet) affair with Laurence Olivier.        >>>>>>>>>>

Images_2 I can’t imagine anyone besides Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve (sorry, Claudette Colbert), but I never quite bought Ann Baxter as Eve.  Did you?

Think Wizard of Oz and you immediately think Judy Garland.  But Shirley Temple was an early contender for Dorothy and a young singing actress, Deanna Durbin, almost got the role. I’ve read that the reason she lost out is because the first script called for a singing contest between Dorothy and an opera singer from the Emerald City.

Durbin’s voice was ruled to be too operatic for good contrast, while Garland’s voice was more jazzy.  In the end, that scene was cut, but by then the part was Garland’s.

Frank Morgan was not the original choice for the Wizard either.  W.C. Fields would be our image of the man behind the curtain had he not kept dickering over his contract so long that they went with someone less demanding.

DownloadedFile For me, the saddest part of that movie is that Buddy Ebsen DownloadedFile_2 did not get to play Tin Man.  Jack Haley was barely adequate.  Buddy Ebsen, who was a marvelous song-and-dance man long before he played Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, was originally cast as the Scarecrow and Ray Bolger was to play Tin Man.  But Bolger was so anxious to play Scarecrow that the amiable Ebsen agreed to switch.  He recorded most of the Tin Man songs that we hear today on the film and that’s Ebsen seen from behind when the three friends enter the Wicked Witch’s castle to rescue Dorothy.  Tragically, when filming began, the aluminum powder used in his make-up almost killed him.  It coated his lungs to such a degree that he had to be hospitalized and even spent some time in an iron lung.  That’s when Jack Haley was brought in.  Haley’s make-up used aluminum in a paste that was spread over a protective layer of clown make-up.

I can’t watch the movie without thinking how much better Ebsen would have been.

DownloadedFile_4 But Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple?  That’s as bad as James Cagney with his Lower East Side accent playing Bottom the Weaver in Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What gets your vote for the best or worst miscasting of an iconic character?



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Miss Marple wouldn't have been the insightful mystery solver when she was young. The point of the character is that she had all those years to observe human nature. Young Miss Marple misses the point.

I say no to a young Miss Marple.

Jeremy Brett was the perfect Sherlock Holmes, but I liked Robert Downey Junior and Benedict Cumberbatch does a hell of a job. Also, my inner geek(who looks exactly like my outer geek, only younger)is seriously wanting to see Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

The biggest miscasting I can think of would be when they passed on Patrick Stewart as Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin and instead went for that oaf, Arnie.

Miss Marple is not young. She just isn't. It cannot be. If Miss Marple is young, it isn't Miss Marple. The thought of a young Miss Marple is a terrible insult to all women of depth, character, wit, and charm that can only be acquired by living. It goes with wrinkles earned with the business of life and freckles earned with play. Miss Marple, young? Never! Whoever thought that one up needs to go muck out the stable and just think about it awhile longer.

There's a wonderful book titled "If the Other Guy Isn't Jack Nicholson, I've Got the Part" by Ron Base. The title is quoted as what Burt Reynolds said when his agent told him ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST was down to him and one 'other guy'.

Fascinating stuff. Cary Grant was approached for James Bond, but would only agree to one movie. James Mason would commit to two, but no more.

The one genuine regret Christopher Lee has in his entire career is passing on the part of "Dr. Sam Loomis" in HALLOWEEN.

Anthony Edwards thought REMINGTON STEELE was 'silly and daft' and turned the role down, despite monumental offers from the network.

The list is endless, and the book is fascinating. But, look at the other side of the coin: would the Bond Series have become the legend it is if David Niven had agreed to DR. NO? Would NORTH BY NORTHWEST have worked had the leads been reversed? James Mason as Good Guy, Cary Grant as Bad Guy? (Hitchcock considered it, just for the hell of it.) Would MAVERICK have become a legendary series if Jimmy Stewart had agreed to play Bret Maverick, leaving James Garner as a bit player? Would THE FUGITIVE have been such a sensation if Robert Lansing had accepted the lead, relegating David Janssen to play second lead in war movies? Had John Wayne been ready for television, he would have played Matt Dillon in GUNSMOKE, no question; the studio would have given him *anything* he asked for.

But, you have to ask yourself, 'Would it work?' Would it have been the same? There's something magical that happens when it works, and as far as I know, no one has ever been able to define or explain it.

P.S. I'm with Doc, the new BBC version of SHERLOCK blew me away. My first reaction was "MODERN DAY? Are you kidding?" Trust me when I tell you, by the time the first twenty minutes had flown by, I was hooked, addicted, enthralled, pick a word. Highly, strongly, sincerely, adverbially recommended!

I'll keep an open mind about a young Miss Marple. I'm just sorry Jennifer Garner didn't choose to play the lead character in any number of current mystery series. She might even have been a pretty good Nora Blackbird. Or Bubbles. Or Wollie! etc, etc.

I never believed Robert Urich as Spenser. Not bullish enough, wrong ethnicity. I always pictured Brian Dennehy.

Nancy M., central casting should have called you. Dennehy would have been a memorable Spenser.

As you said, William, when it works, it's magical. And we all recognize it. I'm going to have to find a copy of that book. Sounds like a fun read.

And Barbara and Reine are right: Youth can't have age's insights. W/o the wrinkles, Miss Marple will come off like Miss Drew.

Whoops. Anthony ANDREWS turned down 'Steele'. Anthony Edwards was the brilliant Mark Green in ER. Not enough coffee yet....:)

Oh, I am dismayed. I collect role models, women I want to be when I grow up and the world can always use a new Miss Marple, but not a new young Miss Marple. I want Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, either of the Redgraves, or any of the hundreds of lesser-known British actresses of a certain age.

I cannot possibly be Jennifer Garner when I grow up.

My favorite casting was Harvey Keitel as Judas in The Last Temptation of Christ. As one reviewer noted, it sounded as if Judas had taken the subway to Jerusalem.

Harley, that's exactly how I felt about James Cagney as Bottom!

Margaret, are you frequently asked who should play Deborah Knott? And do you respond?

I'm reserving judgment on the Jennifer Garner/Miss Marple casting.

Miss Marple's skills come from observing people and that type of noticing doesn't automatically come with age--some older people are just as oblivious as they ever were. It seems to come from life experiences and personality.

Garner just might be able to pull it off!

I have to agree with Doc and William. Benedict Cumberbach and Martin Freeman are addicting! And I too want to see Mr. Freeman as a young Bilbo :o) Sometimes I think my least favorite Holmes is Peter Brett. I'm not sure just why either. Basil Rathbone is the first Holmes I saw...and I think Robert Downey Jr is as good as any. Jude Law's Watson is just the right mixture of brains and incredulity too. But Jennifer Garner as Miss Marple? That's like putting Brigitte Bardot in The Nun's Story. Miss Marple is and always will be a little old snoop...and I thought Geraldine McEwan fit the part perfectly. The others seemed almost too hardy. McEwan was the twin of the mental picture I had when first reading Christie. Poirot? David Suchet IS.
My only real thought about modern miscasting is that of Susan Sarandon as the attorney in The Client. All through Grisham's book (and according to his descriptions) I kept picturing Kathy Bates. Imagine my shock when they cast Susan Sarandon! Good movie non the less. Just took me a while to change "dumpy" into raggedly sexy. Go figure.

oh, I love Benedick as Sherlock, too.And Basil. And, yes, kind of? Even Robert Downey.

Wasn't Tony Curtis a..roman soldier or something? That was pitiful.

I'm not instantly anti-Jennifer Garner. What if she's--like Miss MArple as a thirty-something? That could be kind of great. You knw? MAybe she's not as experinced, but she's learning. We shall see!

What an interesting Tin Man story..gosh. And then I keep picturing the Tin Man in an iron lung..

And oh, Tom Sawyer told me Angela Lansbury originally turned down the Jessica Fletcher role because she was going to play Norma Desmond in the musical of Sunset Boulevard. It was only when that got delayed that she took the TV role. Amazing, huh?

(There's more to that story, but it's too long.)

Miscasting? Ben Affleck as the "irresisitble bad guy" in the Town. He's so sleazy and smarmy...and he cast himself as handsome. Just me, I know..

I didn't know that about the Tin Man and the Iron Lung. How terrible!

I have a terrible confession, too--although I adored Miss Marple years ago, now I find her so annoying I want to strangle the old biddy. It's not her fault, though. She is a product of her times when an old, financially-dependent single female had to manipulate her way through life, pretending to be less intelligent and knowing than she really was. I don't *blame* her for that, and I'm very sympathetic to it; but I just don't *like* her anymore. So I don't care whom they cast. :) And I like J. Garner.

Steve Reeves as the original, lumpy Superman is the best example of miscasting I can think of. Best? Why Dean Cain, of course. Swoon. I never bought Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel, either, but he was miles better than Steve. (Who is buried here in Cincinnati, by the way, Steve Reeves, that is.)

On the contrary, I thought nearly all the Harry Potter actors in the first movie were spot-on perfect. It was to Ms. Rowling's everlasting credit that she wisely insisted on having British actors only. Anyone else would not have been appropriate.

Nancy P, I'm with you on Miss Marple, and others like her. Old biddies, indeed.

Margaret, I'm also curious about who you envision playing Deborah Knott. And does it have to be an actor with a believable Southern lilt?

Worst casting in a movie EVER?

It's a tie. Sophia Coppola in Godfather III (a disgrace to the first two, don't watch it) and the entire cast of "Scarlett" - the sequel to Gone With the Wind. Just horrid.

Blech. Now I need to go have some cake to cleanse my palate.

Jennifer Garner?

Jennifer GARNER???

Hm. My first thought was that it would be a travesty. But now that I think about it a bit, if they treated it as a reimagining/reconception of the character, a prequel to how she is as an elderly spinster, I think it could work. I'll withhold judgment.

I'm disheartened by the casting of Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum. I don't really see her as Jersey girl.

I need to disagree with Karen. When I read "Potter" Hermione was a bit chubby, not the babe Emma Watson is.

One thing is we see certain roles as they exist on film. If there had never been a Gable/Rhett Butler could you picture him in the role? Maybe/Maybe not?

Now whopping thirty years give or take off Miss Marple seems to not only short change current Marple fans, but the young crowd as well. Young people really can relate to the pre-MTV generation.

Worse ever, the periodic talk of remaking "Casablanca" with Nick Cage. Cage seems to play only one character, it just moves from movie to movie.

I always prefered the Baldwin version of Jack Ryan to the Harrison Ford version.

Remakes of famous movies can be nefarious.

The remake of the movie "The Women" with Annette Beaning and Meg Ryan could not compare with the original with Joan Crawford and Norma Shearer.
But then the casting in the old black and white movies seemed to make a lot of sense to me and stars had star power.
The recent adaptation of "Mildred Pierce" made me long to see the original with Joan Crawford.
Kate Winslet did a fine job but the movie was stretched to five hours to include gratuitous sex and a lot of angst. However, the movie version was a tidy two hour story in which Joan Crawford was able to convince us of her obsessive love for her daughter and she won an Oscar to boot.
Miracle on 34th Street was another remake that I could not embrace only because in the original movie Natalie Wood had such a command of her wordly wise portrayal of a little girl not wanting to be convinced that there was a real Santa in that department store.
There many attempts at recreation but the money factor and the box office draw sways the casting.
I like Jennifer Garner but I fear she may not be the ideal choice for her new role.

Worst casting ever: Larry Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr played in the movie “Burglar” by Whoppi Goldberg. Even for someone with her immense talent playing a middle-aged white guy was a stretch. Roughly equivalent to doing a remake of “All in the Family” and casting Chris Rock as Archie Bunker.

Alan - I am going to pretend I never heard that Casablanca rumor. Because - no kidding- that kind of thing could put me right over the edge this month.

Karen and Nancy, I used to think of Sandra Bullock as Deborah.

Marie, I was never a huge Joan Crawford fan, but I thought she was excellent in "The Women."

Still don't understand Hollywood's need to remake movies that were nearly perfect the first time around. Another "Casablanca"? Why?

Haven't seen the new "True Grit," but not sure I want to, so y'all needn't rush in and tell me how wonderful Jeff Bridges is.

Ooh, Margaret, I can see SB as the judge. Easily. She actually has an accent, too.

I don't think I've ever seen the original True Grit, but since Nancy Martin talked about the book (I think it was Nancy) in such glowing terms I sprung for the newly reissued version. What a wonderful book it is, too. If the movie is as faithful to the original text as they say it is, it can't help but be great.

Marie, I'm going to agree with everything you said, however I thought that the 1993 Gillian Armstrong version of Little Women was nigh on perfect. I might not have cast Gabriel Byrne as Professor Bhaer -- too young, not Bhaerish enough -- but everything else was grand.

Not even Helen Mirren could save the "Arthur" remake this weekend.

I did love the BBC's modern Sherlock, but I think Miss Marple should be older. She has accumulated an understanding of human nature that only comes from living a long time.

After watching THE LINCOLN LAWYER recently with 2 other Michael Connelly fans, there were opposite opinions of Matthew McConaughey as Haller. I thought he was just sleezy enough.

Definite no to Jennifer Garner. Miss Marple needed wisdom and years of observing human nature. She saw so much because older women are invisible and she was dismissed as an old tabby. Actually, an old pussy, but that word has another meaning.
Jennifer is a horrible miscast. Still, I'll watch at least one episode -- it will be like watching a train wreck.

I was indeed the one crowing about True Grit. The John Wayne movie was never my cuppa. The new one is excellent--closer to the book. (And the new Maddie Ross is actually the right age and smart, not a twenty-something playing brain damaged.)

Jennifer Garner was very good in Juno, so she has more depth than most people probably think. I say give her a shot.

If somebody makes Casabalanca with Nicolas Cage, though, I'm moving to Canada.

I do like Jennifer Garner very much, although I can't see a young person as Miss Marple. I think I'd like to see someone like Patricia Routledge from "Keeping Up Appearances", or Judi Dench, or someone else in that age group. Margaret Rutherford is my all-time favorite Miss Marple!

Recently I saw "All About Eve" again for the first time in a very long time. I totally agree about Ann Baxter being wrong for her part! Watching it was very much a "what's wrong with this picture?" sort of experience.

Minor hijack: Just wanted to wave to Brunonia, and let you know how much I'm already enjoying Map of True Places, two chapters in. You had me hooked from the first sentence.

Reine, did you know some of the action in this one takes place in Marblehead? I've been thinking of you and Cornelia while reading.

Karen, oh yes I could see Marblehead in The Lace Reader, too - Peach's Point and the lighthouse, especially. A Header can't miss it. Marblehead Forever.

But back to Jennifer. I just think if the new Miss Marple turns out to be good, It will be good. But will it be Miss Marple?

Its a shame Burt Reynolds didn't get the part in The Shining. Jack butchered it. And Shelly Duval...SHELLY DUVAL???? Please.

PSSST! Hey, Nancy Martin is visiting over at "Everybody Needs A Little Romance" blog today!

Pam - I agree, The Shining was ruined by Jack and Shelly. Although she did make a really good Olive Oyl . . .

Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum, huh, doesn't quite work for me. I hope she realizes that Stephanie is not a toothpick and gains some weight. The last movie I saw her in she looked positively frail.

But if not Anne Baxter in the Eve role,Deb, then who? I know Baxter was wrong, but who would have been right?
One remake that felt better the second time around to me was "The Parent Trap." I liked Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid much better than Maureen O'Hara and Brian Kelly and it breaks my heart that Lindsay Lohan didn't turn out like the Jodie Foster I thought she could have been. She showed so much talent in "Parent Trap."

Who instead of Baxter in "All About Eve"? I don't know - I'm scouring my brain for the actresses of that age group back then. She was a good actress, but not in that particular part, I think. I may just need to watch it again and try to come up with another actress! (A friend gave me a bunch of videos when she got rid of her VCR, and that movie was one of them.)

I didn't realize that there would definitely be Stephanie Plum movies! I don't think I would have EVER come up with Heigl in the role. Um, I'll have to think about this one... Maybe Renee Zellweger, because in my opinion, she can do ANYTHING. She amazes me every single time.

Reine, I can see that you REALLY liked that anagram thing the other day! (So says "Oh dear me! Arrogant Rambo.)

And Brunonia: I was heartbroken to see that I missed you in CT recently! I didn't know that you were here until a week after the fact.

Since apparently nobody else noticed ...

That was George Reeves as the '50s Superman, not Steve (aka Hercules).
The lumpyness was caused by the foam-rubber "muscles" that old George had to wear.
Fun show, though ...

One of my all-time favorite bad movies was Roger Corman's "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" from 1967.

This movie was like the Miscasting Olympiad.
Even now, I get a kick out of Paul Frees's stentorian narration, meticulously noting the birth dates of the various gangland figures.
Fun game for viewers:
The picture is set in 1929. As Frees notes each birth date, do the math in your head.
Take note of the fact that everybody in the movie is between 10 to 15 years too old for the character he's playing.
As for my favorite casting misteak of all time, it has to be Jason Robards as Al Capone. Watching Robards trying to act fat is a transcendent moment in American cinema.

Margaret, I loved the "Parent Trap" remake also.

Watching TCM as I do I learn a lot facts including the tidbit that John Wayne was considered for the Bing Crosby role in "Going My Way".

I always thought that Jimmy Stewart was such a versatile actor playing the besotted in "The Philadelphia Story" and so many heart tugging roles during his career. I am happy that we live in an age where it is possible to compare a century of wonderful movies.

The CASABLANCA rumor floats up every few years. Sean Penn was offered the world for it back in the late 90's, and his response was, "You don't f*** with a classic." I started to respect him over that.

THE SHINING was a travesty. Nicholson was a wackjob from the opening scene. The TV mini-series was far superior. Steven Weber played a normal guy going over the edge, Rebecca DeMornay was surprisingly good. It's on DVD, go and get it!

There's only on Superman for some of us, and yes, it's George Reeves. Although after rediscovering the series on DVDs, I have to wonder why Superman would stand tall and let six bullets hit him... but when the bad guy threw the gun at him, Superman ducked. Probably afraid it would ricochet back on the bad guy with lethal force or something. Yeah, that's what it was...:)

Mia Wasikowska - as Eve Harrington? Maybe? She looks innocent... wicked enough, though?

Deb, hahaha yes... I'd better be careful with that one or risk getting sent back to the forest.

Margaret, I admit I became a fan of Joan Crawford in my later years.
When I was a child my mother and father and myself took a driving trip to Syracuse New York. We stayed at a Tourist Home and to pass the time we walked down the street to see "Sudden Fear" with Joan Crawford. My mother was a huge fan and this movie was not to be missed.
We got back to the house and there was no cot for me so we fashioned a bed out of two chairs facing each other. I was already scared after seeing the movie but I woke up in the night on the makeshift bed and broke out into a cold sweat. Joan had that effect on me as did Barbara Stanwyck on the radio version of "Sorry Wrong Number." I could not reach for the pull chain for the light above my bed for months after.

Miss Marple is "of a certain age" part of her harmless, knitting in the corner, persona . . .
I don't remember a mention of Hermione being chubby, though -- wild hair, yes . .

The remake of "A Star is Born" with Barbra Streisand never touched me as did the Judy Garland version.
Here, in my humble opinion are two giant and talented stars but Judy Garland seem to personify her role with poignancy that Streisand could not capture. Yet Barbra totally affected me in "The Way We Were." It is probably subjective but sometimes the heart is touched in different ways.

George Reeves! Thanks for the correction, Mike. I always did get those two mixed up. For the record, it's George, aka blubbery Superman, who rests in our local Springrove Cemetery.

What an interesting blog. I love hearing these stories about what might have been different with our favorite movies. And if they'd still have been our favorites.

I like Sandra Bullock as Deborah. Can I pick Dwight? )

You are right Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum is a travesty. If we have to have a Grey's Anatomy person for Stephanie, the girl that plays Lexie would make a much better one.
As for Miss Marple...no Jennifer Garner. I will have to think on who/whom would be better.

Another vote for Stephanie Plum: Kelly Monaco, who was on Dancing with the Stars twice, and plays a PI on General Hospital. She's just the right type, although just a teensy bit too skinny. But she has that vulnerability needed to play Stephanie.

I do like the girl who plays Lexie, though. Never thought of her! She's be perfect.

As for Miss Marple, Maggie Smith would be great.

Laura, yes! Who do you see as Dwight? I've never come up with an actor myself.

Margaret, how about Harry Connick, Jr? He and Sandra have insane chemistry together.

Not sure about Harry as Dwight, though I love him, and he's got the southern thing going. I picture Dwight as a little less classically handsome - but if we're going with gorgeous, Matthew McConaughey, Tim McGraw, Timothy Olyphant....

What about Dennis Quaid? Any votes for him?

who was a marvelous song-and-dance man long before he played Jed Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies

I'm going to get a little closer to current movie mishaps, lay it out here and YELL that casting Tom Cruise, (who is great in movies about fast cars or planes or motorcycles but cannot do an accent to save his life) as Lestat in 'Interview with the Vampire' is perhaps the worst miscasting ever, dead or undead. I don't buy him, French, blond, or showing the depth Lestat has outside of Louis' strained perceptions of him.
Second would have to be Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux-- the lovely but petite Charlize, with her face ever-so-rounded even after starvation to get rail thin, just could not BE the hapless, quirky, ridiculously lanky long black-clad chick we all watched swashing her way through Bondian intrigues late at night. It was worse than Peter Jackson casting a White Horse as Shadowfax.
But don't let get me started on those movies...

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