The Most Controversial Casting Decisions Of All Time

Casting can be a tricky process. When it’s done right, and an actor and a role mesh together perfectly, everything can look so seamless. When it’s done wrong, the whole world notices.

All of the casting choices on this list were controversial, some justifiably so, and some not so much. These are the most controversial casting decisions ever.

John Wayne As Genghis Khan

Hollywood has seen a lot of racist casting, but perhaps none of those instances were as wrong as John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. Wayne somehow managed to turn Genghis Khan into a good ol’ cowboy type.

Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Wayne even agreed that the part wasn’t meant for him, saying it’s best not to make a fool of yourself “trying to play parts you’re not suited for.”

Zoe Saldana As Nina Simone

People weren’t too happy about Zoe Saldana’s casting as Nina Simone in Nina. A lot of Nina Simone fans thought that Zoe wasn’t dark enough to play the iconic role.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media
Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Relativity Media

They took to Twitter to express their outrage and even started #BlackBiopics to talk about more unsuitable casting choices in cinema.

Johnny Depp As Willy Wonka

Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka was… interesting to say the least. This was definitely a controversial casting decision. Tim Burton has cast Johnny Depp in almost every single one of his movies, so really we shouldn’t have been surprised.

Photo Credit: L. Cohen/WireImage
Photo Credit: L. Cohen/WireImage

Depp’s Michael Jackson inspired Wonka divided fans. As far as I’m concerned, Johnny Depp, Imma let you finish, but Gene Wilder was the greatest Wonka of all time. Keep reading for another Johnny Depp faux pas.

Idris Alba As Heimdall

Kenneth Branagh’s decision to cast Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thorbrought Marvel’s race issue to the forefront of people’s minds. Apparently, there are a lot of racist comic book nerds out there who are disguising their prejudice as a need for authenticity.

Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Elba gave us one of the best Marvel performances ever, so hopefully, fans will remember that next time they get their panties in a bunch over an actor who isn’t the same color as their comic book counterpart.

Heath Ledger As The Joker

Batman fans underestimated the late, great Heath Ledger. Before Christopher Nolan cast him in The Dark Knight, most people knew Ledger as that handsome guy from 10 Things I Hate About You.

Photo Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

They didn’t think that he had the acting chops or the psychological depth to take on the role of The Joker. Boy did he prove everybody wrong.

Johnny Depp As Tonto

Johnny Depp is back at it again with the controversial casting. In Disney’s The Lone Ranger, Depp tried to reimagine Tonto’s relationship with the Lone Ranger himself.

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Everything about his performance fell flat, including his reliance on offensive cultural stereotypes. Disney has a long history of messing with native American culture (have you seen Peter Pan?). You’d think they’d at least try to hire a Native American actor…

Everybody In The Last Airbender

M. Night Shyamalan really did a number on this one. It’s almost like he was trying to make an entire fandom angry. For some reason, he felt the need to change the race of an entire group of people.

Photo Credit: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images

Although every character in the original cartoon is of Asian descent, almost all of the live action cast was white. It didn’t help that the movie sort of sucked also. I don’t know why they had to mess with a good thing.

Mickey Rooney As Mr. Yunioshi

Speaking of Asian characters, things don’t get much more racist than Mickey Rooney as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images

He plays a full-fledged Asian stereotype complete with buck teeth, gigantic glasses, squinted eyes, and a horrible accent. I don’t know who thought this was a good idea, but they should have been fired immediately.

Michael Keaton As Batman

Batman fans are very opinionated people. When they heard that Michael Keaton was going to play The Caped Crusader, they were more than a little disturbed.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Before Batman, Keaton was known as a comedic actor. Of course, Keaton played the part beautifully, and now all those nerds feel really bad about ever doubting him. There are a lot more controversial Batmans on this list. Keep reading to find out who they are.

Mos Def As Ford Prefect

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy had fans up in arms about a bunch of its casting choices, but none more so than Mos Def as Ford Prefect.

Photo Credit: Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Nicholas Hunt / Getty Images

I thought Mos Def made a great alien, but some other people weren’t so convinced. Probably because Ford isn’t black in the source material… but he isn’t a human either, so those people don’t really have much of an argument.

Ben Affleck As Batman

It seems like Batman fans are never happy. Why can’t they just learn to go with the flow? If one Batman doesn’t work out, you know there will be another one just a few years later.

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

It’s no surprise that people were skeptical about Affleck’s casting, but can he really be worse than George Clooney?

Gal Gadot As Wonder Woman

Twitter had a hissy fit when Gal Gadot was announced as the new Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. People attacked everything from her looks, to her fitness, to her body of work.

Photo Credit: Victor Chavez/WireImage
Photo Credit: Victor Chavez/WireImage

I think the Wonder Woman film proved the haters wrong, but I guess haters are going to hate no matter what.

Dakota Johnson As Anastasia Steele

Fifty Shades of Grey fans weren’t having it when Dakota Johnson was announced as the shy yet daring Anastasia Steele. A lot of people thought that Alexis Bledel would have been a better choice.

Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

As much as I love Alexis Bledel, I don’t want to see Rory Gilmore in any kind of BDSM situation. Her role in The Handmaid’s Tale was scarring enough.

Jennifer Lawrence As Katniss Everdeen

To a point, Jennifer Lawrence understood why fans were upset that she was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. She was a fan of the series too, and she knew that people just wanted the movie to live up to the book series.

Photo Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage
Photo Credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage

We draw the line at body shaming, though. Some people thought that J. Law didn’t look “hungry” enough. That’s just too annoying to even respond to.

Scarlett Johansson In… A Bunch Of Stuff

People are really mad about Scarlett Johansson’s acting roles these days. First, she was cast to play an Asian character in Ghost in the Shell. Really? Could producers not find a ready and willing Asian actress anywhere?

Photo Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Recently she faced more criticism because she announced that she would be playing a trans man in an upcoming film. It looks like Scarlett learned her lesson because she decided to listen to her critics and drop out of the movie.

Sofia Coppola As Mary Corleone

After Winona Ryder dropped out of The Godfather series, Francis Ford Coppola decided to cast his own daughter as Mary Corleone in The Godfather: Part III.

Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Chanel
Photo Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Chanel

Nobody was happy with this decision. Sofia’s performance basically secured her fate as someone who works behind the camera rather than in front of it.

Daniel Craig As James Bond

Daniel Craig had to endure a bunch of media scrutiny when he was cast as the titular character in the reboot of the James Bond franchise. Fans didn’t think that he had the looks or the attitude to play James Bond.

Photo Credit: Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gonzalo Marroquin/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Lucky for us, Craig turned out to be the best James Bond since Sean Connery.

Anne Hathaway As Catwoman

I really don’t understand all of the hate for Anne Hathaway. This woman is beautiful and talented. What’s not to like?

Photo Credit: Vera Anderson/WireImage
Photo Credit: Vera Anderson/WireImage

When she was announced as Selina Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises, some fans threatened to boycott the film. Of course, Hathaway took it all in stride and delivered a stellar performance.

Jennifer Lopez As Selena Quintanilla

Critics weren’t so thrilled when Jennifer Lopez got the role of beloved singer Selena Quintanilla in a biopic about Selena’s tragic life. Some people even protested this casting decision.

Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

In the end, all the haters were proven wrong, and Selena became one of J. Lo’s standout performances.

Topher Grace As Venom

Ok, I don’t know what the casting directors for Spider-Man were thinking on this one. This is one of those rare cases where the fanboys were actually right. Venom is one of the most popular Spider-man villains.

Photo Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage
Photo Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Nobody wanted to see him played by Eric from That ’70s Show.