15 Stars We Thought Were Miscast But Nailed Their Roles

Miscast actors have the potential to bring down a film with great promise. We, as moviegoers, ask why they were placed into a role when they seem so out of place?

Yet sometimes, an actor with no business being in a particular movie can elevate it to something great.  This is a list of actors initially thought to be miscast, only to kill it in their performance. 

Jim Carrey – The Truman Show

The Truman Show
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

While we know today that Carrey is more than capable of delivering dramatic performances in movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he was best known for his comedic work in the 90s.   The release of The Truman Show showcases Carrey’s incredible range, and he delivers a home run performance. 

John Travolta – Pulp Fiction

John Travolta - Pulp Fiction
Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

It’s silly to consider that there was a time when John Travolta’s career was in question. But that was the case leading to the release of Pulp Fiction in the early 90s.  The Tarantino classic breathed life into Travolta’s career and helped launch him back into superstardom. 

Patrick Warburton – Lemony Snicket

Patrick Warburton - Lemony Snicket
Photo Credit: Netflix.

One issue with adapting novels to film is how they’re at odds with a reader’s imagination. Likewise, a casting choice can sometimes be at odds with how readers visualize characters.  Yet Warburton’s portrayal of Snicket as cool and savvy proves that this was a perfect casting choice. 

Rob Lowe – Parks and Recreation

Rob Lowe - Parks and Recreation
Photo Credit: NBC Universal.

Many filmgoers recognize Rob Lowe as an actor portraying a cool, confident villain, such as in Tommy Boy and Wayne’s World.   Parks and Recreation’s Chris Traeger, an optimistic health nut, wouldn’t seem like something in Lowe’s wheelhouse. Yet the actor absolutely kills the role. 

Leslie Neilsen – Airplane!

Leslie Neilsen - Airplane!
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

It’s hard to imagine a world where Leslie Nielsen isn’t seen as a comedic actor.  Yet before the release of Airplane! his roles were primarily dramatic. 

Bruce Willis – Die Hard

Die Hard
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Willis is best known for being an action star, but before the release of Die Hard, people thought he was miscast as John McClane.  Willis had primarily starred in romantic comedies. It reached a point where he was removed from the film’s poster. 

Alan Rickman – Die Hard

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Similarly, Rickman wasn’t the first choice to play villain Hans Gruber.  A relative unknown at the time, it was thought no one would take Rickman seriously. 

Keanu Reeves – The Matrix

Keanu Reeves - The Matrix
Photo Credit:
Warner Bros.

While Reeves wasn’t a stranger to action movies, a film like The Matrix wasn’t in Keanu’s wheelhouse.  Yet his performance as Neo proved everyone wrong, and it’s hard to imagine anyone but Reeves in the role. 

Robert Pattinson – The Batman

Robert Pattinson - The Batman
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Edward Cullen as Bruce Wayne? Some scoffed at the idea, but Pattinson’s performance in The Batman proved the haters wrong.  His turn as a more detective-style Batman impressed audiences, and we can’t wait to see how he does in the sequel. 

John Lithgow – Dexter

John Lithgow - Dexter
Photo Credit: Showtime Networks.

Many grew up watching Lithgow as a loveable goofball alien in 3rd Rock From The Sun. While nobody doubts his range and talent, many doubted if he could stand toe to toe with Dexter Morgan.  As it turns out, the answer is yes, he absolutely can. 

Chris Evans – Captain America

Chris Evans - Captain America
Photo Credit: Marvel.

This wasn’t the first time Evans starred in a superhero movie. He played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies.  Those films left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans. Many doubted if Evans could step into Captain America’s shoes. But, as it turns out, those fears were unwarranted. 

Daniel Craig – James Bond and Knives Out

Daniel Craig - James Bond and Knives Out
Photo Credit: Netflix.

We’re double dipping here with Daniel Craig. First, there was the controversy over his casting as James Bond, or as the doubters said, “James Blonde.” Then there was his casting as Benoit Blanc in Knives Out. Bond was one thing, but could Craig pull off a Southern detective? As it turns out, yes, he can. 

Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Critics and fans universally panned the Academy Award-winning performance at the time of Ledger’s casting. Teenage heartthrob playing the Joker? Surely they must be joking.  It turns out we were the ones that were joking. 

Bryan Cranston – Breaking Bad

Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Photo Credit: AMC.

Cranston was no stranger to television when he was cast as Walter White. He played Tim Whatley on Seinfeld and started as Hal in Malcolm in the Middle. But Walter White is nothing like those characters. Yet now it’s impossible to imagine Breaking Bad without Cranston. 

Dave Bautista – Guardians of the Galaxy

Dave Bautista - Guardians of the Galaxy
Photo Credit: Marvel Studios.

In his heyday, Bautista was a popular wrestler in WWE, but leading into the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, many doubted he could pull off the role of Drax.  Now, several movies and a Christmas special later, he’s arguably the best part of the Marvel franchise.

Read More From Us – 17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

The Fugutive
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.


Never judge a book by its cover. You can say the same about movies.

Some of our favorite films are the ones we went into with no expectations. Despite this, they blew us away from start to finish.

17 Movies With Zero Expectations That Blew Us Away

Read More From Us – Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

The 80s was an incredible time for film. From award-winning cinema to hilarious comedies and everything in between, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

Thankfully, many of these 80s movies still hold up today. I regularly find myself watching these beloved 80s movies more often than modern cinema.

Classic 80s Movies Better Than Anything Released Today

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