x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Casting off

Robert Pattinson as Kurt Cobain? It could happen; film history is littered with equally unlikely casting choices.

It has been reported that Robert Pattinson could play Kurt Cobain in a forthcoming film.
It has been reported that Robert Pattinson could play Kurt Cobain in a forthcoming film.

The rock singer Courtney Love can't always be relied upon for sound words, but a report that the Twilight actor Robert Pattinson could play Kurt Cobain in a new film led her to declare the casting choice "stupid". Just days before, the lantern-jawed British actor was hotly tipped to play the Nirvana frontman and ex-husband of Love, who shot himself in 1994. It was also reported that the actress Scarlett Johansson would star opposite Pattinson as the troubled Hole frontwoman. Although this proposed biopic seems to have stalled before it got off the ground, many films with even poorer casting choices have made it to the screen.

While shooting the original Star Trek series, Shatner took a role in the western White Comanche. In a farcical casting decision, the Canadian actor played a pair of Native American brothers; Johnny and Notah Moon. When one betrays his people, the two Shatners get an opportunity to bare their chests and fight each other.

Many things were wrong with the 1990s remake of Hitchcock's classic horror film Psycho, but nothing more so than the casting of the funnyman Vaughn as one of the creepiest characters in cinema. After comedy success in Swingers two years earlier, the actor was clearly clueless about how to attack the dramatic roll and ended up just looking sweaty and awkward.

From the Godfather to Superman's dad Jor-El, Brando could turn his hand to almost any roll, but playing a Japanese villager in 1956's The Teahouse of the August Moon proved a serious challenge for the method actor. He spent two months studying Japanese culture, language and mannerisms and spent hours in make-up each day, but the end result was still ridiculous.

Some actresses have period faces, some do not. While Angelina Jolie looks at home in the 1920s and Helena Bonham Carter wears period frocks with incredible grace; Cameron Diaz will always look like a Californian surfer chick. Her muddy-faced New York pickpocket in Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York didn't convince anybody.

The Irish badboy actor's casting as the blonde Macedonian warlord in Oliver Stone's Alexander never really made sense and goes some way to explaining the film's poor box office performance. Farrell usually looks like he's acting through the fog of a late one the night before, which wasn't a good look for one of the greatest military tacticians in history.

When it comes to Bond girls, casting the latest hot actress can be more important than creating a believable character. In 1999's The World is Not Enough, we come across the regular girl-next-door Richards in Azerbaijan, dismantling nuclear warheads. Although brains and beauty are the perfect combination for a Bond girl, the actress proved she was only capable of the latter.

In what is often described as the worst casting decision of all time, the cowboy extraordinaire John Wayne donned a moustache and pointy hat to play the infamous Mongol in the 1956 film The Conqueror. The Howard Hughes-produced movie was a critical and commercial failure and is also thought to have been responsible for exposing several of its cast (including Wayne) to potentially lethal doses of radiation - it was filmed 137 miles downwind of a United States government nuclear testing site.