Jack Ryan

Cast Off

The Best and Worst Recast Movie Roles

Catch Patriot Games this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

In an era of blockbuster continuity, where every movie is just a set up for the next one, and the next, and the one after that, recasting a part comes with a lot of bellyaching. With a new actor stepping in, we’re just reminded how we aren’t really in a far away galaxy, or battling aliens with The Avengers. But sometimes recasting a part is just what a franchise needs. Before you catch Patriot Games this month on IFC, check out some of the best and worst recast roles in movie history.


Best: Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhal, The Batman franchise

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

After the Day-Glo disco nightmare that was Batman & Robin, Batman Begins was a revelation. A back-to-basics success that told us how Bruce Wayne became Gotham’s hero, Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster employed a real world approach that forever changed the superhero genre. The casting in particular was spot on, with a who’s who of acting royalty filling out the ensemble. Oh, and also Joey from Dawson’s Creek. Katie Holmes was in way over her head, trying to hold her own with Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Christian “Stay out of my sight-line” Bale.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

By the time The Dark Knight rolled around three years later, everyone was invited back except for the ex-wife of Operating Thetan III Tom Cruise, who was replaced with Maggie Gyllenhaal. The part was beefed up as well, now that it had a Golden Globe-winning actress behind it and not the star of First Daughter. With no weak links, The Dark Knight went on to become the gold standard of superhero movies.


Worst: Wesley Snipes to Omar Epps, Major League movies

Morgan Creek Entertainment

Morgan Creek Entertainment

There was a time, before the endless Blade sequels and tax troubles, when Wesley Snipes was as electric a movie star as you were likely to come across. He could be your leading man, or do character work. He could do probing dramas or wacky comedies. He could give you Jungle Fever or prove that White Men Can’t Jump. In the comedy classic Major League, he got to chew the scenery as Wille Mays Hayes, a faster-than-lightning ballplayer who couldn’t get a hit from a tee-ball.

Omar Epps Major League II

Morgan Creek

But when the cast was redrafted for Major League II, Snipes had become a major star, and refused to slip back into the uniform. Omar Epps, an up-and-coming star in his own right, was brought on board. And while Epps had a lot of talents, Hayes’ quick wit and flashy personality were a far cry from the grumpy doctor he would become famous playing on House M.D. He wasn’t horrible. He was just a pale copy of the original.


Worst: Anthony Michael Hall and Dana Barron to Jason Lively and Dana Hill, The Vacation movies

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

Anthony Michael Hall more than held his own with a prime Chevy Chase in the original Vacation, and surely would have only grown in the role if he’d returned for the sequels. But after blowing up with a string of classic ’80s comedies, his career was too hot to join the Griswolds on their European Vacation. Minus one star, this led to the odd choice of bringing actor Jason Lively on board, who would go on to appear in such classics as Maximum Force and Return to Zork. Even worse, the perfectly deadpan Dana Barron was swapped with the whiny Dana Hill in the Audrey role. Somehow the filmmakers thought we wouldn’t notice if they cast a different actor with the same first name.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Thankfully the franchise bounced back with the addition of Johnny Galecki, Ethan Embry and Juliette Lewis, who all got their turn as malcontent Griswolds. But European Vacation is still considered to be the black sheep of the Vacation films, due in no small part to Fake Rusty and Fake Audrey.


Worst: Jodie Foster to Julianne Moore, The Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal

Orion Pictures

Orion Pictures

Julianne Moore is one of the finest actresses working in film, but sometimes a part is so defined by a specific performer, no one can fill their shoes. You don’t bring in Christopher Atkins to play Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. You don’t hire Vin Diesel to play Rocky Balboa. And you don’t replace Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, her most iconic part.

MGM/Universal

MGM/Universal

The fact that Hannibal is a far weaker movie than Silence of the Lambs in virtually every way just exasperated the already obvious problem. Even Anthony Hopkins recently expressed regret that he revisited Dr. Lecter in the movie, so perhaps they all should have just left good enough alone.


Worst: Kathleen Cauley to Jennifer Smith to Jessie Cave, Harry Potter films

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

The recasting of Lavender Brown from The Chamber of Secrets to Prisoner of Azkaban to Half-Blood Prince is notable for one very particular, and uncomfortable reason. When Brown first appeared in Secrets, she was Black British. She popped up again in Azkaban, played by a different actress, but still Black British. It was only when the part was expanded on later in the series, that a new, notably whiter actress was cast to play the part.

Now, it’s understandable that Jennifer Smith was replaced. Going off of her IMDB page, she acted neither before nor after her one, dialogue-less role in Azkaban. A more accomplished actress was obviously required to fight for the future of wizard kind, but after two movies of being black, the fact that she was recast lily white to have a romance with Ron Wealsey certainly raised some eyebrows. There may have been other, more concrete reasons a new actress was brought on board (the role was originally a non-speaking background character assigned the name Lavender Brown), but the uncomfortable quality of this recasting lands it squarely on the worst list.


Best: Alec Baldwin to Harrison Ford, The Jack Ryan movies

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

In many ways, Alec Baldwin in a national treasure. He can tear up the screen in a Scorsese movie, and then get downright goofy hosting SNL. He is a man of immense talent, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would rather watch an action movie starring him than Harrison Ford.  After Star Wars and Indiana Jones, Ford proved himself to be perhaps the biggest movie star of his generation. When Baldwin played hard to get for the Hunt for Red October sequel, the script slid Ford’s way, and Baldwin found himself minus one franchise.

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

While Red October is a solid film, Ford helped bring Jack Ryan front and center for the more action-packed Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Baldwin would rebound as an in-demand character actor, but Ford would take the franchise to new, finger wagging heights.


Worst: Linda Hamilton to Emilia Clarke, Terminator franchise

Tristar Pictures

Tristar Pictures

Emilia Clarke may be the mother of dragons, but she proved she couldn’t hold a candle to Linda Hamilton when it came to playing mother of the resistance Sarah Conner. Hamilton, who originated the role in 1984’s Terminator, as a nervous waitress in over her head, proved a revelation when she rebuilt herself into a killing machine for the 1991 sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Paramount

Paramount

 

By the time Clarke found her way to the role in oddly spelled 2015’s Terminator Genisys, Sarah Conner had already been rebooted once on television, but had sat dormant on the big screen for more than twenty years. Sadly, her take on the part wasn’t much of a take at all. She wore the tank top, but failed to bring any of the hard-ass gravitas to the role.Genisys was a letdown in every way possible, but the fact that it exposed Khaleesi’s limited acting range was perhaps its most unforgivable sin.


Best: Elaine Baker and Clive Revill to Ian McDiarmid, Star Wars movies

When the time came, in The Empire Strikes Back, for the wicked Emperor to make an appearance, makeup guru Rick Baker did what anyone would do. He cast his wife in the part, superimposed chimpanzee eyes over her face, and had actor Clive Revill dub in the lines. That’s just common sense.

Lucas Films

Lucas Films

When Return of the Jedi rolled around a few years later, it was clear the same approach would not work for the much-expanded part, and Ian McDiarmid was cast. His deliciously evil interpretation of the Sith lord became iconic, unfortunately to such an extent that famous noodler George Lucas went back and inserted him in the 2004 Empire DVD release. While we were sad to see the more DIY approach to the Emperor banished from the Star Wars movies, there can be no doubt that McDiarmid created one of the all-time great screen villains.


Worst: Bill Murray to Dan Aykroyd, Caddyshack II

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Look, we love Dan Aykroyd. Who doesn’t? From Blue Brothers to Ghostbusters, he’s been behind some of the all-time great comedies. But signing on to a sinking ship like Caddyshack II, whose sole reason for being was to use the catchphrase “The Shack is Back,” seems like an incredibly shortsighted idea.

Keep in mind, every original cast member, save Chevy Chase, wanted nothing to do with this movie, and cowriter Harold Ramis fought to have his name taken off of it. While Aykroyd doesn’t technically play the same character that Murray created in the original, a name change can’t hide that the part was clearly written for “The Murricane,” and switched around during a last second scramble. If a movie could have flop sweat, this travesty would be soaking wet. Aykroyd would go on to many more successes, but wading in Murray’s wake through this flop did him no favors.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.