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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

JaniceAndJeffrey_106_MPX-1920x1080

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

geowash_flat

Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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