Exploring why casting directors make such strange choices for movies
An amazing director, writing, sets, and music are all things that make a movie great. If all those things are perfect, then the movie will be great, right? Well, not if the casting choices are awful. Why do certain movies get people who are completely wrong for the roles they are cast in? That’s a question I am trying to find the answer to.
Take the upcoming Super Mario Bros. movie, which cast Chris Pratt as the voice actor for Mario. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Chris Pratt was a gem at one point in time, and he was the perfect casting choice for Starlord in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, but this choice feels all wrong. The last thing I can imagine is Pratt doing an Italian accent. When I heard the news about the film, my first thought was, what were they thinking? The name Chris Pratt stirs up many emotions in people, some think he is this lovable guy, and others were not pleased with his church connection, alleging they promote anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. However, his popularity and relevance cannot be denied.
I think that Hollywood is aware of the media attention a big name like Chris Pratt will bring to the movie. In that case, I think this casting move was a cash grab, and now that there is controversy over the choice, based upon his controversial affiliations, which will just draw more attention to the film. This is a cheap attempt at garnering buzz for the movie which, alongside the awful casting choice, will get people to watch it. But despite all of these reasons, part of me wants to see the movie just to observe how Pratt fairs in the role.
Aside from an actor’s outward persona, their looks can often take precedence over their acting skills. One example is Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a sci-fi movie released in 2017, which had one of the most amazing visual scenes I have seen in a long time. And I had high hopes that it would be a good allround move. Sadly, however, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne cast as the leads, was about all the movie had going for it.
First off, when I saw the leads, I thought they looked like brother and sister, which was an odd choice because they are supposed to be love interests. They lacked any connection, which was unfortunate, because otherwise cute lines like “I’ll delete my playlist for you” became nothing more than a cringe-fest. It seemed like the studio wanted two individually attractive people, which seemed to outweigh the problem of their sibling-like appearance. I kept asking myself if there truly was no one better for this role. Interestingly enough, DeHaan wasn’t all that popular at the time of the movie’s release. The studio should have focused more on acting capabilities, rather than how many heart eyes they could get from people watching.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was arguably one of the worst movies of 2016. It was a complete recipe for disaster from the writing alone. I mean, we all remember that Martha scene… However, the worst part in my opinion was choosing Jesse Eisenberg to play the role of Lex Luthor. Now, I like Jesse Eisenberg, but not to play such a cool villain. His vibe is more of a shy, quiet kid, and not that of a criminal mastermind. He is a good actor, but again, his name has a lot of buzz around it, so I am not surprised he was cast. Also, DC has made some pretty awful choices for actors in the past, so it wasn’t much of a shock that they made such a terrible choice. His performance was forced, and it was just a boatload of awkwardness. It seemed like DC was still in their “let’s beat Marvel” phase, so they tried to shove as many big names on screen as they could. I think they tried to overload the movie with talented actors to try and garner some love for the movie, but most people I have spoken to agree that Jesse Eisenberg had no place in the movie at all.
While I am no casting director, I do think that money and namesake sometimes outweigh talent or fit for the role, which is a shame. I find myself wondering what the point of having casting directors is if anyone, no matter how mismatched, can get a role based on name and fame alone.
Photograph Collage by Kit Mergaert