10 Movie Performances Way Better Than They Had Any Right To Be

Sometimes, unexpected works...

Michael Keaton Batman Heath Ledger Joker
Warner Bros

One of the greatest frustrations with modern cinema - among those who like to complain no matter how many great movies come out - is that it's all very safe. Originality now comes at a premium as adaptations and sequels dominate the top of the box office and threaten to strangle creativity like knotweed.

But then, gambling isn't the kind of thing that share-holders tend to appreciate - particularly when there are so many examples of "visionaries" shooting for the sun and ending up with burnt wings and massive financial holes. So it's no wonder we don't see much left-field thinking in the biggest films.

Then again, though, gambles can work and particularly when it comes to "stunt casting". Even when fans balk at the casting or there's some other reason to think it shouldn't work, the results can be surprising. Sometimes the planets align and things you swear could never work end up capturing lightning in a bottle and being disarmingly brilliant...

10. Mickey Rourke - The Wrestler

The Wrestler Mickey Rourke
Fox Searchlight

Why It Shouldn't Have Worked

Because Mickey Rourke's acting career was done. He might have had a resurgence of sorts thanks to Sin City in 2005, but the majority of his career had been defined more by the roles that he had turned down and his own private life than any screen work.

Even after Sin City, he went quiet for a couple of years and he only got the lead in The Wrestler in October 2007 when Nic Cage resigned (just four months before shooting started). And he'd already turned it down once by the time he signed on. So it wasn't like the stars had exactly aligned.

But Then...

Rourke killed it, bringing a fragility and emotional depth to the character that married with his physicality in a way that almost captured the same quiet, affectionate feel that Vin Diesel brought to the Iron Giant and later Groot. It's easily the stand-out performance of his career and the fact that he's done so little of note since suggests just how much of a surprise it all was.

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Executive Editor

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