Tom Cruise Cover

Oftentimes, casting an actor can be an easy job. You want scenery-chewing? Visit Daniel Day-Lewis. You want stern Britishness? Judi Dench is your woman. Need a nutcase, stat? Jackie Earl Haley’s on standby. Really, it could not be any easier for casting directors – if they want somebody who’s neurotic, you can bet damn sure that there’s an actor out there who’s got a reputation for doing such a thing (Christopher Walken’s the bet here).

Yet sometimes, film-makers just can’t resist throwing us a curveball, casting stars so against type, they might as well be in another continent. Granted, this can go very wrong, very quickly – see Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons – but occasionally, someone out there in the industry sees something that we just couldn’t. Whether it was that an actor used to playing buttoned-down parts can drop some comedy like it isn’t even a thing, or that the renowned goofball can create  powerful drama if they so wish, Hollywood is littered with these hidden talents ripe for the plucking. Those are just two examples of this off-the-wall casting – there are plenty of other ways actors can surprise us, and I hope I’ve catalogued a few here.

Now obviously, a SPOILER WARNING is in effect. It’s only a light one, so feel free to read on. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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This article was first posted on August 7, 2013