5 Movie Characters Who Improved After Recasting (And 5 Who Didn't)

For better or for worse, which characters were helped by a new face and which were hindered?

Back to the Future George McFly
Universal Pictures

Audiences may not always remember what they heard or saw in a movie, but they will remember how it made them feel. Viewers are people. They connect with the people they see on screen. Sometimes that connection bears such an impact that the actor becomes synonymous with the character they portray.

Sadly, movies aren't the real world. The real world of movies can be messy. Scheduling conflicts, personality clashes, money negotiations and even untimely deaths have led many a film studio to cast new actors in the roles of their iconic characters. Oftentimes, the incoming actor is met with immediate resistance from fans.

If the magic cannot be recaptured, the value of the character and the franchise can take a critical and financial blow. Other times, viewers don't realize how much better a "dramatis personae" can be until someone else does it better. It's always a gamble for the filmmakers. What looks good on paper (and budget) doesn't always translate to magic onscreen.

Which popular roles breathed new life after a recast and which ones were left gasping for air?

10. Worse - Michael Gambon As Dumbledore

Back to the Future George McFly
Warner Bros.

Legendary actor Richard Harris brought Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore to life in the first two films of the Harry Potter series. Harris had initially been reticent to take the part, due to his age and health. He ultimately took the role at the prompting of his granddaughter.

Harris intended on reprising his role as Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise for as long as possible . Before the third film in the series (Prisoner of Azkaban) was released, Harris passed away from Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Months were spent seeking out a suitable replacement for Harris. Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen and Peter O'Toole were big names being bandied about before Irish actor Michael Gambon was finally chosen to lead the youth of Hogwarts to glory.

Gambon played Dumbledore for the remaining six films in the series. Rather than attempt to mimic Harris' approach, Gambon made the character his own. As time went on and more movies were released, audiences adapted to Gambon. The consensus was that while Gambon's take on Dumbledore was by no means lacking, he just didn't connect to the role (and audience) to the extent Harris did.

Gambon's Dumbledore likely wouldn't have raised a critical eyebrow had audiences not been treated to two movies' worth of Richard Harris' warm, twinkly-eyed wisdom.


George is a life-long fan of genre, wrestling and guitars. He is an actor, writer, CrossFit trainer and former WWE storyline writer. He currently works as talent development for PWX wrestling and resides in the birthplace of the zombie movie, Pittsburgh, PA.