Casting a film is a work of art unto itself. Choosing the right actor for the right role can elevate a movie to an unforeseeable success and choosing the wrong actor for the wrong role can doom an otherwise promising film. There are dozens of examples of this in the industry, but there are also the inexplicable casting choices, where the pairing of actor and role is so bizarre and unfounded that audiences feel compelled to see the movie just to know what the combination will yield.
On some rare occasions, these strange casting decisions create not only lasting performances, but iconic, star-making turns that put relatively unknown or underestimated actors on a whole new level of success. Though far and few between, these instances are memorable for how they subvert the expectations of the audience and, more often than not, the producers and studio as well.
This sometimes comes from inexperienced actors turning in performances above their weight class, has-beens proving they still have what it takes, or niche performers breaking out of the confinements of their limiting genres to demonstrate the full range of their capabilities.
9. Hugh Jackman - X-Men
Hugh Jackman's gruff but amicable portrayal of the X-Men's resident berserker has become so ubiquitous with Wolverine that it's difficult to remember a time when his casting was considered controversial.
Before he was known as an action star, Jackman was famous as a song and dance man. He was trained as a theater actor and specialized in musicals and choreography. When he was first announced to be portraying Wolverine, he was not muscular and there was concern that he would struggle to mask his Australian accent.
Comics fans were hardly enthralled by the casting but it took less than five minutes of screen-time for Jackman to put any doubts to bed. From the first shot of him as Wolverine, hunched over in the shadows of a cage fight, he exuded the badass aura of an ageless, unflinching warrior. He'd put on considerable muscle, completely covered his accent, and made the part his own.