A bad casting decision won’t hinder a bad movie, but put the wrong person in the wrong role and a good movie becomes “Golden Razzie” fare. Since the first silent films, casting agents have made some dubious choices to portray legendary or pop culture figures. John Wayne was a western movie legend, but was horribly miscast as Ghengis Khan in The Conqueror. I am sure Khan never waddled up to one of his enemies and said “Wa-Ha, pardner, care ta taste some of ma cold steel.” The Conqueror was universally loathed for both Wayne’s acting and Howard Hughes heavy handed direction.
Wayne’s unfortunate turn as a Mongol was not the most egregious choice ever, but it certainly took his Hollywood cred down some. Mickey Rooney suffered the same fate, having to portray an Oriental man in the classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He did it in what can only be described as the most racist portrayal of a Japanese man ever, complete with round glasses, mouth prosthetic and ‘yellow face’. With that in mind, here are 50 casting decisions that qualify as stinkers.
50. Cameron Diaz – Gangs of New York
It’s no secret that Daniel Day Lewis completely steals the show in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 Best Picture nominee Gangs of New York, delivering one of the most memorable villain performances in cinematic history as William “Bill the Butcher” Cutting. With such a commanding on-screen performance, anyone who isn’t up to Day-Lewis’ level is bound to stand out but while the rest of the cast hold their own, the totally miscast Cameron Diaz sticks out like a sore thumb. Diaz plays Jenny Everdeane, a pickpocket with connections to Bill the Butcher who ends up becoming a love interest for Leonardo DiCaprio’s protagonist, Amsterdam Vallon.
Gangs of New York was a rare serious dramatic role for Diaz and unfortunately, she just wasn’t up to snuff, giving her character a spotty-at-best Irish accent and simply not being convincing as a 1860s pickpocket/prostitute. It doesn’t help that she’s often the focus of the film’s weakest scenes, as the love story between Jenny and Amsterdam feels forced and takes away from the much more compelling revenge plot driving the narrative. It’s a shame because Diaz is playing the only prominent female character in the film and it’s hard not to think that the role would have been better served by a more capable actress.