Actors Who Seemed Miscast At First But Absolutely Nailed The Role

Three silhouettes of actors on a stage in front of a red curtain
Photo by Kyle Head on Unsplash

Actors are especially adept at learning to prove they're the right choice.

How many times have people scoffed at a casting choice only to walk out of the theater thinking... "That was Oscar caliber."

It's all part of the game.

It's okay, proving everyone wrong is part of the fun.

So they say.

Redditor wfpbgoals wanted to compare notes on the best times we've been pleasantly surprised by thespians and asked:

"Which actor seemed miscast in a role but ended up killing it?"

I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until I've seen something.

So I don't have a "thought was going to be miscast" list. I'm bias though.

Walk that Line

joaquin phoenix film GIFGiphy

"I think I was of the opinion that Joaquin Phoenix was an odd choice for the role of Johnny Cash until I saw his acting and heard his phenomenal voice sing these classics."


Oh Jim

"I thought that Jim Carrey in The Truman Show must have been an error because he's a comic, but at the end I was so wrong that I reviewed all my life choices and felt like the worst human being in existence. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (in Italy called If you leave me I delete you) was the same thing except better. Incredible movie, every time I hear that Alexander Pope quote I begin crying."


Helping John

"Everyone thought Travolta had been miscast in Pulp Fiction because at the time his career was on its knees. And he hadn't been cast in anything noteworthy in a very long time. Tarantino breathed new life into it his career but giving him the role."


"I just watched Blow Out, which is apparently the film that killed Travolta’s career until Tarantino revived it. I highly recommend it, if you haven’t seen it. Travolta gives a really good performance and it’s totally unlike everything else I’d seen him in."

"Not to mention John Lithgow as an emotionless sociopath, which makes his casting as a serial killer in Dexter decades later make more sense."

"Tarantino cast Travolta because of Blow Out and has said it’s one of his favorite movies. With the attention to detail and the way certain scenes are shot, you can really spot where Tarantino drew influence from. And the ending is amazing. Highly recommend Blow Out."



"Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket. Really came out of nowhere for me."


"I totally imagined Lemony Snicket as a scrawny nerd, but the classy suave character turned out to be awesome."


He strikes that perfect tone of saying absolute nonsense in a very serious manner."


"I dunno, after The Emperor's New Groove, he'll just forever be Kronk in my mind."


Sexy & Funny

Season 2 Chris GIF by Parks and RecreationGiphy

"Rob Lowe in Parks and Recreation. Based on some of his other work it didn’t seem like the role of an enthusiastic health nut fit him but he killed it."


Sexy guys are always a surprise.

The Best Choice

Dc Comics Batman GIFGiphy

"Michael Keaton in Batman. People lost it when he was cast."


"I remember reading that his Beetlejuice performance sealed the deal because they saw him doing angry scenes."


She Showed Them!

"I remember going to the theatre to see Silkwood in 1983 with Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell. When they showed Cher's name at the beginning, people audibly laughed. She was fantastic in the movie and went on to a very respectable film career. I had always thought she was a good actor from her days on the Sonny & Cher show so why not go dramatic? Anyway, I LOVE all her work."


Go Bald

"Gene Roddenberry hated Patrick Stewart as Jean Luc Picard. To the extent he had him wearing a wig during casting. The runner up for the role told Stewart that he killed the audition, but to lose the wig. Eventually Roddenberry came around, and I personally think Stewart’s Picard was the most amazing captain to ever appear in the franchise."


She Can Do It All

"Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. She was the most believable Dylan in that movie by far."


"I honestly don’t think Cate Blanchett has ever been in a bad role. She is one of the best actresses currently living that’s for sure."


"Her turn as Hela in Thor:Ragnarok is the equivalent of Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Both stellar actors with serious chops, given villains to play, and they chose to chew the furniture to shreds. Amazing stuff."



"In 2002, nobody could imagine Matt Damon playing a bada** CIA assassin with amnesia. I saw the preview on TV and was like, 'the dude from Good Will Hunting?' The Jason Bourne movies are among my all-time faves now and I can’t picture anyone else in that role."


Never underestimate artists.

Do you have anyone you'd like to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.

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