Best and worst recastings: from Dumblebore to Marty McFly

by Charles Gerian

You know the feeling. You’re watching a movie series or TV show, eagerly waiting the next film or season, and you notice something … different.

This character looks… different. Oh, wait. They got recast.

Since the dawn of time, TV shows and movies have recast characters for a variety of reasons.

The actor got booked for something else and had to leave, there was behind-the-scenes drama, they got canceled, or in the worse and most unfortunate circumstances, the actor passed away between shoots.

Audiences who took to the movies this past weekend to see Marvel-Disney’s ANTMAN & THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA might have noticed (or might not have?) that the titular Antman’s daughter Cassie changed actors between 2019’s AVENGERS ENDGAME and this most recent film: Emma Fuhrmann portrayed Cassie in the former, while Kathryn Newton took over in the latter after her break-out role in the Vince Vaughn body-swap horror-comedy FREAKY.

This week, let’s go over some of the biggest recasts, and if they helped or hurt their film or TV show:



In 2002, shortly after filming HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, celebrated Irish thespian and Oscar nominee Richard Harris passed away after playing Albus Dumbledore in two of the Harry Potter films.

His shoes were filled by another Irish actor, Michael Gambon, who was just coming off of Tim Burton’s SLEEPY HOLLOW, and the rest was history.

Gambon completely owned the role of Dumbledore, and while Harris was a titan of film, it’s unfortunate to realize that his replacement was a matter of when, not if, at his old age.


While Katie Holmes played a serviceable romantic interest in 2005’s BATMAN BEGINS (I would argue the best of Nolan’s trilogy) it is hard to argue that her role was improved by casting Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel in the 2008 blockbuster THE DARK KNIGHT.


This may or may not come as a surprise to many reading this, but Michael J. Fox’s iconic Marty McFly role was originally not his- it belonged to Eric Stoltz. Stoltz's vision of the film clashed with director Robert Zemeckis, and he was recast several weeks into shooting at a huge financial cost to the studio.


This two-for-one might come as an insult to Marvel fans, but replacing Terrence Howard as Iron Man’s best friend for Don Cheadle was a lackluster move.

Cheadle lacks the charisma that Howard brought during IRON MAN, plain and simple.

Another one was casting Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, which was played by Edward Norton in 2008’s THE INCREDIBLE HULK.

I love Ruffalo, don’t get me wrong, but Norton brought the necessary meanness and edge required of such a conflicted character.

This next one also hurts, but unfortunately Juliane Moore as Clarice Starling in Ridley Scott’s HANNIBAL, taking over from the incomparable Jodi Foster in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.

While Moore’s performance was serviceable, it was Foster who made us fall in love with Clarice in the first film. Moore is a fantastic actress, but her performance felt more like a pale imitation than an actual role