Oscar: Casting, Miscasting, Casting Against Type

Casting against type can sometimes be extremely effective.

James Cagney is better known for his gangster movies of the 1930s, but he won his only Best Actor Oscar for the 1942 musical biopic, Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Best example is Dustin Hoffman in Mike Nichols’ Oscar winning The Graduate.

William Hurt won his first and only Best Actor Oscar for playing a homosexual and drag queen in Hector Babenco, Kiss of the Spider Woman.

But in other cases, the practice is ineffective, damaging the overall impact of the film.

Here are some examples:

Shirley MacLaine, as Hindu princess in the 1956 Oscar winning Picture, Around the World in 80 Days.

Clint Eastwood as a romantic figure in The Bridges of Madison County, which he directed and starred in opposite Meryl Streep.

Fred Ward was miscast as literary sexual dynamo Henry Miller in Philip Kaufman’s controversial but severely flawed (for many other reasons), Henry and June, the first ever film to get NC-17 rating.

John Malkovich was miscast in Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1991 version of Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky, playing opposite Debra Winger.

Meg Ryan was cast against type in the combat film, Courage Under Fire.

Tom Hanks was miscast in Sam Mendes’ Road to Perdition.