The Twenty Greatest Casting Decisions in the History of Film

Hard to narrow it down to 10, and 40 is too many. These were "triumphs" for the casting department.
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Audie Murphy
Audie Murphy became a national hero during World War II as the most decorated combat soldier of the war. Among his 33 awards was the Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more...
“ TO HELL AND BACK. Well, this is obvious. How you cast better than to cast someone as himself. Not saying it is a great film, but I have to admit it is perfect casting. ” - drystyx
Elton John
Music Department, The Lion King
Sir Elton John is one of pop music's great survivors. Born 25 March, 1947, as Reginald Kenneth Dwight, he started to play the piano at the early age of four. At the age of 11, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His first band was called Bluesology. He later auditioned (unsuccessfully) as lead singer for the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Gentle Giant...
“ TOMMY. The Pinball Wizard. I mean, how can you not cast Elton John? Daltry and Entwistle must have been in Paradise when they learned he would play the role. ” - drystyx
Wallace Beery
In 1902, 16-year-old Wallace Beery joined the Ringling Brothers Circus as an assistant to the elephant trainer. He left two years later after a leopard clawed his arm. Beery next went to New York, where he found work in musical variety shows. He became a leading man in musicals and appeared on Broadway and in traveling stock companies...
“ TREASURE ISLAND. He's so natural as Long John Silver, one has to wonder if he sidelined as a pirate. ” - drystyx
Cary Grant
Once told by an interviewer, "Everybody would like to be Cary Grant", Grant is said to have replied, "So would I." Cary Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach in Horfield, Bristol, England, to Elsie Maria (Kingdon) and Elias James Leach, who worked in a factory. His early years in Bristol would have been an ordinary lower-middle-class childhood...
“ N BY NW. As Kaplan, I mean Thornhill, he rocked. Listen to the words of the script. He makes an absolute creep likable. I don't know of anyone else who could have made us like this guy. ” - drystyx
Eli Wallach
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole, and Al Pacino, to name but a few...
“ THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. The script sucks. The movie sucks. So why is it loved? Eli Wallach seals it with his portrayal of "Ugly". That's a compliment, Eli. Really. ” - drystyx
Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn was born Audrey Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium. She was a blue-blood and a cosmopolitan from birth. Her mother, Ella van Heemstra, was a Dutch baroness; Audrey's father, Joseph Victor Anthony Hepburn-Ruston, was born in Úzice, Bohemia, of English and Austrian descent, and worked in business...
“ CHARADE. She seals the deal in over a dozen roles, but I'm picking her portrayal of Reggie. She had a-one beauty, a-one class, a-one wit, and matched up perfectly next to the suave Cary. ” - drystyx
Hugo Weaving
Actor, The Matrix
Hugo Wallace Weaving was born on April 4, 1960 in Nigeria, to English parents Anne (Lennard), a tour guide and teacher, and Wallace Weaving, a seismologist. Hugo has an older brother, Simon, and a younger sister, Anna, who both also live and work in Australia. During his early childhood, the Weaving family spent most of their time traveling between Nigeria...
“ LORD OF THE RINGS. From the first micro-second we see the big battle scene, we know he is Elrond. ” - drystyx
Humphrey Bogart
Actor, Casablanca
Humphrey DeForest Bogart was born in New York City, New York, to Maud Humphrey, a famed magazine illustrator and suffragette, and Belmont DeForest Bogart, a moderately wealthy surgeon (who was secretly addicted to opium). Bogart was educated at Trinity School, NYC, and was sent to Phillips Academy in Andover...
“ TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Bogie was the very best at portraying villains with insecurities. You could pick a dozen films in which he was a master of this. As Dobbs, he was incredible. ” - drystyx
Ice Cube
Producer, Friday
Ice Cube was born in South Central Los Angeles, to Doris (Benjamin), a custodian and hospital clerk, and Hosea Jackson, a UCLA groundskeeper. He first came to public notice as a singer and songwriter with the controversial and influential band N.W.A. His compositions with that group included many of the classic cuts from their debut LP "Straight Outta Compton" (Ruthless/Priority...
“ TRESSPASS. We forget that it begins with Ice T looking for the "snitch". Someday, we'll ask Ice Cube if it was indeed the vicious "Savon" (and I'm sure it was) ” - drystyx
Edmund Gwenn
There are very few character actors from the 1930s, '40s or '50s who rose to the rank of stardom. Only a rare man or woman reached the level of renown and admiration, and had enough audience appeal, to be the first name in a cast's billing, a name that got marquee posting. Charles Coburn comes to mind, but there aren't many others. However, one who made it was Edmund Gwenn...
“ THEM! James Whitmore was a champion scene thief, but when Gwenn was cast as the scientist, there was no worry about someone running away with the show. Gwenn gave the lead quartet the very balance it needed. ” - drystyx
Whoopi Goldberg
Self, The View
Whoopi Goldberg was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in the Chelsea section of Manhattan on November 13, 1955. Her mother, Emma (Harris), was a teacher and a nurse, and her father, Robert James Johnson, Jr., was a clergyman. Whoopi's recent ancestors were from Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. She worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer while taking small parts on Broadway...
“ GHOST. A classic style film, but the role of the fake psychic was the part that would've been a silly looking cliche, if not perfectly cast. Whoopi alone could keep the role from being too formula ” - drystyx
Toshirô Mifune
Toshiro Mifune achieved more worldwide fame than any other Japanese actor of his century. He was born in Tsingtao, China, to Japanese parents and grew up in Dalian. He did not set foot in Japan until he was 21. His father was an importer and a commercial photographer, and young Toshiro worked in his father's studio for a time after graduating from Dalian Middle School...
“ SEVEN SAMURAI. Lots of people expect him to be the leader, but his lovable rogue gets top billing today. ” - drystyx
Clark Gable
William Clark Gable was born on February 1, 1901 in Cadiz, Ohio, to Adeline (Hershelman) and William Henry Gable, an oil-well driller. He was of German, Irish, and Swiss-German descent. When he was seven months old, his mother died, and his father sent him to live with his maternal aunt and uncle in Pennsylvania...
“ GONE WITH THE WIND. It's true we think of him as Rhett because we see him play Rhett, but think about anyone else in the role. It wouldn't work. He had all the right qualities. ” - drystyx
Wilfrid Hyde-White
British character actor of wry charm, equally at home in amused or strait-laced characters. A native of Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, he attended Marlborough College and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. His stage debut came in 1922, and by 1925 he was a busy London actor. He married actress Blanche Glynne (real name: Blanche Hope Aitken) and in 1932 toured South Africa in plays...
“ MY FAIR LADY-Col Pickering had to be older than Higgins, properly British, yet still charismatic. In other words, he had to be Wilfrid Hyde-White. ” - drystyx
Harvey Korman
Harvey Korman was a lanky, popular TV comedy veteran with a flair for broad comic characterizations, who shone for a decade as leading man and second banana par excellence on The Carol Burnett Show but failed to find much success in his own projects. Harvey Herschel Korman was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Ellen (Blecher) and Cyril Raymond Korman...
“ BLAZING SADDLES. This was a superb cast all the way. But try to imagine anyone else in the role of Heddy, I mean Hedley. ” - drystyx
Sidney Poitier
A native of Cat Island, The Bahamas (though born in Miami during a mainland visit by his parents), Poitier grew up in poverty as the son of farmers Evelyn (Outten) and Reginald James Poitier, who also drove a cab. He had little formal education and at the age of 15 was sent to Miami to live with his brother...
“ TO SIR WITH LOVE. "Lillies of the Field" is still his greatest film, but this was the casting decision that made "To Sir With Love" work. The right amount of "macho plus dignity plus intellect". ” - drystyx
Ronald Colman
British leading man of primarily American films, one of the great stars of the Golden Age. Raised in Ealing, the son of a successful silk merchant, he attended boarding school in Sussex, where he first discovered amateur theatre. He intended to attend Cambridge and become an engineer, but his father's death cost him the financial support necessary...
“ A TALE OF TWO CITIES. He is perfect as the man who "sneaks" into the story, completely unembellished, completely overlooked, only to be a catalyst later. ” - drystyx
Danny Kaye
Danny Kaye left school at the age of 13 to work in the so-called Borscht Belt of Jewish resorts in the Catskill Mountains. It was there he learned the basics of show biz. From there he went through a series of jobs in and out of the business. In 1939, he made his Broadway debut in "Straw Hat Revue,"...
“ THE INSPECTOR GENERAL. Not sure if there was ever anyone in films with this much all around talent, and still perfect for the underdog role. ” - drystyx
Mike Myers
Michael John Myers was born in 1963 in Scarborough, Ontario, to Alice E. (Hind), an officer supervisor, and Eric Myers, an insurance agent. His parents were both English, and had served in the Royal Air Force and British Army, respectively. Myers' television career really started in 1988, when he joined Saturday Night Live...
“ AUSTIN POWERS series. The closest thing we have to Danny Kaye today as far as raw comic talent. There have been many spoofs of Bond, but we were waiting for the great one. And that meant waiting for the right performer. ” - drystyx
“ BATTLE ROYALE was an inteesting, though sick, story, that relied heavily on a "Toshiro Mifune" style character to pull it through. In fact, there's no doubt that Mifune was the role model for the character of Kawada. Taro is perfect in the role. ” - drystyx