I’m going to start with this- casting is right up there on the list of Things In Hollywood That We Take For Granted. It’s kind of like the CIA- when everything’s working as it should, you don’t hear anything about it (case in point- casting, while being a HUGE portion of the entertainment industry, is not an available category for the Emmy’s or Oscars or any Hollywood award). The only time you hear about it is when something goes horribly awry. And I’m not just saying this because I happen to know a pretty amazing casting director in real life (Hi Beth! Ahem). Sadly, for every perfectly cast ensemble (Seinfeld, Mulder & Scully, Arrested Development) there is at least one bona-fide head scratcher, a casting decision that makes you wonder if this person had some blackmail photos in their pocket when they went to the audition.
Welcome to When Things Go Awry.
5. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII on The Tudors (2007- Present)
This one is pretty obvious, essentially because we know that Henry VIII was a fat, pervy bastard. And while Rhys-Meyers gets a point for being a bastard, may I remind you that it isn’t pervy behavior if the guy is sexually attractive. “Perviness”, along with its slightly incestous cousin “The Ick”, is directly proportional to how revolting you find the person (consider Chris Rock’s take on the matter- “If Clarence Thomas looked like Denzel, this never would’ve happened.”) and so Showtime’s decision to give British history the “old Showtime treatment”, short of hiring the wretched Diablo Cody to write the thing, is nothing short of ridiculous.
He’s also kind of a terrible actor. There, I said it. I hope my Bend It Like Beckham DVD didn’t just burst into flames or anything…
4. Jennifer Love Hewitt as Melinda Gordon on Ghost Whisperer (2005- Present)
Jennifer Love Hewitt has always made me laugh. Not in like “She’s the original Tina Fey” way or anything. More like, she was the theater kid I used to laugh at even though I was a bigger loser than she was. Things have not changed much in our respective hierarchy but she still makes me laugh. She’s just so earnest, trying to come off as vulnerable, whether it’s to husband Jim or Bailey, with her big hair and her big boobs getting all in the way. I guess casting her in a ghost drama on CBS makes sense (it is CBS after all, not exactly a stable of our finest actors.) but this show would be so much better if Melinda Gordon was played by someone who didn’t crack me up for all the wrong reasons. And for God’s sake, can we dress her APPROPRIATELY for once? Why is she always running around in sundresses in the middle of winter? But that’s a topic for another Friday…
This show really is just a Lifetime movie that’s lasted for four years, isn’t it?
3. Michael Stoyanov as Tony Russo on Blossom (1991-1995)
Right off the bat, Tony Russo is a strange choice for a sitcom character, being a recovering alcoholic and all in The House That Quirk Built. Add Six and Joey’s “WHOA!” and Dad’s piano-playing and we’re left to wonder what we’re supposed to make of Tony exactly. Michael Stoyanov, though well-meaning, seems confused about this as well and I think he might be wondering what he’s doing cast as Joey Lawrence’s serious older brother when he could be doing Off-Broadway somewhere.
2. Daphne Reid as Vivian Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1993-1996)
Here’s an interesting decision. Take a character on a hit sitcom and cast a hilarious actress in the role. Then, after three years, recast the smart, feisty actress with the comedic equivalent of a modern-day, rich June Cleaver. While I love June Cleaver as much as the next person, I do not want to watch her partake in zany antics or, worse, sit on the sidelines like a piece of melba toast while everyone else has all the fun.
Let’s go to the video tape.
1. Evangeline Lily as Kate on Lost (2004- Present)
On paper, Kate is a fantastic character. She comes from a broken home, she killed her abusive stepfather by BLOWING UP THEIR HOUSE and then went on the lam, ends up on a tropical island and becomes a kind of GI Jane of the Jungle, surviving capture and getting rescued and losing her kid and TIME TRAVEL and a romantic triangle to boot.
Which is why Evangeline Lily brings me so much pain. I want to like Kate so much but from the very first episode, Lily was just wrong for the role. I mean, she’s certainly pretty (no one is disputing that) but, in Kate, I wanted more than just “pretty” and “freckles.” This character needed grit and Evangeline Lily has about as much grit as overcooked oatmeal. What makes this all the more evident are the well-cast roles of Sun and Juliette, who managed to actually elevate their characters into something else entirely, something infinitely more interested than what was written. As opposed to Lily, who just seems to be holding on for dear life.