Five Good Actors Who Are Playing the Wrong Roles

Not every actor can easily slip into the shoes of the characters they've been cast to play. Mistakes are sometimes made, and a competent thespian we've known and loved ends up feeling out of place on our screens. Blame isn't easy to place—a miscast role could be the the actor's fault, it could be his agent's fault, it could be the producers' fault. But the results aren't easy to watch, and leave us wishing for an end to the match-made-in-Hell so the actor can move on to whatever's next.

Here are five actors whose current situations are so uncomfortable that we wish they'd simply passed on the project, along with replacement suggestions for each.

Hal Holbrook as James Dempsey on The Event

What works: The 85-year-old Holbrook has a few Emmys and a Tony award under his belt, so he's definitely got more than just potential to be the next Life Alert spokesperson. And he's showed no signs of slowing down: He earned an Academy Award nomination for his amazing supporting role in Into the Wild, and this season he played Gemma's Alzheimer-stricken father wonderfully on Sons of Anarchy. He's the perfect actor to play the "gentle old man."
What doesn't: But now, Holbrook is the mysterious James Dempsey on NBC's unintentionally hilarious The Event. Dempsey is supposed to send shivers down our spine as the leader of a secret consortium who sucks down magical youth juice, but instead he simply comes off as... old. We love Hal, but we wish he had said "No thanks" when The Event came knocking.
Our replacement pick: Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica). Hogan can do menacing with two hands tied behind his back. He's old enough, right?


Kathy Bates as Jo Bennett on The Office

What works: We were delighted when Bates scared us all to death as the obsessive fan in Stephen King's Misery, and her career shot upward from there. She received Academy Award nominations for Primary Colors and About Schmidt and has eight Emmy nominations to her name, all thanks to her affable, larger-than-life personality.
What doesn't: Bates as Bennett just isn't working. Bates is an actress who has to go full-speed ahead, and Bennett is a stern boss on a sitcom. The two opposing forces cancel each other out. Why waste the talent of this great actress on a role that just isn't that funny? 

Our replacement pick: Jessica Walter (Archer, Arrested Development). She'd be able to easily cut Michael Scott down to size and still be hilarious.


Keri Russell as Emmy Kadubic on Running Wilde

What works: In addition to being quite the looker, we love Russell for her down-home feel and girl-next-door aura. She won a Golden Globe for her most famous role as Felicity Porter in the college drama Felicity—which was a perfect fit that really got us to root for her.
What doesn't: Comedy isn't Russell's strong suit, and there's nothing wrong with that. But when she's sandwiched between co-stars Will Arnett and David Cross, she becomes little more than a prop. We want to see her in light-hearted relationship dramas, not on a wacky show where rich people brag about having the smallest horse.
Our replacement pick: Melissa Rauch (True Blood, The Big Bang Theory). She's one of the funniest women out there, and she'd be able to keep up with Cross and Arnett with no problem.


Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson in Boardwalk Empire

What works: We love Buscemi to death. There's always the threat that he'll steal every scene he's in, whether it's part of a drama (Fargo), a comedy (Billy Madison), or a Tarantino masterpiece (Reservoir Dogs)... as long as he's not playing the starring role. Buscemi is a classic character actor who's made some fantastic choices with regard to his career.
What doesn't: That's why we don't blame Buscemi for taking the role of Nucky; it's a Martin Scorsese-produced HBO period piece about gangsters. The problem is that Nucky is supposed to be a charmer with a lucky streak, and we already know Buscemi as the down-in-the-gutter supporting character. We also didn't need to see him having sex. There seems to be a split here: You either love him or hate him as Nucky. We lean toward the latter.
Our replacement pick: Titus Welliver (Lost, Sons of Anarchy). He's ready to break out after an incredible 2009-2010 season, and he's already totally gangster.


Michael Chiklis as Jim Powell on No Ordinary Family

What works: It's probably unfair, but in our eyes Chiklis will always be Vic Mackey from FX's dirty cop drama The Shield, the role for which he won an Emmy in 2002. Mackey was one of drama's best characters ever, a crooked cop who would do anything that worked in his favor. And The Shield was blessed by the casting gods when the intimidating Chiklis signed on. Chiklis also had the perfect body type (and head) to play The Thing in the Fantastic Four movie, which is what probably led to...
What doesn't: Chiklis chose Jim Powell as his television follow-up role to Mackey, and apart from the fact that both characters work in a police station, the two roles couldn't be more different. Powell is a lovable, huggable family dad, and though Chiklis does his best with the role, we just don't buy it. He's is an intimidating figure who busts heads and shoots his partners; it's difficult to watch him worry about getting a table for his anniversary dinner with his equally miscast TV wife (Dexter's Julie Benz).
Our replacement pick: Peter Krause (Parenthood, Six Feet Under). Why give Chiklis, who already looks like he should be extra beefy, super strength? Krause fulfills the "ordinary" part of the show and has enough range to run with all of Jim's ups and downs.

Which actors do you think have been miscast? And who would you replace them with?

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Jan 16, 2012
Agree about Boardwalk Empire.



Don't get me wrong ... I love 'me some Buscemi', but just find him "icky" in his role as Nucky.
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Dec 25, 2010
Michael Chiklis was very good in "The Commish". I watched some episodes of "The Shield" and Chiklis was very well.

I do not watched "No Ordinary Family", I do not have an opinion about it.
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Dec 22, 2010
I have to disagree with Steve Buschemi not fitting the role of Nucky. I can see how someone who's never, ever watched the show might get that impression (his past roles do seem to contradict him here), but if you've ever seen five minutes of Buschemi playing Nucky Thompson you'd realize that he's the perfect actor for the part. I can't imagine anyone else delivering those lines with such authority and cunning.
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Dec 21, 2010
I like Kathy Bates on The Office, but Swoozie Kurtz on on Mike & Molly isn't working for me.
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Dec 17, 2010
Do not agree with the part on Steve Buscemi. Steve is great in everything he does, and I buy his portrayal of Nucky every goddamn second he's on. I'm glad Buscemi har a main role in something big, he totally deserves it.
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Dec 16, 2010
I "Lost" interest in "The Event" after the first 5 episodes, never watched "Running Wilde," I still prefer the British "Office" over the American "reissue," read "Boardwalk Empire" and when I found out that Buscemi, an actor that I've admired since "Fargo" playing Nucky I wasn't interested in seeing another example of a the casting director who didn't bother to read the source novel but I do watch and immensely enjoy "No Ordinary Family" since the pilot. While many of the posters justifiable praised Chiklis' past performance as "The Commish," I didn't read any comments of praise regarding past roles that he has played like Curly Howard in The Three Stooges biopic on ABC, John Belushi in the film "Wired" and several appearances in sitcoms like "Murphy Brown" where he played a character based on Andrew Dice Clay. While I can understand the "bromance" that the writer of the article feels toward the irresponsible but charming Vic Mackey, I for one can "move on" and accept him in a different part as I've done for the other parts that I mentioned earlier, especially when it involves a family man who feels guilty for not being able to provide for his family due to low self-confidence that he regains through superstrength. If the writer wants to see the stereotypical "bony wimp/average guy who inherits incongruous superstrength," he should either hunt down DVDs of "The Greatest American Hero" Twilight Zone's "Mr. Dingle The Strong" or "Chuck" and let the rest of us enjoy NOF while we wait for the next "Fantastic Four" film! If you want to talk about miscasting there, I would have preferred Sela Ward as Susan Richards Storm instead of Jessica Alba! She's too young to play Johnny Storm's older sister!
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Dec 16, 2010
Steve Buscemi is like one of the character actors of the Thirties and Forties movies from MGM. He is not good looking but he has a strength of character and experience that shows up sometimes in small parts. I saw him in one movie where he played a loser with a record collection and his part was vulnerable and scary at the same time. He can fit in anywhere. Chiklis is a different character but he can handle comedy as well as stark violent drama so he also fits in wherever he is.
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Dec 16, 2010
I agree with my predecessor. I loved Michael Chiklis as The Commish...not so much in The Shield. He plays comedy well as witnessed on his Seinfeld appearance. Julie Benz will always be Darla to me,,,but I enjoy watching her in this role as well. I;m sure ABC will tweak the show into nonexistence soon enough...without the staff writers help
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Dec 16, 2010
I don't watch any of the other shows mentioned. In fact, I don't even know anyone who does, so I can't begin to comment on those. However, Chiklis is great as Powell. It reminds me of The Commish! But what is really great is that this character takes actual imagination and ability to play because of the range and growth of the character. Julie Benz was awesome in Buffy, and Angel, and this for her is a totally different character. I say, any actor can play any character, YOU are the one who is type-casting them. Shame on you.
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Dec 15, 2010
I actually agree with most of this article, it's not that he isn't a good Jim Powell, it's just that he was so utterly perfect as Vic Mackey that you can't just replace him with some fluffy, non conflicted character in an upbeat show. Also Titus Welliver seems like a perfect change for steve buscemi even though steve does a decent job, Titus has literally been flawless in every role I have seen him in.
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Dec 15, 2010
Can the premise of this article be more lame? For Example, for Melissa Rauch to take a role in another role would mean her leaving the Big Bang, which she has become one of my favorite characters on there. And Steve Buscemi? He does just fine on Boardwalk Empire. You are asking him to quit playing a role which he probaly took as a departure from some of his most famous roles, so you expect him to continue to be stereotyped(yeah, actors REALLY love doing that!) I think the writer of this article has been miscast and should be replaced by someone with actual writing talent!
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Jan 16, 2012
What universe do you live in? If lost, go back please.



The author is simply commenting on who, in his opinion is miscast ... not asking them to leave or quit, even if he could.



IMO he is dead-on regarding several of these actors/roles.
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Dec 15, 2010
What a load of tripe this article is. A show is what it is and by placing a 'predictable' type cast actor in a roll is bound to result in something predictable and has no chance of being unique. Yes, it is a Safe option.

I can only voice my opinion on Steve Buscemi and Michael Chiklis as these are the two shows I watch. Chiklis seems to be already typecast (Fantastic 4) which is perhaps why people find him not suited. Buscemi is never a lead actor, so now that he is, we're seeing something new from him (and it's brilliant).

Community & Men of a Certain Age are two more shows that have succeeded partially due to placing actors outside of their 'safe zone'.
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Dec 15, 2010
I wouldn't trade Buscemi for any other actor in his role. He is the reason I chose to watch Boardwalk Empire in the first place. I keep thinking how perfect he is for the role and how it is about time I got to see him in a leading role. I don't see why his character should not have sex anymore than any other character on television. That is, to me, an example of HBO's practice of airing shows that have more depth, texture and substance than anything else on television.

I am not interested in airbrushed faces, pin-up bodies and effortless viewing. I love that Buscemi has such character. He is not a ladies man for his looks, but because of his POWER. That is why the women have flocked to him... and that is why we care about him developing a real relationship with someone who is not seeking to use him for some ulterior purpose.
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Dec 15, 2010
I agree that Chiklis and Benz are miscast. Chiklis belongs on a show with another guy and bears, while Benz goes for diction classes. I catch every other word from her on that show. NOF.
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Dec 15, 2010
TV.com's selection of wrong actors and the right actors to replace them are spot on.
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Dec 15, 2010
Speaking as someone who has never seen Michael Chiklis, I think his rols in, "No Ordinary Family," is fine. He pills off the lovable-tough-guy well.



Also: "He's is an intimidating figure who busts heads and shoots his partners.."
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Dec 15, 2010
i think you got all of them wrong.....michael is excellent in that show....i never saw the shield...but the whole point of being an actor isn't to be typecast.....actors are supposed to be able to play any part and do it well...which all of them do....so tv.com you got this one wrong
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Dec 15, 2010
I Agree on Steve Buschemi. A great character actor, he's in over his head here. "Boardwalk" has grown on me, but Nucky's character is the least interesting and the least convincing...A ladies man?! ...Really?... C'mon. And physically imposing he is not, which would seem to be a prerequisite for the role. Long live the one-eyed sniper!
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Dec 15, 2010
I don't agree with the "miscasting" of Michael Chiklis in "No Ordinary Family." If it was anyone else in the role, it just wouldn't be a series.
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Dec 15, 2010
when i read the headline, I didn't think I'd agree with any of your choices,
but I agree with all of them.
Don't think o'laughin is a good choice for Steve McGarrett.
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Dec 15, 2010
Wow! 5 out of 5 wrong. These experienced actors, all of who have finely honed their craft know exactly what they are doing. On the other hand, a staff of writers with limited experience stretching their, ahem...talents, to create a piece...complete WIN at failing!
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Dec 15, 2010
Buscemi has become Nucky. He is great in that role. It's great to see him doing more than he usually gets to do, and he carries the series well. We know he's a multifaceted actor, and now he gets to play the most multifaceted character I've ever seen him play. Don't get stuck on Chiklis in the Vic Mackey role. Remember him as the lovable Commish? And I don't find The Event to be hilarious. I enjoy the show for what it is intended to be, and I think Holbrook can believably play pretty much any part he's offered.
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Dec 15, 2010
Seems like the author doesn't remember how wonderful Micheal Chiklis was in the TV series "The Commish"
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Dec 15, 2010
Alex O'Loughlin of Hawaii 5O...he is stiff, awkward, and completely inept in the role of Steve mcGarrett...replacement...Thomas Gibson...perfect for McGarrett
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Dec 15, 2010
i disaree on all counts..holbrok works for me...but i like the comment abot the event
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Dec 15, 2010
My nomination for miscast is David Caruso as Lt. Horatio Caine in CSI Miami. Perhaps it's just that the Caine character is such a jerk, but he's awful. William Peterson and Laurence Fishburne in CSI and Gary Sinise in CSI New York are soooo much better.
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Dec 15, 2010
Steve Buscemi is terrific in BWE. He's so good, and probably his best role to date.
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Dec 15, 2010
Buscemi is perfect in Boardwalk Empire! The show is superb the way it is. As for the other shows, they are lame and nothing will help them. Kudos to Boardwalk Empire for all the Golden Globe awards and probably will sweep the Emmys next year. TV.com you got this one wrong. So, shut up!
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Dec 15, 2010
Steve is about as good as it gets in Boardwalk Empire. I suppose the subtlety of the character escapes you but this performance is nuanced as no one else could. Steve is in the role of his life and he's doing an incredible job of layering the conflicted boardwalk boss into a character that unravels bit by bit every week. Try not drinking (or smoking ) so much before you watch the next season. And btw, don't visit Atlantic City.....ever. We'll cya comin.
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Dec 15, 2010
I don't usually read the articles and very rarely post on TV.com. However there seems to be a recurring trend of negativity in the articles I have read. Namely The Event which was justified, but The Simpsons, Boardwalk Empire and now this crap!!! Equally annoying is the way your site defaults to a UK based home page of content as |'m in the UK. I do not watch UK terrestrial TV but do find your air dates invaluable to keep up to date on my favourite - "Airs Next in Your Area, Sorry, doesn't look like xxx is airing this week." - shows. I understand localising content to maximise ad revenue is the reason but you were TV.com when I first joined not tv.co.uk. Sadly most shows get cancelled before being aired in the UK. Don't get me started on "sorry this content is not available in your location" and why TV Execs (Digital Immigrants) cancel shows due to poor ratings. Maybe I'm part of the problem with a "Digital Native" attitude with an iWant it now philosphy... Rant over negativity is contagious.
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Dec 15, 2010
Hasn't Running Wilde been canceled? That sort of invalidates this entire list altogether. And I can't believe you'd suggest Melissa Rauch for the role of Emmy considering she recently got series regular billing on The Big Bang Theory. She BELONGS on BBT, so how about enjoying her where she's at, hmm? And echoing what so many others have said: Way to keep that whole typecast persona going with ALL of these.
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Dec 15, 2010
you know, i really think michael chiklis has rotten luck landing on roles that fits him. after all, he's the only decent actor in the fantastic 4 movies...
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Dec 15, 2010
I don't agree with you about Steve Buscemi on BWE. And actually on just about all the rest. It seems like you can only see all these actors in just one type of role. I, personally, like see actors play against type. Shows their range and true talent. And if you were that actor wouldn't you get bored playing the same type of character time after time? I assume they became actors to experience playing different types of characters. So, open your mind and see these actors in the role they are playing now. Don't stereotype or pigeonhole them. It's not fair. Would you who write this like for people to say that you can only write in one style or about one subject the rest of your careers? And yes, it is an actor that is writing this, lol. All I'm saying, is try to see them another way.
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Dec 15, 2010
I'm sorry, but I find this list objectionable for advocating typecasting. It's as if once these actors have been successful in one type of role, it's that kind of role you always want to see them in, and nothing else.
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Dec 15, 2010
I can't say that I watch any of the listed shows.
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Dec 15, 2010
Wow, exactly right. Nice job.
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Dec 14, 2010
You are spot on with every one of these shows. What were the casting people thinking??! Also, C. Leachman is terribly wasted in the very funny Raising Hope; maybe they'll give her more to do next year. It's a great show.
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Dec 13, 2010
I disagree with you on everyone. I love each one in their present roles. Did you ever see the "Commish"? You Have no imagination!
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Dec 13, 2010
RE: [Michael] Hogan can do menacing with two hands tied behind his back. ...
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2 hands and 1 eye
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Dec 13, 2010
You know, I actually agree with this entire list. That said, I still like all the actors in these roles. Chiklis is the best thing about No Ordinary Family, Russell is the only reason I watched Running Wilde at all, and Buschemi is likely to get an Emmy nod as Nucky anyway. But yeah, Kathy Bates does not need to be on The Office.
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Dec 13, 2010
You are stupid, Tim...really, really stupid, TV.com staff. Time to clean house. The last two choices just make you guys sound like a bunch of tools.
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Dec 13, 2010
I haven't seen Bates on The Office, and only watched the first three episodes of Running Wilde (where I thought Russell was actually quite charming and a good foil for Arnett), but the other selections I agree with - especially Steve Buscemi.
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Dec 13, 2010
You are stupid...
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Dec 12, 2010
MY HUSBAND AND I BOTH AGREE WITH EVERY ONE OF YOUR SELECTIONS! UNCANNY, THAT WE MADE THE VERY SAME COMMENT WHEN WE (TRIED) TO VIEW THOSE SHOWS! CASTING...AWFUL!
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Dec 12, 2010
Oh my god are they paying you to write this nincompoopery?
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Dec 12, 2010
Well, guys and girls in the comments, you are right about Michael Chiklis doing well on NOF, but YOU CANNOT say anything about him if you don't watch The Shield first. Seeing only his "good" side is worse than being blind.
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Dec 11, 2010
The only one I agree with is Keri Russell. She's SO out of place on that show and is the one that is ultimately going to kill the show off. The rest of them (besides the Event cause I haven't seen it) are pretty great fits. Especially Bates and Chiklis. The Shield is the best cop drama EVER and I still buy him perfectly well in No Ordinary Family. Prolly cause I was already used to him as the Thing. And Bates? Well she's great at everything she touches. If you can turn a crap book like Dolores Claiborne into a very watchable flick, then you can do anything.
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Dec 11, 2010
I agree with evermore414
'' I agree with everything except Steve Buscemi. He is excellent in BE.
evermore414 Posted 12/11/2010 04:52:51''
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Dec 11, 2010
Funny. Seeing Chiklis for the first time after "The Commish" in "The Shield" I would have written the same - just reverse.
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Dec 11, 2010
I agree about Michael Chiklis .. his full array of talent is not used in the show .

I can't believe people hasn't watched The Shield .. it's like the most underrated show ever and Michael played his tough role brilliantly .
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