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.