9 Movie Castings The Authors Originally Hated (But Turned Out Great)

While it is inevitable that authors will not always be happy with the casting of their work’s movie adaptations, some writers shot down performances that turned out to be perfect. Sometimes, even an author does not know what is best for their book’s movie adaptation. For example, when director Rob Reiner set out to adapt Stephen King’s successful psychological horror novel Misery, King warned him that the movie adaptation needed to maintain the novel’s goriest scene. This sequence, where Annie Wilkes cuts off Paul Sheldon’s feet, was significantly altered for the movie adaptation of Misery, much to King’s chagrin.

Years later, King conceded that he was wrong and admitted the movie wouldn’t have worked if Misery had kept the original book’s version of the scene intact. While King never quite admitted that he was wrong about Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, that is another case where the author’s view of an adaptation diverged wildly from what viewers and critics thought of the movie. Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that many authors have been annoyed about the casting of their movie adaptations over the years, only to eventually be proven wrong by great performances.



9 Anne Rice

Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview with the Vampire with weird eyes and vampire teeth against a black background.

Interview With A Vampire author Anne Rice was worried when Tom Cruise was cast as the novel’s villainous deuteragonist Lestat in the 1994 adaptation. Best known for playing heroic all-American rogues like Top Gun’s Maverick, Cruise seemingly didn’t have the right persona for the role. Rice suggested Jeremy Irons or John Malkovich for the part but was overruled by the producers of Interview with the Vampire. When the movie was completed, Rice agreed that Cruise was a fit for Lestat and even called Cruise personally to apologize.

8 Stephenie Meyer

Bella and Edward lying in her bed in Twilight

Much like her fellow best-selling vampire romance novelist, Twilight saga author Stephenie Meyer had a lot of ideas for how her adaptations would be cast and a lot of misgivings about the choices producers made. For Meyer, Twilight’s brooding vampire antihero Edward Cullen needed to be future Superman actor Henry Cavill. While Meyer eventually conceded that Cavill might be too old to play a teenager at a sprightly 25 years old, she still petitioned producers to cast Charlie Hunman in the role. Of course, the lead role of Twilight’s movie adaptation instead went to Robert Pattinson and launched the actor to superstardom.

7 Ian Fleming

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No.

Ian Fleming wanted 007 to seem like an ordinary guy, so he wasn’t initially impressed by the direction that producers went when casting 1962’s Dr. No. Granted, Fleming’s idea of an everyman actor was Cary Grant, who proved too expensive for the studio. However, he was not impressed with the choice of Sean Connery. That said, Fleming eventually came to love Sean Connery’s 007 like everyone else, and the James Bond franchise even took inspiration from Connery’s life story when Fleming changed the character’s biography in later novels.

6 PL Travers

Charlotte’s Web scribe PL Andrews was an outspoken critic of the movie adaptations made from her best-selling children’s novels. One of her milder criticisms was aimed at Julie Andrews, who she conceded played the eponymous role of Mary Poppins well. However, Travers argued that Andrews was too pretty for the title role of Mary Poppins and that this issue ruined a certain intangible element of the character’s appeal. Emma Thompson went on to don layers of prosthetics in the later Mary Poppins homage Nanny McPhee, perhaps in an attempt to redress this imbalance.

5 Donn Pearce

Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke

While the novelist Donn Pearce might be best remembered as the screenwriter of Cool Hand Luke, that didn’t mean that the author was happy with how the 1965 movie was cast. Pearce argued that Paul Newman was too short for the central role in Cool Hand Luke. The legendary folk hero was intended to be a rebellious chain gang convict, so it made sense that Pearce gave him a more imposing physique. However, while Jack Reacher’s screen adaptations ran into the same issue (with Alan Ritchson embodying the character better than the diminutive Tom Cruise), in the case of Cool Hand Luke, this made the hero’s battles all the more impressive.

4 Ken Kesey

Much like Pearce, author Ken Kesey thought Jack Nicholson was too short and too shrewd to play McMurphy in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It is easy to see why Kesey felt like Nicholson was too shrewd for the part since part of what makes McMurphy’s character tragic was the guilelessness underlying his rebellion. However, even Nicholson’s cannier McMurphy worked in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’s movie adaptation, with his smarter, more morally ambiguous movie persona complicating the character’s persona.

3 Stephen King

The Shining Jack Torrance chasing Danny in the snow

Even at the height of his fame, Jack Nicholson seemingly couldn’t catch a break when it came to authors dismissing his critically acclaimed performances. Stephen King thought that Jack Nicholson’s role in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest made him too obvious a choice for The Shining’s Jack Torrance. King claimed that audiences would guess Jack was going to lose his mind early on since they would associate Nicholson with playing wild-eyed lunatics. However, this wasn’t a problem for Kubrick’s movie adaptation of The Shining, which portrays Jack’s descent into madness not as a surprise twist but instead as a tragic inevitability.

2 Truman Capote

While Audrey Hepburn’s turn as Holy Golightly is now seen as her trademark role, the author of the novel that the movie was adapted was not happy with this choice. The famously outspoken Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe, not Hepburn, for the 1961 adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. While Capote wrote the original novel with Monroe in mind and the movie’s screenwriter tailored the role to Monroe, the famous star turned down the part when she was wanted that playing a “lady of the evening” could harm her public persona.

1 Roald Dahl

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

Gene Wilder’s performance as the eccentric chocolate factory owner Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is now seen as a classic children’s movie turn. However, the actor didn’t originally impress author Roald Dahl. Dahl wanted Spike Milligan or Peter Sellers for Willy Wonka and wasn’t sure about Gene Wilder. However, decades of critical acclaim prove this was another case of an author misidentifying what was best for their own movie adaptation.

Leave a Comment