Follow TV Tropes

This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Following

Stunt Casting

Go To

"Oh, Dom De Luise was there, too. He threw paper at the crowd for five seconds before disappearing completely. I've heard that this is exactly how he wanted his involvement in the parade worded in NBC's contract. Dom's a fucker."

Hiring of a big-name actor - or non-actor celebrity - to play a supporting role (or even a leading role, but usually the former). The idea is usually that the actor's fame will draw in viewers, as it normally would if you put them prominently on the advertising. Stunt casting differs from normal casting in that it has a twinge of being either:

Advertisement:
  • way out of the 'pay grade' of the work - (such as a Hollywood megastar who turns up in a small role in a low-budget indie or horror flick)
  • gimmicky (such as casting real-life members of a popular band to play all of the supporting roles),
  • exploitative of audience familiarity with the actor's real life situation (Actor-Shared Background, Real-Life Relative) or previous roles (Casting Gag, Playing with Character Type)
  • inappropriate (turning an otherwise serious script into a vehicle for a light-entertainment personality whose star is on the way down).

This can overlap with WTH, Casting Agency? and Playing Against Type. Unlike The Cameo, stunt cast actors are not asked to come in and "play themselves" - they may well be great in the part, might even transform themselves for the role so much that you might not even recognise them until the credits, but, great as she is in the part, do you really think that reality show star got the role as the starship bridge lieutenant based on acting credentials alone?

Advertisement:

The term 'stunt casting' has a slight derogatory feel, but the term also encompasses many shrewd or artistic choices. If the studio heads want big stars playing the main characters, this can be used as a compromise to allow the lead roles to be cast with the unknowns the director wants. They can also give a feeling of legitimacy to something that would otherwise seem like a trashy genre work - Superman: The Movie (1978) struggled for producer support until Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were on board. If the reason the star is famous is that they are extremely good at acting, stunt casting can make a work much higher quality than it would be otherwise - Amicus Productions' anthology horror films were based around the realisation that if they built a picture out of short stories that didn't take more than a couple of days to shoot, they could afford good/great actors on No Budget, which is the main reason why the films still have a cult fandom decades later. And seeing your favourite stars turn up in unexpected places is, well, just plain fun - the scene-stealing of the One-Scene Wonder, the Genius Bonus when Role Association fleshes out a character's Hidden Depths, the authenticity of Cast the Expert and the parasocial pleasure of the Non-Actor Vehicle are all joys given to us by stunt casting.

Advertisement:

In theatre productions that are especially Long-Runners, stunt casting is one way of keeping things fresh and interesting for potential audiences. The Broadway revival of Chicago has been especially egregious with this, cycling hundreds of celebrities of varying degrees of talent through the lead roles since it began its run in 1996. This can also work for documentaries with the casting of the narrator. It's also standard operating procedure in the U.K.-specific style of broad comic theatre known as Pantomime.note 

See also Billing Displacement. If the stunt-casting is done in service of a film or other one-off project, expect the big-name actor in question to be Billed Above the Title. This happens so often in animation that it has its own trope: Celebrity Voice Actor.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 
    Eastern Animation 
  • The casting of Aya Hirano as Dende in Dragon Ball Z Kai is largely seen by the fanbase as this. the image song doesn't help waver this opinion.
    • Even more blatant was getting Satomi Sato, fresh off her success of voicing Ritsu in K-On! to voice Dende's brother Cargo... for maybe one or two lines before he gets killed.
      • The original version of Dragon Ball Z has been guilty of this as well. One episode during the Buu saga features Majin Buu befriending and helping a blind boy who was a one shot character. Said one-shot was voiced by Megumi Hayashibara.note 
    • Funimation once considered casting Freddie Prinze Jr as a role in DBZ, presumably Teen Gohan. Seriously!
      • They finally did get to work with him for the Mass Effect movie in 2012, but only to reprise a role he had previously played in the games.
    • Funimation also cast the core members of Team Four Star (Nick "Lanipator" Landis, Scott "KaiserNeko" Frerichs, Curtis "Takahata101" Arnott and Lawrence "MasakoX" Simpson) as the actors in the cheesy Cell Games movie in Dragon Ball Z Kai, which was filled with tons of in-jokes referencing both Dragon Ball Z Abridged and DBZ memes in general. However, the scene was taken out of the Toonami broadcast, with most fans suspecting that Toei Animation (which has tried to shut TFS down many times in the past) ordered them to remove it; that didn't stop the scene from leaking onto Youtube, however.
      • Later on, with Dragon Ball Super, they cast Brian Drummond (who played Vegeta in the original Saban dub of DBZ) as Copy Vegeta; plenty of fans suspected that they would have hired Lanipator for the role if not for the fact that Toei had apparently ordered Funimation not to hire TFS members.
    • Similarly, Aya Hirano was also cast as Shinobu the vampire in Bakemonogatari even though Shinobu never spoke a single word in the entire series. It must be noted, however, that with the recently announced prequel anime, maybe this was a case of extreme foresight in the case of the casting company.
  • Blake Lewis as Kasuka in one episode Durarara!!. He was cast because he was an American Idol runner-up, a huge anime fan, and wanted a shot at voice acting in one. When it came time to record Season 2, he was set to reprise his role (which was bigger this time), and even recorded some of the episodes, but was replaced at the last minute with Vic Mignogna, supposedly because he spilled the beans on Twitter before the dub was announced.
  • High School Musical alumni Lucas Grabeel will be Gian/Big G's singing voice in an episode of the American version of Doraemon.
  • Kimberly J. Brown from Halloweentown did the voice of Miyu in the first 7 episodes of Vampire Princess Miyu before being replaced with Dorothy Fahn for the remaining 19 episodes for unknown reasons. Averted with Emmanuelle Chriqui as Hisae since the dub was actually done before she made it big with Entourage.
    • Arguably with Stephanie Griffin as Yukari. She wasn't a celebrity, but it looks like she was only given a role because she voiced lead Himeko Se in AnimEigo's dub of the original OVA.
  • Ed Asner as Grandpa Ayanokiji and William Katt as Tinzin in 3×3 Eyes. Arguably with Brigitte Bako and Christian Cambell as the leads. The dub's voice director was Greg Weisman, who was working on Gargoyles at the time, and cast many of the same actors in the dub.
  • Cromartie High School: Megumi Hayashibara is Maeda's Mom, if you can believe it. Made even funnier given that Maeda's Mom never speaks a word, only ever doing an irritated moan.

    Documentaries 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The various Star Wars movies have played with stunt casting:
  • Fantasy Mission Force was advertised as "Starring Jacky Chan" despite the fact that Jackie Chan played a minor role. Jackie reportedly appeared in it only because he owed a favor to the lead actor, Jimmy Wang Chu (who was rumored to have ties to organized crime syndicates).
  • Marlon Brando as Jor-El in the first Superman film. He actually got top billing (and a star's wages) on that movie for several scenes that barely totaled thirty minutes in an almost two-and-a-half hour movie. He was cast in the role specifically so they could have a big name actor headlining in order to draw the audience.
    • Indeed, the term "Brando Acceptibilty Yardstick" was coined by a reader as an entry in Roger Ebert's Little Movie Glossary in reference to this. Brando essentially made it okay for mega-stars to do comic book films - and like him, be paid extraordinarily well for it. Like him, they often don't play the lead roles (which are often given to up-and-comers); they usually play mentors (like Brando) or villains. The best known example of the latter might be Jack Nicholson being hired to play the Joker in 1989's Batman; he got top billing and a giant cut of the film's profits and merchandising revenue. The three sequels basically stunt cast all the major villains as a response to how well this worked, culminating in the disaster of Batman & Robin (Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy), while Batman himself was given The Other Darrin treatment.
  • Geoffrey Rush gets third billing in Intolerable Cruelty for a character seen a grand total of three times, for maybe two minutes of screen time, whom an audience member might easily mistake for three separate characters on the first viewing.
  • When it comes to Scream (1996) Drew Barrymore was initially signed on as the lead but was unable to commit. Still really keen on the project, she took the smaller role of Casey - who gets killed off in the first ten minutes. It ended up making Dead Star Walking a staple of the franchise.
  • The Crow: City of Angels features Iggy Pop as one of the thugs. He was originally asked to play Funboy in the first film, but had to decline due to scheduling issues.
  • Dead Man features a variety of celebrities in bit parts, including Robert Mitchum, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop and Alfred Molina.
  • In one very disturbing example, Pink Floyd - The Wall uses actual Neo-Nazi Skinheads during the "Run Like Hell" scene, where Pink's Neo-Nazi followers destroy an Indian-owned cafe and assault an interracial couple.
  • Steven Seagal barely has two minutes of screen time in Executive Decision before dying with a heroic one liner.
    • However, this more of a deliberate example of Decoy Protagonist which even gets lampshaded in the movie. Furthermore, Steven Seagal himself demanded unsuccessfully that he get more screentime in this movie and afterwards complained about this. A much straighter examples of this trope are Seagal's cheap straight-to-DVD movies. Probably the most extreme case of this is the bizarre Chinese war movie China Salesman, where Steven Seagal doesn't even have a role in the true sense of the word. Instead, they just filmed a few close-ups of his face and spliced that footage into a fight scene so as to appear as if Seagal is an Elite Mook who gets beaten up by the Villain Protagonist (played by Mike Tyson), even though it's obvious those are 2 different persons switching places between shots. Also, in 2 other (very brief) scenes, Seagal's face is superimposed on a minor character who is wearing a bike helmet, even though there is no apparent connection between this character and the one who gets beaten up in the fight scene.
  • Time Bandits: The Greek warrior fighting the Minotaur turns out to be... Sean Connery! As King Agamemnon, he has only a few minutes of screentime. Amusingly, the script describes the character as someone who looks like Sean Connery, but to everyone's surprise the man himself accepted the small role.
  • Eric Roberts in the final film of The Human Centipede series. The film itself even treats him like a celebrity by playing a fancy cue when he's introduced.
  • The Meteor Man figures James Earl Jones, Bill Cosby (who has no lines), Marla Gibbs and Sinbad. Gibbs has the biggest role, as she plays the protagonist's mother. Also from the music industry, there's Luther Vandross (also no lines), Big Daddy Kane, Another Bad Creation, Cypress Hill, Naughty By Nature and jazz singer Nancy Wilson.
  • Fan Bingbing in Iron Man 3. Not only does she only appear in the Chinese cut of the movie, but she doesn't even get a name despite being featured in the Chinese trailers!
  • Similar to Fan Bingbing, Zhang Jingchu was given prominent billing in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation despite only appearing in the background in one scene and having a few lines in another. Her role, in fact, is so superfluous it could have been played by just about anyone.
  • Bryan Cranston is heavily featured in the trailer for 2014's Godzilla despite the fact that his character is killed off about twenty minutes into the film. Gareth Edwards claims that Cranston was hired because of his ability to perform as a father, but the advertising seems to be heavily influenced by the popularity of his Emmy-winning performance in Breaking Bad.
  • Scream Park features Doug Bradley of Hellraiser and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy.
  • The presidents in The Butler; each one gets a cameo and all of them are played by fairly recognized actors. In general, the one who most agreed fit best was James Marsden as Kennedy.
  • Educating Rita:
    • Producers were really keen on getting Julie Walters to reprise her role from the stage version. But they risked the story being relocated to America with Paul Newman and Dolly Parton in the leads. Julie recalls being called up and told that Michael Caine had been cast as Frank.
    "We've got a star, so we can have you."
    • The small but important role of Rita's roommate Trish was said to have had a name actress - some sources reported Julie Christie had been cast (although they could have been confusing her with then-unknown Julie Walters). It was played by Maureen Lipman, who was less of a name, but would still have been known for her sitcom Agony.
  • The Secret Garden (1993) had three unknown child actors in the parts of Mary, Dickon and Colin. Word of God is Maggie Smith - who was enjoying a particularly high profile in America thanks to Hook and Sister Act - was cast as Medlock for this reason.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis was cast in Halloween (1978) precisely because she was the daughter of Janet Leigh - who had starred in Psycho (which Halloween has a few nods to).
  • Friday the 13th (1980):
    • Penelope Milford was courted for the role of Brenda (as she had just been nominated for an Oscar) purely because they hoped she could draw audiences. She eventually backed out, finding the script too violent.
    • They also wanted a name to play Mrs Voorhees. Estelle Parsons was the original actress cast, but she too dropped out. Her replacement was Betsy Palmer, who was best known for hosting a game show I've Got A Secret. At the time her casting caused a scandal, and Gene Siskel encouraged angry fans to send her hate mail over it. But over time Mrs Voorhees became her most famous role, and she embraced it.
    • Ironically enough, they didn't cast Harry Crosby as Bill because he was the son of Bing Crosby, as they didn't find that out until after he was signed on. Ironic because the film was created specifically to piggyback off Halloween's success.
  • Marie Antoinette casts lots of people who are children of Hollywood stars - the most notable being Asia Argento (daughter of Dario Argento) as Madame du Barry.
  • Francis Ford Coppola blatantly said that Keanu Reeves was cast in Bram Stoker's Dracula (playing a 19th century Englishman!) because he needed a heartthrob who would draw in younger viewers. The other cast members were Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins who were rising character actors, and Winona Ryder who likewise was on her way to achieving stardom.
  • Sophie Turner didn't specify for which film, but said she was cast over an actress who in her opinion was better, because she had more followers on social media.
  • Nancy Kwan was who the director really wanted for The World of Suzie Wong, but the studio favored France Nuyen who was better known to audiences from South Pacific. Midway through production she was fired, which allowed Nancy to play the part. It became her Star-Making Role.
  • The Princess Diaries kills off Mia's father (he's alive but dying of cancer in the book) because they'd convinced Julie Andrews to sign on as Grandmere, and they wanted to beef her role up. When Meg Cabot heard they were planning to cast her, she responded "kill the dad!"
  • Angela Lansbury's rather random appearance as the Balloon Woman in Mary Poppins Returns. It's been theorised the role was offered to Julie Andrews, who played Mary in the original movie; it's known that she was offered a cameo of some kind but turned it down. Amusingly, she ended up stunt cast as the voice of a sea monster in Aquaman (2018), which opened the same month!
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later wanted to cast PJ Soles (who had played Lynda in the first film) as Laurie's secretary, named Norma Watson after her role in Carrie (1976). When she didn't give them an answer quick enough, they cast Janet Leigh instead and filled the role with Shout Outs to Psycho.
  • Miramax was hesitant to cast Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting, until they brought Robin Williams on as Sean the psychiatrist. It worked out beautifully as Williams won an Oscar for his performance and Damon and Affleck went from unknowns to big stars.
  • For the role of Arwen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, producers wanted to cast a Hollywood star, as the cast was made up of unknowns and character actors. Uma Thurman was the original choice but had to drop out due to her pregnancy, so Liv Tyler played it. Marketing for the first film hyped up Arwen as if she were a major protagonist, and Liv is billed third on the poster. After the first film proved such a success, this was de-emphasised, as it was obvious the film could stand on its own.
  • Saving Private Ryan has a small appearance by Kathleen Byron as the old Mrs Ryan. She was a regular actress in the films of Michael Powell (notably Black Narcissus) and Steven Spielberg cast her because he was a fan.
  • Mary Poppins - the Bird Woman is played by Oscar winning character actress Jane Darwell (famously from The Grapes of Wrath). She had been retired for years and only agreed to do it because Walt Disney (a huge fan) tracked her down to her nursing home and begged her to be in the film.
  • Grindhouse parodies this:
    • Planet Terror casts Bruce Willis in a seemingly prominent role at the start - only to disappear until the third act and be given top billing. This is to reference B-movies that would acquire a name star for a bit part, and hype them up as if they were a lead.
    • In the fake trailer for Werewolf Women of the SS, there's Nicolas Cage appearing as Fu Manchu.
    • The fake trailer for the film Don't has pop singer Katie Melua getting Death by Cameo.
    • Death Proof's Jungle Julia is played by Sydney Tamiia Poitier just because she is the daughter of Sidney Poitier (and the middle name is removed in the credits so she is Sydney Poitier).
  • For The Ring Two, producers wanted to cast a veteran actress who was recognisable in the horror genre to play the small role of Samara's mother Evelyn. So of course they choose Sissy Spacek, Carrie White herself.
  • Subverted for Dunkirk, when Harry Styles of One Direction was cast in a role. Christopher Nolan admitted to having no idea who Harry even was, and merely cast him based off a strong audition. The press hyped up his starring in there, but the film's promotional materials did not.
  • Defied by Paris Hilton for Repo! The Genetic Opera. The director initially refused to cast her out of fear of this trope, but eventually allowed her to audition for the role of Amber Sweet. She then proceeded to nail the audition.

    Live-Action TV 

     Music Videos 
  • Subverted in the casting of Pamela Anderson as the giantess in the Miserable music video. One would think casting the biggest sex symbol of the time in a roll like that would be because the producers wanted to drum up interest in the video. But it was actually the band's idea. Lit actually requested that she be in the video because they were guest starring on an episode of V.I.P. and enjoyed working with her. Her lending the video a little extra clout was just a bonus.
  • A similar subversion in LFO's music video for "Girl on TV". As the song is about falling in love with a female celebrity, it would seem to be the case that Jennifer Love Hewitt (then a Teen Idol for Party of Five and I Know What You Did Last Summer) plays the girl in the video. However, she was actually the celebrity the song was written about - and was dating one of the members.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The main event of the first WrestleMania had Mr T as one of the match participants, purely for mainstream publicity.
  • Cyndi Lauper's presence at the same event was not however an example of this, as she had been involved in a program where she became the manager of Wendi Richter - and stayed as such for a whole year.
  • Mickey Rourke was involved in a small stunt with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 25 to promote his film The Wrestler.
  • TNA in the late 2000s, early 2010s got a reputation for bringing in names from reality shows - Jenna Morasca, Johnny Fairplay, Angelina Pivarnick - because Dixie Carter admitted to being a reality TV addict. The last one wasn't particularly well thought-out - as Jersey Shore aired at the same time as TNA Impact.
  • For the first ever women's Royal Rumble in 2018 (which would close the show), the higher-ups were afraid the men's rumble preceding it would exhaust the crowd. As a result, this one included a lot more nostalgia competitors than normal - Trish Stratus, Lita, Torrie Wilson, Molly Holly, Jacqueline, Michelle McCool, Kelly Kelly (although she was a last minute replacement for the injured Paige) and even Vickie Guerrero! This was thought to be in an attempt to re-energize the crowd (which worked judging from the reactions).

    Theatre 
  • When a Broadway show becomes a Long Runner, it's likely to fall victim to a revolving door of stunt casting.
    • Hello, Dolly! went through a rotating series of stars, including Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman. For two years, the entire cast was Race Lifted so that Pearl Bailey and Cab Calloway could star as Dolly and Horace.
    • The 1996 revival of Chicago is a notorious example — still running in The New '10s, its longevity is partially due to casting numerous well-known actors and actresses (and, occasionally, rock/pop/country singers) in all three of its principal roles.
  • The '90s revival of Grease was also notorious for this. (Seriously, Rosie O'Donnell as Rizzo?) And it's rare to see a professional production of the show that doesn't stunt cast the One-Scene Wonder Teen Angel, who sings "Beauty School Dropout" (for which the movie got Frankie Avalon and the 2016 FOX production got Boyz II Men).
  • The 2007 Las Vegas staging of The Producers cast David Hasselhoff as Roger De Bris, the Flamboyant Gay director, and gave him top billing. At the same time, this particular production was Recut to only 90 minutes, so to maximize Hasselhoff's stage time, most of the romantic subplot involving Leo and Ulla was cut...which made his betrayal of Max harder to swallow. Later in the run, Tony Danza came in to play Max (he was previously one of Nathan Lane's replacements in the Broadway production).
    • Hasselhoff had previously become a bit infamous for playing the title roles in the musical Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, and one performance was filmed and released on video and DVD. That production frequently stunt cast the lead role; Sebastian Bach played him for a while as well.
  • Toward the end of its run, the Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera cast Paul Stanley as the Phantom. He was generally well-received and even got some KISS fans interested in musical theatre. While Phantom has generally avoided this, it did bring back Michael Crawford to the role for a brief time on Broadway, Robert Guillame was the first-ever black Phantom in the national touring company, and equally well-known Norm Lewis became the first black actor to play the title role in the Broadway production in 2014.
  • As its Broadway run wound down, Miss Saigon brought back Lea Salonga, the first actress to play Kim.
  • During its final year on Broadway, Aida cast well known R&B stars in the title role, such as Toni Braxton, Deborah Cox and Michelle Williams. While this usually paid off in singing ability, the acting sometimes left a lot to be desired.
  • Groucho Marx, Eric Idle, and Dudley Moore have all played the role of Ko-Ko in The Mikado, and handled it quite well. It certainly helped that they're accomplished Deadpan Snarkers.
  • An English-language recording of the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne on Naxos features Stephen Fry in the speaking part of the Major-Domo.
  • The Broadway adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast initially featured Tom Bosley as Maurice. (While best known for Happy Days and, late in life, infomercials, Bosley previously won a Tony for Fiorello!.) Later in the run, replacement Belles included Debbie Gibson, Toni Braxton, Andrea McArdle (the original Broadway Annie), Jamie-Lynn Sigler, and Christy Calrson Romano. And Donny Osmond did some Playing Against Type as Gaston for a while.
  • Seussical was a Troubled Production and over its brief 198-performance run on Broadway did this several times in a desperate attempt to drum up business — both Rosie O'Donnell and Cathy Rigby (a former Olympian and highly-regarded stage Peter Pan) played The Cat in the Hat even though that's a male character, and country music child star Billy Gillman played Jojo for a time as well as Teen pop star Aaron carter.
  • A 1997 Madison Square Garden production of The Wizard of Oz featured Roseanne Barr as the Wicked Witch of the West! A restaging and subsequent tour the following year featured Eartha Kitt, and later Jo Anne Worley, as the Wicked Witch and Mickey Rooney as the Wizard. When Andrew Lloyd Webber mounted a new stage adaptation of the film in 2011, Michael Crawford played the Professor Marvel/Wizard dual role.
  • Theatre critic Mark Shenton praised the 2013 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical in the West End for avoiding this trope with regards to the showy role of Willy Wonka. Instead, the role was originated by Douglas Hodge and after a year, handed off to Alex Jennings — both are highly-regarded English stage actors, but subject to Pop-Culture Isolation by the world at large. The following year, Jennings was succeeded by Jonathan Slinger, who also fits the "high-quality resume/not a big name" pattern.
  • The 2013 Broadway adaptation of Cinderella (Rodgers and Hammerstein) did this in 2014 when it brought in pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen to play the title character and Fran Drescher to play the evil stepmother. Jepsen's successor to the role was Keke Palmer, who also fits this trope for what it's worth.
  • Forbidden Broadway loves to mock this concept, most recently in its 2014 edition by bringing up the aforementioned Cinderella recasting.
  • Sometimes happens with La Cage aux folles with regard to the role of Albin/Zaza — talk show host Graham Norton was a replacement in the 2008 West End revival. After it transferred to Broadway the show's book writer, Harvey Fierstein, played the role for a time (both actors took over from Douglas Hodge). For the follow-up U.S. tour, Fierstein was approached to play Georges, which would have made him the rare actor to have played both lead roles, but he was too busy with other projects.
  • Show Boat:
    • The 1930 St. Louis Municipal Opera production somehow was able to cast W.C. Fields as Captain Andy.
    • The 1994 Broadway revival inflated the role of Parthy and gave it to Elaine Stritch.
  • The 1981 regional production of Pippin that was filmed for television included Chita Rivera as Fastrada and Martha Raye as Berthe.
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats has always gone for big names when casting Grizabella, the female lead and star of the show, most recently casting Delta Goodrem, Nicole Scherzinger and Leona Lewis in the role.
  • Sara Bareilles, who wrote the songs for the musical version of Waitress and was nominated for a Tony for her score, spent six weeks starring in the show.
  • Broadway industry gossip in spring 2017 was that Kinky Boots was on its last legs financially with a closing announcement imminent. To tide audiences over until its original stars returned to close the show, Brendon Urie (of Panic! at the Disco, hot off of their biggest album in a decade) was announced to be playing Charlie Price for a limited run that summer. He was sensational, but more importantly, his presence did gangbusters for the show's grosses. The role of Charlie has since been stunt-cast a few more times, with the likes of David Cook from American Idol and Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees. When the show closes in April 2019, it will have run almost a full two years longer than industry gossip theorized.
  • This trope’s backfire led directly to the Broadway closure of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812. When Josh Groban left the role of Pierre in July 2017, he was succeeded by Okiriete “Oak” Onaodowan, who was well-regarded coming off his turn in Hamilton but lacked the star power to draw in casual fans. After only six weeks of Onaodowan’s run, the producers announced that he would be replaced by Mandy Patinkin. The backlash over the casting shakeup (and the Unfortunate Implications of a black actor in an ostensibly “race-blind” role being abruptly recast with a white one) caused Patinkin to withdraw out of respect for Onaodowan, leaving the show without a long-term plan for Pierre and no ready solution to its poor box office; it ended up folding at the end of the summer.
  • A 2004 Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera production of The Music Man cast Jeff Goldblum (a native of the city) as Harold Hill. This was played with in a most offbeat way: The Mockumentary Pittsburgh is built around this production, and claims that Goldblum's primary reason for doing something so atypical was to help his then-girlfriend get a green card.
  • Patti LuPone tried to speak against this trope in 2017 when she heard of theatre productions casting YouTubers, social media influencers or MMA fighters who had large fan bases - but ended up receiving a mountain of backlash for perceived elitism. Her claims that stunt casting was "forcing legitimate actors out of work" were met with people pointing out that it was possible for people with those platforms to also have acting experience and/or a desire to break into a new industry. Not to mention that stunt casting was nothing new, and her comments seemed to be based on the fact that it was happening to names outside her circle/clique.
  • Waitress became notorious for a tendency to do this, such as casting Joe Sugg and Colleen Ballinger, both mostly famous for their You Tube videos.

    Video Games 
  • Exaggerated with the PlayStation game Apocalypse by Activision. The original concept was that Bruce Willis would've voiced an A.I.-controlled partner who assists the player throughout the game. The developers decided to ditch the original protagonist and simply turned Willis' character into the player character with the rationale "why would anyone want to be Bruce Willis' sidekick when they can be the man himself."
  • Kingdom Hearts has its main character voiced by Haley Joel Osment in the English version, with other supporting characters and villains played by people like Billy Zane, Christopher Lee, and Leonard Nimoy.
    • The Final Fantasy cast in the first game, the first time the characters got voiced, has recognisable TV actors and popstars playing them all. The performances range all the way from WTH, Casting Agency? nonsense (Lance Bass is horribly miscast as Sephiroth, but does the best job he can under the circumstances) all the way up to establishing the definitive voice actor for the character (Steve Burton stayed with Cloud even after II recast most of the characters, and plays him in all of his appearances).
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3: in addition to its All-Star Cast, preview material hyped Gina Carano as Natasha, Tanya's Soviet counterpart. Carano's appearance amounts to a non-speaking cameo in the Allied campaign and the Natasha unit in the actual gameplay portions is not voiced by her. (Reportedly, this was because she couldn't do a believable enough Russian accent, even by the game's standard.)
  • In a cross between this and What Could Have Been, the game Malice earned considerable attention in the early 2000s because the lead character was going to be voiced by Gwen Stefani, with other members of No Doubt appearing as characters and the band was signed up to provide the soundtrack. The game was planned for a high profile release as an Xbox launch game, but slid further and further into Development Hell. By the time the game was released nearly four years after it was supposed to, Stefani and the band's contributions were scrubbed from the final product, and it was a commercial and critical disappointment. If the game is remembered now, if at all, it's for Stefani's involvement rather than its actual gameplay.
  • In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, series mainstay David Hayter was recast with Kiefer Sutherland because his vocal range was too limited. Which might have been useful four games earlier, but Keifer barely talks at all in Phantom Pain. All it did was feed into the preconception that Hideo Kojima resents making games and would rather be a Hollywood director instead.
  • Guest fighters bring in the $$$, but longtime fans felt the guests in Mortal Kombat X got out of hand. 50% of the DLC is guest fighters. NetherRealm would rather pay orders of magnitude more money to recast Sonya with Ronda Rousey than hire an actual voice actor. They'd rather pay an ungodly sum to use Arnold's likeness and promote a movie which everyone knew was going to bomb anyway.
  • Death Stranding has the bafflingly gimmicky lead actor pair of Norman Reedus and Lindsay Wagner, whose Serkis Folk recreation allows her to appear as the age she was in The Bionic Woman despite her being in her late 60s. This is because Hideo Kojima is a huge fan of The Bionic Woman and thought that, since he was making his dream project, he might as well just go for broke. Joining them are also Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley plus the likeness of Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn.
  • Averted in Sayonara Wild Hearts: Queen Latifah has a voiceover role as the narrator, but she was a last-minute addition so her name didn't feature in pre-release promotion.
  • Disco Elysium is full of this:
    • Notoriously, Will Menaker, Matt Christman, Felix Beiderman and Virgil Texas from the controversial left podcast Chapo Trap House all show up as Siileng/Fuck The World, Titus Hardie, Scab Leader/Kourtenaer/Rosemary and the Smoker on the Balcony/the Sunday Friend respectively. Will joked on the show that they were surprised the game turned out to be good because they'd assumed it was going to be 'a multiple choice adventure about depression' (which the game is... kind of). According to the producers, they hadn't intended to stunt-cast the game, and approached the Chapo guys because they couldn't find actors with American accents... but they appear prominently in the marketing material, suggesting they knew exactly what they were doing. Overlaps with Playing with Character Type, as, while none of the hosts are playing exactly the kind of characters you'd expect, familiarity with their comic personas will bring an extra sizzle to their scenes. In particular, Sociopathic Soldier Kourtenaer develops an ineffectual failson vibe once you recognise he's voiced by the guy whose career is built on skewering hypermasculinity-poisoned oafs.
    • Dasha Nekrasova from the even more controversial left podcast Red Scare (perhaps best known for the viral video of her obliterating an InfoWars reporter with high level Communist rhetoric while dressed in Seifuku) plays Klassje (Miss Oranje Disco Dancer). Dasha's reputation as being a 'bad girl' unpopular even amongst Chapo listeners for her inflammatory opinions underscores Klaasje's untrustworthiness.
    • British Sea Power contribute various songs to the game's soundtrack.
    • Mikee W. Goodman (Ancient Lizard Brain/Limbic System/Spinal Cord/Roy/The Deserter/Idiot Doom Spiral) is best known as the lead singer of the prog metal band SikTh. One of the band's gimmicks is that Mikee often sings in character voices, which the game also gives him the opportunity to do during the karaoke scene.
    • Dot Major from indie rock band London Grammar plays obnoxious speed-abusing scallie kid Cuno, as well as Harry's former partner, Jean.
    • Measurehead is played by Casablancan rapper Dizzy Dros, who featured in promo videos to appeal to his fanbase.

    Western Animation 

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report