People Share The Times Actors Turned Their Expectations On Their Ear

Ashley Hunte
Rows of theater popcorn bags that are full of popcorn.
Unsplash | Corina Rainer

You know when you hear about a new movie or TV project, and the casting gets announced, and you can't help but scratch your head at it? Some actors seem like they wouldn't be good fits for certain roles.

And yet, there are so many times when those very same actors absolutely shatter audience expectations. Here are just a few, as picked by the people of Reddit.

John Travolta as Vincent Vega in "Pulp Fiction" (1994).

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in Pulp Fiction

"I remember seeing a trailer for Pulp Fiction. John Travolta had basically vanished at that point with the Look Who's Talking franchise being the only recent thing I'd seen him in. I thought it was gonna suuuuuuuck. I was wrong."

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in the "X-Men" series.

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men

"I remember everyone I knew b****ing about Hugh Jackman as Wolverine before the first X-Men movie released. Now an entire generation can't see anyone else in the role."

Yeah, like, the two seem inseparable.

Brad Pitt as Jeffrey Goines in "Twelve Monkeys" (1995).

Brad Pitt giving Bruce Willis a thumbs up.
Giphy | Filmin

"I thought he was just a pretty boy that got roles because it would put women in the theater seats. Turned out he could act."

"It’s because Brad Pitt is a character actor with a leading man’s face," another commenter added. "I truly think he’d be okay being the 3rd or 4th lead in most projects."

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in the MCU movies.

Iron Man saying, "I am Iron Man."
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"Comic book forums really didn't like the fact RDJ was going to play Iron Man. He killed it."

I mean, his life was pretty similar to Stark's backstory. It couldn't have worked out better for either of them!

And of course, Chris Evans as Captain America in the MCU.

Captain America saluting someone while looking slightly concerned.
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"Along the same line, Chris Evans for me. All I could see was the whipped cream scene from Not Another Teen Movie."

For me, it was more like, "Isn't that the guy who played Johnny Storm that one time? No way he could be another super hero!"

Tom Hanks as Andrew Beckett in "Philadelphia" (1993).

Tom Hanks in Philadelphia.

"There were some peeks of his potential prior to that with Sleepless in Seattle and League of Their Own but other than that he was mostly in some comedies and 'that guy from Bosom Buddies and Big and Turner and Hooch" (and some other things but generally just a goofy guy).

"Then he immediately followed up Philadelphia with Forest Gump and Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan."

Ian McKellen as Gandalf in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (2001-2003).

Gandalf saying "You shall not pass!" as he raises a staff.
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"Fans hated that Ian McKellen was cast as Gandalf. Especially mad that he got the role over Christopher Lee."

"That was the casting of the century."

It really was...

Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank in "The Truman Show" (1998).

Jim Carrey in The Truman Show

"Everyone knew him as a weird funny man before this. I think he really showed his acting chops in this film."

Hard to believe that "that guy from The Mask" did so well in a movie like The Truman Show.

Mark Hamill as the Joker (voice role).

A cartoon iteration of the Joker saying, "I'm crazy enough to take on Batman, but the IRS? No, thank you!"
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"He kind of got type cast as the good guy hero for a long time. Then he became a fan favorite Joker in Batman: The Animated Series."

He's actually voiced the Joker in animated series/movies/video games over the past few decades!

David Tennant as The Doctor in "Dr. Who" (2005-2020).

Dr. Who standing in the rain sadly.
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"I remember being majorly disappointed Eccleston only did one season and reading a newspaper headline that Tennant was 'a scaredy cat' while filming one of his previous roles. How was he gonna face off against monsters every week!? Apparently, very well. Tennant is definitely in the top three of pretty much every Whovian for best Doctor."

Heath Ledger as the Joker in "The Dark Knight" (2008).

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Yes, another Joker. I guess no one expects the character to be portrayed well?

"After the movie came out I realized that actors act, that’s their job. A great actor like Heath Ledger can kill it in in romcoms and can kill it as the Joker because he is an amazing actor. It made me really appreciate the craft of acting."

Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone in "The Godfather" (1972).

Vito Corleone holding a cat while sitting at a desk and saying "I understand."
Giphy | The Godfather

"You guys think our generation was stunned by Ledger as Joker? Look up what Brando looked like while not in prosthetics before filming that."

Okay, yeah. That's pretty surprising.

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in "Breaking Bad" (2009-2013).

Walter White in the desert saying, "Say my name."
Giphy | Breaking Bad

"Who could have guessed that Hal from Malcom in the Middle would absolutely kill it in this role?"

This was actually my first thought, too. The casting didn't make any sense, until it did.

Leslie Neilson as Dr. Rumack in "Airplane!" (1980).

Leslie Nielsen and Lorna Patterson in Airplane

"Leslie Nielsen was a serious and well respected dramatic actor for decades before doing Airplane! in 1980, then with one movie was suddenly viewed as one of the best comedic actors in history."

Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the "Star Trek" series.

Captain Picard clapping while in a chair.
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"He was a total unknown at the time and only had theater experience. He was living out of a suitcase, not expecting to be kept on."

And he's back at it in Star Trek: Picard.

Daniel Craig as James Bond (2006-2021).

Daniel Craig saying, "The name's bond. James Bond."
Giphy | James Bond 007

"I would have called that terrible casting. But by God he really killed that role. He's second only to Connery. Coming out of the Pierce Brosnan films, Daniel Craig brought believable soldier-craft back into the Bond role."

Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in "The Witcher" (2019-present).

Geralt of Rivia walking menacingly.

"I love that character and I was seeing many other actors for that role, and was incredibly bummed to hear it would be Cavill aka Superman. But turns out the man absolutely owns the role and you just know he really feels the character. Very excited for season 3."

(I'm also excited for season 3.)

Lady Gaga as Ally in "A Star Is Born" (2018).

Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born

"I can only listen to 'Shallow' as a clip in the movie now. The way they built that moment up, her stomping onto the stage and letting loose...very cathartic."

The woman can sing and act.

Keanu Reeves as Neo in "The Matrix" series (1999-2003, 2021).

Neo in the Matrix, stopping bullets.
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"Most don’t recall, but in the years after Point Break and Speed, Reeves was a bit of a laughing stock. 'Oi am an FBI Agent!!!' was his epitaph. Was pleasantly surprised that he turned in the best performance of his career up to that point."

Idris Elba as Knuckles the Echidna (voice) in "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" (2022).

Knuckles the Echidna pounding his fists together.
Giphy | Sonic The Hedgehog

"I don't know about anyone else, but when I first heard it was him, I was skeptical. It just seemed so out of left field when Sonic got an American and Tails got his VA from the games, but god, he ended up CRUSHING it."