Top 10 recast roles that turned out to be downgrades

DF-04714_R2 - Jennifer Lawrence stars as Raven/Mystique in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory.
DF-04714_R2 - Jennifer Lawrence stars as Raven/Mystique in Twentieth Century Fox’s DARK PHOENIX. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory. /
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4. John Wayne to Jeff Bridges – Rooster Cogburn

A burnout US marshal who’s hired by a teenage girl to hunt down her father’s killer, Rooster Cogburn requires someone who can be both an intimidating killer and a funny old coot. The legendary John Wayne definitely had that down pat in 1968’s True Grit.

In addition to being an experienced actor, the Duke was a western icon by this point, so he could easily embody an over-the-hill drunkard gunslinger. Rather than act hammered all the time, Wayne’s Cogburn is always in a state of mild inebriation; he’s just drunk enough to numb the pain of life.

Whenever there’s trouble, though, his demeanor completely changes to a ruthless fighter. He commands the room effortlessly and makes you buy him as the most capable man onscreen. Above all, he makes it look natural. He accomplishes all of this without being too showy or melodramatic. You simply believe him as this character.

You’ll wish for that kind of restraint with Bridges’s version. In the Coen brothers’ recast, the Dude makes Cogburn absolutely grating. Not only is he not remotely as credible as a gunslinger, but his nasally voice and overdone delivery are like nails on a chalkboard.

Worse, he never shuts up. The script constantly has him ramble on about consequential crap so that Bridges can go even more over the top.

His routine gets old fast, and he mumbles and grumbles so much that you can barely understand what he’s saying. Now, you could make the argument that an old drunk from this period would sound like this and, thus, the film should be applauded for its realistic approach.

I’d argue, however, that there’s a difference between what’s realistic and what’s pleasant (or even presentable) to the audience. Of course, it doesn’t help that Bridges has stuck to this annoying performance ever since.