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Famous Movie Characters We Never Want To See Recast

"No actor owns a role" is an old acting term for a reason. If storytellers didn't abide by this maxim, nobody presently alive would've ever seen Hamlet, right? The rule makes sense most of the time ... but not all of the time. Some movie roles should never be recast. Maybe we're being too precious, or perhaps we're too high on the sweet nectar of nostalgia, but when certain actors play specific parts, magic happens that can't be matched.

In many cases, actors are just as much their character's creators  as the screenwriters or novelists who came up with them. When we think of the character, we think of the star portraying them. Sure, Hollywood can try to recast these parts (and probably will), but if they do, we're predicting disaster because moviegoers are nothing if not nostalgic. Did your favorites make the list, or do you think we're being too sentimental? Whatever side you're on, here are the famous movie characters we never want to see recast!

Only Harrison Ford should wear the fedora

Every event Harrison Ford attends plays the "The Raiders March," so you know people will always associate him with Dr. Henry Jones Jr. That's interesting, as Ford is known for two iconic characters. The other — the swashbuckling Han Solo — was so popular that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which heavily promoted Ford's involvement, became the highest-grossing of the franchise (unadjusted for inflation) by about $700 million. Meanwhile, the Ford-free prequel, Solo: A Star Wars Story, is the series' sole financial disappointment. Coincidence? We think not. 

Given how audiences rejected Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, we bet Disney is cautious about recasting Indiana Jones. And with good reason, as 2008's disappointing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still made $786 million worldwide. Ford agrees nobody else should play Jones, once playfully telling an audience (as reported by Time), "When I'm gone, he's gone." Ford is right to be protective, as he was actually the third choice to play the archaeologist. Series producer George Lucas' first choice, Peter Coyote, was deemed non-bankable by the studio, and the second choice, Tom Selleck, was under contract playing Magnum P.I. Lucky for us, Ford swung in to save the day.

Nobody but Jim Varney should play Ernest, know what we mean?

Some actors play a role, while some actors are a role. Nobody proved that more than the late, great Jim Varney. Despite his Shakespearean training, Varney will always be remembered as the big-hearted, small-brained, denim vest-wearing, Christmas-saving, troll-fighting, Mello Yello-drinking pitchman, Ernest P. Worrell. In the early 1980s, Varney was a down-on-his-luck actor and comedian when one gig changed his life. Ad man John Cherry III was unable to show a dilapidated theme park in commercials, so he created a lovable goofball who would talk about the theme park. That goofball? Ernest P. Worrell. 

One TV show, ten movies, and thousands (and thousands) of commercials later, Varney's Ernest became an icon of the era. It's impossible to imagine any other actor in the role, and thankfully, nobody has ever tried, though Variety reported in 2012 that Cherry was attempting a reboot called Son of Ernest, which thankfully never happened. Nobody else could else can ever play Ernest, and hopefully, nobody else will. Know what we mean?

Only Renée Zellweger should write in Bridget Jones's Diary

With two Academy Awards in her trophy case (for Cold Mountain and Judy) Renée Zellweger is one of her generation's most decorated actors. But she'll always be associated with the role she didn't win an Oscar for — Bridget Jones. 

In 2001, Zellweger's most famous role was a supporting part six years earlier in Jerry Maguire. A string of fairly forgettable rom-coms followed until her Golden Globe-winning performance in the black comedy Nurse Betty reminded folks she had acting chops. Then, despite not smoking, being overweight, or English, the Texas-born Zellweger snagged the coveted title role in Bridget Jones's Diary. Though it seems crazy now, Zellweger's casting was controversial at the time, with even her co-star Hugh Grant saying he thought it was a "stretch." Zellweger proved them wrong. 

Bridget Jones's Diary earned $277 million worldwide (more than ten times its $25 million budget) while scoring Zellweger her first Academy Award nomination. With a grand total of $747 million worldwide on a $110 million budget for three films, we bet Hollywood's dying to relaunch the Bridget Jones franchise. If they do, it better not be without Zellweger.

Eddie Murphy's Beverly Hills Cop can't be replaced

There are stars, and then there's Eddie Murphy in the 1980s. Besides saving SNL at age 19, Murphy's two comedy albums went gold. Most comedians would've faded into obscurity (and drugs) at that point, but Murphy, still in his early 20s, was just getting started. First came 1982's 48 Hrs. with $75 million, then came 1983's Trading Places with $90 million, and then came ... uh, 1984's Best Defense with $19 million ...but then came Murphy's defining role — Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop

It's hard to be hyperbolic when describing Beverly Hills Cop. It was a star vehicle that was sold exclusively on Murphy's name, which was more valuable than expensive special effects. With $234 million domestically and $316 million worldwide, Beverly Hills Cop was 1984's highest-grossing domestic release, topping even Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. While the two sequels failed to connect in the same way, they still made enough to prove nobody should play Foley but Murphy. Sure enough, Deadline reported in 2019 Netflix is developing Beverly Hills Cop reboot, with Murphy back in the Detroit Lions jacket.

Chadwick Boseman proved you can't recast a king

As an actor trained in the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England (whose tuition Denzel Washington famously paid), the late, great Chadwick Boseman was a professional actor to his core. So when he auditioned for Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy (a part he knew he wouldn't get according to an interview on The Tonight Show), Boseman still brought his A-game, knowing studios would have actors audition for later roles. When the Marvel brass decided to bring in Black Panther for Captain America: Civil War, they immediately said, "Chadwick." Good call. 

Captain America: Civil War made $1.15 billion, but Boseman's Black Panther did even better, earning $1.3 billion worldwide. Even more impressive, its $700 million domestic gross is the fourth-highest box office in North American history and earned more money than any other solo superhero film. While the Black Panther series will go on following Boseman's shocking and tragic death at just 43 years old, it will do so without T'Challa because you can't recast a king.

Uma Thurman's Bride is a cut above the rest

Quentin Tarantino has famously and frequently called Uma Thurman "his muse," though they've only worked together three times — on Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2. In the two Kill Bill films, Thurman plays Beatrix Kiddo, aka the Bride, a vengeful assassin gunned down on her wedding day by her homicidal former employer and lover, the titular Bill. The Bride is Thurman's most famous character and one of Tarantino's, too. And according to a Thurman interview with Today in 2004, Kiddo was the result of late-night discussions between the director and star. 

The Bride's look is iconic — a statuesque, blood-stained blonde in a yellow jumpsuit (borrowed from Bruce Lee's Game of Death) with a sword sharp enough to cut through, well, everything. Only Thurman should play the Bride, but after what happened to her while filming, no other actress may want to. Thurman revealed to The New York Times in 2018 that, despite her objections, Tarantino forced her to do a stunt that nearly killed her. However, Thurman also told Entertainment Weekly that she's open to working with Tarantino again.

No other Ash would be as groovy as Bruce Campbell

Sam Raimi created Ashley "Ash" Williams for the Evil Dead franchise, but Bruce Campell is Ash Williams. While Raimi has gone on to earn $3.3 billion at the global box office, Campbell has stayed happily busy on Hollywood's outskirts. (His first book's title? If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor.) While hardly an A-lister, Campbell's connection with Ash and Evil Dead's fanbase is so strong that the third film's opening credits read "Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness." Any actor can get their name above the title ... but in the title? That's something special. 

The filmmakers wisely didn't recast Ash in the 2013 Evil Dead remake, though Campbell did appear in a "groovy" post-credits scene. Fans finally got their decades-long wish in 2015 with Starz' well-received Ash vs. Evil Dead, which ended its three-season run in 2018. Campbell then retired from the role, telling Inquistr in 2019, "I'm still doing video games, I'm doing voices for Ash. I'm just not going to grovel in the blood anymore." If it's not Campbell, we don't want to see any other actor groveling, either, at least not as Ash.

Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode isn't your typical damsel in distress

John Carpenter popularized the slasher genre's tropes with Halloween – the unstoppable killer, randy teenagers getting mutilated, and the virginal innocent who saves the day. But as Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis didn't just save the day in the movie. She's actually saved the franchise twice! Halloween was a huge hit in 1978 with $70 million, but after Halloween II's underwhelming $25 million, Curtis was out, and the series suffered creatively and commercially. Two decades after the original, Curtis returned for 1998's Halloween: H20 (a sequel that erased Halloween 3-6) but was unwisely killed off early in 2002's Halloween: Resurrection, though both movies outperformed previous entries. 

Rob Zombie's reboots, Halloween and Halloween II, recast Laurie Strode with Scout Taylor-Compton, but just like a killer horror villain, you just can't keep a good actor/character combo down. Curtis returned for David Gordon Green's Halloween in 2018, a direct sequel to the original (notice a pattern?), which was a good call. Halloween made $255 million worldwide, 25 times its $10 million budget. Naturally, Curtis is set to return for the two sequels because Hollywood likes money.

Arnold Schwarzenegger will always be the Terminator

As the world's most decorated bodybuilder and star of Conan the Barbarian, Arnold Schwarzenegger was already an above-the-title star in the 1980s. But 1984's The Terminator gave him something more valuable than stardom — it gave him an iconic character. Despite headlining some of the biggest action hits of the era, Schwarzenegger will always be associated with the T-800. Heck, even when he was governor of America's most populated state, he was dubbed "the Governator." 

Schwarzenegger wasn't offended. He was all about it, frequently peppering his speeches with Terminator references. It's a habit he continues today, as the star encouraged his Instagram followers (as reported by Syfy) to get their COVID-19 vaccines by saying, "Come with me if you want to live!" While Schwarzenegger loves pretending to be the Terminator in real life, his cinematic run as the character is probably over since Terminator: Dark Fate bombed with $250 million worldwide on a $185 million budget. If Arnold doesn't play the T-800, nobody does. Can you imagine anybody else saying "I'll be back" as beautifully? Yeah, we can't, either.

We can't go back to the future without Michael J. Fox

Back to the Future remake pitches happen so much that we want to go back in time and stop them (after saving Harambe, of course). Back in 2010, Deadline reported Warner Brothers wanted to remake Future with Zac Efron as Marty McFly. At the time, this bugged us because Efron was still the High School Musical guy, but now that he's established himself as a charismatic leading man ... it still really bugs us. While the "Efron as McFly" remake probably won't happen, don't buy a pair of Nike Air Mags to celebrate just yet. 

Tom Holland admitted to BBC Radio 1 that there had been "conversations" about him accepting the part, but he added, "[Back To The Future] is one of the most perfect films, one that could never be made better." Exactly! See, Holland gets it. You can't improve on perfection, so we never want to see Hollywood recast Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly — or for that matter Christopher Lloyd as Doc Emmett Brown. 

Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr. went to bed on May 1, 2008 as a well-respected actor considered to be "box office poison." On May 2, he woke up as the star of a movie with a $102 million opening weekend. Sure, this "overnight success" had been working for decades, but if you look at his pre- and post-Iron Man box office, Downey has had two different careers. Downey's movies have earned a combined $15.3 billion worldwide, but not one of them broke $100 million domestically before Iron Man

Downey as Iron Man was the most bankable star/character combo of the 2010s, culminating in the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame, in which Iron Man *spoiler alert* died saving the universe. Recasting Downey wouldn't just be dumb, it would be bad business. However, some bloggers have opined that Tom Cruise (who almost played Tony Stark) could turn up as an alternate Iron Man in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. If it's just a one-off, we can accept this, but not long term. Only one actor should ever get to say "I am Iron Man" — Robert Downey Jr.

Lawrence and Katniss go together like a bow and arrow

Despite her many scene-stealing performances, Jennifer Lawrence's signature role is definitely Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games series. Lawrence earned an Academy Award nomination for 2011's Winter's Bone and, like most rising indie talents, she followed that with a studio blockbuster, playing Mystique in 2011's X-Men: First Class. However, it wasn't until 2012 that her career leveled up, starring as Katniss — then one of the most sought-after roles in Hollywood — in the $677 million-grossing The Hunger Games. (It was also the year she gave her Oscar-winning performance for Silver Linings Playbook.) 

Lawrence and Katniss went together like a bow and arrow, as her gravitas, poise, and presence elevated what could've been just another movie based on a YA novel. Lawrence's casting wasn't without controversy, as Katniss is ethnically ambiguous in the books. Talent won out, though, as Lawrence's audition "blew [the filmmakers] away" according to reports. In 2019, Lionsgate announced a new Hunger Games prequel series without Lawrence. Wisely, nobody else will be drawing Katniss' bow.

Sylvester Stallone's connection to Rocky runs deep

Writers create a character on the page, while actors bring them to life on the screen. Sylvester Stallone did both. Stallone's the only actor on this list to have solely created his signature role, so his connection to Rocky Balboa runs deep. In fact, their lives run parallel. Stallone was a struggling actor in the mid-1970s, while Balboa was an aging pugilist. Both became overnight sensations — Balboa after going the distance against Apollo Creed and Stallone after Rocky won Best Picture and topped the box office in 1976. As Rocky got rich and famous in the 1980s, so did Stallone, while both passed the torch to a new generation in the Creed series. 

Stallone played Rocky eight times over 42 years, but he posted on Instagram (as reported by Today) that he was hanging up the gloves after 2018's Creed II. Granted, Andy Karl played the Italian Stallion in Rocky the Musical, but it ran for only five months on Broadway. Anybody thinking about stepping into the ring should keep that lesson in mind. Nobody plays Rocky but Stallone.

Sigourney Weaver's Ripley is a sci-fi icon

The Alien franchise was a different kind of horror series, so naturally, Sigourney Weaver's Lieutenant Ellen Ripley was a different kind of hero. With only a few soap opera roles and a small part in Annie Hall on her resume, Weaver shocked moviegoers in 1979 when Ripley was the sole survivor of the USCSS Nostromo. By 1986, Weaver was a big star, but she surprised fans again when Ripley became a gun-toting, robot suit-wearing badass. Yet in her protection of the orphaned Newt, Ripley showed a maternal affection you'd never see from Schwarzenegger or Stallone. 

Ripley was a complex, compelling character, and Weaver's sequel performance rightly scored an Oscar nom, a rare honor for genre parts. While Alien director Ridley Scott told the L.A. Times the role was originally written to be a man, Ripley has become a feminist icon, one any actress would slay an army of acid-blooded aliens to play. Nobody but Weaver should. We'll shout it from space, even if nobody can hear us scream.

The Skywalker family is sacred

If you haven't caught up with The Mandalorian, here's a spoiler alert. Luke Skywalker arriving to save the day and adopt Grogu was one of the coolest moments in a series full of cool moments. It wouldn't have been the same if Mark Hamill wasn't the one wielding the green lightsaber. Thanks to de-aging tech and a body double, the 69-year old actor looked like his 32-year old self. CGI performed a similar feat in Rogue One, putting Carrie Fisher's 21-year old face on Ingvild Delia's body to play Princess Leia. 

While Hayden Christensen is returning to play Darth Vader for the Disney+ series Kenobi, fans rightly hope James Earl Jones will return to play Vader's voice. The Skywalkers are the first family of sci-fi, and nobody should ever play Luke, Leia, and Darth but Hamill, Fisher, and Jones, respectively. Yes, we're looking at you "Sebastian Stan as Luke" stans. If that means we never see those characters in live-action again, fine. It may inspire the filmmakers to explore the rest of the galaxy far, far away.