11 Writers Who Weren't Excited About Who Was Cast As Their Iconic Characters, And 12 Who Were Totally Thrilled

    Gene Wilder's take on Willy Wonka charmed everyone...except Roald Dahl.

    1. Author and horror legend Anne Rice was pissed when she learned that Tom Cruise was cast as the vampire Lestat in 1994's Interview With the Vampire, the adaptation of Rice's 1976 book of the same name.

    Anne Rice and Cruise as Lestat

    Rice told the LA Times that Cruise had a "mom and apple pie" reputation, one that the Times noted didn't naturally match up with the "European, impish, proud, semi-androgynous Lestat she created on the page."

    Lestat bearing his fangs

    At the time, Rice said that she was "stunned by the casting of Cruise, who is no more my vampire Lestat than Edward G. Robinson is Rhett Butler." Her first picks for the role were Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons, and Peter Weller.

    the three actors in the early '90s

    Here's a clip of Cruise as Lestat:

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    2. But wait! There's more. After Anne Rice saw the finished movie, and in a rare move for an author who previously felt so scorned, she became convinced that Cruise was actually the perfect Lestat, and took back everything she previously said about the actor and his casting.

    Anne Rice and Tom Cruise as Lestat

    David Geffen, one of the film's producers, told the LA Times that Rice told him that the movie "went way beyond her expectations," and that she singled out Cruise as "wonderful."

    Cruise sitting with a young Kirsten Dunst in the movie

    Geffen said that Rice even called Cruise to personally apologize for her previous remarks, and tell him what a great job she thought he did. About the call, Cruise only said, "We had a fantastic conversation."

    Kirsten Dunst, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise in 19th century era clothing

    Here's (another) clip of Cruise as Lestat.

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    3. P.L. Travers, the author behind the Mary Poppins series, famously hated almost every aspect of Walt Disney's 1964 adaptation of her books, and Julie Andrews being cast as the titular nanny was no exception.

    P.L. Travers and Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

    Travers "thought Andrews too pretty to play the role," and believed that Andrews' attractiveness was a betrayal of the character.

    Poppins holding a bird on her finger

    However, the author took no issue with Andrews personally, and even admired her commitment to playing the character as written. Travers once said, "Julie Andrews, a friend of mine, has all the necessary integrity to play the part — she was just directed wrongly. ... [She] was quite prepared to put on a black wig, with a knob of hair at the back, and a turned-up nose. She's a great trooper and very honest. But to her surprise, as well as mine, Disney turned her into a very pretty girl, which really loses the point."

    Mary Poppins surrounded by animated butterflies

    Here's a clip of Andrews as Mary Poppins:

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    Disney / Via youtube.com

    4. But where one author was seriously skeptical of Julie Andrews, another allowed a major change to the plot of her book in order to get Andrews on board. That author was Meg Cabot, and the role Andrews wanted to take was none other than Clarisse Renaldi, Queen of Genovia, in 2001's The Princess Diaries.

    Meg Cabot and Julie Andrews as Queen Clarisse

    Cabot told Cosmopolitan that Debra Martin Chase, a producer, called her one day to ask if they were allowed to kill off protagonist Mia's father, who is still alive in the books, because "we want to have a bigger role for the grandmother because we’ve got this great actress that wants to play her."

    Julie Andrews as the Queen gets her hand kissed by her head of security

    Cabot asked who the actress was, and when Chase told her it was Andrews, Cabot responded, "Oh my god. Kill him. Kill the dad.”

    Julie Andrews expresses her approval for Mia's makeover

    Here's one of Andrews' scenes as Queen Clarisse:

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    5. Stanley Kubrick's 1980 adaptation of Stephen King's 1977 novel The Shining is critically acclaimed and beloved...by lots of people who aren't Stephen King. And one of King's biggest problems with the horror classic is Jack Nicholson's performance as Jack Torrance.

    Stephen King and Nicholson as Jack during the Here's Johnny scene

    In 2014, King told Rolling Stone, "I had to keep my mouth shut at the time. It was a screening, and Nicholson was there. But I’m thinking to myself the minute he’s on the screen, 'Oh, I know this guy. I’ve seen him in five motorcycle movies, where Jack Nicholson played the same part.'"

    Jack Torrance and Shelley Devall as Wendy

    And in 2020, King told the New York Times, "I don’t like the arc that Jack Nicholson runs as Jack Torrance. Because it isn’t really an arc — it’s a flat line. He’s crazy from the jump."

    Jack Torrance in the snowy outdoors

    Here's one of Nicholson's scenes as Jack Torrance:

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    Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

    6. On the other hand, King was a fan of Tim Curry's performance as the terrifying clown Pennywise in the 1990 ABC miniseries adaptation of It.

    Stephen King and Tim Curry as Pennywise

    King told the New York Times, "I liked that series a lot, and I thought Tim Curry made a great Pennywise."

    Pennywise running down a street

    He added that the success of the 2017 movie adaptation and its sequel may have had something to do with the ABC adaptation. King said, "One of the reasons the movie was a big hit was because kids remembered seeing it on TV, so they went to see it."

    Pennywise holding balloons while standing on the surface of a lake

    Here's a compilation of clips from the miniseries:

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    Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

    7. Outlander author Diana Gabaldon's first impression of Sam Heughan, who would be cast as Jamie Fraser in the Starz TV adaptation, was less than positive.

    Diana Gabaldon and Heughan as Jamie

    In fact, Gabaldon referred to the actor as "grotesque."

    Jamie and Claire face each other

    During an appearance on the Outcasts podcast, she explained that at the time he was auditioning for the show, Heughan had done very few onscreen roles. One of the only she could find was from Emulsion, which Gabaldon described as a "truly weird psychological thriller." So she wasn't convinced he was right for the dashing, heroic Jamie.

    Jamie rides on a horse with Claire

    Here's a compilation of Heughan's scenes as Jamie:

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    Starz / Via youtube.com

    8. But — plot twist — much like Anne Rice, Diana Gabaldon came to realize she'd judged an actor too soon, and in the same podcast appearance, she expressed her approval of what Heughan had done with the role.

    Diana Gabaldon and Sam Heughan as Jamie

    Gabaldon was sold as soon as she watched his audition tape, which she called "astonishing."

    Jamie and Claire on their wedding night

    As for Heughan's previous work, Gabaldon said that she'd come to realize that the actor was a "chameleon" who wasn't defined by any one role.

    Claire nurses Jamie

    Here's (another) scene of Heughan as Jamie:

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    Starz / Via youtube.com

    9. Roald Dahl didn't like much of the beloved 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, despite the fact that he wrote the screenplay himself. The author was particularly concerned that Gene Wilder didn't have it in him to play the eccentric candy maker.

    Roald Dahl and Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

    Donald Sturrock, a friend of Dahl and the author of his biography Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl, wrote, "He had serious reservations about Gene Wilder's performance as Wonka, which he thought 'pretentious' and insufficiently 'gay and bouncy.'"

    Wonka behind a bunch of giant lollipops

    And in 2016, Sturrock told Yahoo! Movies that Dahl was already upset when the producers shot down his first two choices for the role: comedian Spike Milligan and actor Peter Sellers. Sturrock said, "I think he felt Wonka was a very British eccentric. Gene Wilder was rather too soft and didn’t have a sufficient edge."

    Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers

    Dahl died in 1990, so there's no way to know what he would've thought about Wilder's two successors in the role: Johnny Depp in the 2005 remake, and Timothée Chalamet in the upcoming 2023 film Wonka.

    Johnny Depp as Wonka in front of the chocolate factory

    Here's a clip of Wilder as Wonka:

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    Paramount / Via youtube.com

    10. Suzanne Collins absolutely adored Elizabeth Banks as the oblivious-death-match-escort-turned-genuine-friend Effie Trinket in the Hunger Games movies.

    Author Suzanne Collins and Elizabeth Banks as Effie in an elaborate costume

    In fact, Collins was so impressed by Banks' performance in Catching Fire that she called up director Francis Lawrence and said, "There’s no way Effie Trinket cannot be in the Mockingjay films."

    Effie dressed in customized rebel clothing in Mockingjay

    In Mockingjay (the book), Effie is absent for the vast majority of the action, having been taken captive by the Capitol, and her sole appearance in its final pages isn't dwelled upon. But in the Mockingjay movies, Effie is taken to District 13 by the rebels and takes on a maternal, protective role toward Katniss.

    Effie helping Katniss prepare for the execution of Snow

    She even gets a hint of a romantic subplot with Haymitch.

    Haymitch and Effie kiss

    Here's a clip of Banks as Effie Trinket:

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    Lionsgate / Via youtube.com

    11. Despite the fact that her performance has become iconic, Truman Capote was never happy with Audrey Hepburn's performance as Holly Golightly in the 1961 film adaptation of his 1958 novella, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

    Truman Capote and Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly

    Capote thought Marilyn Monroe would be the perfect Holly, but Hepburn was cast instead. Later in life, Capote referred to Breakfast at Tiffany's as the "most miscast film."

    Capote dancing with Marilyn

    Capote was particularly protective of Holly, since, according to what his biographer Gerald Clarke told Today.com, the young socialite was his "favorite creation."

    Holly and Paul

    Here's a clip of Hepburn as Holly:

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    12. While the 2007 adaptation of The Golden Compass wasn't exactly a smash hit, either critically or commercially, author Philip Pullman still spoke out in support of its cast upon the release of the much more successful HBO adaptation His Dark Materials. In particular, he voiced his support for Dakota Blue Richards, who played protagonist Lyra Belacqua.

    Pullman and Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra

    In a 2019 tweet, Pullman wrote, "Delighted as I am with the TV adaptation of HDM, I don't want to be too critical of The GC movie. A magnificent cast, among whom Dakota Blue Richards shone like the polar star, did the best that could be done with the time they had, which simply wasn't enough."

    Lyra leading a pack of armored polar bears

    Richards was 13 years old when she played Lyra. It was her first major acting role.

    Nicole Kidman points out something to Lyra

    Here's a clip of Richards as Lyra:

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    13. Donn Pearce didn't like lots of things about Cool Hand Luke, the 1967 adaptation of his 1965 novel of the same name, but he found Paul Newman's performance as Luke to be particularly unconvincing.

    Donn Pearce and Paul Newman as Luke

    In 2005, Pearce told Esquire that Newman was "simply too small to play a man like Luke." Newman was "five foot ten" and "a hundred and forty pounds tops" at the time.

    Luke captured after an escape attempt

    Pearce said, "Now the whole world thinks that Paul Newman is Cool Hand Luke." It's pretty clear he wasn't thrilled by the prospect.

    Luke facing down the pile of boiled eggs

    Here's a clip of Newman as Luke:

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    Warner Bros. / Via youtube.com

    14. Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, told Kotaku that there were things she both "liked" and "regretted" about the panned 2014 adaptation of her classic dystopian novel. One of the choices the filmmakers made that she approved of, though, was casting Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder and making hers "a more complex role."

    Lois Lowry and Meryl Streep as the grey haired elder

    Lowry said, "The Chief Elder is a very small role in the book. Maybe it’s because they had Meryl Streep, they made it into — not a larger role in terms of space on the screen, but a more complex role, a more ambiguous character. And to be honest I kind of like that."

    Meryl Streep as the elder

    Lowry added that seeing Streep in the role made her "kind of sorry" she hadn't spent more time on the character in the book, a regret that she acknowledged may have had something to do with the fact that "it was Meryl Streep."

    The Chief Elder, the only elder dressed in white

    Here's a clip of Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder:

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    The Weinstein Company / Via youtube.com

    15. Rick Riordan wasn't a fan of the Percy Jackson movie adaptations, to the point that he wrote in a blog post, "Check out my website, rickriordan.com. Do you see any indication there that the Percy Jackson movies ever existed? No. No, you do not." In that same blog post, Riordan released two emails he wrote to producers during the filmmaking process about his concerns with the direction they were taking. Chief among these concerns was the choice to age up the characters from twelve-year-olds to teenagers.

    Rick Riordan and Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson

    Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson) was 18 when the first Percy Jackson movie came out, while his co-star Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth Chase) was 24.

    Percy and Annabeth on the deck of a ship

    Before anyone was cast, Riordan wrote to producers, "I fear the movie will be dead on arrival with a seventeen-year-old lead." So while Riordan didn't have anything against the cast themselves, any actors in their age group would've been non-starters for any adaptation of the series.

    Grover, Annabeth, and Percy outside the Lotus Casino

    Here's one of Lerman's scenes as Percy:

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    20th Century Fox / Via youtube.com

    16. Harper Lee adored Gregory Peck's performance as Atticus Finch, a character based on Lee's own father, in 1962's To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Following her father's death in 1962, Lee gifted Peck his pocket watch, which he brought with him "onstage to accept an Oscar for his performance." And the first time Lee saw Peck in his Atticus costume, she wept, "noting how much he looked like her father."

    Atticus Finch comforting Scout

    In the 1980s, Lee wrote to Peck, "I’ve refused scores of requests from some mightily talented people to turn M’bird into everything from a Broadway play to an opera. I have always said no for one reason: I cannot run the risk of having your Atticus diminished in public memory by so much as a scintilla."

    Here's Peck's most famous scene as Atticus:

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    17. Legendary fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin was critical of every part of the 2004 Sci Fi Channel (now SyFy) mini-series Legend of Earthsea, an adaptation of her Earthsea books. But what troubled her most of all was the whitewashing of the story and of the main character, Ged, who was played by Shawn Ashmore.

    Le Guin and Shawn Ashmore as Ged

    In an essay for Slate entitled "A Whitewashed Earthsea," Le Guin wrote, "My protagonist is Ged, a boy with red-brown skin. In the film, he’s a petulant white kid."

    Ged walking to town

    Le Guin added that "race, which had been a crucial element, had been cut out of my stories," and pointed out that Danny Glover was "the only man of color among the main characters."

    Ged talking to someone

    Here's the first part of the Earthsea series, if you're so inclined:

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    SyFy / Via youtube.com

    18. Jenny Han, author of the To All the Boys series, is effusive in her praise of Lana Condor, the actor who brought protagonist Lara Jean to life in To All the Boys I've Loved Before and its sequels.

    Jenny Han on the red carpet and Condor as Lara Jean

    The casting of Condor, who is Vietnamese American, was a victory in and of itself, since Han has discussed the fact that Hollywood producers were "set on whitewashing the film." Han told E! News, "It should've been a home run. The stumbling block was the fact that the main character is Asian, her family is Asian and people weren't interested in making that movie with an Asian lead. ... When casting would come up in early conversations I would be like, ‘Who are you thinking?' And then they wouldn't name Asian names. It would be white actresses who were already well known. They were surprised when I was like, ‘Oh no, that's not going to be it.'"

    Lara Jean and Peter laugh in a car

    Han told E! News that she first became aware of Condor when "she was cast in the X-Men movies." Han said, "When she came in to read, she blew everybody away. She has this magnetic energy to her. If you meet Lana, she's very confident. She'll say whatever she's thinking. In many ways, she's very different from Lara Jean, but she brought this sparkle to her that just worked."

    Lana Condor as Jubilee in X-Men

    Here's a clip of Condor as Lara Jean:

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    Netflix / Via youtube.com

    19. Here's another writer who didn't think Jack Nicholson was right for one of his characters: Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, thought Nicholson didn't work as protagonist Randle McMurphy in the 1975 movie adaptation.

    Ken Kesey and Nicholson as McMurphy

    In 2001, Kesey told the New York Times, "Jack Nicholson is great but he is not McMurphy — he is too short." In addition to being unimpressed by his stature, Kesey believed Nicholson was "too shrewd" to be McMurphy.

    McMurphy with the other patients on a fishing boat

    Kesey's criticism may seem surface level, but that probably has something to do with the fact that he famously never watched the movie.

    McMurphy and the Chief playing basketball

    Here's a scene of Nicholson as McMurphy:

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    United Artists / Via youtube.com

    20. Suzanne Collins was "thrilled" when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist of the Hunger Games trilogy, and released a statement to Entertainment Weekly saying as much.

    Collins and Lawrence as Katniss

    Collins wrote, "In her remarkable audition piece, I watched Jennifer embody every essential quality necessary to play Katniss. I saw a girl who has the potential rage to send an arrow into the Gamemakers and the protectiveness to make Rue her ally. Who has conquered both Peeta and Gale’s hearts even though she’s done her best to wall herself off emotionally from anything that would lead to romance. Most of all, I believed that this was a girl who could hold out that handful of berries and incite the beaten down districts of Panem to rebel."

    Katniss during her interview

    The author went on to describe Lawrence as a "powerful, vulnerable, beautiful, unforgiving, and brave" actor, and added, "I never thought we’d find somebody this amazing for the role."

    Katniss firing an arrow in the woods

    Here's a clip of Lawrence as Katniss:

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    Lionsgate / Via youtube.com

    21. Alan Moore doesn't like any adaptations of his work, having once told the Guardian, "There is something about the quality of comics that makes things possible that you couldn't do in any other medium." But he singled out the performance of Johnny Depp, who starred as Inspector Frederick Abberline in the 2001 adaptation of his graphic novel From Hell, as particularly disappointing.

    Alan Moore and Johnny Depp as the detective

    Depp's character is a detective who investigates the Jack the Ripper murders in 19th-century London, all the while battling his own personal demons.

    the detective doing investigative work

    Moore said Depp's take on the character turned the Inspector into an "absinthe-swilling dandy."

    The detective smoking in the bath

    Here's a scene of Depp as Abberline:

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    20th Century Fox / Via youtube.com

    22. Leigh Bardugo, the author of Shadow and Bone and its sequels, told BuzzFeed that as soon as she saw Amita Suman audition for the role of Inej in the Netflix TV adaptation, she thought, "Oh my god, it's her! It's Inej!"

    The author and Suman as Inej

    Showrunner and producer Eric Heisserer felt similarly, even though Suman was only the third person they'd seen try out for the role.

    Suman as Inej

    Heisserer said, "And then, we had to sustain another two months and 280 auditions with other potential Inej candidates just so that everyone else in the chain, beyond me and Leigh, were fully convinced that we had found the right person so early."

    Three shadow and bone characters, with Inej in the center

    Here's a compilation of Suman's scenes as Inej:

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    Netflix / Via youtube.com

    23. And finally: In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Stephenie Meyer said that Ashley Greene (Alice) was the actor who "most approximated [her] idea of the character."

    Stephenie Meyer and Ashley Greene as Alice

    Meyer said, "The headshot they sent and said, 'This is gonna be Alice,’ it was kind of like 'wow' because she’s stunningly gorgeous. Physically, she not as short as Alice, but facially very close."

    Jasper and Alice

    She added, "She’s probably the most like a vampire because they’re supposed to be inhumanly beautiful."

    Alice in her baseball uniform

    Here's a scene featuring Greene as Alice:

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    Summit Entertainment / Via youtube.com