The 15 Worst Sports Movie Casting Decisions

Kurt Warner's wife wants Denzel Washington to play her husband in his biopic. Jonah Hill is cast as Paul DePodesta in the upcoming Moneyball movie. Neither of those are jokes.
Let's take a look at the worst casting decisions in sports movie history.

#1 — Gary Busey as Chet Rocket Steadman in Rookie of the Year
Gary Busey playing a washed-up superstar pitcher is only slightly more believable than casting Roger Clemens as an FBI agent who's in hot pursuit of a gang of surfing bank robbers. It's a shame, too, because everything else about this film seemed utterly plausible; we really expect more from films whose credits include the words: Directed by Daniel Stern.
The only way Busey could conceivably throw an MLB-quality pitch would be to snort the ball and then fire it back out one of his ravaged nostrils while cackling. If he used his left nostril, we're pretty sure he could strike out Ryan Howard every time.

#3 — Kirsten Dunst as Lizzie Bradbury in Wimbledon
It's hard to say what's more unrealistic about Wimbledon's casting choices: that Kirsten Dunst supposedly wins a U.S. Open and two Wimbledon titles, or that the producers expect us to believe an American woman not named Venus or Serena is actually winning Slams. Dunst's tennis form isn't much to look at, and even the most casual tennis fan knows that there's no way her teeth are getting past Wimbledon's stringent dress code.

#5 — Oliver Platt as Jimmy King in Ready to Rumble
Oliver Platt is a lot of things. A gifted stage actor. An occasionally riveting character actor. Fairly fat. Perhaps it was his size that made producers think he would feel at home starring as a professional wrestler who gets cheated out of his title by Diamond Dallas Page, then begins wrestling with David Arquette. Not quite. As easy as it is to rip Sylvester Stallone for using steroids to get into shape, we much prefer that over having to look at a spandex-clad Oliver Platt.
Platt plays the role of King with all the intensity of a fat guy who's really, really hoping his paycheck clears, and not even his flailing stage punches can save the wrestling scenes; not even in a campy way. (It doesn't help that Platt's wrestling stunt double, wrestler Chris Kanyon, is very clearly not Platt in the wrestling sequences.) Chin up, though, Oliver. You can still bill yourself as Blockbuster-Entertainment-Award-nominated actor Oliver Platt.




#6 — Lindsay Lohan as Maggie Peyton in Herbie: Fully Loaded
Talk about unrealistic. Yeah, right, like any race team owner or circuit would keep throwing an obviously untalented female driver back onto the track week after week just because she was smoking hot. What a joke. Like that would ever happen…



#7 — Scott Bakula and Sinbad as Paul Blake and Andre Krimm in Necessary Roughness
Here's how unbelievably implausible Bakula and Sinbad were in their respective roles as a college football quarterback and defensive lineman: by the time Kathy Ireland shows up as the team's placekicker, it seems perfectly natural that a supermodel would be handling their kickoffs.
In retrospect, this one probably went off the rails when the producers tried to give it a narrative. A 90-minute film that was just Sinbad getting tackled and a young Kathy Ireland walking around in short shorts probably would have rivaled Avatar at the box office.

#8 — Tom Cruise as Cole Trickle in Days of Thunder
Sure, Cruise was one of Hollywood's biggest stars when this NASCAR flick came out, but where's the realism? Drivers have to be able to see over the steering wheel without sitting a phone book, which pretty much disqualifies Cruise from a stock car career right from the start. Moreover, there's absolutely no chance that a Scientologist like Cruise would be caught dead driving a car he couldn't spruce up with a Xenu is my Co-Thetan bumper sticker. On the other hand, our lawyers have pointed out that like a lot of NASCAR drivers, Cruise is extremely heterosexual and almost unbelievably potent, so maybe the casting decision was a good one.


#9 — Billy Blanks as Billy Cole in The Last Boy Scout
The Last Boy Scout remains watchable in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way, particularly the opening football scene in which a PCP-addled running back shoots three players en route to the end zone. A murder-suicide during a football game is a bit of a stretch — at least outside of a Miami Hurricanes dynasty-era game — but in retrospect, the real head scratcher is the casting of the running back. It's Billy Blanks. Yes, that Billy Blanks. The Tae Bo guy. Why use a handgun when you can simply scare off defenders using a series of aerobic, fat-burning kicks and punches? The only way you can top this one would be with a film in which Billy Mays dropped 55 in an NBA game, then stabbed referee Dick Bavetta with a samurai sword.


#10 — Shaun Weiss as Greg Goldberg in The Mighty Ducks
Sure, the producers probably thought it made sense to put the fat kid between the pipes for this hockey series; after all, his robust physique filled up more of the goal than any of his svelte teammates could have. On the other hand, come on. We all know that fat kids have a very special position all their own when it comes to youth sports. It's called the bench, and they can sit there eating Twizzlers and struggling to breathe to their gooey little hearts' content. If coach Gordon Bombay was serious about winning, he would have yanked Goldberg and put in a kid with some actual athletic prowess. Sit there until we need an anchor for our tug-of-war team, tubby.
Even more unrealistic: by the time D3 rolled around, they tried to convince us that Goldberg could skate! Insane.

#11 — Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny Walker in Johnny Be Good
Who's the top high school quarterback prospect in the country? The nerdy kid from The Breakfast Club, of course! Despite a throwing motion that makes even Vince Young wince, Hall's character racks up state records, pals around with Robert Downey, Jr., and dates a young Uma Thurman. Not only that, he's also a great punter! He's going to make everyone forget all about Tom Tupa. (Or at least the remaining six people who remember Tom Tupa's versatility as both a quarterback and a punter.) You know, Jimmy Clausen's senior year of high school was probably a lot like this, only with 80% more sneering.


#12 — Bernie Mac as Stan Ross in Mr. 3000
We're confused, makers of Mr. 3000. You needed someone to play an out-of-shape, overweight ex-baseball-player, and you didn't call Tony Gwynn? Come on, that one was almost as much of a no-brainer as casting Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The late Bernie Mac brought his comic talents to Mr. 3000, but his swing wasn't going to win any praise from Tom Emanski. On the plus side, though, Mr. 3000 includes a classic media credibility destruction scene. All it was missing was Bob Costas reprising his role from BASEketball.

#13 — Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas as Vince Boudreau and Cesar Dominguez in Play It to the Bone
Think Harrelson's awkward jumper ruins repeat viewings of White Men Can't Jump? Wait until you see him box Banderas in Play It to the Bone! Harrelson and Banderas play best-friend, washed-up boxers who have to make it to Vegas in a single day so they can battle each other for a title shot. In retrospect, it's amazing that this one squeaked out a 12% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Neither Banderas nor Harrelson can act, and they sure as hell can't box. Glass Joe vs. Von Kaiser would make for a far more compelling 124 minutes. Even Don Flamenco vs. Oliver Platt would have worked.


#14 — Freddie Prinze, Jr., Matthew Lillard, and Wilmer Valderrama as Ryan Dunne, Billy Brubaker, and Mickey Dominguez in Summer Catch
The producers of Summer Catch needed three young actors who could light up the screen as hot baseball prospects playing in the Cap Cod League. Instead they got the obnoxious guy from She's All That, the even more obnoxious guy from Scream, and Fez from That '70s Show. In other words, they assembled enough athletic and dramatic talent to rival The Pride of the Yankees.
While Prinze's fastball tops out in the mid-50s, Lillard is too lanky to be a catcher, and Wilmer Valderrama is Wilmer Valderrama, these guys would probably all be among the Houston Astros' top 10 prospects. Bravo, makers of Summer Catch, and not just for the gratuitous Jessica-Biel-in-a-bikini shots.


#15 — Joaquin Phoenix as John Merrill Hess in Signs
Ladies and gentlemen, your all-time minor league home run king ¦ Joaquin Phoenix! Not to spoil a whole bunch of M. Night Shyamalan movies at once, but Bruce Willis is dead, Samuel L. Jackson caused the train crash in Unbreakable, and Shyamalan expects you to believe that the minor league home run record is held by a guy who is just one inch taller than David Eckstein. Really, look at this swing. No wonder he never got called up to the big leagues.

Even more ridiculous, Shyamalan expects us to believe Mel Gibson doesn't have a black, hate-filled heart.


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