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Bizarre TV Casting: Friday Fiver

By
Walt from Breaking Bad

© AMC

It's been a bit of an odd week for TV casting. First, it was announced that professional geezer Danny Dyer had signed up for a regular role in Casualty, and - while it's not strictly 'casting' - there were a few raised eyebrows when The Apprentice star Nick Hewer was appointed as the new host of Channel 4's cosy day-time quiz Countdown.

This week's Friday Fiver takes a look at the other times that TV producers made a bold, left-field casting choice. Sometimes it's a disaster, but every once in a while, it can work...

Bryan Cranston - Breaking Bad
Bryan Cranston may now be an acclaimed dramatic actor who's won a string of Emmys for his scintillating performance on AMC's Breaking Bad, but there was a time when he was best known for his role as bumbling dad Hal on 2000-2006 sitcom Malcolm in the Middle.

Casting the inept Hal as a drug baron may have sounded like madness back in 2008, but Cranston swiftly proved the critics wrong. It's getting to the stage where other actors consider it an advantage when he's not eligible for an award nomination - his victory at such events is now considered pretty much standard.



Michael Chiklis - The Shield
An actor who can relate to Cranston's career transition is Michael Chiklis, who amazed audiences and critics - winning both an Emmy and a Golden Globe - with his performance as the brutal Vic Mackey.

Before being cast as the corrupt cop, Chiklis was known for a string of cuddly comedy roles, but a shaven head and strict gym work-out saw the actor completely reinvent his image. The Shield was never afraid to take a risk with casting - the fourth season also saw comedian Anthony Anderson excel as vicious gang-lord Antwon Mitchell.



Dennis Hopper - 24
And one that didn't work quite as well. Dennis Hopper was an acting legend and the producers of 24 certainly pulled off a casting coup in signing him to play the chief villain of the show's first season back in 2002.

But casting all-American Hopper as Serbian warlord Victor Drazen may not have been the smartest call. His accent was... interesting to say the least.



John Lithgow - Dexter
Sure, John Lithgow had taken part in his fair share of dark roles back in the day - Dexter wasn't the first time he'd played a serial killer. But by the time he headed to the hit Showtime drama, Lithgow stuck in our minds most for his role as adorable Dick Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun.

But this is another example of apparently odd casting working out brilliantly. Lithgow was the best thing about Dexter's fourth season - both chilling and thrilling. Suddenly we saw Lithgow in a whole new terrifying light.



Patrick Stewart - Star Trek: The Next Generation
Don't get us wrong - we love Patrick Stewart. But before Star Trek came along, he was best known for his appearances in Shakespeare and very British dramas like North and South and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Understandably, then, eyebrows were raised somewhat when his next move was to play the French captain of a Starship - even Stewart himself has claimed that he was miscast. But it all worked out in the end, as Stewart ended up loving the role and fans ended up loving his Jean-Luc Picard. Success!



What are the strangest television casting decisions you've ever seen? Let us know below!

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