(Not to confuse with "Ensemble Cast" because the two are completely different terms)
Stunt casting is a term in casting that refers to the use of a gimmick or publicity stunt to fill a role in a television series, film, video games, or theatre production. Stunt casting can take many forms, ranging from a celebrity or famous non-actor cameo appearance to the use of an actor's real-life relatives to play the corresponding fictional character's relatives or younger or older versions of the same character, usually as a cameo.
While stunt casting itself is not a new thing, it becomes more popular due to the release of Shrek and using star powers in films, and for whatever reason, although it's not the most terrible thing in the world, Hollywood often tends to overdo it.
- In Jetsons: The Movie, Janet Waldo had returned to voice Judy Jetson. However, after she had finished recording all her lines, the execs decided to replace her in favor of the pop star Tiffany, in an attempt to try to attract a younger audience. The move caused a major backlash, and casting director Andrea Romano asked to have her name removed from the credits both in protest of the decision and to avoid hate mail.
- In The Smurfs, every single Smurf character is voiced by a celebrity instead of their original voice actors, the only voice actor from the original Smurfs cartoon series that returns here is Jonathan Winters, who initially played Grandpa Smurf, but he doesn't actually return the role of that character, and instead plays as the role for Papa Smurf. It was so critically panned that the sequel had these voices uncredited, and the actor who played Papa Smurf in the movies died just 9 days after he finished recording his lines for the sequel.
- In The Lion King (2019), the entire original cast is replaced with a new cast (except James Earl Jones as Mufasa) for no reason, and not even he could do the performance as good as he used to.
- For Space Jam: A New Legacy, Kath Soucie was initially going to reprise her role as Lola Bunny from the original Space Jam, but the day the trailer was released in April 2021, it was announced instead that Zendaya will be voicing Lola instead in the finished film, despite that Soucie has been voicing the character since her debut.
- In Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019), they casted Ryan Reynolds to voice Pikachu, however, it was met with positive reception from most people once it released. It is partially understandable since they got a different actor to play this character in the 3DS game of the same name anyway. Despite this, Pikachu's current voice actor from the games, Ikue Ōtani, still voices him when heard from anyone other than his companion.
- In SCOOB!, they have the entire cast from the TV shows (except Frank Welker as Scooby-Doo himself), replaced with popular celebrities for no reason other than to get people to watch it, which caused Matthew Lillard, and Grey DeLisle, the current voice actors of Shaggy and Daphne respectively, being bummed down due to this, and mind you, the movie was sent straight to digital anyway due to COVID-19, before eventually having a theatrical release in May 2021 in a very limited form, and only in some countries.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), Ben Schwartz was announced to be voicing as the titular hedgehog instead of Roger Craig Smith, which caused initial polarized response, however, when the film was released, Schwartz's performance was praised for being faithful to the character. In fact, he originally served as a stand-in, they were going to cast a more popular celebrity like Chris Pratt (no, really) or Tom Holland to play him, but Sega and Paramount liked his performance so much they kept him.
- During the mid-credits scene of the first movie, they brought back Colleen O'Shaughnessey, Tails' current voice actor, to reprise her role as him, and due to popular demand, she returned to play Tails in the sequel and likely all future entries of the Sonic Movie series (except Sonic Drone Home, the short that comes with every HD and disc copy of the sequel, where Tails and Knuckles were replaced with soundalikes).
- In addition, they casted Idris Elba to play Knuckles, which despite being a celebrity recast of Knuckles from the games, has been met with very positive reception, with many saying he was a perfect choice for the character due to the nature of his character.
- In The Secret Life of Pets 2, Patton Oswalt is rather miscast as Max, but to be fair, Louis C.K. had personal issues back in 2017, which certainly doesn't help in the slightest.
- Perhaps the most infamous example of stunt casting is the upcoming Super Mario Bros 2023 film, animated by Illumination and distributed by Universal Pictures, who announced that Chris Pratt would voice Mario, in addition to every other voice actor from the games being replaced with a celebrity like Seth Rogen or Jack Black as Donkey Kong and Bowser respectively (except Charles Martinet, the voice actor of Mario, Luigi, Wario, their baby counterparts, Waluigi, and Toadsworth, as the role of a surprise character cameo, likely Wario or Waluigi or maybe an animated version of Charles much like Stan Lee's cameo in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) which was met with a mixed response from fans, causing many to laugh at some of these casting choices and spawned tons of memes. However, Donkey Kong, Kamek, Cranky Kong and Bowser don't really talk in any of the Mario games except through speech bubbles (unless if it were Super Mario Sunshine in Bowser's case, or the Donkey Kong Country animated series in DK and Cranky's case). Despite the response, some fans were fine with some of the choices (like Charlie Day, Seth Rogen, and Jack Black as Luigi, DK, and Bowser) while others were more concerned like Chris Pratt as Mario. However, out of all the characters, this is the first time that Foreman Spike gets to be voiced because he appears in a lot of old-school Mario media, and hadn't made a proper appearance since the Japanese release of the Game Boy Color version of Mario Golf.
- And to be fair, celebrities that were popular during the early 90s played these characters in its live action counterpart as well, so it isn't too surprising.
- Mind you, Charles Martinet voiced the Mario brothers in all Mario media since the 90s (yes, even the real-time animated meet and greets at conventions and Nintendo NY), which is a massive insult to both his legacy and longtime fans of the franchise.
- Trying to replicate the Mario movie controversy, Sony Pictures and Alcon Entertainment even announced that Chris Pratt would voice Garfield in an animated Garfield movie, causing people to make memes where Chris Pratt would be playing every iconic character they could think of. Not only that, Samuel L Jackson, is set to voice Vic, Garfield's biological father, a new character written for this movie.
- However, Bill Murray voiced him in both live action Garfield movies, so again, this is not that surprising.
- You know that this casting choice is a stupid idea when even Jacksfilms (the self-proclaimed "#1 fan of The Emoji Movie") predicted it less than a week before it happened in a YIAY video of him trying to fix the worst Garfield comic when he found a submission involving Chris Pratt as Mario. It's like Sony likes this YouTuber so much they decided to cast Chris Pratt as Garfield just to have his wishes fulfilled.
- And to add insult to injury, Frank Welker played Garfield in most Garfield media since Garfield Gets Real (the first entry of the "Garfield CGI Trilogy"), disrespecting his 15 years and counting legacy as the character.
- You know there's a massive problem with the stunt casting in this one where both of the announced actors are best known for their roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Pratt and Jackson as Star Lord and Nick Fury respectively), likely further proving that Sony only care about making money when it comes to most of their movie adaptations outside of Spiderman.
- Both live action Peter Rabbit movies depict James Corden as Peter Rabbit himself, despite other adaptations involving the character having professional voice actors play his role.
- In Tom & Jerry (2021), a popular rapper, named T-Pain voices Tom the Cat himself for a single gag relating to him singing at the piano that lasts no longer than 2 minutes, but is thankfully silent for most of the film. In fact, archives of his screaming from the original show is used at least every other time he gets beaten up, so it isn't too bad compared to all the other examples above.
- In Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers (the 2022 Disney+ movie), John Mulaney and Andy Samberg voice the titular Chip and Dale, respectively, depicting the characters with more normal voices throughout the majority of the film. However, their squeaky voices will still be included, with Corey Burton and Tress MacNeille set to reprise that variant of those characters for brief dialogue. Along with that, Burton is set to reprise his role as Zipper and MacNeille as Gadget as well. In Zipper's case, Dennis Haysbert voices Zipper every time he talks thus this depicts Zipper with a talking voice.
- Chris Evans voices Buzz Lightyear in the Pixar film Lightyear despite Tim Alen being the voice of Buzz in a lot of Toy Story related projects. To be far, Tim is also a celebrity like Chris and Buzz has gotten VA changes in some projects like Mike MacRae who voices him in some video games Buzz is in, Patrick Fraley in older video games Buzz is in, and Patrick Warburton who voices him in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. Because of Chris voicing Buzz, there has been some skepticism over the choice yet its confirmed that this Buzz is different from the Buzz from Toy Story. Despite this, Chris' performance as Buzz is praised as soon as we got the first glimpse of Chris as Buzz.
- In Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (2022), pop singer Shaun Mendes voices the titular Lyle, though the slightly questionable casting decision makes sense in this context as the original storybooks this was based off involved musical performances from the titular protagonist.
Why Everybody Hates This Move
- The biggest problem with stunt casting and why everybody hates it is that it focuses more on the star power than the acting skills themselves, which means they focus on more making money than having really good voice actors or singers due to this.
- Popular actors nowadays can even replace voice actors just because of their popularity rather than for their talent, most of the time without informing the voice actors they were going to replace, which is often noticed in remakes of earlier films, or animated adaptations of TV shows and video games (even in live action/animated hybrid films as well).
- It adds up to the common practice of recycling and milking actors which causes them to be oversaturated and overshadows other well-known actors in favor of star power, especially Marvel actors.
- They seem to ignore that even voice actors that are not associated with star power in Hollywood can still be in those films. For instance, take Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius for example as it had mostly had voice actors like Debi Derryberry, Rob Paulsen, Jeffrey Garcia, Frank Welker, Candi Milo, Carlos Alazraqui, etc.
- Another example is that even the stand-alone sequel Space Jam: A New Legacy still kept voice actors like Eric Bauza, Bob Bergen, Jeff Bergman, Fred Tatasciore, and Candi Milo as their respective Tunes despite Lola and Speedy being voiced by bigger celebrities.
- Even Colleen O'Shaughnessey got to voice Tails in the Sonic the Hedgehog movie during the post credits, and the sequel.
- Some non-Hollywood tier celebrities still get to appear in big films in some form as a major/minor character or voice cameo. For example, Jeannie Tirado (a voice actress) got to appear on Soul (the Pixar movie) as a minor character/voice cameo and Roger Craig Smith voiced the main antagonist major character, Ripslinger, from Planes (the Disney movie).
- And who could not forget stuff like Roger Craig Smith, Kyle Hebert, Reuben Langton, and Gerald C. Rivers voicing their respective video game cameos in Wreck-It Ralph and the 2018 sequel.
- Even Kevin Michael Richardson (who is most of the time a voice actor who got to voice characters in many different projects in comparison to other cast members like Chris Pratt and Jack Black) is set to voice Kamek in the animated Mario movie. In addition to Charles Martinet, longtime voice actor of Mario, Luigi, and several other Mario characters, being set to voice an unannounced cameo character.
- Frank Welker still got to voice Scooby-Doo in SCOOB!.
- It's like a gamble. Sometimes it would work while other times it won't work out that well.
- Sometimes certain actors may not fit well with a character they are voicing. It would take more than stardom to figure out what your actor of choice can do.
- Overall, stunt casting is arguably the weakest move ever; even worse compared to product placement.
- At times, stunt casting would surprisingly be good, like when Ryan Reynolds did an amazing performance as Detective Pikachu himself, the same also goes for Ben Schwartz's performance as Sonic in the 2020 Sonic movie and the sequel, along with Idris Elba as Knuckles, which were well-received. John Mulaney and Andy Samberg as Chip and Dale were also well-received. However, for the former, Ikue Ōtani is still cast for Detective Pikachu's voice when heard by anyone outside Tim (the human protagonist), as with Corey Burton and Tress MacNeille reprising their roles as Chip and Dale in brief dialogue.
- Like it said above, it is more about when studios focus on star power instead of acting skills when it becomes a problem.
- Heck on the topic of Chip and Dale themselves, maybe the stunt casting could give certain characters a new breath of fresh in a new way. Take Chip and Dale for example, it may sound weird seeing Chip and Dale speak like John and Andy respectively yet their portrayal makes so much sense due to their film being a meta-story and they sometimes speak in high-pitched voices.
- Sometimes, the cast the studio intends to replace is at least informed or allowed permission for their role to be replaced.
- When it comes to casting celebrities for original characters made specifically for these adaptations, it can be justified (e.g., Vic in the animated Garfield movie).
- The same can be said about celebrities voice certain characters due to the character being a completely different alteration compared to what the character is usually depicted. (e.g., Will Arnet as Peter Pan/Sweet Pete due to Peter Pan being depicted as evil, depressed, insane, and aged up in the Chip N' Dale movie) or the character the celebrity is voicing has never been voiced before (e.g., Sebastian Maniscalco as Foreman Spike in the animated Super Mario movie)
- Depending on the situation, the change in casting can sometimes be justified like let's say you wanted a certain actor to voice a certain character yet it was reported that they died, too busy with another project, or retired. Now it's time to find someone else.
- Another instance would be how child actors who appeared in previous projects would grow up so you got to find someone else.