Actors who were totally miscast, all wrong for the role, and yet did a wonderful job with it.

Giving credit where credit is due: I am so totally ripping this question off from Talkin’ Broadway’s All That Chat

All the Stephen King threads make my first choice Sissy Spacek in the role of Carrie White. She was too thin, too pretty, and at 26 possibly too old, yet she made ethe character come alive.

Lee J. Cobb was totally unlike what Miller had in mind for the lead role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Miller himself has said so, but he created the role on Broadway and made it his, so he’s pretty much the default image (even though they got Fredric March for the film version).
Miller himself later said, when Dustin Hoffman took the role on Broadway, that he was more of what he had in mind.

Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd. He was too young, too slight, too pretty and not a strong singer - but by the end he had won me over anyway. Unlike HB-C who faced the same problems and never really became Mrs Lovett (a role definitely played by Angela Lansbury IMHO).

Everyone thought Michael Keaton was miscast as Batman – too lightweight and hard to believe as the Dark Knight. But he was probably the best of all the Batmans.

In an odd way, Keanu Reeves as John Constantine. Aside from the fact that the entire movie was completely transplanted and kept much fo the feel, but none of the detail of the original, Keanu was surprisingly good as a depressed, sick son-of-a-gun with few redeeming qualities, but who steps up to be the hero anyway.

Yeah, it’s weird. I love Constantine the film but hate the liberties they took with the characters. It totally stands on its own, but is a pretty faithless translation of the comic book John Constantine.

Like you said, they nailed the feel of the film.

I remember when Robert Altman’s film Nashville came out, one of the local critics thought it was the best movie of the year, while another despised it. The paper ran their two columns side by side.

One review included the line “Henry Gibson, stunningly cast against type. . .”

The other said “Henry Gibson, woefully miscast. . .”

Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married. Now, she’s branched out a bit, but at the time, she was the sweet girl-next-door. Ella Enchanted, Princess Diaries, etc. had been her previous experience, but in Rachel, she was disturbed, addicted, etc.

Also, Will Ferrell in Stranger Than Fiction. He’s usually the jerk or the man-child, but in this movie, he was subdued, confused, frightened… and he pulled it off.

And while we’re talking about comedians who can pull off drama, I loved Dane Cook as Mr. Smith in Mr. Brooks. He was so sly, so manipulative, so disturbed. Totally unlike his stand up where he’s flailing around as a goofy idiot.

In my head, I always pictured John Constantine to be a lot more like Gregory House, but my mental image would not fit that film.

Harry Solomon was supposedly to be a fat couch potato, but when the producers saw French Stewart they rewrote the role.

Silimarly, T-Bag on Prison Break was supposedly to be an ignorant reneck type. But Robert Knepper’s interpretation of the role as cultured evil personified won them over.

By all rights, the casting of Tom Cruise as Lestat in Interview with the Vampire should not have worked. But damned if he didn’t perfectly embody the wicked, bisexual vamp.

In the Sookie Stackhouse (“True Blood”) books, Bill Compton was a Confederate soldier with young kids, which would put him in his mid-to-late 20s. **Stephen Moyer ** is 40-something, not to mention a Brit. When he first appeared on screen, it was jarring because he wasn’t what I pictured, but I’ve come to love him in the role.

Olivia Newton-John was way too old to play a high school senior, yet I can’t imagine anyone else in the role of Sandy in “Grease”

The part of Gareth Keenan in the UK “The Office” series was written to an overweight yet vulnerable guy. It took awhile for Gervais and Merchant to realize that young, skinny Mackenzie Crook would be the right choice.

And, of course, we have the fact that Angel on “Buffy” had a face of an angel. David Boreanaz was way too beefy for the role, but he worked for me.

Gregory Peck did a pretty good job in Moby Dick but he is too pretty to play a mangled sea captain

Charlize Theron, who was generally regarded as a lightweight beauty, did an amazing job playing Aileen Wournas in Monster.

Eli Wallach usually strikes me as cultured and well-spoken. He was totally wrong for Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and he absolutely stole it.

Speaking of which, who thought a foppish, English, comic actor could play an acerbic, drug-addicted, American doctor?

Daniel Craig as James Bond. Everybody was saying he was totally wrong for Bond, he’s not good looking enough, you can’t have a blond Bond, he’ll be terrible, etc., until Casino Royale came out and squelched the naysayers.

Anne Hathaway did a topless scene a the movie Havoc before she did Rachel Getting married. Havoc was really bad but it was nice to see her hooters.

Randle Patrick McMurphy is one of my favorite fictional characters, and my personal image of him was so strong, when Jack Nicholson portrayed him in the movie version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I was disappointed by his portrayal. Eventually, I came to accept that there was no one right way to play the role, and that it was a spectacular performance, but it had a lot of prior imagery to overcome before I could admit that.

Similiarly, Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Micheal Cera in Scott Pilgrim was a total miscasting at first… But watching the film, he truly made the role his own, and it worked.