Most Ethnically Questionable Casting Choices

John Wayne in The Conqueror

Most of you reading this have probably never seen this movie, or even heard of it.  I myself didn’t even know it existed until I skimmed John Wayne’s IMDb page because I recently watched True Grit.  As I was going through his filmography, I noticed a movie called “The Conqueror” that he did in ’56.  To be fair, I didn’t notice the title of the movie so much as the role that the Duke played.

John Wayne
Cover of John Wayne

John Wayne is the symbol of white cowboy God-fearing, gun-slinging probably racist masculinity.  He never found a problem he couldn’t shoot, punch or screw.  He didn’t need to be politically correct because he was right, damn it.

So who did John Wayne play in The Conqueror?

Gengis Khan.

Nuff said.

The entire casting of 21

21 is an extraordinarily easy to make fun of and blithely entertaining film detailing the “we promise it’s true” tale of a group of MIT students who learned to count cards really well and won a lot of money in Vegas.

The real life team that did this was a bunch of Asian guys, led by an Asian professor.  This distinctly Asian cadre of card counters is portrayed by an ethnically and sexually diverse group of actors, and led by Kevin Spacey.  Just in case that wasn’t insulting enough, the only Asian kid in the group is the plucky comic relief, whose entire role revolves around whatever is happening to the main character.

Jean Reno in The Professional

This one I never quite understood.  Jean Reno has built his Hollywood career on being “That French Guy”.  Be it Godzilla, Flyboys, The Da Vinci Code or any of his other movies, he’s the guy they bring in when they need a French character.  Because he’s French.  Very French.

Monsieur Reno plays a hit man in The Professional (which is a phenomenal movie and introduced the world to Natalie Portman, so you need to watch it).  This hit man speaks with a French accent (as Jean Reno does), but hangs out with the Italian mob in NYC.  While having a French guy hang with the Italian mob seemed odd, it didn’t seem implausible, and having them work together despite their differing ethnicities I found to be quite compelling, given that mobs are often very particular about who works with them.

Two thirds of the way through the movie we’re told that Jean Reno and his French accent are Italian.


The Frenchest of French guys is playing an Italian?  If they had nixed that one line of dialogue, the movie would have made more sense.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, but it just seems silly.

The Main Characters in The Last Airbender

The four and a half people who follow this site know that I did not like The Last Airbender at all.  I only gave it a 17 out of 100 because the music and special effects were good.

One of the most atrocious things about the film was something I didn’t touch on in my review, because my lack of familiarity with the show meant that I didn’t know that the casting was such a whitewash.  All of the characters in the show are Asian.  That changed slightly in the movie.  While all of the supporting characters (most notably the bad guys) retained their Asian-ness, the main characters (read, the people on screen the most) underwent the Michael Jackson treatment.  The three main characters are extraordinarily Caucasian.  I don’t think they even tan.

The weirdest casting choice of all was probably Jackson Rathbone from the Twilight saga, who spent the entire movie trying ineffectively to suppress his southern accent (he grew up in Texas, and his name is way too bad ass for somebody trying to be a pretty boy).

This picture compares the cartoon character with Jackson Rathbone (seriously, I love that name).

Nuff said.

All of Sean Connery‘s career.

Sean Connery at the private party after the pr...
Image via Wikipedia

No greater ethnic bending has ever occurred than Sean Connery’s career.  The most famous Scottish accent in the world has been a Spanish swordsman (Highlander), a Russian submarine captain (Hunt for Red October), a British secret agent (guess), and several other people and accents that this rich Scottish badassery had no business portraying.  Although, to be fair, what he lacks in ability to manipulate his accent, he makes up for in being one of the most awesome actors of the 20th century.For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man

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