The machinations of Hollywood have always been baffling, and probably always will be. Producers and studio executives sometimes make decisions that truly boggle the mind – like, say, repeatedly letting Nicolas Cage loose in front of a camera. As strange as these decisions may seem, they do occasionally pay off – like, say… letting Nicolas Cage loose in front of a camera.

Casting is a business all its own, with decisions sometimes made that seem to be bizarre risks. Whether this is recasting an iconic character with an unlikely actor, or whether it’s throwing an actor into a role that they have no prior experience for, sometimes casting decisions seem particularly weird upon their announcement. Often, it’s just too difficult to envision certain actors in certain roles or certain genres.

However, there are times when these weird casting decisions actually pay off. Sometimes, those casting risks pay dividends, with actors tapping into something no one expected them to have. Every so often, a weird or unpopular casting turns out to be absolutely perfect, resulting in the most exciting type of humble pie imaginable. Though sometimes we might find ourselves struggling to envision an actor’s success in a role, there are times when they prove us so very wrong.

7. Ewan McGregor – Birds Of Prey (2020)

Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask in Birds of Prey

Through the ’90s and ’00s, Ewan McGregor established himself as one of Hollywood’s finest leading men. With roles in movies like Big Fish and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (and its sequels), McGregor cultivated an image as a charismatic and sweet leading actor capable of playing a thoroughly convincing hero (albeit sometimes a decidedly quirky one). The Scottish actor became well-loved for his charming smile and his inoffensively cool demeanor.

When McGregor was announced for the villain Black Mask in Birds of Prey, Batman fans were baffled. Black Mask is the alter ego of Roman Sionis, a Gotham mobster who comes from old money – not exactly a character that conjures up the image of McGregor’s charming features. The thought of him playing any type of villain was bizarre enough, but having him play such a generic B-list Batman villain (and not even in a Batman film) seemed like a singularly odd choice.

In actuality, Ewan McGregor turned out to be one of the best aspects of the film (which, it’s worth noting, was also better than expected). McGregor’s affected take on Black Mask was interesting and deeply entertaining, as he playing the vile character with such conviction that it immediately dispelled any notions that he wasn’t capable of striking fear into the hearts of an audience. In fact, McGregor’s excellent performance made Black Mask more exciting than he’s ever been before, making him a unexpectedly perfect choice for the role.