Tom Hardy as Elton John, and 5 other miscast rock biopics

Dan Stewart
The Week

When Elton John said he wanted Justin Timberlake to play him in a film about his life, the world laughed. But the actual casting choice for the new biopic "Rocketman" is no less ridiculous. The short, chubby singer will be played by Tom Hardy, the handsome, muscle-bound British actor best known as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Hardy is famous for transforming himself for roles, but playing the pianist formerly known as Reg Dwight won't so much require make-up as it will extensive, Gollum-esque CGI.

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— The AV Club (@TheAVClub) October 24, 2013 But Hollywood is famous for getting it wrong when casting rock icons. The arguable successes — Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison, Kurt Russell as Elvis Presley — are few and far between. Here are a few other egregiously miscast stars attempting to play rock icons:

Amy Adams as Janis Joplin
When The Butler director Lee Daniels announced that his biopic of the stocky, gravel-voiced singer would go ahead, his choice of lead actress was baffling — Amy Adams, the svelte star of Man of Steel and The Fighter. Adams has a decent pair of lungs, as singing roles in Enchanted and a New York production of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods have proven. But the 39-year-old redhead would surely have trouble embodying the alcoholic songstress, who died at 26. "She seems a bit ethereal for it," sniffed Anna Breslaw at Jezebel.

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(Stephen Lovekin, Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Harvey Keitel as Elvis Presley
The King has plenty of imitators, with everyone from Val Kilmer to Jack White stepping into his sequined boots. But none were more unlikely than Harvey Keitel, the method actor who played a version of Elvis in Finding Graceland. Now, the film leaves it an open question whether the eccentric drifter claiming to be Elvis is in fact the deceased star — but the Bad Lieutenant is hardly a natural fit for the role, as this video proves:

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Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan
Todd Haynes' I'm Not There is not your average biopic, with six actors including Christian Bale and Heath Ledger playing different "aspects" of Bob Dylan's character. But jaws dropped when Cate Blanchett was cast as one of the film’s Mr. Tambourine Men. The "statuesque Australian seems to have little in common physically with the scrawny songster from Duluth," noted The Guardian, in 2006. Critics, however, said she was hardly "just like a woman," and her performance won her a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. Here's a taste:

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Jared Harris as John Lennon
A pair of owlish spectacles might be all that links Mad Men's Lane Pryce with John Lennon, but Jared Harris played them both. It's fair to say he was more convincing as the stuffy upper-class Brit than as the late-period, "Give Peace a Chance" Lennon in Two of Us. But playing opposite the similarly miscast Aidan Quinn as Paul McCartney, Harris' wobbly Liverpudlian accent and moptop fright wig seemed oddly appropriate.

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Kevin Spacey as Bobby Darin
Beyond the Sea was a labor of love for Kevin Spacey, who produced, co-wrote, directed, and starred in the biopic of 1950s pop sensation Bobby Darin. Paramount executives originally wanted Leonard diCaprio for the role, and it's not hard to see why — the baby-faced Darin died at 37, while Spacey was 45 at the time of the movie's release. The studio bailed on the project after Spacey — fresh from winning an Oscar for American Beauty — insisted on starring not just as the late-period Darin, but also the teenage version.

Critics howled. "He's wrong for the role in every possible way," said MickLaSalle at the San Francisco Chronicle. "In a black toupee, he looks nothing like Darin and more like a middle-aged woman. It's a project that didn't call for a green light but rather an intervention."

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