Weird plot reasons for jarring character recasts

Rebecca Sykes discusses the recasts that can be easily recalled

Rebecca Sykes
2nd April 2021
Credit: IMDb,2020 The CW Network, LLC.
Batwoman wasn’t the first time a CW show had undergone serious casting changes, with their rebooted Dynasty, starring Elizabeth Gillies (Victorious) as Fallon Carrington, enduring many casting reshuffles in 3 seasons. 3 actresses over 3 seasons have taken the role of Alexis and Cristal, and Steven Carrington (James Mackay) has vanished.

Dynasty- Cristal Carrington:

Nathalie Kelley didn't last long as the role of Cristal. Credit: IMDb.

Nathalie Kelley (The Baker and the Beauty) opened Dynasty as the fan-favourite Cristal bringing energy and spark to the role. It didn’t last as a tumultuous marriage to Blake and her reveal to be Celia Machado who borrowed the identity of Cristal later, she was killed. She dies after being shot, locked in a room, and burnt in a fire. Kelley later admitted in an interview night-time soaps weren’t the right fit and she received a call from producers. Still, her death was an overkill way to introduce Ana Brenda Contreras’ Cristal.

In early episodes, the changeover of Cristal was joked about and played to the style of the show

ln Dynasty’s defence, Contreras’ Cristal was written as the original Cristal who allowed her identity to be taken by Celia Machado. A ridiculous explanation fit for the ridiculous Dynasty and perfected by Contreras’ exceptional performance. In early episodes, the changeover of Cristal was joked about and played to the style of the show. Despite incredible chemistry with Blake Carrington (Grant Show), Contreras departed due to health reasons.

Their worst recast, unless they recast Steven, could easily be Contreras’ replacement Daniella Alonso (Revolution). Entirely ignoring the casting change was jarring, especially as season 3 began moments after the wedding of Blake and Cristal (season 2 finale). Forcing the use of camera angles and character blindness to transform Contreras’ 5ft5, 34-year-old into Alonso’s 5ft7 42-year-old Cristal. As the only Cristal continuing into her second season, but having less chemistry with her on-screen husband, I'm excited for her take, but I mostly wish Dynasty would dig into their casting hilarity by continuing to have a revolving door of Cristals.

Dynasty- Alexis Carrington:

Elizabeth Gillies surprised audiences when she was announced to be on the show. Credit: IMDb, 2020 The CW Network, LLC.

Nicolette Sheridan’s (Knots Landing) Alexis abruptly exited in season 2, due to personal family responsibilities. Her departure was particularly gruesome with Alexis being held under a fireplace by Adam, resulting in excellent facial reconstruction surgery of a new actress. Chillingly hilarious, Elizabeth Gillies briefly portrays her character’s mother, Alexis, showing the controlling nature of Adam, but a very disturbing image. In season 3, after another surgery, Alexis returns as Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap) who vaguely resembles Sheridan and is only 7 years younger.

The CW is not the only network to undergo casting reshuffling.

Pretty Little Liars- Jason DiLaurentis:

Alison DiLaurentis’ brother was originally Parker Bagley as a reserved Jason in season 1. Afterwards, the role was recast to the former underwear model with more successful acting credits- Drew Van Acker. Series creator, King, stated Van Acker worked more for the direction of the story and larger screen presence, and nobody mentioned the appearance change.

Arrested Development- Ann:

Who is Ann? Watching Arrested Development, the writers aimed for nobody to notice Ann, George Michael’s (Michael Cera) girlfriend. So, when Mae Whitman (Good Girls) replaced Alessandra Torresani (Step Sisters) the running joke that the characters never noticed her and always forgot her let the change be ignored. Ouch.

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air- Aunt Viv:

Fans were saddened when Janet Hubert was replaced in the iconic show. Credit: IMDb, NBC - © NBC Universal, Inc. - Image courtesy gettyimages.com

Janet Hubert (King Ester) opened as Aunt Viv only to be swapped for Daphne Maxwell Reid (Harriet) after the 3rd season. Consequently, the character had less screen time, was less outspoken and more of a homemaker.

The official statement was Hubert violated her contract by getting pregnant. Unofficially, Hubert and series star Will Smith had major disagreements. Famously, Smith reported Hubert as a mad woman who wanted The Aunt Viv of Bel-Air Show, and Hubert disagreed citing Smith as “young, inexperienced, and needed to win” who requested her to be fired. Either way, Smith won.

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