Nobody likes recasting roles. It confuses continuity, befuddles audiences and sometimes upsets the original actors. But there are times when such a shake-up in performers is both necessary... and even an improvement.
Take, for example, today's news that Bryce Dallas Howard will take over for Rachelle Lefevre in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," the third installment in the bloodsucking 'tween-friendly franchise. While it's still too early to call the casting an upgrade over Lefevre, it's certainly not as bad of a replacement as it could be. If nothing else, Howard is in good company -- plenty of Hollywood-folk have been in her shoes before, and many of them proved successful in their reinterpreted roles.
Don't believe me? This stroll down memory lane of five re-cast roles should be proof enough that Howard's upcoming gig might work out for the best.
ALBUS DUMBLEDORE ("Harry Potter" Series): When actor Richard Harris tragically passed away after "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," Muggles across the globe wondered how the series could go on. Now, with only the two-part "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" left to go, Michael Gambon's interpretation of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore is the definitive version of the character. While Harris's gentle portrayal of the long-bearded wizard is certainly missed, Gambon's scene-stealing presence has cast a spell on "Potter" fans everywhere.
JAMES "RHODEY" RHODES ("Iron Man" Series): You know it's hard out in Hollywood for a pimp, but it's even worse in comic book land for Terrence Howard. The "Iron Man" star was famously dropped from the cast of the big budget sequel due to a reported salary dispute, leaving Oscar-winning actor Don Cheadle to pick up the War Machine mantle for "Iron Man 2." Sure, it would have been nice to see Howard's promise of "next time" fulfilled, but it's hard to deny the sheer force of Cheadle's acting chops -- especially after his crowd-pleasing appearance at Comic-Con last weekend.
RACHEL DAWES (Christopher Nolan's "Batman" Series): After the unmitigated disaster that was "Batman & Robin" -- that's describing it in kid-safe terms, of course -- Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" was nothing less than a breath of fresh air. While the film was widely revered, actress Katie Holmes proved a sore spot for fans and critics alike in an otherwise flawless reinterpretation. Cue Maggie Gyllenhaal, sister of Jake, who stepped into the role of ADA Rachel Dawes in "The Dark Knight." Despite her character's less-than-happy ending, Gyllenhaal's portrayal of Batman's main squeeze was a universally embraced upgrade over Holmes' previous performance.
BRUCE WAYNE ("Batman" Series): Sticking to the world of Gotham City, do you have any idea just how many Batmen have existed in front of the camera? From Lewis Wilson to Christian Bale and everybody in between, there's no shortage of Caped Crusaders caught on film. Each and every one of them has achieved varying degrees of success -- Michael Keaton had the Bruce Wayne part down, Adam West mastered the camp (hell, he created it), George Clooney was the nipple king -- but the crown could well go to Kevin Conroy, who continues to provide Batman's voice in projects such as "Batman: Gotham Knight" and "Batman: Arkham Asylum."
JOHN CONNOR ("Terminator" Series): Another role played by Christian Bale -- indeed, alongside Howard herself -- is none other than John Connor, the future savior of mankind. Bale is hardly the first person to assume the role, following performances by Nick Stahl in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" and Edward Furlong in "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." Still, some would argue that Thomas Dekker's portrayal of the character in "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" is the best one yet. Despite the show's short-lived run and premature cancellation, "Chronicles" attained a massive following that continues to fight for its small screen return.
Can you think of other famous roles held by multiple actors? Give us your picks in the comments section!