Outside of high-profile, world-spanning franchises, the movie casting process doesn't get much recognition until the movie finally comes out—when we can finally judge whether it was appropriately cast.
Casting isn't easy. Even a skilled actor can be a bad fit for a given role, and bad castings can result in bad movies (at best) or forever tarnish the careers of the actors/actresses in question (at worst).
But when a casting director knocks it out of the park, they pave the way for a cinematic experience above and beyond—a character who's so iconically portrayed that fans will never accept another portrayal by anyone else.
Here are our picks for some of the most perfect movie actor castings that were so good, they should never be played by anyone else.
10. Arnold Schwarzenegger as T-800 (Terminator)
This muscle-man became the face of the Terminator films, with the first film introducing concepts of time travel and sentient machines, then followed by sequels focusing on the survival of the human race.
The T-800 will always be Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature role. To this day, whenever he's in a movie—especially action and sci-fi flicks like The Expendables and Predator—we see glimpses of the T-800.
Fun fact: The T-800 character in Terminator: Salvation wasn't actually played by Arnold Schwarzenegger due to his political career at the time. His likeness was added in digitally in post-production!
9. Vin Diesel as Xander Cage (XXX)
Vin Diesel played the role of Xander Cage in two of the XXX films. His character is an adrenaline junkie who was given duties as a special agent under the XXX Program.
Diesel gave the character a raw and sporty look, perfect for someone who doesn't think twice before jumping on a bridge to chase down a foe. His performance featured many daredevil stunts, and the character of Xander Cage was etched into Vin Diesel.
8. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is the star of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and everyone knows that no one will ever play that role better than he did. Depp is Sparrow.
The way he delivers lines and contorts his face brings a one-of-a-kind life and energy to the swashbuckling pirate. He put in a performance that perfectly blended humor, sketchiness, and a dubious-yet-dark personality.
7. Keanu Reeves as John Wick (John Wick)
Since the turn of the millennium, Keanu Reeves was best known for his iconic performance as Neo in The Matrix. But for today's generation, he's better known as the badass assassin in John Wick.
This film franchise about contract killers gave us an action-packed story featuring John Wick, one of the finest hitmen who turned his back on bloodshed to live a normal life—then got sucked right back in.
The quiet personality of the character was played well by Reeves, portraying someone who was pushed to his limits to exact revenge.
6. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Who could ever forget Tony Stark's heroic snap in Avengers: Endgame? Robert Downey Jr. nailed that moment, perfectly infused with all the pride and arrogance that's been his trademark since Iron Man (2008).
From his incredible solo film that set the tone for his character and the entire MCU to come, to the formation of the Avengers, and ending with the restoration of the world, RDJ fully embodied Tony Stark.
5. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter (Harry Potter)
Some say he's good, some say he's not. Either way, Daniel Radcliffe established his career as the lead character in one of the biggest and best magical fantasy franchises of all time: Harry Potter.
Though many criticized his acting abilities during the entire run of those films, he still delivered a promising performance as the Boy Who Lived and made him irreplicable. No one else can ever be Harry Potter.
4. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter)
The Harry Potter franchise gave us many iconic characters other than Harry Potter himself, and it's hard to think that any of them can be played by anyone else—but Bellatrix Lestrange certainly stands out.
Played by one of the greatest British movie actresses of all time in Helena Bonham Carter, Bellatrix Lestrange came out as one of the most hated characters in the film franchise. It takes immense skill for a lovable actress to deliver such a hateful performance.
Dark, mysterious, villainous, and drenched in Gothic style, Helena Bonham Carter brought the most perfect mixture of craziness and wickedness to the unforgettable Bellatrix Lestrange.
3. Joaquin Phoenix as Joker (Joker)
The Joker has been played by several different actors already, so it might seem weird that we're including him as an un-recastable character.
All of the actors who have portrayed Joker did fantastic jobs in their own ways, uniquely bringing out the different ways a killer clown can terrify a city. But of them all, Joaquin Phoenix's iteration presented a Joker that was most realistic, relatable, and pitiable.
This Joker gave us a character-driven story that doesn't just focus on violence, but on the injustices of society and its mistreatment of people. Phoenix personified every inch of the Joker's psychological and emotional distress, in ways unseen up until his rendition.
It's not that the other Jokers weren't played perfectly. It's that Phoenix's Joker is a wholly different kind of Joker, and it's this nihilistic Joker that should never be played by anyone else.
2. Angelina Jolie as Maleficent (Maleficent)
Maleficent is a spin-off of the classic children's fairy tale movie Sleeping Beauty. In this film, the story is told from the perspective of Maleficent, giving a fresh new take on the character and her story.
The great evil witch was played by Angelina Jolie—and she truly knocked it out of the park. Her sinister and sarcastic smile as she casts that horrible spell on Aurora is just one of the many scenes that made Maleficent a character wholly owned by Jolie.
1. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine (X-Men)
To this day, Hugh Jackman's Wolverine remains the most iconic of all the characters in the X-Men films. He gave life to the fan-favorite mutant, then capped it off with his incredible performance in Logan.
Hugh Jackman will forever be Wolverine. There may be other mutants down the line who have similar attributes—like Laura Kinney as X-23—but there can never be another Wolverine. From his facial hair to his ripped body, complete with his world-class acting, Jackman is Wolverine.