By the time you finish reading this sentence, a new a-lister will have joined the – already hugely impressive – cast of Dune, the new film by Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve. That’s how it seems anyway.
A brand new adaptation of the eponymous 1965 sci-fi novel by Frank Herbert, Dune isn’t actually due for almost two years but the film world is already hugely excited. Why? Because Villeneuve’s cast list is insane.
Beautiful Boy star Timothée Chalamet was the first to be attached to the project – for the role of Paul, aristocratic heir to House Atreides – and he’s since been joined by Oscar Isaac (Life Itself), Rebecca Fergusson (Mission: Impossible – Fallout), Stellan Skarsgård (Mamma Mia), Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Zendaya (The Greatest Showman), Charlotte Rampling (Red Sparrow), Javier Bardem (Pirates of the Caribbean), Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War) and Jason Momoa (Aquaman). And breathe.
Expect Amy Adams and Ryan Gosling to join any day now. We’re joking. Or are we…?
In fact, the cast of Dune is so all-star that it got us thinking about other films with astonishingly famous casts. Here, then, is a list of ten films with the starriest casts of all time…
1. Love Actually
Writer, director, charity founder and all round nice chap Richard Curtis must have one of the largest phonebooks in the entertainment world. When it came to his 2003 Christmas-themed ensemble romcom, boy did he put it to use.
Across ten interconnected plot strands, Curtis recruited everyone from Hugh Grant to Keira Knightley and Bill Nighy to Emma Thompson. To boot, Curtis cast Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Andrew Lincoln, Marine McCutcheon, Julia Davis, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson, Marcus Brigstocke, Claudia Schiffer and Martin Freeman.
That’s not even where the list ends. Indeed, the Love Actually line up has actually grown in star power in the sixteen years since its release.
Then little known, Chiwetel Ejiofor went on to win a BAFTA for 12 Years a Slave – and will star in this Summer’s The Lion King remake – Thomas Sangster has grown from newcomer to Maze Runner lead and Welsh actor Joanna Page became a household name in UK TV favourite Gavin & Stacey.
2. The Expendables 3
Sylvester Stallone recruited himself a pretty giant cast for 2010 blockbuster The Expendables – what with Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts and Bruce Willis – but that was nothing on the ensemble he created for its second sequel in 2014.
Joining franchise regulars Stallone, Jason Statham, Randy Courture and Arnold Schwarzenegger, were Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snips, Glen Powell, Kelsey Grammar and Mel Gibson. There were even parts for former Bond villain Robert Davi and weightlifting champ Victor Ortiz.
A fourth in the series is due in the next couple of years, with Piers Brosnan allegedly already signed on and Jack Nicholson atop Stallone’s wish list.
There’s also talk of a crudely named gender-swapped remake – The ExpendaBelles – happening. Rumours suggest that the likes of Meryl Streep and Cameron Diaz have been approached for roles. Whether they take them or not, it’s clear that the spin-off has equally bold ambitions.
3. Movie 43
Almost a decade in the making, Movie 43 was nobody’s finest hour. Who’d have guessed that one of its many directors would go on to direct an Oscar favourite?
And yet – inexplicably, given the script – this crass, Razzie-winning antholedy boasts one of the starriest casts of all time. Literally.
Among the ensemble are Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Halle Berry, Gerard Butler, Leslie Bibb, Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Anna Faris, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Hugh Jackman, Johnny Knoxville, Justin Long, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, Chris Pratt, Liev Schreiber, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts and Kate Winslet.
George Clooney turned the project down and Julianne Moore managed a lucky getaway when her scenes were cut.
4. This is the End
Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg went all out in the casting of their respective directorial debuts: This is the End. This was the disaster comedy about really actors – portraying themselves as exaggerated caricatures – coping with the apocalypse.
Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson lead as…themselves but that’s just the start.
Watch out too for appearances from Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Paul Rudd, Rihanna, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mindy Kaling, David Krumholz, Michael Cera, Martin Starr, Aziz Ansari, Channing Tatum, Jason Segal and the Backstreet Boys.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
A recent entry to the list, Infinity War had the audacity to kill off fifty per cent of its astonishingly starry casts in a final plot twist.
Ten years in the making, the Marvel mega-hit united stars from across every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and brought together an enormous ensemble in the process.
Original Avengers Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth were joined by the Guardians of the Galaxy gang – Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan and Pom Klementieff – Doctor Strange‘s Benedict Cumberbatch and Black Panther‘s Chadwick Boseman and Letitia Wright, winner of this year’s BAFTA Rising Star Award.
Also: Josh Brolin, Benicio del Toro, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Peter Dinklage, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Don Cheadle, William Hurt, Cobie Smulders and – in an uncredited cameo – Kenneth Branagh.
Just to get one-up on its predecessor, Endgame will add Brie Larson, Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Jeremy Renner.
6. Murder on the Orient Express (both of them)
Agatha Christie’s best-selling crime novel has inspired many an adaptation but it’s hard to tell which of the best-known film versions boasts the starriest cast.
Perhaps it is Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film, which featured Albert Finney as Christie’s premiere detective Hercule Poirot. Lumet’s all-star line up featured Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Jacqueline Bisset, Wendy Hiller and Psycho‘s Anthony Perkins.
Or is it the 2017 Kenneth Branagh version? There Branagh himself played Poirot, with parts also for Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Josh Gad, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Leslie Odom Jr. and Daisy Ridley.
The jury’s out on this one.
7. Ocean’s Twelve
Any one of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s films could have featured in this list but we think we’ve picked out the starriest in the second.
Whilst Ocean’s Eleven featured George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Eddie Jamison, Carl Reiner, Quin Shaobo, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts and Michael Delano, Twelve added Catherine Zeta-Jones, Robbie Coltrane, Albert Finney, Eddie Izzard and Bruce Willis.
Gary Ross’ Ocean’s 8 followed suit last year with a similarly glittering cast – Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Mindy Kaling, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Dakota Fanning, Richard Armitage and James Cordon – but Twelve edges it.
The takeaway? The Oceans know how to cast an all-star film.
8. Forever and a Day
All-star casts are by no means a new phenomenon and Forever and a Day set the bar high in 1943, advertising a cast of ’78 stars in a great story as big as the cast’.
Among the huge names appearing in the film were Buster Keaton, Charles Laughton, Gene Lockhart, May Whitty, Cedric Hardwicke, Robert Cummings, Gladys Cooper, Wendy Barrie, Ida Lupino and Merle Oberon.
It wasn’t just the cast that boasted a-listers, however. Among the film’s directors were René Clair, Mary Poppins director Robert Stevenson and Oscars co-founder Frank Lloyd.
The writing team too offered hot talent, with Christopher Isherwood and an uncredited Alfred Hitchcock.
9. Om Shanti Om
Too often on The Film Blog, we’re guilty of skewing to an entirely western perspective. In the case of this list, however, it would be remiss of us not to include Farah Khan’s ridiculously starry Bollywood musical sensation Om Shanti Om
The romantic melodrama not only starred Shah Rukh Khan – the so-called ‘King of Bollywood’ – in the leading role but also featured cameos from almost every famous actor or performer working in India at the time.
Prepare yourself, this list is huge.
Appearing briefly in Om Shanti Om were: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Bipasha Basu, Ameesha Patel, Kareena Kapoor, Arshad Warsi, Bappi Lahiri. Chunky Pandey, Dhananjay Singh, Dia Mirza, Farah Khan, Feroz Khan, Gauri Khan, Karan Johar, Koena Mitra. Malaika Arora Khan, Mayur Puri, Vishal Dadlani, V. Manikandan, Priya Patil, Rakesh, Rishi Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Soumya Seth, Subhash Ghai, Yash Chopra, Preity Zinta, Rani Mukerji, Zayed Khan, Vidya Balan, Jeetendra, Priyanka Chopra, Shilpa Shetty, Dharmendra, Shabana Azmi, Urmila Matondkar, Karisma Kapoor, Arbaaz Khan, Malaika Arora Khan, Dino Morea, Amrita Arora, Juhi Chawla, Aftab Shivdasani, Tabu, Govinda, Mithun Chakraborty, Kajol, Bobby Deol, Rekha, Riteish Deshmukh, Saif Ali Khan, Salman Khan, Tusshar Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Lara Dutta and Sunil Shetty.
Don’t recognise them? Catch up on your Indian cinema!
10. The Longest Day
The Longest Day or The Longest Cast List? When it came to big names, this Darryl F. Zanuck produced, international war epic ticked many boxes.
A-listers from across the globe signed on for the film, with many only appearing in cameos but all contributing to one very starry cinematic experience.
American stars in the film included Henry Fonda, Paul Anna, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Robert Wagner, John Wayne, George Segal, Tommy Sands, Roddy McDowall, Gary Collins and Richard Breymer.
Among the Brits were Richard Burton, Sean Connery, Richard Dawson, Leslie Phillips, Richard Todd, Leo Genn, Siân Phillips and Patrick Barr.
The French cast included Arietty, Yves Barsacq, Jean Chapion, Christian Marquand, Bernard Fresson and André Bourvil, whilst the German big names were Hans Christian Blech, Gert Fröbe, Walter Gotell and Ernst Schröder.
6 thoughts on “10 times films had impossibly starry casts”
Some great films on this list, however, I think you missed one of the biggest – It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. This 1963 film had just about every big name comedian in it and remains one of the great classics that set the standard for films like the ones you mentioned! It has a great story, an amazing cast, and cameos galore! It also has its main theme as something we can all relate to – greed.
The cast included Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, Ethel Merman, Terry Thomas, Dorothy Provine, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Jimmy Durante, and Spencer Tracy. The supporting cast included Eddie Rochester Anderson, Peter Falk, Paul Ford, William Demarest, and Jim Backus. Cameos include Jack Benny, The Three Stooges, Joe E. Brown, Marvin Kaplan, Arnold Stang, Don Knotts, Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, Charles Lane, Andy Devine, Selma Diamond, Norman Fell, Stan Freberg, Zasu Pitts, Carl Reiner, Jesse White, Doodles Weaver, Leo Gorcey, and a few more I more than likely forgot!
Word is that there were many other comedians that were contacted, but due to scheduling could not commit. It spawned a few copy cat movies (Rat Race, for one) which didn’t have the same success.
This is a MUST see for any classic movie fan. Sorry for the long post, I just felt it needed to be on your list.
Now that I think of it, Cannonball Run had a good cast too – Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Bert Convey, Mel Tillis, Jack Elam, Jackie Chan, and Roger Moore.
Love your post! Thanks for letting me comment.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Great comment! Short lists always miss things out so thank you for adding two that could easily have made our top ten!
Thank for your list!!!
What a great idea for the post! You cannot beat Love Actually in this category, so a great choice. I can only add that I have always also been impressed by the cast of Scorsese’s The Departed. I mean there are Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin there, and one of the producers was Brad Pitt! The list just goes on.
LikeLiked by 1 person
And most of Quentin Tarantino‘s films would fit this list too
LikeLiked by 3 people
Hey, I expected True Romance in the list! :–)
It’s an interesting topic and I would certainly agree with you about Murder on the Orient Express!
LikeLiked by 1 person