Paul N., Here…
Top Ten Perfectly Cast Roles
The Bard of Avon said it best, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Some actors are great, and shine in everything they do (Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman, Daniel Day-Lewis). Some actors are smart enough to pick roles that best use their limited skill sets (Keanu Reeves). This list takes a look at the perfect pairing of actor and role. In this list, you will find a pairing of actor and role so great that the actor ceases to be themselves and instead makes the character take on a life of its own. These pairings are so uniquely theirs that you can’t imagine anyone else taking their place should Hollywood have the audacity to try.
10. Sir Ian McKellen – Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit)
Sir Ian McKellen has been in numerous roles, and has always played them well, but when fans of the Lord of the Rings novels imagine the perfect cast for the perfect movie, they would be hard pressed to imagine someone else playing Gandalf. His bright and inquisitive eyes shine brightly under the massive hat and large amount of facial hair. They simultaneously conveyed wisdom and kindness. His voice conveyed the kind of infinite patience and, when needed, absolute authority and power needed for such a role. When you watch him, you truly believe he is as old and weathered as Gandalf should be.
9. Colin Firth – Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
Here’s another novel-to-screen adaptation. This time it’s a mini-series. Those who saw Colin Firth play Mr. Darcy have since been pointing him out in movies saying “Look! It’s Mr. Darcy!” There have been many adaptations of the classic Pride and Prejudice, but while others have successfully captured the essence of characters like Elizabeth, none have come close to accurately portraying Mr. Darcy with such perfection. Like Gandalf, this character’s strength lies mainly in the eyes. Colin Firth brilliantly displays the kind of quiet contempt and overall judgment with just his expressions so well that audiences are convinced of his villainy. When the truth is revealed, the reversal in his manner is so absolute that audiences can’t help but fall in love with him alongside Elizabeth.
8. Tom Hanks – Forrest Gump (Forest Gump)
Tom Hanks is so convincing in his role as the loveable idiot savant that when you see pictures of Forrest, you don’t think “Wow! That Tom Hanks is good!” you think “Awww, look, it’s Forrest!” No one else could have captured the innocence and couple it with the hidden wisdom necessary for Forrest quite like Tom Hanks. When audiences hate with a ferocity a tragic character like Jenny because of how she treated another fictional character, you know you have a winner. No other actor could make audiences feel so protective of a fictional character quite like Hanks.
7. Johnny Depp – Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean)
He may be the worst pirate you have ever heard of, but you have heard of him! Johnny Depp is one of those actors, like Gary Oldman, who can transform himself into any role. He could probably play the part of a teenage girl and most people would readily accept it. Over the years, he has enjoyed a wide range of parts, but it wasn’t until Pirates of the Caribbean that he really transformed in the minds of audiences. Even in such wonderful performances like Edward Scissorhands, people left thinking “man, that Johnny Depp is a good actor.” But ever since Pirates everyone’s heard of CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow. It’s kind of like how no one recognizes a Disney Princess on her day off, but when she puts on that make-up, suddenly she is Cinderella. Who else can pull off the right combination of swagger and insanity like Depp?
6. Robert Downey Jr – Tony Stark/Iron Man (Iron Man, Avengers)
Tell people that there is an upcoming Iron Man 4 and you’ll hear excitement. Tell them that Robert Downey Jr might not reprise his role and you’ll have an angry mob on your hands. Even as you read this, there are distraught fanboys/girls opening new tabs to scour the internet to fact check that statement. Tony Stark requires a perfect mixture of compassion, confidence, bravado, and massive amounts of ego (but tempered to be humorous rather than narcissistic). Who better to play such a role than a man who embodies these very traits in his own life? Sure, they could get someone younger to play Stark rather than the aging Downey Jr., but would you actually want to watch it?
5. Gene Wilder – Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)
Interestingly enough, Roald Dahl, the author of the book, absolutely hated this movie. That said, Gene Wilder absolutely made the role his own. He had everyone on their toes the entire film. During filming, it is said that Gene agreed to make the movie under one condition: that he be allowed to limp out to the children and then do a spontaneous summersault. None of the other actors were expecting the acrobatics, and from that moment on, they didn’t know what to expect from his character – just the way he wanted it. With such creative ingenuity, audiences can be forgiven if they don’t exactly agree with the author on casting choices.
4. Sir Anthony Hopkins – Dr. Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs)
Even though his character was only on screen for 24 minutes, he absolutely stole the movie, so much so that he won an Academy Award. No one else on this list, and few in cinematic history, so successfully captured true evil in such a spine-chilling way. His penchant for improvisation further demonstrate just how well he understood his character. The simple and almost fragile way in which he carried himself was perfectly juxtaposed with the monstrosity he carried within. Sir Hopkins even got under the skin of his co-star, which is made even more impressive by the fact that she was fully aware of what he was supposed to say and do, and still it sent chills up her spine.
3. Raul Julia/Anjelica Huston – Gomez Addams/Morticia Addams (The Addams Family)
Most of you are likely too young to remember the Addams Family television show. Heck, you might be too young to remember this film adaptation. If you do remember, then you understand why these two cannot simply be separated into two different slots. Gomez and Morticia go together like bread and butter. And no one buttered up Morticia’s gothic heart quite like Raul’s Gomez. And no one filled out a comically tight dress to the delight of audiences (and Gomez) quite like Anjelica’s Morticia. These two are the ultimate inseparable pair, so much so that audiences get the impression “till death do us part” might not apply to these two.
2. Val Kilmer – Doc Holliday (Tombstone)
“I’m your Huckleberry”. Like Tony Stark, this role required a perfect balance of bravado and confidence, yet vulnerability. Playing the dying Doc Holliday, Val Kilmer gave a performance that no one has since been able to come close to duplicating. You truly believe that not only is he on death’s door, he still has the skill and ability to take down anyone who gets in his way. Not only do audiences feel like he can back up his talk, they delight in the manner in which he does speak. He easily outshines all of his co-stars and steals the show. Though Wyatt Earp is the real star, audiences can’t get enough screen time of Doc.
1. Jack Nicholson/Heath Ledger – The Joker (Batman, The Dark Knight)
You know that an actor has found a tough role when even critics pre-judge a film before even seeing it. Such was the reaction of nearly every critic when they heard that Heath Ledger would be filling Jack Nicholson’s shoes. Fortunately, they were all wrong. It is impossible to really separate these two from the top spot because both absolutely made the character their own, though in vastly different ways. Nicholson’s Joker was more like the over-the-top Cesar Romero version, while Ledger modeled his more in reality with a darker more psychotic version. Nicholson showed that the Joker could successfully be brought to the big screen, while Ledger showed that he could exist in reality. Both are equally worthy of praise.
Rick Moranis – Dark Helmet (‘Spaceballs’)
Michael Keaton – Beetlejuice (‘Beetlejuice’)
Jeff Bridges – Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (‘The Big Lebowski’)
Matthew Broderick – Ferris Bueller (‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’)