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Stars Who "Own" Their Role


speedracer5
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I really liked Darkblue's idea over at the "Most Memorable Classic Performance" thread, so I thought I'd take it and create a new thread.

 

There are many characters who have been portrayed by multiple actors throughout the years: Robin Hood, James Bond, Phillip Marlowe, just to name a few. 

 

Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig.  All James Bonds.  Whose "James Bond" is the definitive one? Most, I imagine will say that Sean Connery "owns" that role.

 

Or, another way to look at this question:

 

Whose interpretations of a particular role are so iconic and so memorable, that it is unlikely that another actor will ever be able to replicate it and surpass it? 

 

There were many actors and actresses considered for the coveted roles of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.  Can anyone really envision anyone else but Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in those roles?

 

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For me, Errol Flynn is Robin Hood.  While many throughout the years (Douglas Fairbanks, Daffy Duck, Disney's Robin Hood, Cary Elwes, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe) have all been Robin Hood in their respective films, nobody personifies the legendary Robin Hood as well as Errol Flynn.  He brings forth a charismatic, attractive, athletic, strong, cocky, intelligent interpretation that nobody else has been able to since (or in Douglas' case, prior).  In Costner's interpretation, it seems unlikely that anyone in Sherwood Forest would listen to him.  He lacks the screen presence to make it believable that anyone would follow him in his fight against The Sheriff of Nottingham (although, I love Alan Rickman's "Rock n' Roll" interpretation of this role). 

 

Humphrey Bogart's Rick Blaine in Casablanca is so iconic, I cannot imagine anyone else in that role.  Who else would be able to make "Here's looking at you, kid" such a romantic line? Bogart's Rick Blaine is the ultimate romantic hero.  Though a cynic, Blaine also has a soft side, but won't compromise what's right in order to satiate his romantic side.  Though he loves Ilsa, he knows that she's better off with her husband.  While he would love to send Victor off by himself and keep Ilsa, he knows that she's not safe in Casablanca and that she needs to be with her husband.  That iconic scene in the airport between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, probably one of the most romantic scenes in all of Hollywood, yet the two characters don't end up together. 

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I think it's safe to say that Boris Karloff "owns" the role of the Frankenstein Monster. He brought a child like simplicity (as least in the first two films) and anguish to the role. As an outsider from society (to put it mildly) Karloff's Monster made us feel his character's loneliness and, therefore, understand his resultant anti-social behaviour (if I can put killings that way).

 

While many actors have played the role since, and he only actually played the part twice in his film career, Bela Lugosi owns the part of Count Dracula, in my opinion (apologies to Christopher Lee fans).

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I think it's safe to say that Boris Karloff "owns" the role of the Frankenstein Monster. He brought a child like simplicity (as least in the first two films) and anguish to the role. As an outsider from society (to put it mildly) Karloff's Monster made us feel his character's loneliness and, therefore, understand his resultant anti-social behaviour (if I can put killings that way).

 

While many actors have played the role since, and he only actually played the part twice in his film career, Bela Lugosi owns the part of Count Dracula, in my opinion (apologies to Christopher Lee fans).

Absolutely. Lon Chaney Jr. owned the Werewolf. Hurt owned the guy from whose stomach came the Alien.

 

The no-name guy in The Fly. What's his name's husband was awful.

 

Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Donald Sutherland wasn't bad, but meh.

 

Cagney in White Heat and Yankee Doodle Dandy.

 

I don't like Gable, but Rhett was his.

 

The Japanese guy who disintegrated in the ocean along with Godzilla out of unrequited love.

 

Cary Grant in any of his roles, no one can touch his roles.

 

Joan Hickson as Marple, Thaw as Morse, Coltrane as Cracker, Brett as Holmes, Jason as Frost - yeah television, so sue me.

 

George Reeve was Superman. Yes, Christopher Reeve was admirable, but I loved him better in Somewhere in Time.

 

GOOD question, speedracer.

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I think it's safe to say that Boris Karloff "owns" the role of the Frankenstein Monster. He brought a child like simplicity (as least in the first two films) and anguish to the role. As an outsider from society (to put it mildly) Karloff's Monster made us feel his character's loneliness and, therefore, understand his resultant anti-social behaviour (if I can put killings that way).

 

While many actors have played the role since, and he only actually played the part twice in his film career, Bela Lugosi owns the part of Count Dracula, in my opinion (apologies to Christopher Lee fans).

I'd have to agree.  While I'm not as familiar with the 30s monster films, I'd have to say that Karloff and Lugosi are the most definitive interpretations.  Lugosi definitely brings the spooky quality required in Dracula.  Lugosi's accent definitely aided in his portrayal.  What did you think of Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula?

 

Though, I love Peter Boyle's Frankenstein monster in Young Frankenstein, or Fred Gwynne's in The Munsters (ok, I know it's TV), but recognize that those are a different type of interpretation.

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Absolutely. Lon Chaney Jr. owned the Werewolf. Hurt owned the guy from whose stomach came the Alien.

 

The no-name guy in The Fly. What's his name's husband was awful.

 

Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Donald Sutherland wasn't bad, but meh.

 

Cagney in White Heat and Yankee Doodle Dandy.

 

I don't like Gable, but Rhett was his.

 

The Japanese guy who disintegrated in the ocean along with Godzilla out of unrequited love.

 

Cary Grant in any of his roles, no one can touch his roles.

 

Joan Hickson as Marple, Thaw as Morse, Coltrane as Cracker, Brett as Holmes, Jason as Frost - yeah television, so sue me.

 

George Reeve was Superman. Yes, Christopher Reeve was admirable, but I loved him better in Somewhere in Time.

 

GOOD question, speedracer.

Thanks Primos.  It was actually Darkblue's question that he brought up in a different thread, but I thought I would take it and start this thread.

 

I agree about Cary Grant--even though, in many of his films he seems to play the same guy for the most part, but he plays it well. I would say his ultimate performance is The Awful Truth

 

I think Bette Davis owns Baby Jane Hudson.  Nobody would be able to bring that level of batshit crazy to a role.

 

I also can't imagine anyone else as Norman Bates other than Anthony Perkins.  Vince Vaughn could not even begin to compete with Perkins' portrayal.

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I think it's safe to say that Boris Karloff "owns" the role of the Frankenstein Monster. He brought a child like simplicity (as least in the first two films) and anguish to the role. As an outsider from society (to put it mildly) Karloff's Monster made us feel his character's loneliness and, therefore, understand his resultant anti-social behaviour (if I can put killings that way).

 

While many actors have played the role since, and he only actually played the part twice in his film career, Bela Lugosi owns the part of Count Dracula, in my opinion (apologies to Christopher Lee fans).

 

I was gonna "like" this post until I got to the second paragraph.

 

Boris is definitely the best Frankenstein monster ever, in my opinion.

 

However, Bela - for all his iconic imagery in the role - is not necessarily the "best". Lee is more bracing and Oldman was by far the most interesting. It's difficult to choose - the part has been played by so many - but, gun to my head - I'd probably give the award to Max Schreck.

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Who "owned their role" you ask, Speedy?

 

Well, the first person I thought of here was Rosalind Russell in the movie "Gypsy"!

 

(...'cause her husband bought it for her!) ;)

Lol.  I guess if you wanted to go for the more literal answer to the question ;)

 

Though in Russell's case in Gypsy, she was fantastic in that role--the ultimate stage mother.  I've always enjoyed her performances.  I think she owns all her roles, including her most famous "Auntie Mame." As much as I love Lucille Ball, I do not think she is as good a Mame as Rosalind was.  She was made for that role, it's a shame she didn't win the Oscar.

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Lol.  I guess if you wanted to go for the more literal answer to the question ;)

 

Though in Russell's case in Gypsy, she was fantastic in that role--the ultimate stage mother.  I've always enjoyed her performances.  I think she owns all her roles, including her most famous "Auntie Mame." As much as I love Lucille Ball, I do not think she is as good a Mame as Rosalind was.  She was made for that role, it's a shame she didn't win the Oscar.

 

Actually Speedy, I agree with your assessment of Russell as Mama Rose, and even though many people to this day say it's a shame Merman wasn't allowed to play the movie role. I always thought she brought to it a subtlety that Merman would have been had pressed to show in the milieu of film.

 

(...and I also agree with your thoughts about Russell in "Auntie Mame") 

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Actually Speedy, I agree with your assessment of Russell as Mama Rose, and even though many people to this day say it's a shame Merman wasn't allowed to play the movie role. I always thought she brought to it a subtlety that Merman would have been had pressed to show in the milieu of film.

 

(...and I also agree with your thoughts about Russell in "Auntie Mame") 

I'll admit that I'm only familiar with Ethel Merman through There's No Business Like Show Business, but she seems the type who probably blew people away on Broadway, but seemed to have trouble adjusting her performance to the confines of film.  I have a feeling that if she were in Gypsy instead of Russell, she would have made Mama Rose way too over the top and make her unlikeable.  With Russell, while she is pretty outrageous, she is able to make it believable that Mama Rose is only trying to help her daughters and wants them to be successful--even though she seems oblivious to the fact that they're outgrowing their personas.  I don't remember if Mama Rose herself had a failed stage career and was trying to live vicariously through her daughters or whether she just really wanted them to be successful.  The last scene where it shows Mama Rose on stage alone, I think really brought her back down to Earth.

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I also can't imagine anyone else as Norman Bates other than Anthony Perkins.  Vince Vaughn could not even begin to compete with Perkins' portrayal.

 

I agree, speedracer.

 

Interestingly enough, it was Alfred Hitchcock who decided to make Norman Bates young and good-looking in his movie. In the novel Psycho from which the movie was adapted Nornan is middle-aged and overweight.

 

(I do think Freddie Highmore does an excellent job as the teenage Norman on the series BATES MOTEL.)

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I also can't imagine anyone else as Norman Bates other than Anthony Perkins.  Vince Vaughn could not even begin to compete with Perkins' portrayal.

 

Perfect example!!

 

Perkins will always be THE Norman Bates, no matter who else plays the role. In fact, I think this may be the best example of an actor owning a role yet mentioned.

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Perfect example!!

 

Perkins will always be THE Norman Bates, no matter who else plays the role. In fact, I think this may be the best example of an actor owning a role yet mentioned.

 

 

I agree, speedracer.

 

Interestingly enough, it was Alfred Hitchcock who decided to make Norman Bates young and good-looking in his movie. In the novel Psycho from which the movie was adapted Nornan is middle-aged and overweight.

 

(I do think Freddie Highmore does an excellent job as the teenage Norman on the series BATES MOTEL.)

 

Thanks.  I think what makes Perkins' portrayal so memorable is how he comes across as harmless.  He doesn't look like your typical creeper.  He isn't super tall, he doesn't have an intimidating build.  He is average height and thin.  He doesn't have any scars or other types of disfigurement.  He doesn't have a scary voice, bad teeth, or any other features that would indicate villain.  Hitchcock's choice to change Norman Bates' appearance was brilliant, because it makes Perkins even creepier.  It makes sense that Janet Leigh wouldn't think anything of him.  He's good looking, friendly and approachable.  He only comes across as a little anxious.  He is also strangely intense, which I think is some foreshadowing that all is not right with Norman Bates.  He isn't just your average small town motel proprietor.  His nice guy w/ a mommy complex was amazing.  His best line, in my opinion, is at the end when he's in jail: A boy's best friend is his mother.  So creepy when in context of this film.

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some kid named chris pine playing me?

 

I'm as iconic as clayton moore as kimo sabe.

 

somebody is warped.

 

William Shatner, the one and only genuine James T. Kirk

1zpkwud.jpg

Shatner has been barred from playing kirk for more than 20 years...and that is why the star trek legacy lies in ruins today....

 

Shatner is now way to old now. does paramount think they've kept Shatner locked out long enough already?

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some kid named chris pine playing me?

 

I'm as iconic as clayton moore as kimo sabe.

 

somebody is warped.

 

William Shatner, the one and only genuine James T. Kirk

1zpkwud.jpg

I don't care HOW egotistical and a prima dona paramount may have found Shatner...

 

he was the man! :angry:

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I don't care HOW egotistical and a prima dona paramount may have found Shatner...

 

he was the man! :angry:

perhaps it was for the best though.

 

a larger than life actor like Shatner never woulda been agreeable to playing his iconic character like some millennial adolescent.

 

paramount got what they wanted. star trek without shatner...

 

but the cost was the destruction of a science fiction legacy.

 

all they want now is kids. fine. because that's all they got! :angry:

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Quite an interesting conversation you're having with yourself Nipkow...

 

While I do agree that William Shatner is the definitive Captain Kirk, I'll have to disagree with yet another jab at the Millenials.  We're not all bad.

 

Shatner, Nimoy, Takei... They're all the definitive actors in their respective roles.  The recent films have nothing on the original series and films. 

 

It's a shame that Shatner's ego prevented him from being able to secure more roles whether in television or film.  We know that his music career wasn't going anywhere...

 

I'm. a. Rocket. Man.

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Sean Connery will always be THE James Bond.  I don't care how many other thousand actors eventually portray Bond.  The one, the only, the true James Bond is Sean Connery.

Agreed.  Connery is the ultimate James Bond.

 

This might be blasphemy, but I don't know if I've ever actually seen Connery's Bond films... or really any of the Bonds up to Pierce Brosnan.  I have seen the Brosnan and Daniel Craig ones.  I believe that Netflix has just added Connery's Bond films to Instant Streaming, so I guess I have some work to do.

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Yep Speedy, I too was about to reply to ND about his "Shatner fixation" he seems to be having with himself here, and ESPECIALLY in regard to his previous comment of, "...and that is why the star trek legacy lies in ruins today!".

 

You see while I always liked Bill Shatner myself, and yes, I'm sure he will always be best remembered by his Capt Kirk role, a role that perhaps without it included in his long career would probably make him far less remembered by the public today, once again I believe ND overstated his case by stating what he stated above, and thus was about to mention that his contention goes against the FACT that these latest Star Trek movies starring Chris Pine as the captain of the Starship Enterprise have not ONLY made QUITE a bit of money since their releases but that they've ALSO even been critically received mostly in a favorable fashion.

 

(...and thus "transporting" his thought that this franchise "lies in ruins today" to a planet where FACTS are of no consequence!)   ;)

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Yep Speedy, I too was about to reply to ND about his "Shatner fixation" he seems to be having with himself here, and ESPECIALLY in regard to his previous comment of, "...and that is why the star trek legacy lies in ruins today!".

 

(...and thus "transporting" his thought that this franchise "lies in ruins today" to a planet where FACTS are of no consequence!)   ;)

 

I'm sure he was speaking about 'Star Trek' on TV.

 

Boy, that picture of Shatner there has one wondering what the girdle must've been made from. Cold-rolled steel?

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I'm sure he was speaking about 'Star Trek' on TV.

 

Boy, that picture of Shatner there has one wondering what the girdle must've been made from. Cold-rolled steel?

 

LOL

 

Yeah, and NOT to mention the possible headache he must have gotten from all that glue they must've used to fix that rug upon his head, HUH!

 

(...hmmmm...was that when he first got those "plugs" from "The Hair Club for Men"???) 

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There's recently been talk of a new "Thin Man" film with the characters of Nick and Nora Charles.  Although a remake is probably inevitable , no one will ever be able to match the William Powell / Myrna Loy pairing.  And while many fine actors have played "Sherlock Holmes" in films , Basil Rathbone will always "own" that role.

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