February 19, 2014

Perfectly Cast Roles

There are certain movie roles that became iconic and the reason for that is the actors chosen to play these characters embody everything about them, making them thoroughly believable.

We’ve compiled a list of a few actors we think were perfectly cast in these now iconic roles.


Ian McKellen as Gandalf in LOTR/The Hobbit

It’s hard to picture another actor in this role; belive it or not, the original choice was Sean Connery who turned it down apparently due to the fact that he didn’t understand the story and had no idea what was going on. That’s certainly a good enough reason. The role then fell to Ian McKellen who made the role his own and when he was on screen, he wasn’t playing the role of Gandalf, he WAS Gandalf. When reading The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit books now I always hear McKellen’s voice as Gandalf as he portrays him perfectly. Gandalf is incredibly wise but also rather eccentric at the same time. Connery would have been an interesting choice but personally I don’t think anyone other than McKellen could have played this role so perfectly.


Bruce Willis as John McClane in the Die Hard Franchise

The 80’s were all about invincible one man army movies with muscle-bound heroes like Arnie and Sly dominating the box office. Then in 1988 a character came along who would essentially change the role of the action hero forever. John McClane is not an invincible killing machine (at least in the original movies); he’s a cop on Christmas vacation trying to reconnect with his estranged wife. Alas, some nasty terrorists led by one Hans Gruber had other plans. Bruce Willis wasn’t a huge star before the first Die hard came out but once it was released, he ended up creating the best action movie character of all time. McClane has an easy likability, humour and charm which Willis also used to have. He would despatch the bad guys pretty brutally, then deliver a one-liner which wouldn’t be cheesy. Willis made the role his own by making McClane bleed, cry and suffer but his will to protect his wife overcomes it all and he eventually saves the day and reunites with Holly.


J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man Trilogy

If we don’t get to see J.K. Simmons return to this role in the new Spider-Man films it will be a crying shame. It’s one of the best pieces of casting of all time as Simmons utterly looks like the character and he steals the movies completely. Rather than making the character scary (he used to scare me as a kid, shut up), he is played more for laughs but I love every minute he is on screen and it’s hard to think of a better piece of casting in a comic book movie.


Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian

Jason Momoa did a decent enough job as Conan in the 2011 remake; however the one actor who utterly embodied the character of Conan was Arnold. His huge muscled body made him not only look the part but also his Austrian accent and monosyllabic delivery made him feel more authentic as a Barbarian. He could say a lot without opening his mouth, especially his doomed romance with Valeria who he doesn’t actually speak to for pretty much the entire movie. Only Arnold could punch a camel and get away with it too.


Christopher Reeve as Superman

Reeve will always be my favourite incarnation of the Man of Steel as he was everything that Superman should be: noble, heroic and you actually cheered for him. He was also essentially the first actor to portray a superhero in a big budget film before the oversaturation we have of the genre today. He looked exactly like the character in the comics and the first two Superman movies will always be some of my personal favourites.


Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa & John Rambo

I really can’t decide what the more iconic role is so I’m cheating and choosing both. Like the other roles on this list it’s hard to picture any other actor play these characters as Stallone owned them both. I can’t picture anyone ever replacing him as these characters and the interesting thing is how different they are. Stallone has never received much credit as an actor but comparing these two roles you actually get a chance to see how good he can be. Rocky is the likable underdog who you are rooting for and became an American hero. Rambo is a bitter war vet who returns from Vietnam only to be spat on by the people he was fighting for. You still root for him but the character is very different from Balboa and it’s due to Sly that both characters have becomes such icons.


Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones

Fresh from playing Han Solo in Star Wars, which is his other iconic role, Harrison Ford took on the role of intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones. He made the character one of the coolest and most recognisable due to his easygoing charm, awesome fedora and trademark whip. Watching Tom Selleck audition for the role, you can see why Ford won because he just embodied everything that is Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark is arguably my all time favourite film and that is largely in part due to Ford’s portrayal of this fascinating character.


Sean Connery as James Bond

I know today everyone loves to rave about Daniel Craig’s portrayal of Ian Fleming’s 007 but for me Connery will always be the king. You don’t want to be Craig’s Bond whereas Connery makes him unbelievably cool, ruthless and charming all at the same time. His entrance in Dr. No is one of the best entrance scenes of all time. It stars off with a view of his hands playing cards then the camera moves up as he lights a cigarette and says THE line: “Bond, James Bond” and an icon is born. He’s not afraid to kill unarmed men in order to get the job done but he is also quite paranoid. The scene where he checks the room in Dr. No to make sure no one has been in is very telling about the kind of life he leads.


Tom Hiddleston as Loki in The Avengers and Thor 1 & 2

I think in years to come Hiddleston’s portrayal of the God of Mischief will be seen as one of the all-time great super villains. It’s almost impossible not to like him as he brings a playfulness lacking in so many other villains of today. In Thor: The Dark World he has hugely entertaining buddy banter with his brother Thor as they race to save the universe from Dark Elves… or something. He manages to be menacing one minute and calm the next. Only a British theatre actor could portray Loki so perfectly.


Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight

I remember when this piece of casting was announced everyone thought “huh?” and then the first trailers were revealed and everyone started to take note. This was a very different version of the Joker which was perfect for today’s audience. Rather than cackling all the time and playing the role for laughs, he was terrifying. The “LOOK AT ME!” scene made everyone jump in their seats as this was a Clown Prince of Crime we had never seen on screen before. Good luck to the next actor who has to play this role as Ledger made the role iconic and even won him a posthumous Oscar.


Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man

Like many other characters on this list, it’s difficult to picture anyone else playing Tony Stark as well as Robert Downey Jr. The interesting thing is that he isn’t all that likable, at times coming across as an arrogant ass, except that he actually has the intellect and the bank balance to back it up. Like the character he portrays, Downey Jr. has had addiction problems (Drink, etc) which made him behave erratically and nearly ostracized him from his friends. This made Stark feel authentic and believable because Downey Jr. is practically the same person.

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.

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