13 Pairs of Actors Who Played The Same Iconic Book Characters But Not All Of Them Are Successful

Whether on stage or on screen, it seems quite rare to create an iconic character. However, certain performers are "born to play" iconic fictional characters in the film adaptation. They fit their assigned characters so perfectly that we can only describe these occurrences as miracles. Legendary roles like Juliet by Olivia Hussey, Katherine Minola by Elizabeth Taylor, and Jack Carter by Michael Caine, have left us with deep emotions and become irreplaceable characters in the hearts of the audience.
However, things are not always this way. As the years passed and new generations emerged, more and more films featuring these iconic characters were produced. It may be prequels, sequels, or even outright reboots. As a result, actors had to be replaced. Hence, some characters have been played by more than one actor.
So, from King Richard III to White Witch, here are some examples of iconic book characters that have been portrayed by several great actors in the adaptation. Scroll down to see!

#1 Mr. Stringer in "The Witches" - Rowan Atkinson & Stanley Tucci

Fictional CharacterSource:  Lorimar Film Entertainment, Warner Bros.

  • In 1990, Roald Dahl's "The Witches" was brought to the screen by the same name, and the hotel manager was portrayed by Rowan Atkinson. Because the British actor is most known for playing Mr. Bean, fans found it difficult to imagine him in any other role.
  • In the 2020 adaptation, this role was portrayed by Stanley Tucci. Everyone who has seen the movie agrees that he was great.

#2 Jordan Baker in "The Great Gatsby" - Lois Chiles & Elizabeth Debicki

Fictional CharacterSource: Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros.

  • There have been various film adaptations of "The Great Gatsby". In the 1974 film, Lois Chiles played Jordan. Her quiet and sexy demeanor divided opinions; some believed she was ideal for the part while others disagreed.
  • Jordan was portrayed by Elizabeth Debicki in the most current movie adaptation from 2013 starring DiCaprio. She has a strong crush on one Twitter user “I have a huge crush on Elizabeth Debicki, who’s great in it...”

#3 Henry V in "Henry V" - Kenneth Branagh; Tom Hiddleston & Timothée Chalamet

Fictional CharacterSource: Renaissance Films, BBC, Netflix

  • Henry V has been represented by dozens of actors, but Kenneth Branagh not only played the king but also directed the 1989 movie. Someone tweeted, “I love Kenneth Branagh! Great actor, great director, and he has a real feel for what people want to see.”
  • In the 2012 adaptation, Tom Hiddleston also tried on the crown and was praised for both his talent and looks.
  • In 2019, Timothée Chalamet tried his hand at this role in Netflix's "The King". Though some people disliked him, others liked him. “I thoroughly enjoyed Timothée Chalamet’s performance in The King, he brought an unexpected gravity to the role of Prince Hal/Henry V. But now I’m watching The Hollow Crown & he just doesn’t compare to Tom Hiddleston performing Shakespeare.”

#4 White Witch in "The Chronicles of Narnia" - Barbara Kellerman & Tilda Swinton

Fictional CharacterSource: BBC, Walt Disney Pictures

  • Smart and cunning Jadis is the main antagonist in "The Chronicles of Narnia". She was portrayed by Barbara Kellerman in the show from 1988 and 1990. Some people praised Kellerman's performance while others said she went too far.
  • In the more famous movie adaptation "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" (2005), Tilda Swinton portrayed the witch. Her performance is so good that people feel scared when they see her.

#5 Ben-Hur in "Ben-Hur" - Charlton Heston & Jack Huston

Fictional CharacterSource: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures

  • Based on the Lew Wallace novel, the epic "Ben-Hur" (1959) won 11 Oscars, including one for Best Actor. Ben-Hur of Charlton Heston was appreciated by the audience.
  • In 2016, Timur Bekmambetov created his own adaptation of the story. He handed Jack Huston the lead role. The film received many negative reviews and was considered one of the worst Movies of 2016. Huston was criticized for his Disney prince-like appearance and the lack of leadership qualities that Heston displayed. However, spectators believe he performed just as well as Charlton.

#6 Olivia in "Twelfth Night" - Alla Larionova & Helena Bonham Carter

Fictional CharacterSource: Lenfilm, Summit Entertainment

  • Olivia is an important role in Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night", which has been adapted for TV and film more than 50 times. She is a wealthy widow who is surrounded by many gorgeous guys. People believed Alla Larionova, who played Olivia in the 1955 movie, was particularly classy.
  • This role was also represented by Helena Bonham Carter in the 1996 English adaptation. One of the viewers remarked on Carter's performance, “She was great at switching between love-struck gleeful frenzy & goth girl emo-ness.”

#7 Richard III in "Richard III' - Laurence Olivier & Benedict Cumberbatch

Fictional CharacterSource: © Richard III / London Film Productions© The Hollow Crown / BBC

  • Shakespeare's play depicted the English King Richard as a limp and humpbacked, eloquent evil man, ready to do anything to get the throne. In the 1955 movie, Laurence Olivier was able to capture this role very well. Richard Harrison, a history professor said, “It’s hard to find a more malodorous fellow than Richard III. The character is so convincing that most of us who think of that king at all instantly see the slit-eyed, snaky, deformed embodiment of evil probably best depicted by Laurence Olivier.”
  • Richard was represented by Benedict Cumberbatch in "The Hollow Crown" (2012), and the audience also love the role he played.

#8 Katherine in "The Taming of the Shrew" - Elizabeth Taylor & Shirley Henderson

Source: Columbia Pictures, BBC

  • In the 1967 adaptation of "The Taming of the Shrew", Elizabeth Taylor played the lead role of Katherine. The audience applauded her performance and the film became a classic.
  • A TV adaption was made available in 2005 and Shirley Henderson played Katherine. Viewers called her amazing and a very underrated actress.

#9 Kamran in "Çalıkuşu" - Kenan Kalav & Burak Özçivit

Source: TRT, Tim's Productions

  • There were numerous film adaptations of the Turkish novel about Feride and Kamrad's romance. In the 1986 television series, Kenan Kalav played the lead role and he was said to accurately portray the iconic literary character.
  • In 2013, Burak Özçivit took on this role in a new adaptation. Although he looked gorgeous, the audience thought that his acting was very bland.

#10 Tess Durbeyfield in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" - Nastassja Kinski & Gemma Arterton

Fictional CharacterSource: © Tess / Renn Productions© Tess of the D'Urbervilles / BBC

  • The novel by British writer Thomas Hardy was first adapted into a film in 1913 (but this silent film was lost) and most famously, two parts in 1979 and 2008. In Roman Polanski's movie (1979), Nastassja Kinski did an excellent job as Tess.
  • Additionally, audiences found the English actress Gemma Arterton irritating in the 2008 version.

#11 Jack Carter in "Get Carter" - Michael Caine & Sylvester Stallone

Fictional CharacterSource: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,  Morgan Creek Entertainment

  • The first film based on a Ted Lewis novel is considered one of the best British films ever, and Michael Caine, who plays the lead role, was praised for his outstanding performance.
  • In 2000, a second attempt to portray the ruthless Jack Carter on the big screen failed. A Twitter user said, “Watching the Sylvester Stallone remake of "Get Carter", and realizing Stallone completely missed the nuance and brilliance of the original.”

#12 Cyrano de Bergerac in "Cyrano" Steve Martin; Gérard Depardieu & Peter Dinklage

Source:  Columbia Pictures, Caméra One, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

  • In 1987, comedian Steve Martin adapted Edmond Rostand's play for the film "Roxanne" and played the lead role. His rendition is still viewed as ideal by many.
  • People said that Gérard Depardieu's portrayal of Cyrano in the 1990 adaptation of "Cyrano de Bergerac" is also notable.
  • A short time ago, "Cyrano' with Peter Dinklage was released and viewers praised Peter Dinklage's acting.

#13 Julien Sorel: Gérard Philipe & Kim Rossi Stuart

Source: Documento Film, TF1

  • Julien Sorel is an intelligent, snobby, and ambitious young man. In this first movie adaptation, he was portrayed by Gérard Philipe and critics praised the actor for portraying Julien as a handsome and well-balanced guy.
  • Italian actor Kim Rossi Stuart had the lead role in a later rendition from 1997. The young actor's appearance was praised by the audience, who said that the role was made for him.
Share this article