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13 Actors Who Totally Nailed Young Versions Of These Irreplacable Characters

Following in the footsteps of greatness is never easy. How can you make a character your own when millions of others already have a crystal-clear mental image of them? In today’s world of never-ending sequels, prequels, and reboots, more and more actors are forced to play fresh versions of famous heroes and villains.

Thankfully, some fantastic actors are taking up the challenge of reinventing their roles for themselves. People like Ewan McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi, are great. Or how Jude Law made Albus Dumbledore one of the few things in the Fantastic Beasts films that people genuinely liked. Of course, we have to give credit where credit is due to the iconic Robert De Niro for introducing a young Vito Corleone to the big screen all those years ago. So scroll down to see which performers have been entrusted with the unenviable chore of portraying juvenile versions of well-known characters and have nailed it.

1. Ewan McGregor As Obi-Wan Kenobi

Source: Marvel Studio

Obi-Wan Kenobi is played by Ewan McGregor. Okay, so Alec Guinness invented the part in 1977, and the Academy Award-winning actor did a fantastic job in it. Nonetheless, McGregor’s portrayal of Guinness in several Star Wars films is so accurate, and he adds his own flair, that the Scottish actor has essentially made the part his own.

This is not a simple task to accomplish. Is there anyone who would prefer Hayden Christensen to James Earl Jones as Anakin Skywalker? Although this isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison, you get the idea.

2. Josh Brolin As Agent K

Source: Marvel Studio

Will Smith may have been the snap, crackle, and pop of Men in Black, but Tommy Lee Jones was undeniably the glue that held it all together. Let’s put analogies aside for a moment… can you image what the 1997 original (and its less successful sequel) would have been like without Jones’ deadpan delivery?

It’s as though you’re dead in the sea. There was no amount of Will Smith witty repartee that could have compensated for that loss. The production company behind the threequel wanted a youthful Agent K when the band was called back together for a third feature.

3. James McAvoy As Charles Xavier

Source: Marvel Studio

Despite his skill, James McAvoy will never be viewed as Charles Xavier. For the most majority of moviegoers, Charles Xavier will always remain Sir Patrick Stewart. On some levels, it makes sense.

Stewart originally played Professor X in the first X-Men film in 2000, and he has continued to play the character in other Marvel films until Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022. You tend to stand out in the societal awareness after eight appearances as a character.

4. Zachary Quinto As Spock

Source: Marvel Studio

Overall, the Star Trek reboot film series’ production team did an excellent job casting fresh versions of the notorious crew of the USS Enterprise. Are you really going to be offended by Chris Pine, Zoe Saldaa, Karl Urban, and the rest of the cast beaming onto one of science fiction’s most enduring ships?

That’s a really impressive cast! Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of pop culture icon Spock has to be the most memorable of them all. In the first Star Trek reboot film, he even gets to play off the legendary Leonard Nimoy as the same role.

5. Michael Fassbender As Magneto

Source: Marvel Studio

Magneto as played by Sir Ian McKellen differs from his comic book counterpart. He’s the right age and plainly supports mutant dominance, but he’s a more campy version of the well-known X-Men villain/ally/frenemy.

McKellen’s Erik Lehnsherr is more like a baddie from a Saturday morning cartoon than a homicidal terrorist. It worked for the early X-Men films, but by the time First Class arrived, it was evident that superhero pictures had taken on a more serious tone in Hollywood’s eyes.

6. Martin Freeman As Bilbo Baggins

Source: Marvel Studio

Ian Holm’s Bilbo Baggins isn’t exactly an iconic rendition of the character. Despite the fact that the actor originated the part in live action, it’s not as if the old Bilbo played a major role in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Of course, Ian Holm is Ian Holm, and he performed a fantastic job in both The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King despite having very little screen time. After all, the multiple-time Oscar, Emmy, and Tony Award nominee/winner was a force to be reckoned with.

7. River Phoenix As Indiana Jones

Source: Marvel Studio

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, released in 1989, was intended to be both a fitting send-off for the title character and a welcome diversion from the darker tone of Temple of Doom.

The Nazis were reintroduced as enemies, Short Round was dropped, and Sean Connery was cast as Indy’s father. Overall, The Last Crusade was a huge hit with both fans and reviewers.

8. Robert De Niro As Vito Corleone

Source: Marvel Studio

How do you follow up an Oscar-nominated performance? By eliciting another Oscar-nominated performance from a completely different performer. Following his acclaimed portrayal as Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Marlon Brando was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor, which he notoriously refused.

Francis Ford Coppola chose a little-known up-and-comer named Robert De Niro to play a younger version of Corleone in the sequel.

9. Donald Glover As Lando Calrissian

Source: Marvel Studio

Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, was the king of cool while also being a traitor to the Rebellion. It’s not an easy task to walk the tightrope.

Despite betraying Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, Lando quickly became a popular favorite and made up by assisting Luke, Leia, and everyone else in saving Han in Return of the Jedi before finally defeating the Empire (yeah, right).

10. Iain Armitage As Sheldon Cooper

Source: Marvel Studio

Whatever you think of The Big Bang Theory’s overall quality, the program was a huge sensation for years, and it catapulted Jim Parsons and his character Sheldon Cooper to stardom.

After years of success with The Big Bang Theory, it was determined that the character who made “Bazinga” a thing would receive his own prequel series. Young Sheldon, unlike the multi-camera comedy that inspired it, turned out to be a combination between Malcolm in the Middle and The Wonder Years.

11. Jude Law As Albus Dumbledore

Source: Marvel Studio

Jude Law was handed two unpleasant responsibilities when he was cast as Albus Dumbledore. He not only had to live up to the likes of Richard Harris and Michael Gambon in terms of acting, but he also had to play one of the most beloved children’s book characters of all time.

The Fantastic Beasts films are prequels that take place decades before the main Harry Potter plot, so he didn’t have the novels to use as a reference. For the English actor, it’s a hefty order. Fortunately, Law was up to the task and then some.

12. Freddie Highmore As Norman Bates

Source: Marvel Studio

For years, the Psycho series has struggled to live up to the original 1960 film. Some adaptations (such as Psycho II and III) have done better than others (such as Psycho IV: The Beginning and the 1998 remake), but they all pale in comparison to Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece.

Norman Bates, played by Anthony Perkins, is at the core of it all. With the Bates Motel television series, admirers of the Psycho moniker had to wait almost 50 years for a legitimate successor to the Psycho name. And, as a young Norman, it was none other than former child star Freddie Highmore who stole the show.

13. Ito Aghayere As Guinan

Source: Marvel Studio

Where does Guinan fit within the legendary Star Trek cast of characters? Okay, that’s a little too challenging. Let’s alter it so that we’re just discussing about Next Generation characters. Is she in the same league as Riker, Picard, and Data when it comes to fan favorites?

Is she on the same level as crew members like Dr. Crusher, Worf, and Geordi, who are still well-liked? It’s difficult to say because everyone has their own opinion on the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Whoopi Goldberg’s depiction of Guinan is without a doubt one of the greatest over the show’s many seasons.

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