13 Iconic Book Characters Who Were Played by Different Actors and Actresses (Not All of Them Were a Success)
People often have very opposite opinions about actors in book adaptations. Some don’t like it when the movie character looks different from the book description, and others, thanks to talented actors and actresses decide to read the book. Today, almost all popular novels have 2 or more movie adaptations, so we can compare several “versions” of the same character.
We at Bright Side love books and movies, so we enjoy comparing book characters portrayed by different actors and actresses.
Ben-Hur — Ben-Hur
The epic Ben-Hur (1959), based on the novel by Lew Wallace, earned the most money that year and got 11 Oscars, including one for Best Actor. The viewers loved Charlton Heston’s work.
Director Timur Bekmambetov made his own version of the story. He gave the main part to Jack Huston. The movie is believed to be one of the worst movies of 2016 and it got a lot of negative reviews. The critics said that Huston looked more like a Disney prince and it didn’t have the leadership features Heston showed. But the viewers do think that he did just as well as Charlton.
Jordan — The Great Gatsby
The novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was adapted for the big screen several times. Lois Chiles portrayed Jordan in the 1974 movie. Some people thought she was reserved and seductive, and others thought she was perfect in this role.
In the most recent movie adaptation from 2013 with DiCaprio, Jordan was portrayed by Elizabeth Debicki. A Twitter user says, “I have a huge crush on Elizabeth Debicki, who’s great in it...”
Kamran — Çalıkuşu
The Turkish novel about the love of Feride and Kamrad has been adapted for the big screen several times. In the 1986 series, the main part was portrayed by Kenan Kalav who, according to the viewers’ opinion, portrayed the classic novel character.
In 2013, a new adaptation with Burak Özçivit appeared. The viewers liked his appearance, calling him hot, but his acting seemed boring. Some viewers say that neither of the actors looks like the book character and both of them are disappointing.
Mr. Stringer — The Witches
In The Witches of 1990, based on Roald Dahl’s novel, the hotel manager was portrayed by Rowan Atkinson. The British actor is most famous for his role as Mr. Bean and viewers had a hard time seeing a different character in him.
In the 2020 movie, the character was portrayed by Stanley Tucci. The people who saw the film all agree that he was amazing.
White Witch — The Chronicles of Narnia
The main antagonist of The Chronicles of Narnia is the smart and cunning Jadis. Barbara Kellerman portrayed her in the series from 1988-1990. Some people said she was perfect and others thought she overdid it.
In the more famous screen adaptation The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Tilda Swinton portrayed the witch. She was so good that people felt fear when they saw her.
Henry V — Henry V
Dozens of actors have portrayed Henry V. Kenneth Branagh not only portrayed the king but also directed the movie. A Twitter user said, “I love Kenneth Branagh! Great actor, great director, and he has a real feel for what people want to see.”
Tom Hiddleston also tried on the crown in the 2012 film. His fans liked his appearance and his talent.
In 2019, a film with Timothée Chalamet was released. Some people thought his character was boring, and 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.”
Richard III — Richard III
In his play, William Shakespeare showed the English King Richard as a limp and humpbacked, eloquent evil man, ready to do anything to get the throne. Laurence Olivier managed to portray this character very well in his 1955 film.
According to history professor Richard Harrison, who 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.”
Olivia — Twelfth Night
In Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, which has been adapted for TV and cinema more than 50 times, the character of Olivia is very important. She’s a rich widow and a very attractive woman with a lot of men around her. In the 1955 film, this character was portrayed by Alla Larionova and people thought she was very elegant in this role.
In the English version from 1996, Helena Bonham Carter portrayed the character and one of the viewers said, “She was great at switching between love-struck gleeful frenzy & goth girl emo-ness.”
Jack Carter — Get Carter
The first Ted Lewis novel adaptation is believed to have been one of the greatest British films of all time and Michael Caine who portrayed the main part is said to be incredible.
The second attempt to show merciless Jack Carter on the big screen was a failure. A Twitter user said, “Watching the Sylvester Stallone remake of Get Carter, and realizing Stallone completely missed the nuance and brilliance of the original.” And according to one more opinion, “It’s a flop.”
Katherine — The Taming of the Shrew
Sophia Loren was supposed to portray the main part in the 1967 film but Elizabeth Taylor ended up getting it. The film became a classic and viewers praised the actress’ work.
In 2005, a TV adaptation was released. Katherine was portrayed by Shirley Henderson who is famous for her portrayal of Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films. Viewers called her amazing and a very underrated actress.
Julien Sorel — Le Rouge et le Noir
Julien Sorel is a smart, vain, and ambitious young man. In this first movie adaptation, he was portrayed by Gérard Philipe and critics said the actor showed Julien as an attractive and balanced man.
In a later version from 1997, the main part was given to the Italian actor Kim Rossi Stuart. The viewers liked the appearance of the young actor and said the part was meant for him.
Cyrano de Bergerac — Cyrano
In 1987, comedian Steve Martin adapted the play by Edmond Rostand for the film Roxanne and portrayed the main part. Viewers still think his version was perfect.
Cyrano portrayed by French actor Gérard Depardieu in the 1990 adaptation is believed to be impressive. A short time ago, Cyrano with Peter Dinklage was released and viewers said the acting was powerful.
Tess — Tess of the d’Urbervilles
The novel by English writer Thomas Hardy was first adapted for a movie in 1913 (but this silent film was lost) and the most famous ones are the 1979 and 2008 ones. Nastassja Kinski was very good as Tess in Roman Polanski’s film.
And the English actress Gemma Arterton seemed irritating to viewers in the 2008 version.
If you could choose an actor or an actress to portray a character in the movie adaptation of your favorite book, who would you choose?