15 Characters Who Were Played By Different Actors and We Can’t Choose Our Favorite
Movie directors and the audience can be so fond of particular characters that they keep bringing them back on the big screen in new films. It’s only fair that some roles get recast, as getting a new actor can bring a new twist to a character or be good for when the story needs to be retold completely. This is the case with Lara Croft: the reboot expanded on the character’s backstory and moved away from the “dated ideas” the original movies had.
We at Bright Side can appreciate all of the actors who played our favorite characters. Let’s take a trip down memory lane together to remember who embodied them over the years.
Spider-Man, otherwise known by his civilian name Peter Parker, is a superhero who was originally created for Marvel Comics back in the 1960s.
From 2002 to 2007, Tobey Maguire played the character on the big screen, with 3 Spider-Man movies being released during this time. Peter Parker returned to the theaters in 2012 in the franchise The Amazing Spider-Man, with Andrew Garfield playing him in 2 movies. In 2017, Tom Holland became the new Spider-Man as the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming was released as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The recent movie for the Marvel franchise, Spider-Man: No Way Home, cast all 3 men to reprise their roles of Peter Parker. In an interview, Tom Holland said that since these actors are the only 3 people to play Spider-Man on the big screen, this feeling “creates this brotherhood, this friendship, that goes past just knowing each other.”
2. Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes holds the Guinness World Record as the character who has been portrayed the most often, with a shocking calculation of 254 times, by over 75 actors. While we can’t possibly mention all of them, we picked out the 4 most outstanding actors who have played him in recent years.
Robert Downey Jr. won a Golden Globe for playing Sherlock Holmes in the 2009 film with the same name. Its sequel came out 3 years later, and fans of Downey Jr.’s Sherlock can expect good news as part 3 of the franchise is expected to air soon with the actor reprising his role.
Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller both played Sherlock on TV shows: BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary respectively. Both series are set in the modern-day, but Elementary brought a new twist to the original character by placing him in the US instead of the UK.
In 2015, Sir Ian McKellen starred as Sherlock Holmes in the movie Mr. Holmes which received generally favorable reviews from critics.
Anthony Hopkins delivered an unforgettable performance as Hannibal Lecter in the thriller The Silence of Lambs, and he came back to reprise his role 2 more times in the movies Hannibal and Red Dragon. In 2007, the movie Hannibal Rising came out which is supposed to be a prequel to the 3 films mentioned above, however, this time around the main character was played by Gaspard Ulliel.
Mads Mikkelsen took over the role of Hannibal in 2013 for the TV series with the same name, which was on air for 3 seasons.
4. Snow White
When hearing the name Snow White, the animated character from a cartoon movie might come to your mind. However, some live-actions of the Snow White story have been created all over the world. The character was most notably portrayed by Kristen Stewart in the fantasy film Snow White and the Huntsman in 2012. That same year, Lily Collins also played Snow White in the movie Mirror Mirror.
Spock was originally played by Leonard Nimoy in Star Trek: The Original Series. The actor reprised his role many times in other projects of the Star Trek franchise. He has also voiced the character in the animated series.
Zachary Quinto was cast as young Spock for the 2009 movie Star Trek, which was the first movie of his career. He reprised this role for 2 more movies and a video game.
6. Sarah Connor
Sarah Connor is a character from the Terminator franchise, and she was first played by Linda Hamilton in the movie Terminator and its sequel. She reprised her role in the movie Terminator: Dark Fate, which came out in 2019.
While many think of Hamilton as the “true” Sarah Connor, the character has also been played by other actresses. In 2008, Fox ordered a spin-off series about the life of the Terminator heroine, where she was played by Lena Headey. The show lasted for 2 seasons.
The actress Emilia Clarke also portrayed Connor: she starred as her in the 2015 movie Terminator Genisys, which was supposed to be a reboot movie of the original Terminator.
7. Willy Wonka
Willy Wonka, a character from children’s novels, was first portrayed by Gene Wilder in the 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It remains one of his most iconic roles, and the actor received a Golden Globe nomination for it.
In 2005, the movie was rebooted as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp playing Willy Wonka. And soon we can expect another actor to join this list — Timothée Chalamet is set to play the character in the 2023 movie Wonka, which should focus on Willy Wonka’s backstory.
8. Mad Max
Max Rockatansky, the main character of the action film series Mad Max, was played by 2 actors: Mel Gibson and Tom Hardy. The first 3 movies with Gibson in the main role came out during the period from 1979 to 1985, the franchise was brought back with the release of the 2015 movie Mad Max: Fury Road, where Hardy took over the role of Max.
The character Carrie originally comes from Stephen King’s horror novel of the same name. On the big screen, she was portrayed by at least 3 actresses: Sissy Spacek in 1976, Angela Bettis in 2002, and Chloë Grace Moretz in 2013. The original movie and the following reboots all have the same title — Carrie.
10. Emma Woodhouse
Emma Woodhouse is a character from Jane Austin’s novel Emma. She has been portrayed by a few actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow in the 1996 movie of the same name, and recently Anya Taylor-Joy in the 2020 version of Emma.
The teen comedy film Clueless, which was released in 1995, put a new twist on Emma. The whole movie is loosely based on Austin’s novel, and its main character Cher, who is played by Alicia Silverstone, is undoubtedly based on Emma.
11. Doctor Dolittle
Doctor Dolittle, a character originally from a children’s story, was portrayed on the big screen 3 times. It was Rex Harrison who first brought him to life in the Doctor Dolittle movie from 1967. The second actor to play the character was Eddie Murphy, he starred in 2 Doctor Dolittle movies from 1998 to 2001. Although there was a long wait, Hollywood didn’t forget about this character: in 2020 a new movie about Doctor Dolittle came out, this time with Robert Downey Jr. playing him.
Heath Ledger’s Joker appears in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight, which is considered one of the best movies from the 2000s. Ledger’s performance earned him a posthumous Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actor.
Joker returned to the big screen with Jared Leto playing him as a part of the DC Extended Universe. The actor said that he wants to continue playing this role (more than any other role) because it is so “creative and imaginative.”
In 2019, the movie Joker with Joaquin Phoenix playing the main role came out. The actor won an Oscar for it in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.
13. Jack Ryan
Jack Ryan was originally a character from a Tom Clancy novel — movies about him have been released since 1990.
In 2002, Ben Affleck took over the role with the release of The Sum of All Fears film. The first film of the Jack Ryan franchise that was not based on the novels is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which came out in 2014, with Chris Payne playing the main character. Since 2018, John Krasinski played Jack Ryan in the TV series with the same name.
14. Elizabeth Bennet
The protagonist of the Pride and Prejudice novel has been played onscreen by quite a few actresses. Some of the most notable ones include Greer Garson back in the 1940 film with the same name as the novel. In 1995, Jennifer Ehle took over the role for the TV series. 10 years after that, Keira Knightley delivered one of the most memorable embodiments of Elizabeth Bennet, for the movie also titled Pride and Prejudice, and for which she received numerous nominations and awards.
15. Lara Croft
Lara Croft debuted on the big screen with Angelina Jolie playing her in the movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider in 2001, and its sequel which came out 2 years later. In 2018, the franchise was rebooted and a new Lara Croft movie came out, Tomb Raider, with Alicia Vikander playing the main role.
The 2 actresses seem to respect each other’s work: in an interview, Vikander said that she thinks of Jolie as “an incredible actress,” and Jolie, in her turn, took all her children to see the premiere of Vikander’s version of Tomb Raider.
What other examples of actors playing the same character do you know of? What actor comes to mind when you think of the role of Sherlock Holmes? Which of the actors listed do you like the best?