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Best Actor Portrayal of a Literary Character?One of my favorite portrayals of a...

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:29 PM via web

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Best Actor Portrayal of a Literary Character?

One of my favorite portrayals of a literary character is Kenneth Branaugh in in most every Shakespearean character he has portrayed.  I thought he was a perfect Iago, for example.  I truly despised his character in the movie and he played it perfectly, in my opinion.  

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:41 PM (Answer #2)

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When I saw your question, I was going to answer Kenneth Brannagh as Henry V! Since you've taken him, I have to say Peter O'Toole as Henry II in The Lion in Winter. For a purely literary character (not someone from history), I'd have to say Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Kate Beckinsale was great in Emma too (far superior to Gwenyth Paltrow).

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 2, 2008 at 1:28 PM (Answer #4)

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Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire!!!!  Awesome.

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 5, 2008 at 7:47 AM (Answer #5)

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I'm prepared to be criticized by others for this answer, but I really liked Mel Gibson's portrayal of Hamlet. Fellow teachers of mine obviously prefer the Branagh version, but for use in the classroom, the Gibson version is better, I've found.

I also enjoyed Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans. He does well with just about everything he does, though.

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted August 5, 2008 at 2:02 PM (Answer #6)

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I'm prepared to be criticized by others for this answer, but I really liked Mel Gibson's portrayal of Hamlet. Fellow teachers of mine obviously prefer the Branagh version, but for use in the classroom, the Gibson version is better, I've found.

I also enjoyed Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans. He does well with just about everything he does, though.

I'm glad I can finally admit I liked the Mel Gibson version also! The Branagh is also great, but there are a lot of nice details about the Gibson one that I enjoy.

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timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 5, 2008 at 6:18 PM (Answer #7)

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I love the Mel Gibson Hamlet, but I'd like to offer the Robert de Niro performance in "Frankenstein."  I think it does a great job of capturing the essence of the text, although it takes some very wierd liberties at the end :)

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mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 5, 2008 at 9:38 PM (Answer #8)

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How about Gary Sinese and John Malkovich as George and Lenny in "Of Mice and Men".  Perfect...

I'm a fan of Mia Farrow in "The Great Gatsby" as well.  She portrays Daisy just as flitty and superficial as imagined.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 9, 2008 at 8:50 AM (Answer #9)

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Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis is a terrific actor!  He truly is good in every role he plays.  Great point!

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 12, 2008 at 6:09 AM (Answer #10)

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Ok, Branagh is getting kudos here, so I have to give some to the ex.  Emma Thompson, both as Beatrice in Much Ado and as Eleanor in Sense and Sensibility, is just amazing.   She really gets to the heart of the characters and just relaxes into the role, making it look easy!

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 14, 2008 at 6:11 AM (Answer #11)

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One person I'd like to see do more literary characters is Hugh Jackman. He's versatile, striking, and talented. I could see him doing a role in some Brit Lit films, if modern American filmmakers ever get brave enough to try reviving some of the classics.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 14, 2008 at 11:18 AM (Answer #12)

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Robert DeNiro as the creature in Frankenstein.  I also liked Gibson's version of Hamlet. 

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 14, 2008 at 1:53 PM (Answer #13)

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Ahem... my vote is for Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.  I'm a Harry Potter mega-fan and he was absolutely PERFECT in how I imagined Snape would be portrayed.

Gary Oldman as Dracula also works for me!

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missrice | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 15, 2008 at 6:38 AM (Answer #14)

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I was going to say Colin Firth as well.  But I do have to say that a big part of it has to do with Jennifer Ehle's Elizabeth.  She gets it right, particularly with her eyes (she has just the right amount of smirky amusement that I always read the character with), and because of that she edges out Kiera Knightley easily.  I also thought she was brilliant as Christabel Lamotte in Possession.

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 15, 2008 at 7:42 AM (Answer #15)

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#13 - Alan Rickman as anything gets my vote!!

#14 - couldn't agree more.  I've just started a new topic off that very comparison of Ehle to Knightley.

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ms-mcgregor | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 15, 2008 at 6:55 PM (Answer #16)

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I really think Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Randall McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was brilliant. The literary character in the novel almost appears secondary to the Chief and is a much darker character. Nicholson was able to bring out the absurd insanity of the mental hospital and to gain more of the audience's sympathy in in the film.

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 18, 2008 at 12:19 PM (Answer #17)

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Daniel Day-Lewis was great as John Proctor in "The Crucible," too.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 19, 2008 at 8:38 PM (Answer #18)

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Ahem... my vote is for Alan Rickman as Severus Snape.  I'm a Harry Potter mega-fan and he was absolutely PERFECT in how I imagined Snape would be portrayed.

Gary Oldman as Dracula also works for me!

Amethystrose got Gary Oldman before I could sing his praises, but let me just say...WOW!  Yes, I LOVE him as Dracula, Sirius Black, and Rosencrantz (or was he Guildenstern) in R&G Are Dead...Gary Oldman ROCKS!

Branagh is AMAZING...need I say more?  I love all of his Shakespeare films, but also love Gibson's Hamlet.  I don't know who I prefer as Hamlet himself, though - They were both GREAT!

Colin Firth's Darcy was the best...ever...hands down!  Daniel Day-Lewis...FABULOUS!!!

Now I'm just repeating what everyone else has written, but what a fun topic!!  :)

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:39 PM (Answer #19)

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I have to add two more: Derek Jacobi and John Hurt in "I, Claudius." Well, heck, just about everybody in that series.

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rleahennis | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted August 23, 2008 at 8:13 AM (Answer #20)

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Well not many can keep up with Branagh's ouvre, and no one can really top him; however, I would like to make a case for George C. Scott and all of his primetime performances. Including his Emmy award winning performance for best supporting actor in "12 Angry Men", he has also starred in the following which earned him Emmy nominations: Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", Arthur Miller's "The Crucible", and Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre".

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jilllessa | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:48 PM (Answer #21)

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I really love Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird and I Lawrence Olivier as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 31, 2008 at 9:56 PM (Answer #22)

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Great list all of you have going.  Isn't Finding Neverland a book?  Johnny Depp was in the movie and is such a great actor...I cannot remember if he has been in other literary adaptations. I have always loved him in nearly every movie he has been in, particularly the Sweeney Todd.

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 17, 2009 at 5:21 PM (Answer #23)

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#14: agreed, Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and Cristabel was wonderful! Though I didn't particularly like the adaptation of 'Possession'. Have you seen her in 'Bedrooms and Hallways' too?

I really thought Daniel Day Lewis as John Proctor was amazing, as were many of the actors in that film version of the Crucible, including Joan Allen as Elizabeth Proctor and Winona Ryder as Abigail. An underrated film, in my opinion.

George C. Scott made a wonderful Rochester in the 1970s version of 'Jane Eyre' which also starred Susannah York. William Hurt also did a nice job with this role when he played opposite Charlotte Gainsboiurg (who's a great actress but her french accent was a bit distracting in the film).

I really enjoyed both casts f Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version and Joe Wright's version.

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