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Worst Portrayal of a Literary Character in Film?I was rereading the "best"...

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 15, 2008 at 7:40 AM via web

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Worst Portrayal of a Literary Character in Film?

I was rereading the "best" blog, and it occurred to me that there is some stupendously bad acting associated with the "book to screen" films.  I'd like to start the voting with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett.  While I like Knightley generally, this portrayal lacked depth and understanding of character.  It didn't help that the overall portrayal of the book was.... lacking.  (last scene - so contrived!!)

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

Posted August 15, 2008 at 8:15 AM (Answer #2)

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I second the nomination of Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett. She was also a really bad Guenevere in "King Arthur." Colin Farrell was not so good as Alexander either.

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

Posted August 15, 2008 at 7:01 PM (Answer #3)

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I think Demi Moore's portrayal of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter has to rank as one of the worst screen performances of a classic literary character. The bathtub scene, probably added to showcase Moore's body, was laughable and there was no chemistry between Moore and Gary Oldman who played Arthur Dimmesdale.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 16, 2008 at 2:01 PM (Answer #4)

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In response to #3, I TOTALLY agree with you about Demi Moore in The Scarlet Letter!  Horrible.  There was NO chemistry at all there between Oldman and her.  Bleck.  Just thinking about that movie makes me break out in hives.

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 19, 2008 at 8:45 PM (Answer #5)

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When I read the title of your post, I knew someone would mention Keira as Elizabeth B.  And let me just chime in with my own "AMEN!"  It was like watching a 21st-century girl wear a costume and walk around still acting like a 21st-century girl...Her walking, her mannerisms, everything smacked of someone who threw on a costume and said, "Like, sure, let's do this!"  Made me sad as I know she can be better than that.

Personally I thought Demi Moore and Gary Oldman were really good together in The Scarlet Letter.  The film, overall, left a WHOLE LOT to be desired, but my complaint wasn't about them, but about...hmmm...just about everything else in that movie.  It would have helped if the director had actually read the book at one point.

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

Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:43 PM (Answer #6)

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Thought of more: Marlon Brando (believe it or not) as the doctor in "The Island of Dr. Moreau"; W. C. Fields as Humpty Dumpty in "Alice in Wonderland."

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted August 26, 2008 at 3:26 PM (Answer #7)

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Oh...I thought of another one...

Okay, I was taking an Acting Shakespeare class from a VERY opinionated person.  One of our assignments was to choose a soliloquy to memorize from any of the Bard's plays.  One sweet little lady chose one of Puck's from the Dream, and she did it REALLY well, I thought.  Our teacher blasted her about acting like a prancing little fairy, then proceeded to tell us that a woman should never play Puck - it should always be played by a man.  Then, because he wouldn't let it go (despite having embarrassed this poor lady), he brought in the film version of the play from the 30s with Mickey Rooney as Puck, to show us all how it SHOULD be done.  OH MY GOODNESS...it was HORRIBLE!  Mickey Rooney absolutely SCREECHES his way through the whole thing - it's painful to listen to - and isn't even remotely how I've ever imagined Puck.

I told the lady afterward that I'd much rather watch her Puck than Mickey Rooneys, for which she was very grateful.  I quit the class very soon after this incident.

Anyhoo...Mickey Rooney as Puck...ACK! :)

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted August 31, 2008 at 9:50 PM (Answer #8)

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Oh...I thought of another one...

Okay, I was taking an Acting Shakespeare class from a VERY opinionated person.  One of our assignments was to choose a soliloquy to memorize from any of the Bard's plays.  One sweet little lady chose one of Puck's from the Dream, and she did it REALLY well, I thought.  Our teacher blasted her about acting like a prancing little fairy, then proceeded to tell us that a woman should never play Puck - it should always be played by a man.  Then, because he wouldn't let it go (despite having embarrassed this poor lady), he brought in the film version of the play from the 30s with Mickey Rooney as Puck, to show us all how it SHOULD be done.  OH MY GOODNESS...it was HORRIBLE!  Mickey Rooney absolutely SCREECHES his way through the whole thing - it's painful to listen to - and isn't even remotely how I've ever imagined Puck.

I told the lady afterward that I'd much rather watch her Puck than Mickey Rooneys, for which she was very grateful.  I quit the class very soon after this incident.

Anyhoo...Mickey Rooney as Puck...ACK! :)

  I totally forgot about Mickey Rooney playing Puck.  It makes me cringe to think about it LOL!  

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 17, 2012 at 8:36 PM (Answer #9)

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I don't know if this is my all time worst or not, but I was really upset with the portrayal of Peeta in the Hunger Games movie.  In no way should he have been shorter than Katniss AND he was much to arrogant in the movie. 

Kristen Lentz

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