Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just Right

As much fun as I have picking apart the casting choices in different movies, I suppose I should acknowledge when it gets done right. The fact is, I get a lot of enjoyment out my favorite sci-fi/fantasy action films, and it's only fair to give credit where credit is due.

Though it is more fun to be a little snarky.

Anyway. Here are my picks for the best casting in movie/TV roles.

Tobey Maguire as Spiderman

I don't think I could have imagined a more perfect Peter Parker. It would have been so easy to cast a typical face-of-the-moment guy who looks pretty, but doesn't really keep to the spirit of the role. But this time, the movie-makers cast the part based on who fit it the best. Maguire captures that slightly geeky, everyman quality that is so essential to the comic book character of Peter Parker to perfection.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

I admit it. I wasn't a believer when Craig was first cast as Bond. I had only seen him in "Tomb Raider" and I remembered him as being slight, wiry and very blond. I had been a fan of Pierce Brosnan up until I saw "Casino Royale" because I thought he looked the part. But Craig showed there is a whole lot more to being Bond than being able to wear a tux. Craig not only beefed up considerably to play Bond, he also brought a rugged, world-weariness to the role that woke up the whole franchise. He made Bond exciting again and I love him for it. I cannot wait for "Quantum of Solace."

Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft

The great thing about a character like Lara Croft is that she's fun and the part doesn't require an actress as much as someone who can kick ass. I suppose, since Jolie has an Oscar, you could say we got both. I don't know that Jolie brought her acting chops to the role as much as she brought attitude. Croft is a video game character so she doesn't have to be that deep, she just has to be tough -- and hot. I remember seeing the movie posters for the film before it was released and I couldn't believe how much Jolie looked like the video game character. It's a silly thing to look for I suppose, but I kind of liked that she fit the part so well. For me, she made the movie a lot of fun. It's great, escapist entertainment and I can't see anyone else pulling it off as well.

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump

Whenever I think of an actor who became the role, I think of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. I have seen the movie a dozen times at least and it never seems like I'm watching an actor play a part. I'm not even sure I can explain it, but I feel like I'm watching Forrest Gump instead of Tom Hanks whenever I watch that movie. I appreciate the innocence he brought to the role and I truly believe he deserves the Oscar he won for playing the part.

Harrison Ford as Han Solo & Indiana Jones

You gotta love Harrison Ford. He created not one, but two iconic roles that no one can ever touch. Both characters have a bit of the rogue in them, a twinkle of the eye that is all Ford. But they're distinctly different characters as well. Han is the reluctant hero; the guy who never thought he'd be the one to rush to the rescue. Indy is the scholar and the action hero all rolled into one. I can't imagine another actor making those characters as believable or as lovable.

Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow

I won't say the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies are the best franchise out there. In fact, I will go so far to say I might not have watched any of them had it not been for Johnny Depp. I can't imagine what made Depp choose to base the character on Keith Richards, but it was an inspired bit of insanity. Sparrow is, without a doubt, the one thing that makes the "Pirates" movie interesting. Sadly, there was sooo many scenes with other people in them that made my interest in the series wane. But I did like Johnny.

Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier

It would seem like a no-brainer to cast Patrick Stewart in the role of Professor Xavier, but that doesn't make him any less perfect for the role. I've always like Stewart. I'm one of those people who choose Picard over Kirk. In a way, it's hard to find something to say about him in this role. I don't feel like there was anything special he had to do to become Xavier. It's like he was born to play the role.

Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator

No, Arnold is not a great actor. But he is perfect to play the role of a cyborg isn't he? Arnie fits this role in every way possible. His face, which looks chiseled out of a piece of rock, looks like the face of a robot. His speech, accent and all, sounds like what a robot might sound like if it was trying to mimic human speech. All I can say is that Arnold was inspired casting for this role.

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

I don't think it's any accident that no one has replace Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman yet. Joss Whedon was supposed to write and direct a new Wonder Woman, but pulled out of the project. I don't know if casting was an issue, but I can believe it was a near impossible task to find someone to live up to the standard Carter set. Not only was she drop-dead gorgeous, but she managed to take a hokey role and do something with it. This is a show that could have died after a few episodes if it hadn't had someone like Carter in the title role. I don't envy any actress who tries to fill Carter's shoes.

Christopher Reeve as Superman

...Speaking of filling someone's shoes. When "Superman Returns" came out, I thought Brandon Routh seemed like a fine choice for the role of Superman. Until I saw the movie. It wasn't that Routh was bad, but it seemed like he was doing a Christopher Reeve impersonation the whole time. Clearly, Reeve set the bar. Reeve looked the part for sure, but somehow, he brought the sense of wonder that is so essential to the role of Superman. The character could be so arrogant in unskilled hands. But Reeve gave the man of steel a heart. No matter what, Reeve will always be Superman to me.

Christian Bale as Batman

As far as I'm concerned, Bale saved Batman. Batman had been dying a slow death in the hands of George Clooney. I'm sorry, but I had to say it. I know that Batman had been campy in the 60's with Adam West, and that was fine then. But I couldn't stand what had happened to the character in the 80's and 90's. Thank goodness Bale agreed to play the role. Maybe "Batman Begins" would have been as good with someone else. I don't know. But I liked the toughness Bale brought to the movie. It was impressive how he bulked up to play the part (especially so soon after making The Machinist). Bale is one of those actors who really commits to a role and I sincerely admire that. I can't wait to see how he does as John Connor in the next Terminator movie.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

I love the Bourne movies. I'm a big fan of good spy thrillers in general but too many of them attempt to be Bond rip-off's that they rarely live up to the hype. Bourne does. The Bourne movies are great because they have fast, intense fight scenes and the sneaky spy parts. Matt Damon has become integral to the part because he pulls it all off. He seems smart enough to be the spy and tough enough to be the fighter. He seems credible as the bewildered tough-guy who doesn't just want to know what's going on, but needs to know. When I think of other actors who might have been tapped to play the role, like Mark Whalberg, I think nah.... It just wouldn't have been as good.

Ben Stiller as Gaylord "Greg" Focker

This is probably the only time I will ever, ever say that I not only liked Ben Stiller in a role, but that I thought he was the most suited for it. There's just something so awkward about Stiller's character in "Meet the Parents". You don't really believe that he could get the hot girl but you can believe that he'd be totally intimidated by Robert Deniro. Then again, who wouldn't? No one else that I can think of could have pulled off the scene where he talks about milking a cat either. He seems like a guy who would do that doesn't he? I also loved the casting of Barbara Streisand and Dustin Hoffman as his parents in "Meet the Fockers." So great.

Anglica Huston as Morticia Addams

I was only 20 when "The Addams Family" came out, so you may have to give me some slack on liking this one. Who knows, maybe I'm not so silly for thinking that was a fun movie. I like Huston as Morticia Addams-- and I liked Raúl Juliá too. Angelica always cracked me up in this role, especially while she was giving birth in the second movie. Maybe this wasn't a hard role to play but she brought her sense of humor and she looked great.

My "on-the-fence" picks.

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark--- I loved Downey in this role. No question. The only reason I haven't definitely put him in the only-he-can-play-it category is because I don't know enough about the Iron Man character to say for sure. Plus, I really want to see a few sequels to be sure. The more the better.

Tom Welling as a young Superman-- I like Tom Welling a lot. I think he's great as a young Clark Kent. (( I also like Michael Rosenbaum as Lex)) I'm just not sure that the role has been completely sealed as his yet.

Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer-- I liked Buffy. I watched probably every episode. But Sarah got on my nerves now and then. I'm not sure if it was the character being annoying, or Sarah. Kristy Swanson also played the role, so it's been claimed by two women, but I'm not sure it's been owned by either one of them.

Katee Sackoff as Starbuck-- I still think Starbuck should have been a guy. But in casting the role to a woman I think Katee has made it hers. There are times when she drives me nuts, but Starbuck is fairly crazy. I think Sackoff has made the role hers as much as anyone could. I'm just not sure it was created the right way.

So that's my personal list of favorites. You may or may not agree. I'd think you were wrong...;)

So tell me. Who are your favorites? Who have I forgotten to mention?


DesLily said...

Excellent list SQT ! Maybe add to it Ian McKellan as Gandalf!

furiousBall said...

Jon Heder as Napoleon Dynomite
Jonah Hill as Seth (SuperBad)

Charles Gramlich said...

I'd generaly agree with all your picks here, except maybe for Dr. Xavier. I could only see him as Picard I'm afraid, and thought he was great for that.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

You are so right about Christopher Reeve as Superman. The first movie was on TV a few weeks ago and I was suprised how well the movie still worked for me. Reeve just captures the role, with the slight grin, twinkle in his eye and ernest desire to do good. With Reeve as Superman, the music, and Gene Hackman as Luthor, I almost felt like I was in 2nd Grade again.

Mr. Joshua said...

Thanks for sticking up for Tobey Maguire - I totally agree. Not a popular opinion among my friends.

Since the blog's about scifi, here's an obscure-ish one:

Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon

Di Francis said...

I'm going to say also that Brendan Frasier as Ric O'Connell in the Mummy movies. Sort of like Harrison Ford in the Indy movies. They seemed to capture the parts.

I wonder if that's why they kept going at Batman--they knew they hadn't nailed it? I much prefer CB as Batman. He seems more like the brooding, tormented hero.

I'd also say Mel Gibson in Mad Max.

Heff said...

I agree on all counts except for Tomb Raider. I really thought Petra Verkaik should have gotten the part as Lara Croft, because her top didn't need to be padded. Petra probably couldn't act worth a damn, though.

SQT said...

I have no idea who Petra Verkaik is. I'll have to look it up.

Did Angelina need padding?

SQT said...

Okay. I looked up Petra and I'm going to have to disagree. Too old and not athletic enough IMO. Mostly she's just very busty.

Heather said...

Great compilation! My vote goes to William H. Macy as The Shoveler in MYSTERY MEN.

I am so jealous of his wife.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Good choices there. I agree with desilly about Gandalf.

Barbara Martin said...

Great post!

Tobey Maguire is perfect, despite what others say.

To add to your list, Viggo Mortenson as Lord Aragorn. The strong silent type.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Jean-Luc, I agree. Lord of the Rings was an emormous success partly because of its brilliant casting. All the hobbits were perfect. Elijah Wood as Frodo? YES. And all the others as well, from Orlando Bloom to Ian McClellan. This was the most perfectly cast movie I think I have ever seen.

SQT said...


Leaving out LOTR was an oversight on my part. Especially Elijah Wood and Ian McKellan..

Omykiss said...

Great list! I loved Humphrey Bogart as Rick in Casablanca.

I'm here from Michele's

Anonymous said...

Don't know if this blog's still active (no comments since 6/08), but for what it's worth, I'll add the following to your excellent list:


Brooke Shields as Wonder Woman - could out-act Lynda Carter (tho I loved Lynda in the role), and with the help of a wonder bra could eventually OWN the role ... (remember her as Brenda Starr??? Combine Starr's wide-eyed innocence and grit, with her Lipstick Jungle sophistication ... and those LEGS ... !!!)

Fabio as THOR, God of Thunder - most perfect natural casting I can think of ... tho he's a little OLD by now ... he ALREADY talks like Thor, and has NO sense of humor ... the hair and pecs go w/out saying ...

My heart breaks that we won't be able to see Clive Owen as James Bond, I think he could be as good as Sean Connery was, and Connery was hands down the best ever ... Daniel Craig is good as an action hero but he's just NOT James Bond (I see him as Bond-to-be, the rough raw materials that will eventually emerge as Bond). Roger Ebert had it right: Bond is all about style and attitude, not action and violence ... which Owen can deliver in SPADES ...

The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) as Doc Savage, Man of Bronze - my only reservation is that the Rock might not be able to be as serious as Doc would have to be, he would have to forego flashing his dazzling smile and sense of humor ...


Let us not forget the excellent casting of a number of Dr. Who incarnations, with the current Dr, David Tennant, superb in marrying the Dr's Sherlock Holmes-quick mind with his childlike sense of wonder and amazement, humor and gentle, peace loving sensibilities ... I was originally not a fan, I loved his predecessor Chris Eccleston in the role, but Tennant has completely won me over ... the actor who played the Dr in the 1996 movie was very good (Paul something???), also, and then there's Tom Baker ... best history of casting changes of any long-term character that I know!

Sir Randall