Friday, August 6, 2010

Actor/Character Loyalty . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

I've been DVRing and watching the new Agatha Christie Miss Marple mysteries on PBS and enjoying them. Particularly the scenery. The size of those estate homes in England!!! Whew! In these episodes Miss Marple is played by Julia McKenzie who does a good job. I didn't care for the last set of Marple episodes on PBS, meaning not for the actress who played Marple. (Geraldine Fitzgerald? See, I couldn't even register her name in my brain.)

I have seen on discussion lists a HUGE discussion of who is the best ever Miss Marple. I place myself firmly in the Joan Hickson camp, and I'm not alone. Most Marple fans are loyal to Hickson as the best Marple ever. And WHO but David Suchet could ever play Poirot? I mean, really! He IS Poirot. Bless his heart, he is getting older. But he's still Poirot.

Which brings me to my point. I usually have one somewhere. Loyalty to actors who play certain characters. In the early days of movies, meaning the 1930's, actors often got type cast and were forever after stuck in that role. Take Bela Lugosi, for instance. Played Dracula a few times on stage, once on screen, and the dye was cast. He couldn't even BUY a job anywhere else. And yes, many actors have played Dracula since Lugosi. None hold a candle. Really.

I must admit Tony Shalub transferred/translated well from TAXI to MONK. He, in fact, BECAME Monk for many fans. Changing roles today for most actors is MUCH easier than it was at the dawn of movies/television. And it's kinda fun to see an actor stretch and show his/her range from character to character. Like Harrison Ford from Indiana Jones to President of the United States, with lots of different roles in between and since. And who HASN'T Meryl Streep portrayed???

So, dear reader/movie/TV fan how loyal are you to certain actors/actresses in certain roles? Is it difficult for you to watch someone else play a role, such as Miss Marple, when you loved the first actor in that role? Do you grit your teeth, or can you go with the flow? Let us know! And if you are a Marple fan, check out the latest PBS offerings. Well worth it.

9 comments:

Sandra Parshall said...

I don't think I'll ever again be able to accept anyone other than Suchet as Poirot. He makes me realize how ill-suited some of the past actors have been to the role.

Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed by an incredible array of actors, the latest being Robert Downey Jr., but no one will ever match Jeremy Brett in the role. He *is* Holmes, as far as I'm concerned. The rest are mere imposters!

The Rizzoli & Isles series has been a great disappointment to me, not because of Angie Harmon, who is good as Jane Rizzoli, but because of the actress who plays Maura -- and the way the character has been altered. I guess it's not the actress's fault, because she's playing Maura the way she's been (re)written for TV, as rather silly and clothes-obsessed. I can't watch it. Three episodes were more than enough for me.

Wendy Lyn Watson said...

I'll probably be flamed for saying this, but that's the problem I had with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. No offense to Sarah Michelle Gellar, but Kristy Swanson was Buffy in my head and I couldn't wrap my brain around a different actress playing that part.

In terms of type-casting, I fear for young Michael Cera. He's played the same basic character in about a dozen movies ... and they're all thinly-veiled incarnations of George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development. He may never get a real role again.

lil Gluckstern said...

I agree. Jeremy Brett, Joan Hickson, and David Suchet. Helen Mirren as Jane in the Prime suspect series did it so well. I think these actors were so good, and the quality of the productions so high, that we become spoiled. I watch Rizzoli and Isles, but it feels more like candy, than a good meal, but then again a lot of the cable crime shows are just fun, which is fine, I guess.

Sandra Parshall said...

The cable cop shows I love are The Closer and Memphis Beat. (I loved Monk too.) Those are original for TV, though, so I don't have any preconceived ideas about the characters, what they look like, etc. I wouldn't like the TV version of Rizzoli & Isles even if I'd never read the books, but being a big fan of the books makes the show harder for me to take.

A strange thing has happened with Dexter -- I like the TV version so much that I didn't enjoy the last book at all! I may not read any more of them.

Diane said...

I'm with you on Jeremy Brett as Holmes, Joan Hickson as Miss Marple and David Suchet as the ONLY Poirot. For some reason, earlier protrayals always seemed like they were in a farce. Maybe it was the directors, or the time.

For more contemporary fare, I like Emily Deschanel in 'Bones'. She's not how I picture Tempance when reading one of Kathy Reichs' books, but Reichs herself said she really liked Deschanel in the part, and that it was a different time frame for the character. I like the whole cast of 'Castle', but find the character used as the supposed writer of a real book too much hype and silly. Kyra Sedgwick is 'The Closer'. And - unlike Sandra - I like Rizzoli & Isles so far. But then I've never read the books. Re the Maura Isles character, she is supposed to have - like Tess Garriston herself - Apserger's Syndrome. A high functioning form of Autism. Maybe that doesn't show up in the books.

I think a lot of how we feel about a tv/movie version of a fictional character depends on how we imagine the character when we read the books.

Sandra Parshall said...

No, I can't remember Maura ever being described in the books as having Asperger's. On the contrary, the Maura in the books is intensely emotional. At the moment, she's involved in a hopeless affair, so deeply in love that she can't bring herself to break it off. She seems reserved on the outside, but that's a defense mechanism. Inside, she feels everything very strongly. She's terribly lonely and needy, and totally aware of it.

Paul said...

I, too, agree about Jeremy Brett as the finest Sherlock Holmes portrayal we have. Robert Downey, Jr.'s version was so different that it doesn't even register with me. I think the worst Holmes (so far) was Rupert Everett's. This is not because he is a bad actor (for he is not) but because he is the wrong physical type altogether. He's much too handsome for the role for one thing.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Love the comments, folks, thanks so much for stopping by!

RE: Isles of Rizzoli & Isles, I'll be MOST interested to see if the actress stays with the show more than two seasons. She left NCIS saying she didn't want to be part of a long-running series. Wonder if she ever wished she could "unsay" that, given the popularity of the show?

Kuzlin@aol.com said...

I love Sherlock Holmes, but as far as I am concerned Basil Rathbone is Holmes (I picture Rathbone as Holmes even when I am reading Laurie King's books).