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Who Is The Best At Playing Who?

People get old and die. It’s a cold hard fact that it’s going to happen to us all eventually. But a good character can last forever.

Age is just one of a whole host of reasons that the same character can be portrayed by a number of different actors. So here are a few great characters from TV and film that have been played by a whole lot of fine(ish) actors and the best three of the bunch for each. Obviously this is purely from my point of view and I’m sure that all of you will want to let me know yours, so feel free. I’m quite sure that age is going to be a factor in this and I think my relative youth is going to come through, but here we go.

Superman

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Superman has been a hit comic since the early 30s, became a radio series in 1940, a cartoon in 1941 and finally hit the screen as a live action TV series in 1951. Since then there has been a truck load of TV series and movies featuring the Man of Steel and up to now there have been six different leading men bringing those smashing blue tights and red underpants to the screen. But here’s my top three:-

3, Dean Cain – Played the hero in the 1993 series Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. I whiled away a good few hours of my youth watching the show and it brought the Superman of the movies home for me for the first time!

2, Tom Welling – Smallville, starting in 2001, this show featured a younger Clark Kent who was struggling to grow in to his powers while coping with school, friends, women and a whole host of ‘Meteor Freaks’. This was a great and well-made show that that introduced a new audience to younger versions of some of the best loved DC characters.

1, Christopher Reeve – How could it be anyone else? His name is, and always will be synonymous with Superman. Filling both roles, Kent and Superman, brilliantly, Reeve starred in four major motion pictures and had a couple of guest appearances in the Smallville TV series. I’m quite positive that no one will argue with my choice for the top spot as Reeve played the part since 1978 in the first movie, which still holds its own to this day, but let’s see what the future brings.

Batman

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Another DC property that has appeared on screens, both big and small, in a number of different guises is Batman. Also a long running comic from the 30s, Batman made the jump from comic to screen in 1943. Since then, like his brother in arms Superman, there have been a whole lot of TV and movie versions of the Caped Crusader with plenty of masked men to choose from, 7 in all.

3, Adam West – Starting in 1966 the TV series might be one of the campest things to ever be screened but it was still amazing. From the amazing excuses as to Bruce Wayne’s whereabouts when Batman was present, to epic fight scenes to the incredible assortment of convenient gadgets (including great white shark repellent in one episode) the series was an all-round winner. Not the most serious and dark of interpretations but still a goody.

2, Michael Keaton – The first major Batman motion picture was released in 1989 and saw Keaton take the lead opposite Jack Nicolson as, now the second best, Joker. The 89’ Batman movie was amazing, not going too far and capturing the darkness of the character very well. Keaton appeared as Batman again for the second movie, Batman Returns, which is also a good film. Both were made before the franchise went daft and a bit mental.

1, Christian Bale – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy are, in my opinion, the best on screen adaptation to-date of Batman and this is thanks in no small part to Bale’s dark and brooding portrayal of the hero. Between Nolan and Bale they not only made three great films but managed to make the entire franchise less of a joke and made the character feel a hell of a lot more real. He definitely did the job well and made the roll his own. Again, let’s see what the future brings.

The Doctor

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It’s a lovely irony that this beloved Time Lord has stood the test of time so well. Each generation since the mid sixty’s has had a couple of Doctors to call their own with 11 men filling the TV role officially with a further 29 portraying him as stand ins, on stage or in audio versions. Each Doctor has been more kooky than the last and have brought their own uniqueness to the roll. Unlike the previous two characters, the Doctor’s regeneration in to these different guises has been part of the story, meaning leading men can be changed at any time and still be the same man, sort of, with no confusion, whereas the above characters just changed with no feasible reason in the fictional world of the character. Anyhow, off we go.

3, Sylvester McCoy – Starting as the 7th Doctor in 1987, McCoy is the first Doctor I knew. Whenever anyone says Doctor Who he is the default image in my mind.

2, David Tennant – Taking over from Christopher Eccleston as the 10th Doctor, Tennant brought the fun and kookiness back to Doctor Who.  Sporting a lovely blue suit, long brown jacket and scruffy trainers, Tennant managed to merge the new and the old Doctor Who nicely.

1, Matt Smith – The newest and 11th Doctor completely optimizes Doctor Who for me, he also had the best looking companion in Karen Gillan. The always happy, slightly wired doctor manages to appear both cool and frantic simultaneously in everything that he does making the latest series a fun, sometimes stressful and emotional watch.

James Bond

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The final character, and very much the inspiration of the piece, is the man of the moment: James Bond. Skyfall is about to be released worldwide and features the latest in a long line of silky smooth, silver-tonged actors to play the MI6 agent. Six actors so far have donned their finest suits, grabbed their Walther PPKs, smashed in thousands of gallons of Vodka Martini and bedded god knows how many women to bring good old James to life. Throughout his impressive service career we have followed this fantastic specimen of manness to the moon, under the sea and to pretty much every country on the planet to have sex, sorry, to fight crime. So let’s have a look at the best of the actors that played the only man on earth that can give Batman a run for his money in the gadget stakes.

3, Rodger Moore – This silver tonged, eyebrow twitching hunk of a man played 007 in seven movies starting in 1973 with Live and Let Die.

2, Sean Connery – It is widely believed that Sean has the best voice on the planet and is the only actor to have been asked back to reprise the roll after his initial run in the movie franchise.

1, Daniel Craig – It’s hard to say anything different about all of the people to play Bond before Craig came along. All of the versions that came before have been slight variations on the gentleman spy with many more similarities than differences. Then Craig came along, bringing with him a new 007, one that you truly believe would do anything for the greater good and although he can still carry himself as quite the gentleman is not afraid to get his hands very dirty to reach his goals. Daniel Craig is exactly what James Bond needed to make the character more gritty and up to date and long may it continue. Skyfall better be good, although I can’t see it being bad as in the latest advert we see his new Walther PPK is coded to his DNA so only he can fire it, it’s a Lawgiver!

About the author

Jay Martin

6 Comments

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  • I must confess, without ever having watched the old seasons, I liked David Tennant as the doctor better than Matt… I do like Matt, but the seamless transition between seriousness and fun that Tennant had was for me the right kind of doctor – but then again, “you never forget your first doctor” and even though Chris technically was my first, Tennant is the one true doctor to me (at least at the moment, who knows what the show will bring next)

    • I still haven’t gotten totally accustomed to such a young Doctor, but Matt Smith has got this great balance of fun and crazy with a very believable “I can go darkside, but neither of us want to see that” edge. So while I do not think his departure will leave me in tears the way Tennant’s did, I really love him as the Doctor and think he is just as great as Tennant.

  • The trouble we have with Mr Tennant is the fact that he is so friggin good in everything that he does. He is by far the best all round actor that has ever piloted the Tardis, leaving some overly big shoes to fill. I think the reason I like Matt so much is the fact that his personality is complemented by his kooky look making him more believable as another worldly Doctor.

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