The films that audiences tend to remember all centre around specific moments or characters, proving that the actor who plays them can make or break a film. So for this list, I have chosen my personal top 10 actors who I think were THE perfect casting choice for their particular role. If you think I’ve missed someone or agree with my choices, leave a comment! So with our further ado, here’s my top 10 (in no particular order):
10. Jack Nicholson – Johnny Torrance
Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, ‘ The Shining’ centres on Jack Nicholson’s character and his family who look over the Overlook Hotel during the winter shutdown. Nobody could embody the essence of pure animalistic rage or descent into terrifying madness as well as Nicholson could. His face and voice just cannot be matched in creating such a sinister character, really giving life and bringing true fear to the film. Also in a rarity here, Nicholson was allowed to improvise (he came up with the infamous ‘Here’s Johnny!’), something Kubrick never allowed due to his extremely precise filmmaking.
9. Uma Thurman – The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo
The first of Tarantino’s casting choices to make my list. Kill Bill is an excellent saga, following ‘The Bride’ out for revenge against her ex and his band of assassins for killing her baby and attempting to kill her. Uma Thurman was part of the process of creating this character, this is actually shown in the credits, again a rare sign of trust and shared creative control from a director protective of his work. Nobody could play this role like she does, she is strong but sensitive and never falls into the stereotypes that this character could so have easily become. One of the best female characters of all time, played to perfection by Uma Thurman, who I believe could not be matched by anyone for this part.
8. Anthony Perkins – Norman Bates
Bit of an older choice here, but this one has really stood the test of time. Now whilst I loved Freddie Highmore’s take on this character in the prequel/sequel/modernisation of Bates Motel, I still think Anthony Perkins manages to play this role just right. The combination of sweet, boy next door to creepy, voyeuristic, murderous motel owner is a fine line to tread in ‘Psycho’, and I think that only Anthony Perkins has come close to being able to balance them both at the same time and not stray too far into being overtly strange from the beginning.
7. The whole cast of Reservoir Dogs
This film cast is just magnificent. It’s up there with the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Magnificent Seven’ in terms of ensemble casts that are just spot on. All of the actors bring something different to this film, again without falling too much into being stereotypes, I think this perhaps is more to do with Tarantino’s writing, but the acting also reflects these choices well. Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth are the standout performances from the film, their chemistry is electric and as I’ve mentioned on my most memorable uses of music blog post, the ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’ scene is iconic.
6. Daniel Radcliffe – Harry Potter
Harry Potter Saga
In all honesty, most of the Harry Potter cast could have been part of this list; the franchise was very, very well cast; a tough choice considering the scrutiny of obsessive fans. But the lynchpin holding the whole saga together was Daniel Radcliffe, the ‘Boy Who Lived’. Growing up in the role at the same rate as Harry, no doubt helped him play the part with a natural ease and understanding of the more ‘day-to-day’ emotions of the character. But I think it’s fair to say that if they were to make a TV show version or reboot, nobody would match Radcliffe and I can’t see anybody who could.
5. Christoph Waltz – Hans Landa
The role that catapulted Christoph Waltz to fame and earned him his first Oscar for Supporting Actor. The Nazi ‘Jew-hunter’ in other hands would be a one-dimensional, standard villain; but here Waltz manages to create a charismatic, charming and enigmatic character who is often lauded as Tarantino’s best character. Apparently the rumour was that Leonardo DiCaprio was originally sought after to play Landa, but I can’t imagine it being anywhere like this, can you?
4. Johnny Depp & Helena Bonham Carter – Sweney Todd & Mrs Lovett
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
I feel this one may be one of the more strongly debated choices on my list. I am such a fan of this musical, having seen it in London too with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton playing these roles, and I have to admit I haven’t really liked any of the performances nearly as much as these too. Whilst they are part of the ‘Tim Burton’ trio, both of them bring a sense of brooding kookiness to this dark musical, and especially as neither are ‘perfect’ singers, it brings a grittier, more authentic edge to their performances.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio – Howard Hughes
As a whole, this Scorsese film is really underrated. It follows the story of playboy millionaire, filmmaker and aviation lover extraordinaire Howard Hughes., who famously in later life suffered with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Now whilst DiCaprio often shines in these playboy-esque roles, having the boyish charm and good lucks to match, it is the sensitivity and depth that he brings to Hughes’ mental health struggles where he really shines. Leonardo DiCaprio spoke about his own experiences with the same disorder as Hughes (not in the trivial sense of most celebrities ‘I’m soooo OCD), but has a real insight into the disorder; which he says he utilised for the role. As somebody who has suffered from this too, his performance made my heart ache as I could feel the pain and suffering emanating from him (and by extension Hughes), that few actors could have managed to do.
2. Dennis Hopper – Frank Booth
Nobody is as crazy as Dennis Hopper was. That really does sum up this casting for the sadomasichstic psychopath Frank Both in Blue Velvet that nobody but Hopper could play. Having experimented with drugs and being a volatile man in real life, he brings this unpredictability and true sense of danger to this role; making you question which parts of this character are Frank Booth and which are Dennis Hopper. His own wife had claimed he threatened to kill her, which tells you the instability that Hooper had in his own life, which most definitely is channeled into Booth like nobody else could match without turning this iconic role into a caricature.
1.Tim Curry – Frank ‘N’ Furter
Rocky Horror Picture Show
This musical truly was one of the defining experiences that made me realise my absolute passion for film. I’ve seen this musical on stage now 3-4 times I think (once with Richard O’Brien, amazing!) and the closest person to Tim Curry is definitely David Bedella. But as the original casting choice, Tim Curry is the man who invented the cool, sleek, chic charm and gender-fluid Frank ‘N’ Furter in this film (and originally on stage). Everyone I’ve ever seen who has taken this role have mostly been very good, and sometimes quite different, both all of them borrow time and again from Tim Curry and none of them match his iconic performance…or wear heels and a corset as well he does for that matter…