18 Movie Characters That Were Played by Different Actors, but Only One Version Was Appreciated by Audiences
There are popular characters that many movie actors dream to play. These characters can be fictional or real-life people, but they are usually loved by audiences so much that they continue to appear in remakes or in stand-alone movies and series again and again. We are big movie fans ourselves, so we decided to find films and TV shows that feature the same characters, and then compare the actors who played in them in order to find out who was more convincing in these roles.
Princess Diana: Genevieve O’Reilly and Emma Corrin
Genevieve O’Reilly starred in the television movie, Diana: Last Days of a Princess. She was so convincing in this role that viewers didn’t even care about the fact that she didn’t really look like the real Diana.
Emma Corrin portrayed young Lady Di in the TV series, The Crown. And the resemblance between these 2 women was stunning! The actress did her best to imitate the way Diana moved and spoke. And she managed to do this with the help of documentaries, her mom, who is a speech therapist, and a dialect coach.
Anne Boleyn: Natalie Portman and Natalie Dormer
Natalie Portman played King Henry VIII’s famous wife in the movie, The Other Boleyn Girl. The picture received mixed reviews from critics and audiences. On the one hand, the actress was praised for her performance, playing this bright and contradictory character. On the other hand, the historical accuracy of the movie left much to be desired. This is why the drama’s rating on IMDb is quite low — 6.7 out of 10.
The other actress who portrayed Anne Boleyn on-screen was Natalie Dormer in the TV series, The Tudors. The historical accuracy here wasn’t perfect either, but the viewers were much more enthusiastic about the show than the movie mentioned above, resulting in a rating of 8.1 out of 10. However, very few people really paid attention to Dormer’s performance, as Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who played King Henry VIII, stole the show.
Mr. Darcy: Colin Firth and Sam Riley
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has been adapted to the screen many times, but the 1995 TV series became a hit. The scene where Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) walks out of the lake wearing a wet shirt is named the most memorable dramatic moment on British television.
Sam Riley’s character was somewhat more complex than just a gentleman with perfect manners. In 2016, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released, which was based on the book of the same name that parodied the original novel. The famous love story unfolded against the backdrop of the zombie apocalypse. The movie production didn’t go smoothly though. 3 different directors departed the project for various reasons. Originally, Elizabeth Bennet was supposed to be played by Natalie Portman, but she left the project too. However, Sam Riley decided to stay because he was in love with the idea of Darcy participating in combat scenes. This is what the actor said about his training for the movie:
Dorian Gray: Ben Barnes and Reeve Carney
Ben Barnes, who is also known for his role of Prince Caspian, portrayed Dorian Gray in the 2009 movie of the same name. In the flick, this character is shown as an innocent young man who slowly falls down into the abyss of his vices, but eventually regrets all the evil he’s done and repents. The movie received mixed reviews. It has a rating of 44% on Rotten Tomatoes while critics described this Dorian Gray as boring and Barnes’ performance as lifeless.
Dorian Gray was also one of the characters in the series, Penny Dreadful, starring Timothy Dalton and Eva Green. Reeve Carney’s Dorian is drawn to anything dangerous, so he joins the teams of supernatural heroes. Reeve Carney rose to prominence after playing Spider-Man on Broadway, and he’s also a musician and the leader of the rock band, Carney.
Batman: Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson
Christian Bale played the title role in the 2005 movie, Batman Begins, and conquered the hearts of both the audience and critics. Robert Pattinson became the new Batman in the 2022 movie of the same name. To portray this famous character, Pattison had to gain some weight and muscle up.
Once, the actor was asked about what it was like to play a role in which so many other famous actors appeared before him, and he replied:
Tarzan: Christopher Lambert and Alexander Skarsgård
Many people remember Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod in Highlander, while Mortal Combat fans adore him for his role of Raiden. But the actor rose to fame thanks to the part of Tarzan in the movie, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes. Film director Hugh Hudson chose the French man to play the English lord because he wanted a fresh face. The movie was praised by both the audience and critics, and one of them even wrote, “If there’s a better film this year than Greystoke, I shall be astonished.”
All movies about Tarzan usually tell the story of a man who grew up in the jungle and then met Jane. But with the 2016 movie, The Legend of Tarzan, the screenwriters decided to choose a different path. Alexander Skarsgård portrayed Tarzan as an adult man who’d become a real gentleman. But his enemies are still out there, so Lord Greystoke has to become Tarzan again. The jungle calls!
Dumbledore: Richard Harris and Michael Gambon
There are 2 kinds of Harry Potter fans: those who prefer Richard Harris as Dumbledore, and those who think that Michael Gambon nailed this character better.
Richard Harris portrayed the headmaster of Hogwarts in the first 2 Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, the actor passed away in 2002 and was replaced by Michael Gambon.
It’s interesting that fans still argue about which of the actors played Dumbledore better. There was even a poll conducted online whose results split almost evenly. So, we can conclude that both actors did a great job.
Heathcliff: Timothy Dalton and Ralph Fiennes
Emily Brontë’s novel, Wuthering Heights, was adapted to the screen many times. The 1970 movie starred Timothy Dalton, whose character was very close to the one described in the book.
The 1992 Wuthering Heights featured Ralph Fiennes. The role of Heathcliff was his film debut and served as a good start to his successful acting career.
Evil Queen: Julia Roberts and Lana Parrilla
Julia Roberts appeared as the Evil Queen in the fantasy comedy, Mirror Mirror. She was first among the entire cast to be approved for the role by film director Tarsem Singh. He visioned the queen not as evil but as a self-conscious woman. It’s also worth mentioning that the amazing costumes created by Eiko Ishioka earned the movie an Oscar nomination in the category of Best Costume Design.
The Evil Queen in the series Once Upon a Time is a totally different matter. Regina (Lana Parrilla) isn’t just an evil stepmother who envies her stepdaughter’s beauty here. She has a valid reason to take revenge on Snow White. Thanks to the dramatic background of the story, many fans admire this character, and the actress won the TV Guide Award for Favorite Villain and some other prestigious awards.
Thor: Chris Hemsworth and David Stakston
Many people associate Thor with Chris Hemsworth. This Marvel character had to go through a lot of transformations. In the first movie, he was just an arrogant Prince of Asgard. In Thor: Ragnarok, he showed his smart and funny side. And in Avengers: Endgame, he turned into a new version of the Big Lebowski.
In the 2020 series Ragnarok, young Thor is portrayed by David Stakston. Ragnarok reimagines Norse mythology and is a good option for those who weren’t happy with the way Marvel treated the famous myths. The action takes place in the fictional town of Edda, which suffers from industrial pollution caused by the Jutul family. A shy teenager, Magne Seier, decides to fight them and is surprised to find out that he is a reincarnation of Thor.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston and Jonas Strand Gravli
Tom Hiddleston as Loki has got an army of fans — no fewer than Thor’s supporters. Loki even got his own TV show in 2021.
The series Ragnarok, which was mentioned above, has a character named Laurits Seier. Supposedly, he is Loki himself. Even though this was never mentioned in the series, there are a few signs that prove this — he’s Thor’s brother, and he’s playful and cunning. Just look at Jonas Strand Gravli’s facial expressions and you’ll think so too. By the way, the series is often compared to Twilight and has a rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Mulan: Jamie Chung and Liu Yifei
Jamie Chung had played Mulan before Disney’s Mulan saw the light in 2020. The young warrior appeared in the series, Once Upon a Time. In that universe, she was also Merida’s battle tutor.
When Disney started the production of the famous remake, it wasn’t easy for them to find the right actress for the title role. The problem was that they had a lot of requirements for potential candidates: they required them to have credible martial arts skills, speak clear English, and have star quality. Eventually, Chinese-American actress Yifei Liu was cast out of a thousand of candidates. Critics scored the movie 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, saying, “It could have told its classic story with greater depth, but the live-action Mulan is a visual marvel that serves as a stirring update to its animated predecessor.” The audience wasn’t as optimistic as critics though and scored the movie only 52%.
Helen of Troy: Sienna Guillory and Diane Kruger
In 2004, the historical blockbuster, Troy, entered the screens starring Brad Pitt while the role of the legendary beauty was given to Diane Kruger. The actress managed to convey the tragedy of a woman who became the reason for the death of the man she loved and the entire city.
A year earlier, the miniseries Helen of Troy, starring Sienna Guillory, was released. It was a low-budget show and was targeted at the audience who was anticipating Troy. The series shows some events of Helen’s life that were not mentioned in Troy, like her abduction by Theseus.
Mina: Winona Ryder and Eva Green + Olivia Llewellyn
The charming girl who was also Dracula’s love interest in the 1992 film was played by Winona Ryder. In the movie, Dracula believes that Mina is the reincarnation of his late wife, Elisabetha. Mina also has feelings for Dracula, so she eventually asks him to turn her.
But according to Stoker’s novel, Mina had a friend, Lucy, whom Dracula turned first. In the series, Penny Dreadful, Mina is the best friend of the main character, Vanessa Ives (Eva Green). Mina is portrayed by Olivia Llewellyn, and she becomes Dracula’s first victim because he wants to reach Vanessa through her. So, here’s the plot twist: Mina in the series is actually Lucy in the book, while the real Mina is Vanessa, the main character.
Dracula: Luke Evans and Claes Bang
Dracula appeared as a character in movies and series multiple times. Usually, this aristocrat is shown as a villain, but Luke Evans’s character in the 2014 movie tells the story of a noble and honest hero who has to sacrifice his life and become a monster to save his country and family.
At the same time, the 2020 series, Dracula, is fully based on Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name. We can see how terrified the main character (Jonathan Harker) is when he meets the monster and tries to get away from him. Dracula (Claes Bang) here isn’t noble at all. He’s a sadist and an enemy to every human being.
Hercules: Kevin Sorbo and Dwayne Johnson
In childhood, many of us were big fans of the series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys starring Kevin Sorbo. So, it’s no wonder why we tend to compare all other actors who play this character with him. That Hercules was quite careless: he traveled the world together with his friend, Iolaus, and protected simple people.
In 2014, Brett Ratner’s Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson, was released. Here, we can see a broken Hercules who’s lost his family and now can find peace only in battles. He becomes a mercenary and roams the world together with other men like him. After being deceived by an evil king, Hercules loses his heart, but his friends remind him who he really is and help him regain his confidence.
The movie received mixed reviews. However, many people mentioned that it became a pleasant surprise to them.
Bella: Kristen Stewart and Jenn Proske
The story of Bella Swan played by Kristen Stewart was so popular among young women that Twilight became the most purchased DVD in 2009. And no one really cared about the fact that the Rotten Tomatoes score was only 49%.
However, the parody film, Vampires Suck, was even less successful. Its rating is only 4%. Even so, critics were quite positive about Jenn Proske’s performance, who managed to mimic Bella Swan’s moody mannerisms almost to a tee.
Jade: Giovanna Antonelli and Sandra Echeverría
The series, O Clone, became super popular in its native Brazil and all over the world. The audience loved the entire cast, but especially Giovanna Antonelli, who played Jade. Many girls tried to copy her style and learn to belly dance just like her.
In 2012, the remake of the series was released. The role of Jade was played by Mexican actress Sandra Echeverría who reworked Giovanna’s mannerisms and even danced in a different style. Unfortunately, audiences didn’t appreciate Sandra’s efforts and gave the show a score of 6.7 out of 10, while the first O Clone rating was 8.1.
Do you have favorite characters who were played by different actors on-screen? Which of them did a better job in your opinion?