Here on Criminal Element there’s been talk about horrific casting decisions (Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher) and ones that make you go “hmm” (Jason Statham as Richard Stark’s Parker), but there’s also another class of casting decisions that gets less notice, those that just absolutely work. In fact, this post was inspired by one of the commenters on our post about Mark Harmon playing John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, who said that one of the only good casting choices he’d ever seen was Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone.
That said, Robert B. Parker must have written castable characters, because among the best casting choices we’ve ever seen was Robert Urich as Spenser. This might just have been the age I was when the show was on, but I don’t think so. I think Robert Urich managed to portray all the characteristics Parker wrote into his character. (And Avery Brooks as Hawk only cemented the deal.)
And then there is David Suchet, who positively defines the role of Agatha Christie’s Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot. Sure, others have tried the character on for size—even some exceptional actors have worn the mustache—but none fit quite so well as Suchet.
The various villains of Thomas Harris’ books seem particularly effectively cast. Do you remember the oh-so-creepy Tom Noonan as Francis Dollarhyde in Manhunter? Either Anthony Hopkins or Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter?
When we asked this question on Twitter, we got a wide range of answers, leading me to realize there were movies I needed to see. Here were some that came up:
- Don Cheadle as Mouse in Devil in a Blue Dress
- The entire cast of Winter’s Bone
- Guy Pearce as Edmund Exley in L.A. Confidential (the whole cast for this movie was mentioned)
- Roy Marsden as Adam Dagliesh
- Tommy Lee Jones as Dave Robicheaux in The Electric Mist (not a good movie, according to our tweeps, but he was great in it)
- Sly Stallone as Rambo in First Blood (yes, it was a book first, written by David Morrell)
- Ben Affleck in The Town, based on Chuck Hogan’s book
- And from one of our tweeps with early access, Daniel Craig and Noomi Rapace in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
So, readers, do you agree? And do you have any other suggestions? Who have you seen on film portraying your favorite characters well?