Top 20 Roles Recast With Different Actors

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Top 20 Roles Recast With Different Actors

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
These roles have been recast so many times we've lost count! For this list, we'll be looking at specific characters that have been portrayed by different actors in both television and film. Our countdown includes Daredevil / Matt Murdock, James Bond, Wonder Woman, Sherlock Holmes, Batman / Bruce Wayne, and more!
Transcript

Top 20 Roles Recast With Different Actors


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Roles Recast With Different Actors.

For this list, we’ll be looking at specific characters that have been portrayed by different actors in both television and film. We will be focusing on live-action performances only, so voice acting in animated programs will not be included.

What was your favorite recast of a famous character? Let us know in the comments.

#20: Daredevil / Matt Murdock

Fun fact: Long before the MCU was even a thing, Matt Murdock / Daredevil was seen in “The Trial of the Incredible Hulk.” Rex Smith played the blind hero in that 1989 TV movie, but it wasn’t until 2003 that Marvel put out a “Daredevil” standalone movie starring Ben Affleck. The film didn’t exactly score huge audiences and generally received negative reviews. The streaming series did, however, find some success with Charlie Cox taking the reins over from Affleck. He was last seen in “Spider-Man: No Way Home” as Peter’s lawyer. With Cox’s version officially in the MCU, we’re likely to see more of him in the future.

#19: The Oracle

In order for Neo to figure out he really was the one, he had to be told otherwise by the Oracle. Originally played by Gloria Foster in the first two films, she was replaced in the third outing by Mary Alice. The former having passed away between the making of the two sequels, the way the movie handled it was very unique. Often when an actor is replaced, no one within canon acknowledges the person looks different. “Matrix Revolutions” addressed this directly within the film by using a plot device to explain away the differences in a way that didn’t feel contrived.

#18: Wonder Woman / Diana Prince

If you’re from the DCEU generation, the only person you might know as “Wonder Woman” would be Gal Gadot. But long before she defended the Amazonians, Lynda Carter was well-known as the titular hero. Portraying the character for three seasons, this lasso-carrying heroine captured the bad guys every week on the “Wonder Woman” TV show. Even before that, Cathy Lee Crosby took a stab at it in a made-for-TV movie also called “Wonder Woman.” Audiences almost got a new show featuring “The Orville”’s Adrianne Palicki as the female protagonist in 2011, but NBC declined to pick up the series.


#17: Rooster Cogburn

In 1968, Charles Portis released his novel, “True Grit,” which told the story of the death of a woman’s father. The book was released as a film a year later starring western classic actor John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn. Wayne received both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his portrayal. More than 40 years later, the Coen brothers remade the film placing Jeff Bridges in the lead role. Given how remakes are often a shell in comparison to the original, both Bridges' take on Rooster and the movie itself received more than their share of favorable reviews.

#16: James T. Kirk

No one person is more synonymous with Captain Kirk than William Shatner. Much like Leonard Nimoy’s Spock, Shatner will always be remembered as James Tiberius Kirk. But there are other actors who have taken on this role. Chris Pine notably took over for Shatner with the three more recent Kelvin timeline “Star Trek” films and is slated for another one. Jimmy Bennett played a younger version of Kirk in 2009’s “Star Trek,” albeit for only a few minutes. The most recent casting of this character is for the new Paramount+ show “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.” Paul Wesley is set to join the show in season two.

#15: Magneto / Erik Lehnsherr

When the first “X-Men” film came out, audiences were treated to classically trained actor Ian McKellen portraying the role of Magneto, aka Erik Lehnsherr. Fans quickly got used to seeing him as this character as he returned for the two follow-up films. But when 20th Century Fox decided to move their X-Men films into prequel territory, almost the entire group had to be recast. Fans were given a treat when Michael Fassbender took on the role and stayed with it until the franchise ended in 2019’s “Dark Phoenix.” Given how the X-Men are likely to show up in the MCU’s future, we’re dying to see who the next Magneto will be.

#14: Norman Bates

There’s very little argument to be made about the theatrical impact of Alfred Hitchcock’s original “Psycho.” Considered one of his best films, the lead character of Norman Bates was played to perfection by the late Anthony Perkins. His portrayal would continue for the three follow-up films, including the 1991 made for TV film, “Psycho IV: The Beginning.” In this movie, we got a younger version of Bates portrayed by “E.T.” allum, Henry Thomas. Perhaps the most memorable modern version of this character appeared in the TV series, “Bates Motel” where “The Good Doctor”’s Freddie Highmore chilled audiences for five seasons as Bates. Vince Vaughn also took a turn as Bates in the 1998 remake, but most would rather forget that.

#13: The Mummy


If you were to ask someone if they had seen the movie “The Mummy,” odds are they’d probably think you’re referring to the Brendan Fraser version released in 1999. Then played by Arnold Vosloo, it’s a role that actually has been played quite a few times prior to that. The original was portrayed by Boris Karloff all the way back in 1932. From there, Tom Tyler, Lon Chaney Jr., and Eddie Parker would all play iterations of this character before it would resurface again at the end of the 1990s. Fraser’s trilogy would finish off with Jet Li in the role. Finally, Universal tried to reboot the franchise again in 2017 with Sofia Boutella as Princess Ahmanet, but the film saw very little success.

#12: The Hulk / Bruce Banner

If you’re a fan of “The Incredible Hulk,” which actor comes to mind when you think of his live-action persona? Similar to some of our other entries, your answer may depend on either how old you are or how much you’ve read about the character’s history. In the realm of theatrical film, Bruce Banner and The Hulk have been played by three different actors: Eric Bana, Edward Norton, and Mark Ruffalo. But it doesn’t end there. Bill Bixby played Bruce Banner to Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk in “The Incredible Hulk” television show and TV movies. The latter also appeared in cameos for multiple “Hulk” films.

#11: Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan has been a staple character of Tom Clancy novels since first appearing in “The Hunt for Red October.” This CIA agent has been portrayed in both film and television by five different actors. Alec Baldwin took on the role in the 1990 adaptation of the previously mentioned “October” film, but was replaced by Harrison Ford for the next two movies. Ben Affleck and Chris Pine both took a turn at the character in 2002 and 2014, respectively. No new film projects featuring Clancy’s character have been seen since. However, John Krasinski does play him in the television series “Jack Ryan” on Amazon Prime.

#10: Hannibal Lecter

Thanks to the portrayal by Anthony Hopkins, Hannibal Lecter became one of the most feared onscreen characters in film history. When “Silence of the Lambs” came out, it won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Hopkins would revisit this character in two additional films. Interestingly enough, however, Hopkins wasn’t the first, nor the last actor, to play this role. Brian Cox originally portrayed Lecter in 1986’s “Manhunter,” and audiences got a view into Lecter’s younger self when Gaspard Ulliel took on the role. Neither were huge successes, but Mads Mikkelsen’s version in the “Hannibal” TV show gave audiences the creeps for three whole seasons.

#9: Albus Dumbledore

Similar to “The Matrix,” this is one that originally forced a recast simply due to unfortunate circumstances. The original actor, Richard Harris, can be seen in the first two “Harry Potter” films as the headmaster of Hogwarts. After passing away, Michael Gambon took on the role for the remainder of the “Harry Potter” films. Of course, when “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” was announced, a younger version of Dumbledore was set to appear and would be portrayed by Jude Law. It’s no secret that Law is a classy Dumbledore.

#8: Spider-Man / Peter Parker

Given the release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in 2021, it would seem like this entry is an easy one. First, we had Tobey Maguire, then Andrew Garfield, and finally Tom Holland. All have played the character beautifully in their own unique styles. Yet, we would be remiss if we didn’t include two other actors who have in fact played the role in live-action performances. Nicholas Hammond played the hero for 13 episodes in the late 1970’s TV show “The Amazing Spider-Man.” And of course, we can’t forget Shinji Tōdō, who also donned the webbed costume in 41 episodes of the Japanese “Spiderman” around the same time as Hammond’s version played out in the US.

#7: Sherlock Holmes

According to the Guinness World Records, “Sherlock Holmes” holds the distinction of being the most portrayed literary human character in film and television. As of the 2012 record, the character has been portrayed 254 times. Even a Top 20 list wouldn’t come close to listing off all the actors who have resided at 221B Baker St. More recent portrayals of the detective include the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, and Henry Cavill. But the distinction of having played him the most goes to Basil Rathbone. He appeared in 16 different films as the character between 1939 and 1946.

#6: Dracula

Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” was originally released in 1897, and within that time, countless iterations of the character have appeared on film and television. Much like some of our previous entries, the sheer number of actors who’ve taken on this role is far too long to list out. Some of them you’d recognize immediately. Bela Lugosi was well known for his “Dracula,” as was Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman. More recent versions have been seen from Christian Camargo, Luke Evans, and Thomas Kretschmann. Oh, and we can’t forget Leslie Nielsen’s slapstick take in “Dracula: Dead And Loving It.”

#5: Macbeth

The story was written more than 400 years ago and yet, people are still dying (pardon the pun) to portray this famous Shakespearen character. It’s virtually impossible to list off every actor who’s filled these shoes given how many stage productions of Macbeth have existed. But in film and television, there are some pretty notable actors who’ve taken him on. Orson Welles famously appeared as Macbeth in the first non-silent film back in 1948. Other memorable performances include Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Michael Fassbender, Sam Worthington, and even Denzel Washington. Given the timelessness of the story, we have no doubt this is one character that will be seen again and again.

#4: Batman / Bruce Wayne

Adam West, Michael Keaton, Christian Bale, George Clooney, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson are among the more well-known actors who have portrayed the Dark Knight. Thanks to various television projects, and early serials, there’s a few names who’ve donned the cowl you may not recognize. Lewis Wilson and Robert Lowery both were Batman before West took on the role. In the Fox show “Gotham,” both David Mazouz and Mikhail Mudrik portrayed versions of a young Batman. Finally, long-time fans of the animated “Batman” series got to see voice actor Kevin Conroy portray Bruce Wayne during the CW “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event.

#3: The Doctor

“Doctor Who”’s recasting has become part of the show’s mythos. By incorporating the concept of “regeneration,” the show has easily transitioned from one actor to another. Starting with William Hartnell back in 1963, the show cycled through six other actors before the show went off the air in 1989. Paul McGann briefly appeared in 1996 when a revival of the show was attempted. Another attempt gave us Christopher Eccleston for one season, until the show finally came back in 2005 with David Tennant becoming the 10th doctor. Since then, fans have had the pleasure of experiencing Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi, and Jodie Whittaker’s takes on this iconic role.

#2: The Joker

The moment a new actor takes on the role of a character previously occupied by someone else, it sparks a debate among fans as to who is the better version. Batman’s nemesis, Joker, is no exception. Originally portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 60s classic TV show, Joker appeared on screen again when Jack Nicholson donned the white makeup in 1989’s “Batman.” No one would have thought he could be topped until Heath Ledger did the impossible, giving us an Oscar-winning performance in “The Dark Knight.” Joaquin Phoenix also won an Academy Award for his take on the character in 2019’s “Joker.” Jared Leto, Barry Keoghan, and Cameron Monaghan have also given us variations of the character.
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#1: James Bond

Introduced in 1952 by novelist Ian Fleming, “James Bond” has become synonymous with the spy genre. Sean Connery is often credited as being the first actor to portray the British spy, but that title actually goes to Barry Nelson. He portrayed Bond in an episode of the anthology series “Climax!,” which aired on television in 1954. Connery earned his 007 status with 1962’s “Dr. No.” Six other actors have since slipped into Bond’s shoes, including Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan. The most recent Bond, played by Daniel Craig, holds the distinction of having portrayed the character for the longest. It’s also notable that “M” has been recast more than Bond himself.
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How in the Heqq could you not have Superman?!?!