POLL SUGGESTION: All time Greatest 'Famous Characters' Actor?

  • 1
  • Idea
  • Updated 3 weeks ago
  • (Edited)
Many actors have played multiple famous characters, which is your favorite and who earns the most credit by volume and quality? https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/
Photo of Nathan Carlier

Nathan Carlier

  • 8 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes

Posted 1 month ago

  • 1
Photo of rocky-o

rocky-o

  • 848 Posts
  • 437 Reply Likes
i think your use of the term 'character actor' is being misused...

this list isn't a list of character actors at all, no less 'greatest'...this is a list of 'lead actors' who played different characters...that is completely something else all together....

when i read your question, my first thought was burgess meredith...he and others, like joe e. brown, elisha cook jr., etc...those are names that should be on this list... 
Photo of Nathan Carlier

Nathan Carlier

  • 8 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
It is totally a mistake of mine, I meant to write- All time Greatest 'Characters' Actor?
and as above- burgess meredith could be on it, as he played- Penguin x multiple and Mickey x3.
the idea was originally superhero characters, but I expanded that to famous pulp fictional characters. I appreciate your reply and all the others below, and sorry for the confusion. 
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
Anthony Hopkins is probably the number one actor in that regard. He is Zorro, Odin, Methuselah, Van Helsing, Lecter, Titus, Bligh, Picasso, Kellogg, Heineken, JQA and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
...and...

Ian McKellen is of course Magneto, Gandalf, Holmes, Copperfield, the Grim Reaper and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. Never mind the Shakespearean parts, because anybody who happens to have skill and a passion for William Shakespeare's work, will play every leading part adopted/created by the playwright. Tons of actors do it, and often do it fairly decently.

(I feel myself dancing around the fact that Hopkins and McKellen portrayed Hitler.)

Patrick Steward is of course Ahab, Scrooge, Xavier, Halleck, Leondegrance, Sejanus, Seti, the Lionheart and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. He is Picard too notably, but that is a role that is, so to speak, original to him rather than derivative. He is not only the first actor to portray Picard, but also the first published rendition of the character and thus far the only actor to officially regularly portray adult Picard. That counts for more, but the idea is askew from the idea of playing the other grand characters.

(In addition, Steward portrayed Lenin: not quite the same as portraying Hitler but nigh. Notably, Hopkins is Nixon, and McKellen is Tzar Nicholas II.)

Gary Oldman is of course Gordon, Black, Smith, Dracula, Pilate, Beethoven, Churchill, "Sid Vicious" and other legendary (or mostly infamous) characters, fictional or biopic. (LHO was an infamous one.) His many "non-derivative" characters, however, stand out incredibly: Stansfield, Zorg and Verger! Some of the most disgustingly evil characters the world has ever known. "Carnegie" and Korshunov perhaps deserve honorable mentions.

I intend to continue this exploration of characters, which would invariably involve mentioning actors who aren't on the PS list.
Photo of don0don

don0don

  • 7 Posts
  • 14 Reply Likes
I agree with rocky-o. This list is not of character actors in the accepted sense of the term.

I also agree that Burgess Meredith should be on any list of the greatest true character actors. Three other names: Donald Pleasance, Claude Rains (who played moved between leading and character roles) and Strother Martin.
Photo of rocky-o

rocky-o

  • 835 Posts
  • 415 Reply Likes
strother martin...definitely yes
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
A character actor is an actor who only or nearly only plays named or unnamed characters who interact with a main character (or a supporting character) but have a much more limited presence on screen than basic supporting characters, as in not having a their own background, to the point that the same actor may play different characters (yet who may all lack any character-defining makeup/attire) in different installments belonging to the same chronology/universe. The characters that a character actor plays are generic, in other words. A number of stars are former character actors, including some of the ones on the PS pertinent list here.
Photo of don0don

don0don

  • 7 Posts
  • 14 Reply Likes
Jeorj, all of that is is fundamentally wrong. Major supporting parts are often played by character actors, and those parts are characters with a rich background and inner life. It is ludicrous to assert that character actors play only "generic," stereotypical characters. Think of the characters that Claude Rains played in Errol Flynn's great swashbuckling adventures like "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and "The Sea Hawk." He most definitely would be accurately described as a "character actor" in those roles, yet they are hardly "generic," two-dimensional characters. as you describe "character actor" parts.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
O? Well, I don't know what you mean, don0don. The subject material I have in mind is covered in the documentaries Starz Inside: The Face Is Familiar, That Guy ... Who Was in That Thing and That Guy Dick Miller, for examples.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
Come to think of it, I see what you mean.

From the IMDb Movie Terminology Glossary - C:
An actor who specializes in playing a particular style of character, often stereotypical, offbeat, or humorous.

On the web: Search IMDb for Character Actors.
Photo of Dan Dassow

Dan Dassow, Champion

  • 9160 Posts
  • 7784 Reply Likes
Hi Nathan Carlier (AKA nate-car),

Thank you for your poll suggestion.

1. Once someone responds to a post, only an admin can edit that post.

2. Please read:
FAQ: So You Want to Make an IMDb Poll? Here's How...
Please note: Polls are limited to a maximum of 35 choices.

3. As rocky-o, don0don and Jeorj Euler point out, the people on your list are leading actors who play multiple characters. They are not character actors. Please see this Wikipedia article for additional clarification: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_actor

4. For your poll suggestion to be considered, you list must link back to this thread. Please edit your list (https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/) to add this text:
After voting, [link=https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/poll-suggestion-all-time-greatest-character-actorplease discuss here.[/link]
Once you save your edit, this will appear as:
After voting, please discuss here.
5. Other poll authors and users may offer suggestions. Please read their suggestion carefully and respond respectfully.
6. If you have questions regarding creating and suggesting polls, please post them in this thread.
Photo of rubyfruit76

rubyfruit76, Champion

  • 2507 Posts
  • 1813 Reply Likes
3. As rocky-odon0don and Jeorj Euler point out, the people on your list are leading actors who play multiple characters. They are not character actors. Please see this Wikipedia article for additional clarification: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_actor

That's true, of course, but I think Nathan's intent was not to make a list of character actors but a list of actors who have played several famous characters. His title on his list clarifies that, I think, so could you or Peter edit the title and intro on this discussion thread so that the confusion doesn't continue? 

Thank you! :)

(Nathan, do I have this right?)
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
I'm guessing PS would want to change the description to something like "All-time Greatest Actors of Great Characters". I'm still trying to wrap my head around the emphasis the PS places on how many times an actor has played a "great" character. I find more interesting to look at how many "great" characters have been played or how high the quality or "greatness" levels of a few "great" characters played are. Naturally I gravitate toward Anthony Hopkins' characters. It is as though he always gets the best parts.
Photo of Stephen N Russell

Stephen N Russell

  • 496 Posts
  • 644 Reply Likes
Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr,Stallone, Patrick Stewart
Photo of don0don

don0don

  • 7 Posts
  • 14 Reply Likes
Not one of these guys is a character actor. They are all leading actors.
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
Charles Chaplin
James Stewart
Henry Fonda
Spencer Tracy
Kirk Douglas (still living! >100 y.o.)
Douglas Fairbanks
Robert Mitchum
Anthony Quinn
Paul Newman
Gregory Peck
Katherine Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn
James Dean
Humphrey Bogart
Marlene Dietrich
Robin Williams
Heath Ledger
Toshiro Mifune
Tatsuya Nakadai
Jack Klugman
Lee J. Cobb
Eli Wallach
Harold Lloyd

Meryl Streep,   Kathy Bates   F. Murray Abraham, Glenn Close,   Robert Redford,    Sir Michael Caine,  Bill Murray, Ralph Fiennes,  Jeff Bridges,  Kenneth Branagh, J.K. Simmons, Gerard Departieu, Pierre Richard, Clint Eastwood,  Sean Penn, Tim Curry, Tim Robbins, John Malkovich,
Sean Connery, Morgan Freeman, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer, Jessica Lange, Gene Hackman, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Forest Withaker, Denzel Washington, Edward Norton, Johnny Depp Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, Leonard Nimoy, Woody Harrelson, Robert Duval, Julianne Moore, Anette Bening, Tom Cruise, Faye Dunnaway, Jean Gabin, Jean Reno, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Sidney Poitier, Tom Hanks, Christoph Waltz, Matthew McConaughey, etc.

It's not easy to decide, who should be on such alist. But the ones on top of the list, standing alone - they are the ones, who I would consider the most. ;)  I'm sure, I forgot some!
(Edited)
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
Actors who have never played the same character more than once are at least germane to this notion.
Photo of don0don

don0don

  • 7 Posts
  • 14 Reply Likes
Breumaster: With very few exceptions, this is NOT a list of character actors. It is 98% leading actors.

Jeorj: Not playing the same character twice has nothing whatever to do with whether one is a character actor or not.

Neither of you really seem to grasp what the term "character actor" means. Granted, it is a term that can't be pinned down exactly, but neither of you is even within 10 miles of the concept. Please read the Wikipedia article that Dan linked to.
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
Sorry, but all german explanations I found do not exclude my list. There are obviously different perceptions of the character-acting-thing  in different countrys. To my defense: I'm no pro and will try to understand the english definition. But not today. ;)  98% might not be a proper number. There are many people in my text, that often took supporting charaters:

Michael Caine, Laurence Fishburn, Heath Ledger, Robert Duval, Eli Wallach, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Dan O'Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Jack Klugman, Lee J. Cobb, Kathy Bates, Max von Sydow, F. Murray Abraham, J.K. Simmons, etc.

Maybe Pete Postlethwaite would have been a better pick.
(Edited)
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
You're helping, don0don, but only just a minuscule amount.
Photo of rubyfruit76

rubyfruit76, Champion

  • 2507 Posts
  • 1813 Reply Likes
don0don, I believe Nathan explained (and the title of his list on the actual list page clarifies) that his intent was not to make a poll about character actors but actors who have played several famous characters. 
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
HI, rubyfruit76. That explanation was provided way after we were evaluating what it means to be a character actor.
Photo of Abi

Abi

  • 48 Posts
  • 51 Reply Likes
The thread starter lacks an understanding of "character actor", which is a technical term in the film industry. I think of people like Stellan Skarsgard or James Cromwell in the context of "character actor"

This is a good poll suggestion but the title and description needs revision.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2277 Posts
  • 2177 Reply Likes
Hi, Abi. Do you happen to know how Glenn Morshower fits into all this?
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
"Maybe Pete Postlethwaite would have been a better pick." Indeed.
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000638/
William Shatner 7x Captain Kirk
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
Schwarzenegger 5xTerminator (including additional planed movie), Hauser/Quaid in 'Total Recall' and Trench in 'The Expendables' Part I, II & III - Not to forget Harry Tasker in 'True Lies', directed by James Cameron. And Ben Richards from Richard Bachman's aka Stephen King's 'Running Man'.
(Edited)
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
Sean Connery - 7x James Bond, 1x Marko Ramius, 1x William of Baskerville, 1x Forrester, 1x Dr. John connor, 1x Paul Armstrong, 1x Barley 1x Marshall William T. O'Niel, 1x Mark Rutland, 1x Dr. Robert Campbell.
(Edited)
Photo of තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

  • 431 Posts
  • 535 Reply Likes
Ryan Reynolds doesn't appear as Deadpool x3. Just Twice. He went back in time and shot old deadpool. :P
Maybe  your title could go like greatest actors in movie sequels or something. :/
(Edited)
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
Please don't forget: Deadpool apeared first time in 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'.
Wade Wilson = Wade Wilson = Deadpool. :D
(Edited)
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 831 Posts
  • 838 Reply Likes
By the way: 'Green Lantern' really was a poor movie. With $200,000,000.00 plus 30 Millions to correct the CGI scenes. (Easy to speak:) I guess I would have made a better movie on this ammount. And I have no experience in filmbiz. 'Green Lantern' was ridicuosly overpayed. It was a boxoffice bomb. And that's not Ryan Reynolds fault as we see on the 'Deadpool'-movies. Reynolds can do a wide amount of characters in other movies, too. 'Green Lantern' was a tremendous missmanagement on Warner's side.
(Edited)
Photo of තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

තරිඳු ධනංජය/Thorin

  • 431 Posts
  • 535 Reply Likes
In deadpool 2 post credit scenes deadpool goes back in time to kill that old deadpool in X-Men Origins. :/
Photo of vhavnal

vhavnal

  • 385 Posts
  • 283 Reply Likes
reminds me of a list i created 5 years ago "The Best Multiple Franchise actor/actress in history" could use some names from there..
Photo of Breumaster

Breumaster

  • 824 Posts
  • 811 Reply Likes
Similar, but not exactly the same.
Photo of Jeorj Euler

Jeorj Euler

  • 2363 Posts
  • 2335 Reply Likes
Liam Neeson belongs on the list, and probably more so than some of the other actors included. Neeson is Zeus, Gawain, Valjean, Frome, Al Ghul, Aslan, Roy, Kinsey, Schindler and other legendary (or infamous) characters, fictional or biopic.
Photo of Nathan Carlier

Nathan Carlier

  • 8 Posts
  • 5 Reply Likes
This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled Poll Suggestion: All time Greatest 'Famous Characters' Actor?.

Many actors have played multiple famous characters, which is your favorite and who earns the most credit by volume and quality? https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022426421/edit?ref_=nmls_edt