Will the real Norman Bates (and others) please stand up?

I had a little comment discussion a couple of days ago about how some actors ‘own’ a role.  These are actors that do such an outstanding job with a certain character that no one will ever be able to equal their performance in that role.  If you hear that character mentioned, you will automatically picture that actor in that particular role.

This can be good or bad for the actor.  There’s always the risk of typecasting unless they are really good at their craft.  However some actors can make a role their own and still be believable in other things.  But this post isn’t about how talented the actors are just the roles that they have laid claim to.

Anthony Perkins-Norman Bates

I don’t care how many times Psycho is remade, there is only one Norman Bates and that is Anthony Perkins.  If someone asked me to describe Norman, I would give them a description of Anthony Perkins.  Even up until the day Anthony died he was still Norman Bates in my mind, the impression was that strong.


Sigourney Weaver-Ellen Ripley

Who knew a movie about face-hugging, chest-bursting, acid-bleeding aliens would give us the top female ass-kicking character of all time bar none?  Ripley was an unusual female character.  There weren’t too many female characters like her when Aliens came out.  The fact that she made such a lasting impression when sharing the screen with Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt and those aliens is amazing in itself.



Robert Englund-Freddie Kruger

The minute Robert put on the black and red striped sweater, finger knives and old fedora, he became a permanent part of our nightmares.  Even with the make up, Robert owns this role.  He was truly scary.  A lot of that was due to the humorous way that Englund portrayed Freddie.  The 2010 remake was horrible, Jackie Earle Haley should have just stayed at home.  There’s a reason I won’t spend good money to see a remake in a theater and this movie was a perfect example of why.  Without Robert Englund it just didn’t work.



It’s not just movie roles that get owned either, television has roles that actors permanently claim too.  There are probably way more TV roles that we just can’t see anyone else in, owing to the amount of time the actor spends in that role.  But we see TV series being remade now too and the remakes are horrible.

James Arness-Marshall Matt Dillon

Matt Dillon is a character that I grew up with.  Gunsmoke was a TV staple around my house and we watched it until it went off the air.  Matt was a great role model for kids who grew up when I did, because he was way ahead of his time.  A lot of Matt’s ideas in how he dealt with the people (of other cultures) around him were not standard for the time and James Arness was able to portray this tolerant attitude believably.



Sherman Hemsley-George Jefferson

Lord, please don’t let anyone get the bright idea to remake this one.  George Jefferson was the perfect foil for Archie Bunker.   Two ‘bigots’ in the same pod.  In his own way George was as much of a bigot as Archie, but both Hemsley and Carroll O’ Connor were able to convey that bigotry in a fairly benign manner by making you laugh at it.  You realized just how stupid it was.  Hemsley did more than just read lines with this character, just watch George walk sometime.  It was the mannerisms too.

Norman Reedus-Daryl Dixon

Daryl is still a ‘new’ character he’s still growing.  He is an original character introduced into an established franchise.  If there is one thing most fans of a franchise can agree on it’s don’t screw around with the canon of the franchise.   Norman Reedus is doing something unheard of here, he is building a character that is not only screwing with the canon, he’s changing it.   Daryl is arguably the most popular character in the TWD franchise.  There are even hints that this ‘created for TV’ character will become a part of the graphic novels.   Daryl Dixon is Norman Reedus’ baby.  Although the writer’s give him the lines, everything that Daryl is or will become comes directly from Norman.


2 responses to “Will the real Norman Bates (and others) please stand up?

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