There are some roles so famous, so iconic, that the character name becomes permanently connected to the actor. Sometimes this association is dead-on. I’m down with you calling Harrison Ford either “Indy” or “Han.” It’s perfectly reasonable to refer to Sigourney Weaver as “Ripley” and Audrey Tautou will always be “Amelie” to me. But, in most cases, the character nicknames are wrong. Teeth grindingly wrong. It’s not that these famous/iconic performances were bad. To the contrary. But they do not represent the true caliber of the actor. What follows may be a bitter concoction of “get off my lawn” and snobby hipster film tastes, but here’s a list of ten actors who get called by the wrong character name.
Ellen Page—“Juno”: Ugh, never has such a promising career been tainted so quickly. I dug Juno, I still do despite the backlash, but Ellen Page is capable of so much more than the cutesy chatter would indicate. She hamburger phoned that sh*t in, people. Her best role remains Hayley Stark in Hard Candy. She was like a cuddly little Lisbeth Salander.
Gerard Butler—“Leonidas”: Butler was fine in 300. His thighs where just the right shade of glisten. But the man is actually a damn fine actor as evidenced by his nuanced portrayal of The Stranger in Dear Frankie. So, yeah, you should refer to him as “The Stranger,” that’ll definitely go over well.
Ewan McGregor-“Obi Wan”: Okay, this is a “get off my lawn” moment because a) Alec Guinness is the one true Obi Wan and b) McGregor should obviously be referred to as Renton (Trainspotting). I will also accept “Christian” (Moulin Rouge), but I won’t be happy about it.
Amy Adams—“Giselle”: Alright, fine, I’m not sure many folks refer to Adams as “Giselle,” but Enchanted was certainly her most high profile role to date. But, for me, she’ll always be the meerkat loving Ashley in Junebug. I’ve never been so immediately taken with an actor.
Johnny Depp—“Captain Jack Sparrow”: Johnny Depp has many, many iconic roles under his exquisitely disheveled belt: Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Hunter S. Thompson, Cry-Baby. But thanks to that kohl-rimmed Keith Richards impression, he will be remembered for the cartoonish Jack Sparrow. So charming in the first film, beyond obnoxious now. I’ll continue to call him Gilbert Grape…quietly…to myself.
Russell Crowe—“Maximus”: Crowe is famous for a lot of things. But, like Gerard Butler before him, he’s best known for the role where he showed the most skin. I’m crushed, however, that he’s not the one called “Captain Jack.” Crowe was magnificent, old school Hollywood in both Gladiator and Master and Commander, but his wry, heroic portrayal of Captain Jack Aubrey is still my favorite. Why wasn’t this the nautical franchise clogging up the multiplexes every other summer?
Zooey Deschanel—“Summer”: This particular nickname may not last long because nothing sticks faster than a TV character name. So provided her twee little sitcom doesn’t get cancelled, we may soon be calling Deschanel “Jess”…though I hope not. Me? I’m a fan of her work as Noel in “All The Real Girls.” That film was like lightening in a bottle and I never loved Deschanel, director David Gordon Green or co-star Danny McBride as much in anything else.
Clark Gable—“Rhett Butler”: Gable’s Butler was great. No question. But his Peter Warne in It Happpened One Night was better. Comedic genius.
Renee Zellwegger—“Bridget Jones”: I know, I know, we’re not really supposed to like Zellwegger at all. We’re certainly supposed to hate her as Bridget Jones. Well I don’t dislike either, not really. If you doubt Zellwegger’s talent, please look into her portrayal of Novalyne Price in The Whole Wide World. She holds her own against Vincent D’Onofrio. Not an easy feat.
Alan Rickman—“Snape”: Seriously, this man is a god. He has had a long and rich career. The next one of you to call him Snape gets smacked upside the head with the Goblet of Fire. You may call him Hans Gruber, but I’d prefer it if you called him Colonel Brandon. Your choice, really.