Acting is a wonderful thing. Being able to inhabit and bring to life a character’s soul is wonderful, and a talent that isn’t much credited. Sometimes, on very special occasions, that wondrous phenomenon occurs twice when an actor or actress is given the chance to portray a fellow actor or actress.
These performances are often a lot of fun; and when done right, they can be astonishing in how similar they are to the person being portrayed, like when Renée Zellweger turned himself into Judy Garland or when James Franco showed the general public the mysterious charisma of Tommy Wiseau†
Channeling the Unseen – Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn in ‘The Aviator’ (2004)
Martin ScorseseOscar-nominated the kite depicts the early life and career of the legendary millionaire, aviator and filmmaker Howard Hughesplayed by Leonardo DiCaprio† Renowned actress Katherine Hepburn plays an important role in the story, and in the movie she was played in Cate Blanchett†
Hepburn was a very private person known only to those closest to her, so attempting to play her and not fall into caricature was daunting, but Blanchett nailed her part. She channels Hepburn’s persona onto the screen and injects some genuine humanity into it.
When Batman Played Superman – Ben Affleck as George Reeves in ‘Hollywoodland’ (2006)
Despite being one of the most famous actors currently working in Hollywood, ben Affleck is not often praised for his skills as a thespian. So it’s understandable that one of his biggest performances is as George Reeveswho played Superman in the TV show Adventures of Supermanin the neo-noir thriller Hollywoodland about a detective (Adrien Brody) investigating the mysterious death of Reeves.
What he lacked in acting talent, Reeves made up for in charisma and a strong screen presence. Affleck beautifully plays a man plagued with discontent and self-doubt as he slowly peels back the layers of such a complex and fascinating figure.
They Never Forgot Her – Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in ‘Judy’ (2019)
The bittersweet biopic Judy follows Judy Garland, played beautifully by Renée Zellweger in one of her finest performances, on a trip to England to stage a series of sold-out shows in 1968, a year before the star’s tragic death at age 47.
While Zellweger nailed Garland’s demeanor and personality, hers is far from a simple imitation. She adds a commendable emotional intensity to the role, not exactly disappearing into Judy’s shoes, but rather capturing and relaying what the actress felt during her last few days on Earth. It’s a performance that’s as tender as it is heartbreaking.
The Rising Star – Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate in ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ (2019)
Some say this movie is filmmaker Quentin Tarantinolove letter to the cinema. In it, the decay of the washed-up Hollywood star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) is contrasted with some scenes of the rising star Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie), who was a real actress, married to the infamous Roman Polanski when the movie takes place.
Robbie perfectly portrays the innocence and youthful energy of a young actress like Tate, resulting in a magnificent performance that relies much more on gestures and facial expressions than on dialogue.
She’s Worth It – Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in ‘My Week With Marilyn’ (2011)
In My week with Marilynyoung film student Colin Clark †Eddie Redmayne) gets a dream job on the set of Laurence Olivier †Kenneth Branagh)’s latest movie, where star Marilyn Monroe †Michelle Williams) invites him into her fascinating inner world.
While the film itself isn’t generally considered particularly good, Williams’ role as the legendary Marilyn has been praised over the years. While the role would be easy to approach as a superficial impersonation, Williams plays Monroe with sophistication and realism, so captivating that she single-handedly makes the film worth watching.
The Legend’s Wild Side – Robert Downey Jr. as Charles Chaplin in ‘Chaplin’ (1992)
Robert Downey Jr. earned his first Oscar nomination for playing the master of slapstick comedy, Charles Chaplinin Sir Richard Attenboroughthe biopic Chaplin†
It is arguably the best rendition of Downey’s career, an intricately complex and deeply human portrait of a true movie legend. The actor wonderfully brings out the fun and energetic side of Chaplin’s personality, while also shining in the more dramatic and melancholic parts.
Oh Hi, James – James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in ‘The Disaster Artist’ (2017)
The room is popular because it is widely regarded as one of the absolute worst films ever made, giving the director, writer, producer and star, Tommy Wiseau, a similar kind of fame for… well, not particularly his talent. James Franco starred and directed in the disaster artista film about the making of The room†
The dramedy is about as funny and insightful as you’d expect, thanks in large part to Franco’s chameleonic performance as Wiseau. He takes the ridiculous and larger-than-life personality of the filmmaker and adds layers of mystery, emotion and poignancy.
Planning to Die Soon – Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi ‘Ed Wood’ (1994)
Late Martin Landau is best remembered for his role in Tim Burton‘s Ed Wood, about the filmmaker of the same name often considered the worst person to ever do it. In it Landau plays the mythical Bela Lugosibest known for portraying Dracula in the classic 1931 monster movie.
Landau won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role, and for good reason. His take on Lugosi is both hilarious and heartbreaking, as he lovingly constructs the character of this endearing yet tragic figure.
Talk about disappearing into a role! — Jim Carrey as Andy Kaufman in ‘Man on the Moon’ (1999)
Milos Forman‘s man on the moon tells the story of the life of the legendary comedian and actor Andy Kaufmanwhich was played by Jim Carrey in one of the most controversial performances in film history.
During the film’s production, Carrey’s dedication to the role was immense—too much, some would say. He insisted on being treated like Andy Kaufman both on and off set, refusing to break his character and even going so far as to claim he was possessed by Kaufman’s ghost. Carrey pretty much becomes the famous comedian and manages to bring out the more empathetic side of an eccentric man.
The Best at Making the Worst – Johnny Depp as Ed Wood in ‘Ed Wood’ (1994)
Some say that Ed Wood is Tim Burton’s best movie, and that Johnny Depp‘s performance as an actor-director is the best of his career. It’s not hard to see why. Depp brings a warmth and charm to the character that is difficult for any other actor.
Wood was a fascinating character and Depp plays the part wonderfully. You really believe that he is a man who absolutely loves making movies, even though he can’t see that he is completely incompetent at it. Depp manages to be funny, endearing, sweet and jovial, often all at once. By the time the credits kick in, you’ll want to know what Wood is all about.
KEEP READING:From ‘Jail Bait’ to ‘Glen or Glenda’: Ed Wood’s Best Worst Movies