I'm hoping that Ray Stevenson will dominate the screen completely as Frank Castle, setting wrongs to right and creating utter mayhem, in Lexi Alexander's Punisher: War Zone, which opens wide tomorrow. I loved Stevenson as Titus Pullo in HBO's Rome, an atypical brute with a little boy's heart and a joyous young man's full-bodied embrace of life. At the very least, he should erase memories of Thomas Jane, who glowered and scowled without ever embodying the role in 2004's The Punisher.
With so many sequels being made, it's inevitable that some actors will not reprise their original role. (Just think of all the fuss kicked up by Don Cheadle taking over the part of War Machine from Terence Howard, in the Iron Man sequel.) Whether it's death, Broadway, pregnancy, caring for a family member, money, or the realization that the sequel will suck, sequel replacement actors face the daunting task of replacing a familiar face in the role of a beloved character.
History has not been kind, and while it would be easier to list the worst, we thought we'd be positive and list the best sequel replacement actors. (James Bond and superheroes need a separate list.) We're also noting the role and the actor that was replaced.
1. Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox)
Brian Cox played the flesh-hungry Dr. Lecter in Michael Mann's Manhunter (1986) effectively, but Hopkins added a whole new layer when he took over the role five years later in The Silence of the Lambs. Hopkins pushed Lecter right to the edge of camp ("fava beans and a nice kee-anti") yet kept him firmly rooted at the edge of humanity with his probing eyes and ultra-controlled body language.