Ten Favourite Screen Characters

J.V. Carr tagged me for this fun assignment, and it certainly provoked some thought and discussion with family and friends. I was intrigued to find that certain exceptional performances by actors when they were children insisted on being included in my top ten. The other thing I realised was that so often an exceptional character portrayal owed a great deal to the stellar performances of actors playing alongside my chosen favourites. I’ve nodded to some of them along the way.


Henry Thomas as Elliot in ETChild actors first then… Henry Thomas at the age of 11 as Elliot in E.T.. (Drew Barrymore was great in that too, aged 7, and Dee Wallace as their mom…)





Natalie PortmanNatalie Portman at the age of 12 as Mathilda in Leon. Also great in that film were Jean Reno as the professional hitman Léon and Gary Oldman as the corrupt DEA agent Norman Stansfield. Natalie Portman won both Academy and Golden Globe awards for best actress for her performance in Black Swan (2010), but I haven’t seen it. I’m sure the number of great character portrayals I haven’t seen far outweighs those I have.


Dakota FanningDakota Fanning at the age of 7 as Lucy Diamond Dawson in I Am Sam. She just blew me away.





Johnny DeppOK, adults now… Johnny Depp as Edward Scissorhands – my wife’s personal favourite!






Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis as Christie Brown in My Left Foot







Dustin HoffmanDustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt in Rain Man, though an equal accolade should go to Tom Cruise for his performance as wayward brother Charlie. I could also have nominated Dustin Hoffman as Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate or as David Sumner in Straw Dogs.



Martin FreemanTolkien is a particular hero of mine, and I very much admire Martin Freeman as an actor: so I am going to nominate Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the three films of The Hobbit. I also love his portrayal of Dr Watson alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s mesmerising Sherlock Holmes (see how I’m sneaking in some extra ones here!).

Sir Alec GuinnessI can’t possibly have a list without wizards; and it’s also an opportunity to fête two wonderful British actors: so eighth and ninth on my list are Sir Alec Guinness as Obi Wan Kenobe in the Star Wars films, and…



Sir Ian McKellenSir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit






Dame Judy DenchAnd while I’m on the subject of great British actors, I might as well finish with another one. She has created so many wonderful characters on stage and on film, and as a deep bow to all her work I award my final place to Dame Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth 1st in Shakespeare in Love.



(All images are courtesy of Google Images.  What a great resource it is)