Christian Grey to Jay Gatsby: Actors on Their Most Daunting Book Character Roles
Jamie Dornan has officially taken over the mantle of Christian Grey from Charlie Hunnam, who dropped out of the "Fifty Shades of Grey" movie less than two weeks ago. Though the studio claimed there was a scheduling conflict, many wondered whether that Hunnam feared the pressure of fans' disdain--they even created a Change.org petition to re-cast him--or worried he'd be typecast as Robert Pattinson was after the "Twilight" movies. Fret not, Dornan you're not alone! As you prepare to play the kinky billionaire, you may want to check out these quotes from actors who took on similarly high-pressure book character roles--some more unexpected than others. We could have guessed Leonardo DiCaprio would have been wary about portraying Jay Gatsby, but did you know that Meryl Streep angsted over playing Miranda Priestly?
Leonardo DiCaprio: Jay Gatsby
"There's a lot of pressure when you're dealing with a novel of this caliber, a piece of literature that people know so intimately and are so connected to," DiCaprio said while promoting Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby." "So, you know there's no one scene or one line that you take lightly."
Keira Knightley: Elizabeth Bennett
"There is a huge pressure taking on a role like Elizabeth Bennet," Knightley told The Evening Standard when she portrayed Jane Austen's most famous heroine in 2005. "It's one of the best roles in literature for girls, so if you get a chance to play her, you definitely can't say no. But, equally, it is scary because when you read 'Pride And Prejudice,' you sort of feel like you own her. I know I did."
Mads Mikkelson: Hannibal Lecter
Although his TV show "Hannibal" is a prequel to "The Silence of the Lambs," Mikkelson was understandably intimidated by the legacy cast by his predecessor, Anthony Hopkins. "There will always be a pressure when you do something other people have done to perfection," he said. "But you know… [you] can't really think about it. If that was the case, you would always have the same [James] Bond and he would be, like, 85 now, right?"
Meryl Streep: Miranda Priestly
Even though Streep made this portrayal of the boss from hell her own--who can forget her devastatingly simple brush-off "That's all"?--she confessed to feeling so much anxiety during filming that she lost weight. "Everybody says, was it fun to play a villain? No. It was not fun to be in this person's body, it just wasn't at all," she said. "So, maybe I took the pressures that she felt too much to heart. But I felt that was in the plot. I read the script and I read that there was pressure to replace her in her job as editor. And I know how replaceable middle-aged women are in our society. I felt that, and so it wasn't enjoyable to be her."
Jim Caviezel: Jesus Christ
Caviezel told Beliefnet how director Mel Gibson tried to actually talk him out of playing the Messiah, right after he had signed on, because both acknowledged that it could be a career killer. But Caviezel--who considered it a sign that his initials are J.C. and he was 33 at the time of filming--gave a holy-sounding rejoinder: "My response was that each one of us has our own cross to carry--we either pick it up and carry it or we get crushed under the weight of it."
Kristen Stewart: Bella Swan
You might think Robert Pattinson underwent more pressure to portray Edward Cullen, but his main worry during the "Twilight" films was fame--fans seemed to accept him as Edward immediately. Stewart was another story: "As much as I’m proud of that movie and I do like it, I feel like maybe I brought too much of myself to the character," she told Interview magazine. "All of these girls who are fans personally feel like they encapsulate that character. So it's like, 'How the hell am I going to do that for all of them? It's impossible!' But I’ve decided, if you're just unabashedly honest all of the time, you have nothing to be ashamed of."
Sam Claflin: Finnick Odair
Dornan could especially take some pointers from Sam Claflin, who was a relative unknown before being cast as Finnick Odair in "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." In his first big role, Claflin was suddenly expected to play the bronzed District 4 heartthrob--plus, he had to contend with unhappy fans who had envisioned someone else.
Having described himself as having "very pale English skin" and being out of shape at his audition, Claflin told Elle magazine that after he was cast, "the alarms went off and the trainers were brought in. There were a lot of gym workouts, a lot of stunt training and fighting, hair dying, fake tans, the whole shebang. I was a different man. I’m very happy with the results and can only hope that I achieve a semblance of that perfection that everyone is looking for."