Dueling performances -- What happens when two actors play one role, like Brian Cox and Anthony Hopkins portraying Hannibal Lecter?

By Tim Purtell
November 27, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Here’s a ”character” issue that George Bush neglected: What happens when two actors (like Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford) tackle the same film role? Some revealing cases from moviedom’s Oddities file:

Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986)/Biloxi Blues (1988)
*Character: Eugene Jerome *Actors: Jonathan Silverman/Matthew Broderick *Difference: His performance may be stage-stuck, but Silverman’s younger Eugene exudes more chutzpah than Broderick’s supposedly older one.

Manhunter (1986)/The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
*Character: Hannibal Lecter *Actors: Brian Cox/Anthony Hopkins *Difference: Cox’s Lecter — all oily black hair and eyebrows — is fine, but Hopkins’ Oscar-winning bad doctor is the seductive core of the second movie.

The Pink Panther (1964)/Inspector Clouseau (1968)
*Character: Inspector Clouseau *Actors: Peter Sellers/Alan Arkin *Difference: Arkin’s onetime outing as the bumbling detective is wryly charming, but no match for slap-shtickster extraordinaire Sellers.

The Sting (1973)/The Sting II (1983)
*Characters: Henry Gondorff and Johnny Hooker/Fargo Gondorff and Jake Hooker *Actors: Paul Newman and Robert Redford/ Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis *Difference: Glamorous buddies Newman and Redford morph into porcine Gleason and putty-faced Davis, the characters inexplicably separated by a generation.

Superfly (1972)/The Return of Superfly (1990)
*Character: Priest *Actors: Ron O’Neal/Nathan Purdee *Difference: Purdee’s cleaned-up, processed Priest, a kinder, gentler version for the ’90s, makes one pine for O’Neal’s ultrasexy sideburns, malevolent mustache, and long hair.