Last week, I posted about some of the more unusual, unlikely and bizarre recasts we’ve seen – the ones that fell flat with viewers. I figured I’d bring a little yin to balance out the yang, and talk about some of the more successful recasts.
I think they all share two common threads – a physical likeness, and the new actor’s willingness to pick up where the previous actor left off before they make it their own.
In order of success and/or awesomeness, these actors would get my votes.
Elizabeth Keifer as Blake, Guiding Light: I haven’t made any secret of my admiration and fandom for Liz Keifer, who I interviewed back in February. Part of my respect for Liz is based on my amazement (as a GL fan) at how masterfully she took over this role in 1992.
I loved Sherry Stringfield’s take on Blake and thought Stringfield was a great match. (She was the second Blake, after Elizabeth Dennehy.) I remember GL announced Keifer as the new Blake really early – much earlier than usual – and I was not happy to hear Stringfield was leaving.
And I swear, by the third show with Liz as Blake, I was like, “Sherry who?” Liz just got Blake – immediately. I was really impressed that Liz had captured some of Sherry’s physical mannerisms and affectations and worked them into her performance, but not in a way that seemed obvious or conspicuous. It was very, very subtle. It also helped that the character of Blake was at a turning point, and that Liz and Jerry verDorn (Ross) had combustible chemistry.
Rick Hearst as Alan-Michael Spaulding, Guiding Light. A close second would have to be Hearst’s casting as Alan-Michael. Hearst was the textbook definition of someone who came in to a role and put a very different spin on it (yet staying true to the character).
Hearst, like Grant Aleksander, has a deliciously dark undercurrent to his performances. So even when Alan-Michael was a good guy, he added a layer of bad boy bravado to AM’s smiling exterior. And even when AM was up to his assets in trouble, Hearst gave him a lot of heart.
Guiding Light has always been great at casting, especially replacing existing characters when it was necessary. (They had a nearly impossible task in filling Beverlee McKinsey’s shoes, and did a phenomenal job by picking Marj Dusay.) They’ve had some recent successes, including Marcy Rylan as the new Lizzie. But Keifer and Hearst were definitely the two best GL recasts.
Jess Walton as Jill and Peter Bergman as Jack, Y&R. I’m sure this one will spark some debate. The original Jill, Brenda Dickson, has legion of fans. I enjoyed Dickson’s larger-than-life take on Jill (as well as those attention-grabbing vanity videos on YouTube) but I’ve been on Team Jess since Walton took over.
Walton’s Jill is grounded but still over-the-top emotionally. That grounding gives Jill’s misdeeds more weight and more logic. When Jill manipulates someone, stabs them in the back, or sets out to destroy them, her reasons (mistrust, hurt or revenge) seem clearer and deeper.
Bergman’s take on Jack is very similar; Terry Lester made for a great bad boy. (It’s hard to look at Billy Miller’s performance of Billy Abbott and not see a little of Lester in his sly, naughty Billy.) But Bergman inherited Jack at a time where Jack was evolving (and aging) and managed to take him from a pushy playboy to a force that Victor had to reckon with.
Robert Kelker-Kelly as Bo, Days of our Lives. Another choice that I’m sure people will disagree with. Not everyone loved RKK’s Bo, and….well, let’s just say that some of his former co-workers probably didn’t keep him on their Christmas card lists, you know?
But I think Kelker-Kelly was a great choice for Bo. He physically resembled Peter Reckell, and he had great chemistry with Crystal Chappell. (So does a potted plant, but I digress.)*
More to the point, the casting of RKK followed all the logic that All My Children ignored when casting Liza. Physical resemblance? Check. Sexy, romantic male lead? Check. An actor who can capture the essence of the character? Check.
Anne Heche and Jensen Buchanan, Another World. AW had a lot of luck with the dual roles of Marley and Vicky. Of course, two-time Emmy Award winner Ellen Wheeler (yes, that Ellen Wheeler) played Marley and her bad, bad twin Vicky.
Heche and Buchanan both did great work with the characters (though it must be said that their efforts, particularly Buchanan’s, were far more focused on bringing Vicky alive). They were able to put their own spin on the twins, but still kept a connection to the core of the characters.