'The Bourne Legacy' Beware: What Happens When a New Actor Takes on a Popular Role
'The Bourne Legacy' Beware: What Happens When a New Actor Takes on a Popular Franchise
With "The Bourne Legacy" arriving this weekend -- and with Jeremy Renner taking over the franchise from Matt Damon for the fourth entry -- the Big Question once again arises:
Can you really recreate a big success -- especially when you're replacing the actor closely identified with the lead role?
Here are the most notable instances of remakes and reboots that switched stars and what the consequences were both critically and at the box office.
Sean Connery vs. Roger Moore
Connery kicked off the James Bond legacy with Terence Young's 1962 hit "Dr. No."The first of Connery's seven successful Bond films brought in $16.1 million at the box office, but more important, Connery helped define the ultimate ladies' man superspy as one of cinema's most exciting heroes.
From martinis ("shaken not stirred") to luxury cars (that Aston Martin), he introduced most of the quirks that audiences now associate with Bond. For three decades, he remained a major draw, with his last go-round as 007, 1983's "Never Say Never Again," racking up $55.4 million at the box office.
When he finally hung up the tux and the gadgetry, first George Lazenby and then Moore were left with the unenviable task of putting their own spin on the iconic character. Lazenby left the franchise after one film. Moore took his first turn as Bond in 1973 with Guy Hamilton's "Live and Let Die." That film brought in $35.4 million but left critics wondering if he really could take over the reins.
"Moore has the superficial attributes for the job: The urbanity, the quizzically raised eyebrow, the calm under fire and in bed," Roger Ebert argued in his review of "Live and Let Die." "But Connery was always able to invest the role with a certain humor, a sense of its ridiculousness. Moore has been supplied with a lot of double entendres and double takes, but he doesn't seem to get the joke."
The Verdict: While "Dr. No" itself was not the most lucrative Bond adventure (adjusted for inflation the box office take would be about $122 million), Connery's films continue to grow in popularity. And as successful as Moore was, repeating the role seven times, it's the sly, sophisticated Connery who will always be associated with the definitive 007. That leaves all those other Bonds -- and there would be four other actors who tried their hand at the part -- in the also-ran category. (Sorry, Daniel Craig.)