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Matthew Rhys, Joshua Jackson and more talk about playing roles made famous by previous actors: 'Where does this go?'

Matthew Rhys (Perry Mason , HBO/Max)

Perry Mason

Matthew Rhys in HBO’s Perry Mason. Right: Raymond Burr in the 1957-66 CBS series. Matthew Rhys in HBO’s Perry Mason. Right: Raymond Burr in the 1957-66 CBS series. Matthew Rhys in Perry Mason on HBO. Right: Raymond Burr at 1930- CBS series. Courtesy of HBO; Courtesy Ever Ritter Collection

Matthew Rhys vaguely remembers Raymond Burr Perry Mason playing in the background as a kid, but when he was on a version set at 450s Los Angeles, the cast is far from all previous iterations. “Whether consciously or not, I have a slight tendency to copy,” he said. “If I start watching [Raymond Burr], I don’t know how or where he’s going to show up, but I know he’s going to be.” Reese focused instead on the character presented in the script—a scarred veteran in the midst of the Great Depression. In the background, I found my mission. “When I read about the first scene of World War I, I remember being really shocked. Where is this going?” recalls Reese. “They seized a decisive moment and put him on a very clear path about what was right and what was wrong.” However, in the author Erle Stanley Gardner’s (Erle Stanley Gardner) established In Unwavering Justice, there is a strong thread between Rhys Mason and the other versions. “He was an early founder of a system where people who really felt like they had nowhere else to turn got a legal team to help them. This is what Mason ended up being; when you thought all hope was lost , and when the odds are so unfair to you, someone is going to help you.” While Rhys thinks he can keep playing the role as long as he has meat on his bones, he doesn’t think it will be a feature-length series before. “One of the biggest challenges is redefining the show beyond just doing a case in court where the verdict can be speculated,” he said. “It’s something we do differently that will keep it fresh.”

Jabari Bank (Joshua Jackson in Paramount+’s Fatal Attraction. Right: Michael Douglas in the 1987 film. Bel-Air

, Peacock)

Will Smith

Peacock Bel-Air Jabari Banks. Right: Will Smith Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Ron Batzdorff/Peacock; Courtesy of Everett Collection WHEN WEST PHILLY TEEN WILL SMITH DRAWS A GUN IN THE PILOT OF BEL-AIR , the actor who played him knew it wasn’t his mother’s Prince Fresh. “I was like, ‘Well, this is different,'” Jabari Banks said. “That was the one that brought the show to the 1987 moment. Unfortunately, it’s something that happens every day. I’m glad we didn’t shy away from that.” From that opening line, putting his character on the line with Will Smith in the ‘1987中标志性的角色分开 的NBC The sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is not difficult. However, the pressure to recast one of the most famous characters in TV history is another piece of the puzzle. Imagine, for example, using lyrics from the famous theme song (“I fought a little war and my mom freaked out”) as dialogue when he arrives at his new home. “I’m terribly afraid to say those things. There’s a thin line between a cliché and the truth,” Banks said. “I got in touch with Morgan [Cooper, series creator] a lot of times because I thought, ‘Is this cheeky? Is this serious? He’s like, ‘Just be real. That’s his truth.'” Bank Stein says he doesn’t just know the original sitcom — it’s the first thing he remembers seeing as a kid. “It’s a big responsibility to carry the weight of the show. I definitely have some imposter syndrome,” he said. “But life comes fast, you know? Sometimes you don’t reflect. So I focus on one line and say it as best I can. Then the scene is going to be the best. This episode is going to be the best.” Help the real-life Smith share some words of encouragement. “He told me they picked me for a reason. He let my light shine,” Banks said.

Joshua Jackson (, Paramount+)

Dan Gallaghar

Fionn Whitehead in FX/Hulu’s Great Expectations. Right: An illustration of Pip in Charles Dickens’ novel.

Paramount+’s Fatal Attraction Joshua Jackson . Right: Michael Douglas at 1402 in the movie. Michael Moriatis/Paramount+; Paramount Mon/Courtesy Everett Collection Before reading Alexandra Cunningham’s expansion of Fatal Attraction, Joshua Jackson was interested in playing Michael Character created by Michael Douglas in

casts doubts. “Honestly, it feels like a trap,” he said. When Cunningham explained that her version was not a retelling but a starting point, Jackson was intrigued. “What fascinates me is that men, especially white men, are in a time of crisis right now. I’ve played several characters who struggle with power and privilege, and when it’s pushed back, [they] lash out in toxic ways, “He said. “Dan Gallagher is a fragile product of the modern male sense of self. When that self-construction is jolted a little bit, he starts to struggle.” What immediately stands out about Dan Gallagher is the evolution in culture and storytelling. “I don’t think a lack of remorse for an affair is useful d),” Jackson said. “When he tells his wife, she’s going to hold him accountable for that, and to me, that’s the crux of [the show].” Despite the modern lens and wider canvas, he doesn’t quite shake Douglas’ avatar. “I wanted to embody the swagger and charisma of Michael Douglas, because it was an interesting contrast to what Dan looked like after he was incarcerated.” Jackson knew how people received his character was out of his control—and he knew who was watching, too. “I bumped into Glenn Close before we started, and what she said basically boiled down to: ‘Don’t screw it up.’ I like straight women. ‘Yes, ladies, we’re going to try not to screw it up.'” ” ”

Fionn Whitehead ( Great Expectations

, FX/Hulu)

point Matthew Rhys in HBO’s Perry Mason. Right: Raymond Burr in the 1957-66 CBS series. Fionn Whitehead on FX/Hulu’s Great Expectations . Right: Illustration of Pip from a novel by Charles Dickens. Parry Dukovic/ FX; Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo Fionn Whitehead may not have read Charles Dickens’s classic novelGreat Expectations before getting the chance to play Pip, but that doesn’t mean By 20-year-old is not feeling the pressure of his legacy. “You’re immersed in a piece of literature that everyone adores,” he said. Whitehead’s initial decision not to watch the previous iterations would be the solution to creating his own version of The Orphan, who tries to rise above his class through a wacky apprenticeship. “I don’t want to copy other people, so I try not to study any of them,” he said. “But I did watch a few versions in moments of weakness.” For Whitehead, the best way to create a well-known character is to take inspiration from Steven Knight’s script, whose candid exploration of class gives Gives Pip and his cohorts a little modern edge. “Steven said that when Dickens was writing, he couldn’t talk about a lot of things because of social norms, and Steven wrote all the annoying little details,” he said. “Pip also has an element that is generally related – young people not talking about their feelings and thinking they need to stand on their own two feet without any help. That really connects with me, seeing There are people who go through this and struggle because they haven’t figured out that we all need each other.” Add in the modern language and a diverse cast, and it’s not hard to see how this production is distinct from its predecessors. “With period dramas, you sometimes create a bit of a disconnect. It was important to me to make sure people could relate to Pip in a non-dissociative way,” he said. “To really get the audience into what the characters are going through, sometimes you need a touch of modernity.” This story first appeared in the June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter Magazine. To receive the magazine, 1987 click here to subscribe .

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