I love seeing great books adapted into movies. Seeing the story played out with the nuances of facial expressions and body language lends a drama I can miss when reading the book. Older novels are particularly good to see acted, because it is easy to miss the humor or the irony in a written scene if you are not fully familiar with the customs or etiquette of the period; I often find the context to be more clear within a movie. Plus, I love seeing handsome actors in cravats and frock coats. There have been so many adaptations of the great 19th century works of literature that it can be hard to pick favorites, but we are up to the challenge. Below are the Vicky A’s choices for Top 10 Male Leads in a 19th century Film or TV Literary Adaptation, aka the Top TV/Movie Victorian Hotties.
10. Christian Bale as Laurie from Little Women
Before he was Batman or an American Psycho, he was every girl’s favorite boy-next-door, Laurie from Little Women. Apparently what it takes to win the heart of a March sister is to grow a goatee and become a wastrel.
9. Gene Wilder as Victor Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein
There have been a lot of Frankenstein movies, but for us, the definitive Victor Frankenstein is actually Victor FrAHnkensteen. Gene Wilder is simultaneously debonair, hilarious, and insane — the perfect man!
8. Orson Welles as Rochester in Jane Eyre
We’re dipping into the archives for this one, because I’m a bit concerned that this list is too heavily biased towards recent movies. There have been a ton of Jane Eyres, and I don’t necessarily think this one is my all time fave (I love the Masterpiece Theatre version with Toby Stephens which I just saw for the first time recently), but I do love me some Orson Welles. Citizen Kane-era, pre-liquor commercials Orson Welles.
7. Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer from The Age of Innocence
Oh, Daniel Day. DDL is amazing in everything he does, so if you haven’t seen this version of Age of Innocence, you can imagine the intensity he brings to the role of Newland Archer. Also, I have a feeling all the top hat wearing he does in this movie helped him really nail the role of Lincoln. Note: We know The Age of Innocence was written in the 20th century. Indulge us, please.
6. Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights
When asked to choose a favorite Heathcliff, Ralph Fiennes is our pick. It’s too bad he went on to be Red Dragon and then Voldemort for 8 movies – that kind of ruined him for me.
5. Brendan Fraser as Trevor Anderson in Journey to the Center of the Earth
HAHAHAHAjustkidding, I would never put Brendan Fraser on this list.
5. Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley in Emma
I am aware that Mark Strong has a minor male pattern baldness situation going on even in this movie, but I kind of don’t care; he’s a total fox.
4. Gabriel Byrne as Professor Bhaer from Little Women
Yes, another one from Little Women. Clearly, I saw this movie at too impressionable an age, and I still love Gabriel Byrne as the kindly Professor Bhaer.
3. Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility
Alan Rickman can read me Shakespearean sonnets anytime. How it took Kate Winslet so long to come around to this guy, I have no idea. I’m pretty sure I thought he was superhot even as a teenager.
2. Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes
He hasn’t been around as long as some of the others, and as they age like fine wine, Benny is just hitting his stride. Is that too mixed a metaphor? The point is, who doesn’t absolutely adore Cumberbatch in this role?
Sorry, that photo slipped in. I can’t control myself around Benny. Focus…
1. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
The number one spot is easy. Who can deny that Colin Firth is the one and only Darcy? And who doesn’t remember the first time she saw that LOOK of his? In college, I spent hours discussing that look with the girls in my dorm. Colin Firth is number one on our list no matter what the subject of the list actually is.
Ok, we want to hear from you! Who did we miss? Are we way off? Who is in your top 10?