Right! Since writing this post ages ago (was it really only last year?), I have seen various new (for me) period films, and discovered many wonderful new heroes. Plus, there are several heroes who didn't make it into my original Top 10, but who deserve to be recognised!
So, without further ado. . .
Top Costume Drama Heroes ~ Part the Second
(And I think there may even have to be a "Part the Third" sometime, too ;-)
The Scarlet Pimpernel aka Lord Percy (Anthony Andrews - The Scarlet Pimpernel 1982) is sitting pretty with Henry Tilney at the top of my list of all-time favourite heroes! Lord Percy is awesome beyond awesomeness; his awesomeness defies description. (Yes that sentence is cringeworthy - forgive me, I'm an SP fangirl.) The ultimate superhero - the original "superhero" in fact - and the ultimate romantic hero. And guys, I still haven't gotten round to reading the books or watching the 1999 series, but I'm convinced Anthony Andrews (of SP 1982) will forever be the Scarlet Pimpernel, as far as I'm concerned.
Arthur Clennam (Matthew Macfadyen - Little Dorrit 2008) is a different kind of Dickensian hero. Many of Dickens' best-known heroes (think David Copperfield, Pip) tend to be young, earnest, and idealistic. Arthur is considerably older - approaching 40 - and has experienced great sadness and rejection. He has had almost no joy or light in his life. But in spite of all this, he remains tenderhearted and compassionate, rather than growing embittered with life and with others. A gem of a hero.
Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann - Our Mutual Friend 1998). Eugene, Eugene! Not really a hero - more of an anti-hero. A troubled soul who comes good in the end. For the first 20-odd years of his life, Eugene is aimless, lazy, purposeless - until love jolts him out of his apathy. I'd always had a great deal of sympathy for Eugene, but I had never thought of him as being a truly - well, deserving hero. *SPOILER WARNING* I mean, his intentions towards Lizzie were undecided and potentially less than honourable. If he hadn't been bashed almost to death by Headstone, his relationship with Lizzie would probably have ended in shame and heartbreak. Well, I put all this to my blogging friend Lizzy, and her response was an interesting one! (See the comments section in linked post.) In the end - Eugene didn't deserve Lizzie's love, and he did not deserve to live happily ever after with her - but he did. He was undeserving, but he was redeemed by unconditional, selfless love. Sound familiar? :-)
John Harmon's (Stephen Mackintosh - Our Mutual Friend 1998) and Bella Wilfer's romance is perhaps a little more conventional and predictable than Eugene and Lizzie's, but it is none the less beautiful. John Harmon is a wonderful hero - strong, patient, good-hearted, yet also with a vulnerable side that endears him to the reader/viewer. Stephen Mackintosh gave an excellent perfomance as John in OMF 1998.
Faramir! (David Wenham - The Two Towers/The Return of the King) I disclosed in my earlier post that I've always had a soft spot for Boromir - essentially the "tragic hero" of The Lord of the Rings (the fact that he was played in the films by the amazing Sean Bean doesn't hurt, either ;-). But Faramir certainly doesn't suffer by comparison with Boromir - in fact, Faramir is arguably the more truly heroic of the two characters. Boromir is a great warrior and leader - strong, courageous, charismatic. Faramir is at heart a man of peace, not of war - though he still has courage and valour in bucketloads! And ultimately, he showed more true strength of character than his brother. Faramir's and Eowyn's romance is possibly one of my favourite love stories in literature.
Mr. Knightley (Mark Strong - Emma 1996). Mr. Knightley (it is impossible to call him anything else; "George" doesn't sound right, and one daren't call him "Knightley" for fear of being thought an upstart, vulgar being) has legions of female admirers - indeed, he is probably Fitzwilliam Darcy's closest rival in the Most Universally Adored Jane Austen Hero stakes, and deservedly so. He is the nicest, kindest, most honourable. . . in fact, he's almost Mary Poppins-ian - er, practically perfect in every way. (Actually, I'm curious - can anyone think of any fault in Mr. Knightley's character?! If you can, please leave a comment!) I loved both both Jeremy's Northam's and Mark Strong's Mr. Knightleys. Jonny Lee Miller. . . hmm. . . yeah. . . maybe he'll grow on me. I still haven't re-watched Emma '09, so we'll see.
John Ridd (Richard Coyle - Lorna Doone 2000). Gentle giant, and hero of R.D. Blackmore's epic Lorna Doone. Contrary to its title, Lorna Doone is really John Ridd's story - it's almost a coming-of-age tale, really. Richard Coyle's John differs considerably from the book's John - he is physically smaller (in the book he's a giant of a man, and a champion wrestler), and mentally quicker. However, he still captures the basic essence of John Ridd's character - a genuinely good, decent, big-hearted man.
Gabriel Oak (Nathaniel Parker - Far From the Madding Crowd 1998). Gabriel must surely win the prize for being the most patient, long-suffering hero in literature! He is infinitely kind and good; the only stupid thing he does in the entire story is fall in love with Bathsheba. Why, why, why?! Oh well. . . if Bathsheba Everdean is one of the silliest, most frustrating "heroines" in English literature, Gabriel has got to be one of the nicest, most amazing heroes. He also has the decided advantage of being in one of the very few Thomas Hardy novels that actually has a happy ending! So he gets the girl in the end - without either of them dying or committing murder or suicide or anything like that. I found Far From the Madding Crowd 1998 a frustrating story at times (if there's one famous 19th author I don't like, it's Thomas Hardy), but Gabriel makes it all worthwhile. And Nathaniel Parker. . . wow! :-D
James Percy (Thomas Gibson - The Inheritance) Once again, the film and the book incarnations of this character are somewhat different. Thomas Gibson's James Percy in the 1997 TV movie is a dashing, handsome, lively young (well, young-ish) man. James Percy in the book (actually, he's referred to as Lord Percy - Louisa May Alcott's book, written when she was seventeen, is set in England at some indefinite period in the 18th or early 19th century) is "old" (35 or so), quiet, and plain. If anything, I think I prefer the book's version - he's such a lovely, Colonel Brandon-ish sort of character.
Whew! And that rounds out the sequel to my Top 10 Heroes post! This has been a fun post to write. . . I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!
Please share your thoughts on any or all of these characters in the comments section! Or tell me who some of your favourite costume drama heroes are, and why.