Someone mentioned a new John Lennon bio, which made me think of another from a few years ago, where the actor completely failed to convince me he was John (completely lacked the original’s charm or wit), which made me think of other examples.
In Control, a film about Joy Division, Sam Riley was Ian Curtis-no two ways about it. Likewise Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in The Doors, even if that movie as a whole didn’t quite work.
On the other hand, neither Leelee Sobieski or Milla Jovovich convinced me, at all, that I was seeing Joan of Arc on the screen-the former was a lightweight lacking the necessary charisma, while the director (and squeeze!) of the latter made her play the role as a near-psychotic. I doubt that either actress, if dropped/replaced via time machine into the position of the real thing would be able to lead a platoon of latrine cleaners, much less an entire country. Perhaps it’s an impossible role, given our expectations of the genuine article.