Top Performances in the Narnia Movies | Talking Beasts

Podcast Discussion

One of the most exciting aspects of an adaptation is watching flesh-and-blood actors bring beloved characters to life. In this episode, we rank our favorite actors in The Chronicles of Narnia movies.

Disagree with our list? Tell us how wrong we are in the comments.

Vote for your favorite Narnia character in the new Narnia Facebook Group.

Glumpuddle, Movie Aristotle

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31 Responses

  1. Col Klink says:

    It’s hard for me to rank the top five actors in the movies because (a) I thought the first two movies had consistently great casting and (b) what makes the better performance, actor who doesn’t stand out and just sort of blends into their character, like Skandar Keynes, or an actor who conveys a lot of specific personality and really stands out, like Tilda Swinton? Anyway, I wouldn’t put all of Glumpuddle and Movie Aristotle’s choices for top five in my own top five if I ever seriously tried to make such a list. But I agree with them that all of them gave great performances.

    Does anyone know if the VODT movie had a different casting director than the first two movies? Because I thought the that in LWW and PC practically every casting choice was somewhat inspired but in VDT the only inspired choice was Will Poulter. Everyone else was sort of bland. (I know some people are bored of hearing that movie disparaged and are annoyed at me for bringing negativity to the comments section of such a positive episode. But it’s hard for me to think about actors in the Narnia movies without thinking of this.)

    On a more cheerful note, I haven’t watched the Narnia movies for a while but the audio clips from this episode made me want to revisit them. 🙂 (The audio clips from the LWW cartoon made me want to not revisit it. Sorry. I can’t seem to stop being negative. I guess I’m having a marshwiggle kind of day.) 😉

    • Ted C says:

      There was no reason to start a sentence with “anyway”. Anyway, that’s all I needed to say.

      • John says:

        There was no reason not to either. It made sense…Col Klink made his point about why it’s hard to choose a “best performance” and he used several examples. This took some time, but was clearly communicated. When he was done, he wanted to shift gears and in order to do so he used the word “anyway”. Using that word in order to shift gears after making a lengthy speech about something else is a pretty frequent practice. “Anyway, now I’m going to talk about this instead”. It serves as a chance for the writer and the reader to take a breath and realize the next sentence is about something else (or has a different point to it).

  2. Cleander says:

    Ranking my top five would be hard for me as well, for pretty much the same reason that Col. Kink gave. But I will take a stab at it, even though I’ll probably change my mind a thousand times over the next week:
    5. Will Poulter. I prefer him to the BBC actor, actually. He doesn’t quite look like what I imagined Eustace as, but as with some of the actors mentioned here, he truly brought something special to the performance by convincingly behaving like Eustace.
    4. James Cosmo. Because I liked his beard.
    3. Tilda Swinton. I think the change in her hair color unsettled me way more than Lucy’s, but again, Swinton made up for not looking like the book character by acting well. I think her voice and personality were way closer to the book Jadis than any other portrayal.
    2. Sergio Castellito. For someone who didn’t speak English, he spoke English lines with incredibly subtle emotion. The other actors even admired this in the commentary; he knew how to act with his eyes alone, which made almost as cold and intense as Jadis.
    1. Oh boy. One of the Pevensies, I guess. Georgie Henley was excellent in the first two… then VDT came along, and I think a mix of corny lines (” We did it! I knew we would.”, etc.,) and a desire on Henley’s part to implement some sort of textbook acting method caused her acting to take a significant drop in quality. Skandar almost had the same thing happen, though not quite as bad.
    I think William Moseley was alright for both movies that he starred in, but… not breathtaking.
    No wait… he did say the most epic line in the series… and he did the “oldest brother” thing pretty well, so… all Hail William Moseley, High King of my top five list!
    Anna was nice too.

  3. GreenKirtleLady says:

    Dawn French’s portrayal of Mrs Beaver is definitely amongst the worst of the performances in the three films in my opinion . Really disappointed that none of you mentioned Sergio Castellito as Miraz, his performance is definitely one of the most outstanding out of all the films!

    • Glumpuddle says:

      We actually did mention Sergio near the end of the episode. 🙂

      • GreenKirtleLady says:

        Yep I was just surprised that he wasn’t in either of your top fives! Fascinating to hear everyone’s differing perspectives though!

  4. Hermitess of Narnia says:

    I only did limited acting in highschool so I can’t really judge performances, but I believe that the performances in the first two movies were better because of Andrew Adamson. I think he was able to get better performances from the actors because I think his vision of how he wanted the Narnia movies to go was clearer and because he seems to be very approachable. In the Dawn Treader, Georgie’s and Skandar’s performances seem almost like they were bored at some points, but then Ben Barnes was better than in PC and Will Poulter was awesome, so maybe I am wrong.
    Sergio was very good, definitely very talented. Tilda made the White Witch much scarier by having her pretend to be nice.

  5. Frodo B says:

    Another great podcast! I’ve been listening to the podcast on and off, but more, recently, I have been listening consistently. 🙂 This was a really interesting topic to cover for the podcast.
    My top five performances are really hard to narrow down! But I’ll give it a go.
    (5) Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep. He did just a fantastic job making Reepicheep come alive.
    (4) Jim Broadbent as Professor Kirk. He is practically exactly how I imagined the professor to be. I couldn’t see anyone playing the role better than him.
    (3) Sergio Castellitto as Miraz. He really gave Miraz character. In other adaptations, I feel like they make Miraz a little silly. However, Sergio did an amazing job of showing Miraz as a villain that the Narnians feared and hated as well as a king the Telmarines would follow.
    (2) This one was the hardest to rank! But I’d say a tie between William Mosely as Peter and Skandar Keynes as Edmund. Both of them did such a fantastic job as the Pevensie brothers. They felt like the kings of Narnia in the books.
    (1) Liam Neeson as Aslan. I ranked Liam Neeson’s Aslan as number 1 because Aslan is such an important character in Narnia. If you get Him wrong, then well, the movies just wouldn’t be right.

    There are sooo many other actors and actresses that made such great and memorable performances, but I’d say these would definitely be my top five. My honorable mentions would go to Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus, Pierfrancesco Favino as Glozelle, and Patrick Kake as Oreius.

    • Eliza says:

      You spelled Kirke wrong it is supposed to be :Kirke. Anyway loved your post

    • Elenuvielas says:

      Excuse me for asking sth out of place, but I’m curious since I am both a Narnian fan and a LOTR one. So are you a LOTR fan or are you just coincidentally named Frodo?

      • Frodo B says:

        It’s fine. 🙂 I’m both a Narnian fan and LotR fan as well. When I made my username for NarniaWeb, I couldn’t think of a good Narnia username since most were already taken. I had recently gotten into LotR at the time, so I chose Frodo.

  6. Larry W. says:

    I think Georgie Henley was really good as Lucy in the first film. When Mr. Tumnus meets Lucy for the first time by the lamppost it is one of the best scenes of the movie. The acting is so natural by both of them, This is mentioned in the podcast, but I think the scene deserves to be number one instead of number five. In fact, it is so good that it may be the best moment in all three films. 🙂

  7. lol that line about the Witch becoming a centaur was hilarious! But just to try to do Narnia a favor and close that goofy box, there is nothing in the books to suggest the Witch ever became a centaur. I mean sure, she can make herself look like whatever she wants, so I guess there’s that… but that’s not a whole lot to stand on, and even that’s a stretch (cuz in PC she’s dead). And besides, that was totally a joke (and a really good one guys). 🙂

    On the other hand, the White Witch being the Lady of the Green Kirtle has WAY more evidence. First off, the Silver Chair never really says much about her, except for a few vague references to them being “the same kind” of witch, or part of the “same crew”. There are so many similarities (both in the characters and in what they represent) that it just felt like Lewis wanted to bring her back. And if he had done that, I’d be cool with that. But he didn’t… and then BBC did… and then Disney/Fox/whoever did… so that there’s a much stronger argument for that theory than pretty much any other I’ve heard. But a centaur?! Comedy gold 🙂

    PS: I had so much to say on this subject that I had to blog about it. I not only list my top 5, but explain why they’re my top 5, so I think you might enjoy it. I’ve included a link in the “website” box if you’re interested. 🙂

    PS2: What?! How is Puddleglum not up there?! lol sorry, that was cheesy.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      Going slightly off topic, but I LOVE theories:)
      I’m pretty sure if the Walden movies had continued she would have been LotGk, and frankly it’s not an absurd idea at all, like in PC they literally said “Have you ever heard of a witch that died?” (or something like that) It’s not inconceivable that others succeeded in bring her back.

      That said, I don’t believe LotGK is Jadis. Definitely related, but something about the attitude doesn’t seem right to me. Jadis never seemed afraid to do her own dirty work, so I feel like she would’ve straight up killed Jill+co instead of sending them to the giants. Or, like after they all accused her of being a witch, LotGK didn’t resort to violence until after she exhausted her other options. (Side note, I feel like if Jadis was LotGK the underworld food would’ve had a Persephone effect on the travelers, because of Mr. Beaver saying something like “I can tell he’s betrayed you and eaten her food”)

      Personally I would prefer that, if Netflix decides they want a stronger connection between Jadis and LotGK (are they not naming her now?) that they make her the sister Jadis supposedly killed with the deplorable word (for who has ever heard of a witch that truly died?)

  8. Zara says:

    Edmund was the best actor amoung all

  9. Artorius Pendragon says:

    I do think that it’s a bit of a shame that no one mentioned William Mosely. I know a lot of people don’t like him in Prince Caspian, but I mostly blame that on writing. For me personally, me list of favorite actors from these are:
    1. Georgie Henley – Lucy
    2. Sergio Castellitto – Miraz
    3. James Cosmo – Father Christmas
    4. William Mosely – Peter
    5. James MacAvoy – Mr Tumnus
    I put Skandar as an honorable mention, mostly because I think his acting gets really bad in the third movie. I also put Eddie Izard, and probably Kieran Shaw on the mention list as well.

  10. Eliza says:

    For Narnia. And for Aslan!

  11. morph says:

    Loved the whole Podcast 🙂 Keep sharing the valuable updates with us, mate 🙂

  12. AravisX says:

    Another great episode. Tough to say which performances are my favorite as(at least for the Disney films) the casting is very well done all around; even if some of them clearly do not try to be the book. I agree with all your choices, even most of the honorable mentions outside of the Dawn Treader picks(but to be fair, it’s mostly to do with the material given along with the director, more so than the actors; or so I assume).
    So, with that said, here are some of my favorite performances that are absent from the list as most of my favorites were already mentioned on your list.
    Ken Stott(Trufflehunter): This still remains my favorite creature in these films. That voice(who would eventually be seen in the Hobbit Trilogy; which doesn’t compare to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but he is a highlight of those mainly because of this film) which is very warm and soothing fits for this character as I believe he is meant to be old, as “A badger remembers well”. Something that connected with me since that film debuted more than a decade ago; which blows my mind.
    Warwick Davis(Nikabrik): A character that doesn’t get too much to do in either book or film. I think what I puts this over for me is that the difference between the book and film version of this character is this, while both start off jaded(understandably so considering it’s like being a survivor of the Holocost), but at least we can see a little bit of humanity in Nikabrik when he tries to go back for Trufflehunter when he is shot or during that conversation with he and Trumpkin before they get to Aslan’s How. Just some possibility to get to like him so you feel something when he eventually does what he does. Something I didn’t get that much from the book; he is almost always distrusted and you don’t really feel anything or surprised when he brings in the hag and wherewolf. I know that is mostly due to the restructuring of the story, but still the point stands.
    Elizabeth Hawthorne(Mrs. Macready): A small part to be sure, in both film and book; but for being one of the first characters we meet, it’s important to get the feeling that they can get the essence of these characters right. Not too difficult or much range to the character, but still an enjoyable part nonetheless.
    Jim Broadbent(The Professor): Depends on what you want more of whether you like this performance or not. Here they definitely play up the Diggory part of him and the knowledge of Narnia more than playing out the Professor side of giving the arguments for why they should believe Lucy. I personally like the approach though; especially with the ending scenes of him finding them falling out of the Wardrobe saying “Try me” and that final scene with Lucy make me really like performance.
    Finally, Damian Alcazar(Lord Sopesian): Like Glozelle, they make a lot out of a little character in the book. Giving him more of a strategist(almost ‘Game of Thrones’ level) and constantly egging Miraz on, not just at the dual. Overall I thought he was another one of the many Hispanic actors that gave this film more authenticity and gravitas than it could have, if omitted.

    • Col Klink says:

      Elizabeth Hawthorne was great in that movie. She put so much emotion into the line, “no touching of the historical artifacts!” Damian Alcazar put a lot of personality into his lines too. Sometimes I think he might have made Sopespian my favorite bad guy in the Narnia movies.

      • Larry W. says:

        I loved it when Lewis called Mrs. Macready “ The Macready”. He showed his sense of humor in his book. The actress who played her character in the film (especially in showing her fussiness) was very good too. 🙂

  13. Dan says:

    Edmund is my favorite actor in Narnia! I love it.
    | freon after 2020

  14. Christopher says:

    It’s brief . . . but has ANYONE made the connection that Caspian’s father is Edward Gracey from THE HAUNTED MANSION??? (The end credits on The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader DVD read in very small letters: “CASPIAN’S FATHER NATHANIEL PARKER”) !

  15. Ted C says:

    The guy who played Fawn #4 did a fantastic job. He really captured the depth of that character.

  16. Fran says:

    Honestly, for me the actor who plays Peter (completely forgotten his name at the moment) was brilliant. For me he gives the right feel to Peter’s character that I always felt the book lacked, a sense of trepidation. In the book Peter is very sure of himself and confident, in the film he questions himself and seeks help from others, when he isn’t trying to act like he knows best (false confidence and all). Also, the guy basically screams true King – he’s joined this tv series where he actually plays a King there too, born to be royal!

  17. Brielle Luna says:

    The Chrinicles of Narnia, the lion the witch and the wardrobe, is now my favorite movie! this movie was FANTASTIC! the actors are amazing and the movie is just so exactly like the book. If you read the book and are going to see the movie, you will not be disappointed. The movie was better than i expected actually. It’s such an amazing and imaginative movie it’s just enchanting. I wouldn’t normally give any movie 10 stars, but i gave this one 10 stars out of 10. When i was watching the movie, and seeing all the sets and the props, i felt like i had already seen them before. Like they had taken them right out of my imagination when i was reading the book. I know not everyone will have this feeling, but i did, and it was magical. Even if you don’t want to see this movie, go because it really is a spectacular and magical movie.

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  1. July 17, 2019

    […] NarniaWeb released a podcast about their picks for the top 5 Narnia performances. Now I don’t know a thing about actors, or the acting industry, or what makes a great […]