Blog One: To Kill a Mockingbird
For this first blog, I’ve chosen the drama question revolving around To Kill a Mockingbird and how it’s portrayal of Atticus Finch differs, in my opinion for the better, to Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus in the 1962 film adaptation.
For this Broadway adaptation Jeff Daniels took the leading role of Atticus, a far cry from his days opposite Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber, and honestly, if anyone told me that was a role he was known for I wouldn’t have believed it. Within his performance, Jeff really did a terrific job, and for the three or so hours we where there, He wholeheartedly embodied the role of Atticus Finch, Stern but loving father and lawyer. But unlike Gregory Peck’s take on Atticus, Jeff took Atticus in a different direction, whether this was his own influence of the directors, I don’t know, and quite honestly, I don’t think it really matters.
When you think of Atticus what comes to mind? slow talking? Intelligent? Methodical? Stern? always serious? Smartass…wait, Sarcastic wiseass? Surely not Sarcastic wiseass right? Well if the only version you have viewed is the Broadway production then Sarcastic smartass might just be a descriptor.
Now when I say Sarcastic smartass I don’t mean that in a bad light, In fact, I mean it in quite the opposite. While being a sarcastic smartass is often seen as an obnoxious trait to have Jeff’s portrayal of Atticus is able to pull it off so well because at the core he keeps the same characteristics of Gregory Pecks classic portrayal, while also giving the audience a bit of the smooth-talking stereotype we often see portrayed by actors who play lawyers within film and television, think a far more toned down version of Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad, but put into the early30’s, that is the kind of Atticus we see in the Broadway play.
But Adam, you may be thinking, how on earth can you portray Atticus as a wiseass? Isn’t that the opposite of Atticus? Well, Yes and no. Yes in the sense that Atticus is not a wiseass in the original portrayal, but like I said Jeff has managed to keep the features of Gregory Pecks version of Atticus. While he may be quick to make a smart comment to Jem and Scout he still keeps the same core values. He tries to do what’s right for his family, He tries to help those in need, and most importantly he keeps his strong sense of Justice and maybe equally as important his belief that deep down everyone has a shred of decency in them, Yes even ol racist Mrs Dubose.
The final comparison I’d like to make, and this one is personally my favourite, is that Jeff’s portrayal of Atticus feels more authentic. He feels like a real person who’s passionate about the law instead of a cold methodical, almost robot-like individual. This was shown through Atticus losing his cool and getting into a small scuffle with Mr Bob Ewell (played by Frederick Weller) outside his home when Bob comes to threaten Atticus and Tom Robinson.
All in all, I quite liked Jeff’s portrayal of Atticus, even more so then Gregory Peck’s. While he was definitely different, he felt more authentically human and much more engaging to watch, and out of all the productions we watched, Jeff’s portrayal of Atticus made me enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird the most, which when put up against The Book of Mormon is no easy feat!
I give To Kill a Mockingbird Ten “I Love NYC shirts” out of Ten, if you’re ever able to go watch this performance then you better hecking go… Or ill know…