Live-Action Disney Performances That Live Up To The Originals

Over 400 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of Live-Action Disney Performances That Live Up To The Originals
Voting Rules
Vote up the live-action Disney characters who hold up to the classics.

As more and more Disney films get the live-action treatment, from the Glenn Close-starring 101 Dalmatians to 2023's The Little Mermaid and Peter Pan & Wendy, there’s no bad time to reflect on the many films that have hit theaters over the years .

Whether you enjoy spotting magical details missed in the first watch or discussing which villains need origin stories, there’s something for every Disney nerd. Grab some popcorn, get cozy, and prepare to be dazzled by the performances of these incredible movie stars.

Latest additions: Jonah Hauer-King’s Eric, ‘The Little Mermaid’ (2023), Halle Bailey’s Ariel In ‘The Little Mermaid’ (2023)

  • In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is just an evil fairy angered because she didn’t receive an invite to the christening of baby Aurora. Talk about pettiness. The live-action origin movie Maleficent reveals her teenage romance with Aurora’s father, King Stefan. This romance sets off the original movie's plot and the maternal love she feels from raising Aurora until her sixteenth birthday. 

    Each choice Angelina Jolie makes demonstrates the complexity of Maleficent’s character, from how she loves Stefan and Aurora to her acts of revenge after Stefan turns on her and the Moors. Plus, Jolie is just stunning with the incredible prosthetics throughout Maleficent and its sequel, Mistress of Evil

    309 votes
  • Before Emma Stone’s admittedly solid take on the villain in 2021's Cruella, there was Glenn Close in 1996's 101 Dalmatians and its 2000 sequel 102 Dalmatians. Since the 1996 version is an adaptation of the original animated film rather than a remake, Close takes on the antagonistic character in a way that honors the original movie. 

    The 1996 incarnation of Cruella has the right amount of humor and terror to make the puppy stealer come to life. And boy, oh boy, is Glenn Close having a whale of a time as the famous baddie. How many different ways can an actor cackle?

    310 votes
  • Luke Evans’s dashing good looks are just one reason why he shined with an excellent portrayal of Beauty and the Beast’s villain. Evans plays Gaston with all the charisma and arrogance that the animated version had in the original from 1991. It is incredible how he can bring Gaston's animated characteristics to life, seemingly with little effort.

    Alongside Josh Gad's LeFou, the rowdy musical number “Gaston” makes the audience laugh and smile. In the end, Evans even humanizes the narcissistic playboy, leaning into his overconfident self-love rather than simply mimicking the skeevy cartoon original.

    306 votes
  • While many viewers may recognize Helena Bonham Carter from dozens of other films - including her role in another Disney live-action remake as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella - one of her most indelible roles is the Red Queen. The classically trained actor first played the tyrannical Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland and reprised the role in its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass

    Carter has proven time and time again that she is very good at playing villains, especially those who are cold and maniacal like The Red Queen. The makeup and digital editing tie Carter’s acting with the character fans know and love.

    240 votes
  • Winnie the Pooh got his own live-action revamp in 2018 as Christopher says goodbye to Pooh, his Hundred Acre Wood family, and his childhood in one fell swoop. Viewers get a montage of Christopher as he suffers through boarding school, the passing of his father, and a World War. By the time we catch up with Christopher Robin as a full-fledged adult, it's clear he is done with Pooh Bear.

    Or Christopher thinks he is until Pooh appears in the real world at the most inopportune time. Ewan McGregor fosters the nostalgia and happiness of the original stories and captures the moody, sometimes unkind adult Christopher Robin has become.

    189 votes
  • Idris Elba voices the Bengal tiger Shere Khan in the 2016 remake of The Jungle Book, released only 22 years after the original live-action remake in 1994. Of course, getting an actor with Elba's gravitas to voice Shere Khan in the first place is a coup of the highest order.

    Elba’s version of the villainous Shere Khan is terribly menacing and vicious. His tone throughout the film is perfect, and it needs to be since he’s not on screen to act with his face and body. He even growls with great accuracy. It's easy to see why he's such an in-demand voice actor.

    209 votes