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The One Thing These Actors Would Change About Their Most Iconic Characters

Some actors will forever be associated with one character, even if they have a varied body of work behind them. For example, Jim Parsons will forever be known as Sheldon Cooper, Jennifer Aniston is never going to stop being Rachel from "Friends," and Michael J. Fox will always be remembered as Marty McFly. 

However, other actors are less accepting of their beloved roles in their entirety and, while they are generally very proud of them, they may have one major regret or something they would change about their character. Many have been vocal about the one thing they're not totally happy with, whether it's from a pretty recent (but now iconic) role that doesn't sit right with an actor, or something that a star has been stewing on for decades. Let's dive into the one thing these actors would change about their most iconic characters, exploring roles in several popular franchises from "Star Trek" to "Star Wars" to "Game of Thrones."

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton first gained traction in his acting career by portraying Kunta Kinte in the 1977 ABC miniseries, "Roots." His powerful performance resulted in an Emmy Award nomination, and this put him on the map as an actor. After a handful of biographical sports dramas like "The Jesse Owens Story," Burton was approached by "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry to play the role of Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge.

Burton was immediately hooked by the franchise, which was carving out a space for Black actors, and he happily found a home for himself on the USS Enterprise-D. He played the character for all seven seasons of the sci-fi series, before returning for four feature films and the third season of "Star Trek: Picard." Burton remains very fond of the role, telling Rolling Stone he's proud of everything he's accomplished and how iconic the character has become.

However, Burton told the outlet there is one thing he'd change: Geordi would have gotten laid more on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," with the interviewer noting that even Data (who is an android) saw more action than Burton's character. "My wife says, 'There's a lid for every pot.' It's true. The idea that Geordi never found a lid for his pot is ludicrous. It's preposterous, and it's insulting," Burton said. "Whether they are aware of it or not, those white men who wrote the show had an unconscious bias that was on display to me and to other people of color. Their blind spot is revealed in the fact that a Black man never was successful [romantically]."

Kerr Smith

Kerr Smith has played some memorable roles throughout his career, including Ryan Thomas in "Life Unexpected," Kyle Brody in "Charmed," and Principal Holden Honey in "Riverdale." But none of his characters are more iconic than Jack McPhee from "Dawson's Creek."

Smith created a lasting legacy for Jack, as one-half of the first gay kiss on Primetime. He shared this moment with Adam Kaufman, who played Ethan Brody, Jack's prom date. "I did know how historic it was and he did too ... we knew that it was important and that a lot of people were going to be looking up to the show now for this particular type of storyline," he told Los Angeles Times. "I think we did a good thing. I think that storyline probably helped a lot of people in real life." The kiss was historic and led to other relationships for Jack.

One of those relationships is with Pacey Witter's (Joshua Jackson) older brother, Doug (Dylan Neal). In fact, this is Jack's endgame romance and the pair ultimately ends up adopting Jen Lindley's (Michelle Williams) daughter, Amy. However, Smith takes issue with Jack's last beau, admitting that their relationship is the one thing he'd change for his character. "I gotta be honest. I thought that was a little cheat. It was funny, yeah, that they made Doug, Pacey's older brother the cop, gay and got him and Jack together in the end. I don't know. I thought that was a little cheat," Smith said.

Holly Marie Combs

The name Holly Marie Combs will forever be bound with the moniker Piper Halliwell. Combs played one-third of the sister witch trio in "Charmed" along with Alyssa Milano and Shannen Doherty in the first three seasons, and then with Milano and Rose McGowan for a further five seasons. It's clear that Combs loves Piper and the show, regularly attending fan panels and press events to keep the legacy of the Charmed Ones alive.

However, there's one thing about her magical character that she really dislikes and would change if she could. Combs hated the hand motion she had to use for Piper's freezing power. "It was not really cool," she said while speaking to Drew Fuller and Brian Krause on their "Charmed" rewatch podcast, "House of Halliwell." "What had happened was they didn't tell me in that moment that was going to be my motion for the rest of time." 

What's more, Combs admitted that she created it accidentally in the unaired pilot episode. Piper reaches to stop Chef Moore from using the spoon (in "Something Wicca This Way Comes") and that's when she first freezes time. "And then when we started to reshoot the pilot they were like 'so do you hand movement' for something else and I was like 'I don't have a hand movement,' and they were like 'you do, you did it in the kitchen with the spoon,'" Combs explained.

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham has successfully forged a career for herself as a TV mom. The Week observed, "Graham's career has almost single-handedly elevated the single mother — that sad sack, that cautionary tale — to a protagonist worth investing in dramatically, with humor and interest and a full, complicated arc." And it all started with her "Gilmore Girls" character, Lorelai Gilmore, the plucky single mom to Rory (Alexis Bledel).

After playing the fast-talking coffee addict for seven seasons of TV and four reunion movies, Graham told People that no role will ever suit her better than the Stars Hollow local. However, she has since admitted that there's one thing about her beloved character that she would change if she could: Lorelai wouldn't marry Christopher (David Sutcliffe) in Season 7. "I have to admit, this seemed so odd to me back then (especially after all that time apart; I just don't think Lorelai would get married without Rory present)," she wrote in her first memoir, "Talking As Fast As I Can" (via Entertainment Weekly).

And of course, true fans know she's right. Lorelai and Rory do everything together — from Rory's first date with Dean to her first night at Yale. They are there for all of each other's important milestones, so marrying Chris is just too out of character for Lorelai. It's no wonder Graham forgot it even happened. She knows what fans knew all along: Lorelai and Luke belong together.

Harrison Ford

Topping out the list of the most iconic roles Harrison Ford has played during his career are Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Both of these timeless characters both come from franchises created by George Lucas. Getting the role of the smuggler-turned-Rebel Alliance leader in "Star Wars" was a huge turning point in Ford's career, as the actor had mostly been working as a carpenter until that point.

In 2002, he recalled to Empire that he just knew the movie would be a success, saying that he was one of a few people who really believed in it. He got pretty invested in the character, taking the time to change lines, notably adding "I know" as the response to Princess Leia's (Carrie Fisher) "I love you" in "The Empire Strikes Back."

However, Ford's love-hate relationship with Han led him to want a major change for his character: he wanted Solo to die in the original trilogy. "Star Wars was a big success. So, I was happy to come back and play Han Solo again, and again, but that was enough. I thought he had reached his potential, and therefore could serve the story by dying," Ford told Vanity Fair. In a Tumbler post for Entertainment Weekly, he clarified that this wasn't because he was bored with Han, but because it felt like the most appropriate ending for his character. Although Ford finally got his wish in "The Force Awakens," it perhaps wasn't the noble ending he envisioned.

Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson's creative battle over portraying Edward Cullen in the "Twilight" franchise is well documented in that he initially wanted the character to be darker and more emo. "I was 21, and I kind of wanted to make it as arty as possible ... I thought that was the only way to play it," he explained to GQ. However, the studio wasn't keen on his vision, and ultimately his agent told him if he didn't smile more, he was going to get fired. Eventually, Pattinson compromised, not wanting to lose his job.

Now, with time and distance, he has positive memories of making the movies, despite some of his past comments. After all, the franchise launched his career and led to him taking on the iconic role of Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves' 2022 film, "The Batman." But, when Pattinson looks back on his time as Edward, there's one thing about the character he would still change: Edward should have behaved more like a stereotypical vampire. "I hardly get to do any vampire stuff. I don't get to kill anyone," he said in a behind-the-scenes video promoting "New Moon" (via Screen Rant).

Edward does eventually get to do more "vampire stuff" when he kills Victoria, literally snapping her head clean off her body in "Eclipse." But, Pattinson's complaint is valid since he didn't get to play on traditional vampire tropes like drinking human blood, especially in the first film.

Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield was the second actor to bring Peter Parker's Spider-Man to the silver screen after Tobey Maguire played the web-slinger in Sam Raimi's trilogy from 2002 to 2007. In the 2012 "Amazing Spider-Man" movie and its 2014 sequel, Garfield got to bring another of Peter's comic book relationships to the big screen, too. Because, while Maguire's movies focused on the love story between Peter and MJ, Garfield starred opposite Emma Stone as a previously unseen character, Gwen Stacy.

Stone was thrilled to bring Gwen to life, and her on-screen chemistry with Garfield soon translated off the screen, with the actors dating from 2012 to 2015. However, after Gwen was killed off "The Amazing Spider-Man" sequel was meant to introduce Shailene Woodley as MJ Watson, but her part ultimately ended up getting cut from the film.

While talking about plans for the relationship between Peter and MJ, Garfield had a different idea. "I was like, 'What if MJ is a dude?' Why can't we discover that Peter is exploring his sexuality? It's hardly even groundbreaking! ... So why can't he be gay? Why can't he be into boys?" Garfield said to Entertainment Weekly, recalling a conversation he had with producer Matt Tolmach. But, despite Garfield's pleas, the writers weren't planning to take his character in this direction. Had there been an "Amazing Spider-Man 3," the film would have seen him with Woodley's version of Mary Jane.

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo has played the titular "Grey's Anatomy" character, Meredith Grey, all the way from being a wide-eyed young intern to taking over from Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) as Grey Sloan's chief of surgery. But, in a shocking twist, Pompeo exited the show midway through Season 19. She later admitted that the reason she stayed on the show for so long was that she made the decision to make money, rather than pursue other creative opportunities. That's not to say she doesn't love her character, though, but there is one thing about Meredith that Pompeo admits she would change if she could: Meredith wouldn't have a new love interest straight after Derek's (Patrick Dempsey) death.

It was always obvious to Pompeo (and fans) that after Derek died, Meredith should have been able to take some time for herself, grieve, and focus on her family, and even her career. Martin Henderson was brought in to play Nathan Riggs, but viewers were unimpressed and he ultimately left the series. Looking back on the decision, she told The Hollywood Reporter, "I was like, 'Are you people f***king nuts? Why do you feel that you have to replace [Derek]?' I couldn't believe how fast the studio and the network felt like they had to get a penis in there."

Afterward, Meredith goes on to have a couple more significant relationships, including with Andrew DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) and Nick Marsh (Scott Speedman). Although her exit from the series, which saw her leave without Nick, proved Pompeo's point; Meredith doesn't always need a man around.

Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke has a very varied filmography to her name, having starred in everything from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" on Broadway, to the sci-fi spinoff, "Solo: A Star Wars Story." Clarke is also one of the few actors from the "Game of Thrones" cast who made it all the way to the Season 8 finale. Playing Daenerys Targaryen from 2011 to 2019, the actor said she learned a lot. She told Glamour that the character even made her a better feminist. "It's given me a real insight into what it feels like to be a woman who stands up to inequality and hate," she explained.

It's safe to say that Clarke has a great affinity for the character and she's admittedly very protective of her. But there's one thing about Daenerys' story that really irked her, and if she could change how her iconic character's story came to an end, she would. Clarke admitted she actually really wanted a happy ending for Dany and Jon Snow (Kit Harington).

"They could go to family therapy and fix their issues. Daenerys is a very hopeful character, she has a lot of hopes and I wish that she was able to achieve that," she said at DreamIt Con in 2022 (via Twitter). Instead, Daenarys' journey ends with a dark twist when Harington's character kills her. "I still think Daenerys did nothing wrong. I'm on her side ... It's not fair that he [Jon] gets to live," she added (via Game Rant).

Mark Hamill

Mark Hamill has been plenty vocal about his role as Luke Skywalker in the original and sequel trilogies. Briefly returning to the franchise in "The Force Awakens," he took on a bigger role in "The Last Jedi," but spoke out about his clash with director Rian Johnson over their respective visions for Luke. "I said to Rian, 'Jedis don't give up.' I mean, even if [Luke] had a problem, he would maybe take a year to try and regroup, but if he made a mistake, he would try and right that wrong, so right there, we had a fundamental difference," he explained (via Collider).

Luke's determination is something Hamill has understood about his character since the original franchise. He proves this when he blows up the Death Star, and he had hoped that his iconic character was going to get the chance to demonstrate this again in "Return of the Jedi" by briefly going over to the dark side and finding his way back. "Because I was wearing all black. I thought I would go to the dark side in the last one. And, of course, you have to redeem yourself. But that movie is the way I felt it was going with the preceding episode. But every actor wants to play their own evil twin," he told Entertainment Weekly. Hamill added that the direction George Lucas did take the character was definitely the way to go, but, at the time, he wanted to make a pretty major change to his character's arc.

Carrie Fisher

As her daughter Billie Lourd accurately surmised (via Time), "Princess Leia is Carrie Fisher. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. The two go hand in hand." Fisher spent much of her career leaning into her identity as the Rebel Alliance's princess-turned-general, even releasing stories from her time on set in a memoir titled "The Princess Diarist."

But, as much as she loved Leia, the late actor also had a hang-up about her iconic "Star Wars" role. Fisher admitted that she didn't want to wear the distinguished gold bikini in "Return of the Jedi." In the film, she's forced to wear it as Jabba the Hutt's prisoner, but in reality, it was picked out for her by George Lucas. "It wasn't my choice. When [Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous," she revealed to NPR. "I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight."

Getting to kill Jabba was the only thing that made the scene worth it for the actor, but if she had her time again, she'd stand up for herself and say no to the costume. According to E!, Fisher did kind of find a way to do this, reportedly telling her "The Force Awakens" co-star, Daisy Ridley, to speak up for herself and the costumes she wears. "Don't be a slave like I was," she warned.

Kate Winslet

Despite being one of the earlier roles in Kate Winslet's career, the British star's name is still synonymous with her "Titanic" character, Rose. As a result of the 1997 movie, she's formed an unbreakable friendship with her co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio. The award-winning feature has endured over the decades, praised for its timeless romance, but also criticized for its heartbreaking ending. Winslet has since weighed in on that ending, telling ET that if she could change one thing about it, she would have Rose make room for Jack on the door: "I think he probably could have gotten on the door. I mean, you know, I live with this."

After Jack and Rose have escaped the sinking ship, Jack famously can't fit on the door which he helps Rose onto and freezes to death in the ice cold water. In theory, he sacrifices himself in order to save her, but according to Winslet, this needn't have been necessary. She discussed this again on "The Graham Norton Show," which shared a behind-the-scenes clip of herself, DiCaprio, and director James Cameron, all being easily held up by the door, proving that it could have been possible.

Winslet has been back and forth on this topic for over 25 years and while she's appeared conflicted about the science of them both surviving on the door, it's clear Winslet thinks Rose should have at least tried to make room for him.

Kunal Nayyar

Kunal Nayyar is incredibly grateful to have starred in CBS's hit sitcom, "The Big Bang Theory," for 12 seasons, and there are plenty of things he loved about playing Raj Kuthrapoli. "It's been really fun to watch the evolution of this character ... In this day [and] age, it's so rare to be able to play a character like Raj. It's so beautiful and so much fun," he told Deadline when the series ended in 2019.

However, despite how much he adored the experience, having worked on the sitcom for more than a decade, it's not surprising that Nayyar didn't agree with every decision made for his character. Most of them make Raj who he is, but there is one thing about the iconic character that the actor would change: his wardrobe. Nayyar admitted that wished Raj had a better fashion sense. In the same interview, Nayyar revealed his plan for the end of the series: "I'm taking those cargo pants and burning them."

Raj's style couldn't be further from Nayyar's own classic look. But despite not identifying with or enjoying Raj's clothes, he seems to understand them, telling Page Six that Raj's layers have a deeper meaning. "Because he's in a new country and because he's a genius at such a young age, the layers act as protection. It's like a shield for him. I also bet Raj thinks it looks good," he explained.

Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac is proof that good things come to those who wait — and work hard. Although he had appeared in "Ex Machina" and "X-Men: Apocalypse," it wasn't until he landed the role of Poe Dameron in "The Force Awakens" that Isaac got his international breakout role. Since then, Isaac joined the cast of another successful franchise, playing multiple characters in Marvel's superhero series "Moon Knight." The Guatemalan-born actor owes a lot to the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy and is thrilled to have been a part of it. However, there is one thing he would change about it if he could: Isaac thinks Poe should have had a romantic moment with John Boyega's Finn.

"There was an absolute natural chemistry with him ... there's like an intimacy that was very just, like, there," Isaac explained to Variety. This was evident to fans, who were rooting for the two to get together. "It wasn't actually a total shock [that] people, you know, saw that in there. Personally, I kind of hoped and wished that maybe that would have been taken further in the other films, but I don't have control over that," Isaac added.

Sadly, Disney didn't seem to get the memo that Poe and Finn were really endgame and instead paired them up with other love interests. Finn has a flirtation with Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) that's never fully fleshed out, while Poe's attraction to Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) is not reciprocated.