Would Carroll O'Connor like Archie Bunker if the two met?
More importantly, would you get along with them both?
When someone becomes famous for playing a particular character, we very naturally want to know how similar the two entities are. Is the actor similar to the role? Or are we deceived by the art of "acting?" Because we so readily identify these actors with their famous roles, it's common that the two get conflated.
It's a big surprise to find out that Caroll O'Connor was actually a well-mannered gentleman, far removed from his on-screen Archie Bunker persona. By all accounts, O'Connor was a good man, and certainly not the bigot he played on TV. Even more jarring: O'Connor didn't have that brash New York accent in real life. He was a classically trained actor, and his intonation reflected that.
So, if the two aren't actually that similar, what would Carroll O'Connor make of a man like Archie Bunker? What would happen if the universes collided, and the actor met the character in real life? Would they get along? Luckily for those of us curious about this kind of thing, O'Connor gave his thoughts to the Baltimore Evening Sun in 1974.
"Sure, I would like him if I met him," said the former BBC actor. "I feel sorry for him. He's a victim of his upbringing and his environment."
By then, in 1974, Carroll O'Connor had grown a bit weary from being so readily recognized as Archie Bunker. Because Archie was a bigot and O'Connor was not, he grew tired of playing such a flawed character.
"I've become stereotyped now," said O'Connor. Despite this, though, it was his ability to connect with and relate to Archie Bunker that made All in the Family such an iconic series. Archie Bunker could've been a real villain. Instead, Carroll O'Connor was able to find the humanity in the character.
Carroll O'Connor and Archie Bunker hanging out? Now that's a cookout we'd love to attend!