When considering the various aspects of acting, thespians find many different reasons to explain why they love their favorite roles. Here are a few examples of actors expounding on what made them feel so connected to their favorite performances.

Paul Dano has performed opposite Daniel Day-Lewis as Paul and Eli Sunday in There Will Be Blood, and has played the brutal carpenter John Tibeats in Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. But having recently finished playing Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson in the film Love and Mercy, Dano says that preparing for the movie was “the most fun research he’s ever done for an acting role.” He told the Wall Street Journal, “There’s probably nothing more fun to research than the Beach Boys, 1960’s Los Angeles. I’ll probably never find a better acting job. I did a lot, but it’s the music. Listening to the music, listening to the studio sessions. Even more important was learning to play the songs….Brian is his music.”

Alyson Stoner played Channing Tatum’s character’s little sister, Camille Gage, in the Step Up series, and is the voice of Isabella “Whatcha doin’?” Garcia-Shapiro in Phineas and Ferb. After considering the role she liked most, Stoner said, “I think my favorite role was playing Sarah Baker in ‘Cheaper by the Dozen 1.’ It was my first movie, and I worked with amazing professionals who had such strong work ethics that I immediately learned how to work in this industry.”

Scottish actor James McAvoy earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance as Robby Turner in Atonement, was nominated for a Best Kiss MTV Movie Award while playing opposite Angelina Jolie in the action-thriller Wanted, and has played the telepathic superhero Professor X in the X-Men movies. That being said, a role that he loved playing was Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. “I got to play my favorite character in children’s literature, which I loved. You don’t get the chance to do that in other jobs,” he said.

Emma Watson once shared her gratitude for being able to play Hermione Granger by saying, “I could be one hundred years old and in my rocker, but I’ll still be very proud that I was part of the ‘Harry Potter’ films.” When asked which Harry Potter film was her favorite to work on, she answered, “I’ve enjoyed all of them in different ways. I think the first one was incredible, obviously, because everything was new, and everything being a novelty is very exciting. From an acting perspective, this last movie was amazing because I had such big parts, and it was really challenging and demanding. I did a lot of stunts and had a lot of very difficult scenes to do.”

Johnathon Schaech was cast by Tom Hanks as a a self-centered lead singer in the musical comedy drama That Thing You Do!. From that point on, Schaech landed a role as a leading man in Hush with Gweneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, and has worked continuously since. As far as his favorite role, he once said, “People recognize me on the street for all kinds of different things that I’ve done. ‘That Thing You Do!’ remains to be my favorite film in which I played my favorite character. That role is the one that I’m most recognized for.”

What has been your favorite role to date, and why?