Actors Who Play the Same Role in Every Movie
Most movie fans are acutely aware of typecasting, where a certain actor becomes associated with a particular character or a similar type of roles.
It is often referred to in a negative sense, where the actor in question may become so strongly associated with a particular role that it is difficult for them to find work as different characters. Some actors will purposefully choose a role that is completely opposite from their usual role in order to break away from their typecast. Daniel Radcliffe was eager to shed his typecast in the specific role of Harry Potter, and chose his first post-Potter role as the lead in horror flick The Woman in Black.
But typecasting is very prevalent in Hollywood today, and many actors embrace typecasting and make millions by having a consistent presence in every film they do. Here are just a few of the many actors and actresses who always seem to play the same character in every movie...
Katherine Heigl is a sure-fire romantic-comedy draw. In every film, she portrays the overly-innocent, slightly clumsy girl. Most of her characters are so invested in their work that they have no social life. She tends to talk just a bit too much. She's polite, she's nice, she's naïve.
Knocked Up. Killers. Life as We Know It. Something about Katherine Heigl just screams "Slightly-Awkward-But-Super-Attractive-Girl-Next-Door."
Two of my favorite Katherine Heigl movies are 27 Dresses and The Ugly Truth. Both are great, entertaining rom-coms. But has anyone besides me ever noticed that they are, in essence, the exact same film? She plays a young city girl who focuses too much on work. She can't find love. She goes looking for love in all the wrong places. She is forced to work with a guy who is completely wrong for her. They fall in love.
Heigl's most recent film, One for the Money - which is based off of the acclaimed Stephanie Plum book series by Janet Evanovich, is actually a slight departure from her typical typecast, and, in my opinion, a great choice for her. While the lead role of Stephanie Plum holds true to traditional facets of the characters that Heigl has grown most famous for playing, she has a tougher edge and less naïvety. It was wonderful to see some proof that Heigl knows how to act outside of her comfort zone, and I hope we see more from her in the future.
Don't get me wrong - I love me some Liam Neeson. I also think that he has exhibited enormous acting range, and will continue to do so; however, he is listed here because the roles that have made him most famous have been those for which he is typecast.
My favorite role of Neeson's has been as the wise Jedi Master, Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. As a leading member of a mystic martial order, Jinn trained Obi Wan, his young apprentice, in swordplay, strategy and fighting.
Six years later, Neeson, as Henri Ducard, the leader of The League of Shadows in Batman Beyond, portrayed a mystical martial arts mentor that trains Bruce Wayne in swordplay, strategy, and fighting.
And the same year, he appeared in Kingdom of Heaven, as Godfrey of Ibelin. Godfrey, a wise old member of a knightly order, trains Orlando Bloom in - you guessed it! - swordplay, strategy, and fighting.
In every film, he seems to play the adventurous hero or the bad-ass mentor. Other examples include Taken, The Grey, and even the voice of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Those fencing lessons are really paying off...
Did you see the movie where Adam Sandler plays the goofy man-boy with horrible social skills? Which one?
50% of Sandler's characters are immature jerks who change by the end of the movie - 50 First Dates. Big Daddy. Just Go With It.
The other 50% are near-retarded. The Waterboy. Billy Madison.
One common factor is the presence of a beautiful woman, who is somehow (and rather unrealistically) paired with Sandler's socially inept persona.
And yet, this comedian-turned-movie star continues to make us laugh. Sandler seems content to stick to the loud brand of comedy that has served him well, and that he has perfected over the years.
One of the most epic and identifiable voices in Hollywood - Morgan Freeman is consistently cast as the calm and wise old black guy. He's got a habit of showing up at just the right time to offer advice. The Shawshank Redemption, Million Dollar Baby, Driving Miss Daisy, Batman: Dark Knight, Se7en... Need I continue?
Even when Freeman was playing a mean, bad-ass kind of guy in Wanted - a rare break from playing the level-headed wise man, his voice remains that of the "kindly old narrator."
You would think that as the voice of God (in Jim Carrey's hit, Bruce Almighty,) he would have a chance to break free from his typical roles and do something a little more unexpected. Then again, his typecast tends to work in his favor, as his reputation as a wise, kindly mentor has spared him from social crucifiction in light of scandals such as the public divorce from his wife and more recent allegations that he is romantically involved with his step-granddaughter.
Oh, Will Ferrell. The KING of clueless comedy. In every single movie, he plays a man-child. He has a magical way of making even the most jerky or common-sense-less person seem endearing. Anchorman. Elf. Talledega Nights. Stepbrothers. The list goes on and on.
The one noteworthy film he has made that was a noticeable departure from his usual role was as Harold Crick in Stranger than Fiction. As a monochromatic IRS worker who finds out that his life is being narrated by a world famous author, Ferrell proves that his dramatic gifts equal his comedic talent.
Despite the fact that the majority of his characters, while different, all seem to have a penchant for being a deluded grown-up with a complex - he is one of the few typecast actors that I don't really mind seeing in the same role every time - because he is damn funny! I don't need to see him busting his acting chops in order to entertain me - his humorous portrayals of bumbling idiots is what made him famous in the first place!
Call it a stereotype, but Queen Latifah is always the sassy, tough black woman. Always. Whether she's a sassy mammoth, a sassy dancer, a sassy beautician... Queen Latifah has a sass that can't be silenced.
She's a feisty woman, and is often portrayed on film as a character similar to her own. When she transitioned from a music career as a hip-hop artist to an actress, she started with roles in movies like Taxi, Beauty Shop, and Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Some of her more recent roles have been in bigger blockbusters, with characters that have taken on a more maternal and wise persona, a lá Hairspray or The Secret Life of Bee's.
In essence, Michael Cera is the King of Quirk. His role is the socially awkward, scrawny teenager. He is sensitive and unique. He likes to fawn after girls that are out of his league, but ends up getting the girl anyway for his charm and quirky good looks.
Superbad. Juno. Youth in Revolt. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. He's got a whole list of movies where he plays himself - the indie, awkward kid.
In fact, there are critics who claim that Jesse Eisenberg, of The Social Network fame, is now being typecast as "that guy who ripped off Michael Cera's typecast."
I actually predict that if Michael Cera hopes to have a sustainable acting career, he will be departing from his typical casting as a likable loser teenage nerd in the next few years. He won't realistically be able to portray that role for much longer - be it because he won't actually look like a socially awkward teenager, or because audiences will get tired of seeing him in the same role every time.
It is widely passed as wisdom that young actors beginning their career should do everything they can to avoid being identified with a single type of character or role.
These actors - some of my personal favorites - prove that, sometimes, there isn't anything wrong with sticking to a character you're good at portraying!
So what do you think? Is there an actor you think deserves to be on the list? Or someone who should be taken off?