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

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.


Liam Neeson

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...


Adam Sandler

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.


Morgan Freeman

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.


Will Ferrell

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!


Queen Latifah

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.


Michael Cera

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?

Comments 25 comments

theclevercat profile image

theclevercat 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Fun topic and Hub. It definitely made me smile. Thanks! Voted up and funny.

THEHuG5 profile image

THEHuG5 4 years ago

You hit the nail on the head so many times! I can't stand Michael Cera I think he is the most typecast actor on this list. I wonder if he is even capable of playing anything other than an awkward kid. I like a lot of Adam Sandler's movies I just find it so funny how they always pair him with women who are so far out of his league that they're practically on another planet!

I could go on and on about the whole list but I'll force myself to stop. What a great idea for a hub, I wish I'd thought of it lol! This is awesome, voting up :)

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks, theclevercat! I had a lot of fun writing it, and I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks, THEHuG5! I really appreciate the feedback! I do love Adam Sandler's movies, even if he always plays the same goofy characters.

Thanks so much for the comments! :)

kmainka profile image

kmainka 4 years ago from My Imagination.

Very entertaining, and true! While I do enjoy a few of these people on the list, it is true that they rarely -if ever- change their role. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!

I think I have a few who could also be on the list- Kristen Stewart (I'M not a fan, but even if you are, you have to admit she is ALWAYS. THE. SAME.) and Robert Downey Jr.

Now, he is one I do like, but let's compare his role in Iron Man to his role in Sherlock Holmes: He is the immature -yet freaking BRILLIANT- man child who has a more mature "side-kick" type (Pepper Potts and Watson) who keeps him in line when he is going about his shennanigans.

I could go on and on with all of the typecast actors, but I think I may leave off with one last one: Tom Cruise. It doesn't matter how old he gets,or how fantastic he was as a villain (Collateral. He was great in that.) he always seems to need to play the action hero in his movies.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks, kmainka! Oh yes, Kristen Stewart is always the constipated, angsty, awkward teenager. I love Robert Downey Jr. but you're right - he does tend to play the same character every time. AND Tom Cruise! These are all great! If I come back through and edit this Hub later, I'll be sure to add them to the list! Thanks for the comment! :)

kmainka profile image

kmainka 4 years ago from My Imagination.

Anytime! Thank you for writing such a fun hub!

Maria-Arg profile image

Maria-Arg 4 years ago from New York City

This was great! I agree, these actors play the same role over and over again. One actor I would put up there is Zooey Deschanel. In almost all her movies she plays the adorable, strange, quirky girl who the lead male character falls in love with. I'm not the biggest Zooey fan, and it kind of annoys me that she always plays up her "cuteness", but hey, if it gets her work then I guess she has to stick with it. Great hub!

cleaner3 profile image

cleaner3 4 years ago from Pueblo, Colorado

Laura,You sweet flower,Just seeing your beautiful face and gorgeous smile brings the sunshine into my morning

I loved Liam in Taken, you forgot The Queen in her best-ALL THAT JAZZ. Great Movie. Laura send me an e mail!

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks, Maria-Arg: I really appreciate the comment. I do love Zooey Deschanel, but she is a repeat offender for sure. (I give her props for poking fun at her own quirkiness in the most recent episode of SNL) She has a typecast, for sure! Thanks for stopping by! :)

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thank you, cleaner3, for the kind words. Taken is one of my favorite movies, and I love Neeson in it!

lyndoman profile image

lyndoman 4 years ago from London

Brilliant article, I would add Kevin Costner and Will Smith

thebiologyofleah profile image

thebiologyofleah 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Great article- I totally agree with your list. One that comes to mind is Jennifer Aniston. Someone finally gave her a shot to play something different, in Horrible Bosses and she was really funny. I feel bad for her and Adam Sandler for example because when they try to break out of their stereotype, the films don't do well and they are back to it. Sandler has been in a couple serious movies and they bomb so he almost has no choice but to keep doing stupid stuff, Jack and Jill, and it makes him money.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks lyndoman! True, Will Smith is always a badass kind of guy, and Kevin Costner is always this intelligent guy who is a little bit psycho... I love both of them, though, and their movies! :) Thanks for the feedback!

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Thanks, thebiologyofleah - Jennifer Aniston ALMOST made the list for my article! I loved her in Horrible Bosses, and it was a departure from her usual role as the romantic comedy gal who can never find love!

Thanks so much for the feedback! :)

Marla Neogra profile image

Marla Neogra 4 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

I was actually playing around with writing a hub like this, you beat me to it! I would have liked to see Ryan Reynolds on this list just to see what you make of him, but he is starting to branch out a bit with safe house.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 4 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

@Marla Neogra - I'm sorry!! Please, keep writing yours! There's room for both of us on Hubpages! :)

I love Ryan Reynolds - but now that I think about it, you're right. He does always play the same basic character!

kmainka profile image

kmainka 4 years ago from My Imagination.

Okay, I'm butting in here for a moment, but the last two comments caught my eye, so I couldn't help it!

I do agree that when Ryan Reynolds is in a romantic comedy, he plays the same character. But in all fairness, he has been playing a few different roles in the last few years, not just since Safe House. If you haven't already, I would check out his movies "Chaos Theory" and "Buried." Two VERY different roles. And while, yes, I agree that he still, at times, has the same snarky/sarcastic sense of humor, a type of humor doesn't mean he is in any way the same character. (Another example of this would be his character in Blade 3... same sarcasm, but the character's personality is COMPLETELY different from that in The Proposal or Definitely, Maybe.)

Marla Neogra profile image

Marla Neogra 4 years ago from Parkersburg, West Virginia

Actually I am sure my subliminal fascination in Ryan Reynolds' physical form blinded me from my original intent. I was leading with his sarcasm as the common thread but completely forgot about Buried as I never saw it. I personally believed that Ryan Reynolds was being typecast as sarcastic and snarky, but is now branching out into the dramatic and serious, which is all to the good for his career.

MelChi profile image

MelChi 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

Loved your hub, and agree with you on all the celebrities you mentioned. One actor that seems to play the same type of roles is Jason Statham. He's pretty much always the tough 'good' guy in his action movies. I'd like to see him in something different - maybe playing a suburban husband who's really quite psychotic, maybe even the lead in a thriller/horror movie. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE his action movies, but playing a different character (not romantic or comedy) - would be a real treat ;)

maddieriley profile image

maddieriley 3 years ago from Santiago, Chile

I would add Seth Rogan!

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 3 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Ooh - I can't believe I didn't add him the first time around! He is always the funny, slightly trashy man-child character! I love him, though!

Leonardo Castro 3 years ago

I wonder when Morgan Freeman will play the wise old white guy.

laurathegentleman profile image

laurathegentleman 3 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC Author

Hahaha, @Leonardo! Very funny. Since it IS Morgan Freeman, I wouldn't doubt that he could pull off playing the wise old white guy at some point.

Dave 3 years ago

Will Smith

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