This Top 10 goes out to all the talented actors out there who just don’t get a fair shake in Hollywood. Sure, many celebrities on this list have made obscene fortunes on their respective cinematic personalities, and are capable thespians. But success does have its downside; namely the inability for the actor in question to get a sufficient role or body of work to help distance them from such a solid, iconic, memorable or even annoying character.
Now, to be fair, some of the actors on this list are very talented performers. Yet all their efforts fall by the wayside due to one singular role (or roles) that very nearly define their existence. So here are the Top 10 Actors Unable to Escape Their Characters:
Daniel Radcliffe – As the final installment of J.K. Rowling’s franchise was released to the fans last Friday, little Harry Potter is actually the inspiration for this entire post. But sadly, after 8 films playing the same character, I don’t see how any agent can think of him in any other role. That may be unfair as he’s still pretty young, but even as a confident actor, could anyone see him playing a doctor, a detective, a chef, hell, even a burned out actor turned junkie? Maybe he could play a teacher…at Hogwart’s perhaps? So aside from being quite hysterical in that episode of Extras, you can see how limited his future roles may be, although I’d like to put emphasis on may.
Role that would break him of type: Weapons specialist in a later Mission: Impossible film, or one of the Rainbow Six.
Robert Pattinson – Edward Cullen may not be a role Pattinson has trouble, or even a problem, playing. I mean, if you were an actor, how much would you complain if pretty much all of your fans were comprised of the opposite sex (Liberace not withstanding). But a diamond coated brooding vampire is a niche role to have on your resume and doesn’t really segue into other genres. I’m afraid directors/casting agents may think the same way. Eh, I guess it doesn’t matter because he’s probably making the same money whether he’s in a movie, or attending cons/signing autographs.
Role that would break him of type: Analyst at the CDC working on an antibiotic for some global pandemic that claimed his whole family.
Tobey Maguire – Tobey playing Peter Parker was the role that many people weren’t sure he could pull off. Well he did, and then some. He hit it big as the lead in one of the most successful comic book adaptations of all time. And whether he’s still counting the ridiculous green he made; or is just tired of acting I don’t know, but we haven’t seen much of him after Spider-Man 3. Like we saw in Brothers, he’s got more than web shooters up his sleeves he just needs to do more of that.
Role that would break him of type: A defense lawyer in a 19th century period piece.
Christopher Reeve – For as fine an actor as he was, it’s sad that few know of his talents outside playing orphaned Kryptonian son (aka, the greatest comic book hero of all time). Even before his death Reeve played a number of solid, stand up and yet emotionally tangible characters in all sorts of great films. Yet all the world loves and remembers him as the son of Jor-El. Well I guess there’s nothing wrong with that actually.
Role that would break him of type: N/A
Christopher Lloyd – “1.21 Jiggawats” is right. Aside from his equally wacked out and spacey role in Taxi and Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is there another role you can remember Lloyd playing be it better, worse or entirely different? No? That’s OK I’ll wait…keep thinking.
Role that would break him of type: Playing a replacement for Lisa Cuddy as Dean of Medicine/hospital administrator on House, M.D.
Michael J. Fox – This is pretty much the same case as Christopher Lloyd above. However while Fox had a solid career in TV before and after the BTTF trilogy, he didn’t make many equally great turns in film. Kind of the Daniel Radcliffe in his day but despite having much more talent Fox just didn’t get anything super memorable or worth his time. Pity.
Role that would break him of type: Well I thought his role in The Frighteners would have done it…but it didn’t.
Jason Biggs – I think the line in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back sums it up nicely “You see! It’s never “Hey! You’re that guy from Loser” or “Hey you rocked in Boys and Girls.” No, it always comes back to that fucking pie! I’m HAUNTED by it!” Sorry Jason, I’m inclined to agree with Kevin Smith on this one.
Role that would break him of type: Playing an eccentric shut in author who writes best-selling children’s books.
Laurence Fishburne – Playing the wise Morpheus, Larry took a career defining role that’s for sure…and for a time, it was good. He had some solid work in his younger years and even a decent role in Apocalypse Now. His voice perhaps transcends his acting ability but after The Matrix trilogy his roles just aren’t varied enough to keep us from thinking that he’s gonna ask everyone he shares the screen with whether they’ll take the red pill or the blue pill.
Role that would break him of type: Playing an admiral in any post WWII war epic (or possibly a remake of The Final Countdown).
Jon Heder -“Tina, come here and get some ham!” When Heder played the awkward teen with the groovy dance moves (thank you D- Kwon!) he created an icon of nerdiness the likes the world has never ever seen. But with great character comes room for improvement and Heder never allowed for that. I guess it’s not his fault but like Radcliffe, no matter how great an actor you are, it’s hard to get past a vivid image of Heder’s Napoleon that’s been burned in our brains.
Role that would break him of type: Playing Ringo Starr in a biopic about The Beatles.
Mark Hamill – True, his career is forever defined by his role in Star Wars but Hamill has done so much voice work to distance himself from our favorite Tatooine farmboy. It’s funny that he’s known for an iconic hero but like few others can claim he’s equally know for the villain, an equally important and legendary villain no less. After all the years he spent voicing Batman’s nemesis Hamill created the Joker to end all Jokers (well until Heath Ledger came along that is) and has about as many fans for his The Clown Price as he does for being the son of Skywalker.
Role that would break him of type: Playing a 60’s pimp with a heart of gold in a yet unwritten Quentin Tarantino film.
So that’s what I’ve got. While these actors aren’t totally typecast near as much as someone like Bruce Willis (playing cop after cop after cop) they still get thought of for their singularly popular character. What roles do you think will forever define certain actors? What roles do you think keep actors from getting different or better work??