Top 10 Surprisingly Different and Excellent Typecast Actor Roles

Tags: #Movies ,   #MovieNight ,   #MovieClips ,   #TomCruise

Dan N. Scarborough

Dan N. Scarborough

Last updated:  2023-03-19 06:00:09

Numerous actors follow a particular "brand" when performing. Given the erratic nature of Hollywood and the unpredictable nature of a film's popularity, it's no surprise. Why would they change anything if something works and audiences consistently show up to see a particular actor's films? Being typecast in a specific "brand" prevents many performers from making bold creative decisions. Yet, actors aren't known for being particularly innovative. As a result, spectators have been treated to several excellent and unexpected performances. They went against the grain and demonstrated the talent of particular individuals.

10. Will Ferrell 

A comedian playing a soft-spoken, moody guy and doing it well

Will Ferrell does have a unique kind of humor, one that not many people enjoy. He frequently plays some wicked, brash man-child, as seen in "loud" comedies. They include "Step Brothers," "Wedding Crashers," and "Old School." However, he had the chance to show off his acting prowess in the drama "Stranger Than Fiction" (2006), and the outcomes were shockingly admirable.

All the childlike traits of his previous roles had vanished, replaced with maturity, melancholy apathy, and a gloomy attitude toward life. Most critics weren't expecting to see him compete with Emma Thompson, but he does.

9. Robert DeNiro

DeNiro rediscovered himself as a comedy powerhouse

Robert De Niro developed a reputation as a "tough guy" actor for much of the 1970s and 1980s. Therefore, he frequently worked with director Martin Scorsese and played anti-heroic gangster characters. This includes frequent roles in violent, gloomy movies.

Unfortunately, he was getting older in the 1990s, and his reputation as a fierce guy was waning. Thus, De Niro switched to comedies like "Meet the Parents." He portrays the stereotype of the "uptight, overly-protective parent" to absolutely hilarious perfection, making it possibly his best comedic role.

8. Jonah Hill

Dramatic turn of Jonah Hill's career was much praised

"Superbad" from 2007 launched Jonah Hill into the spotlight and cemented his reputation as one of Hollywood's funniest leading males. With roles in raunchy comedies like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Get Him to the Greek," and "Knocked Up," he rapidly became a trusted member of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow's exclusive comedy group.

Hence, it was strange to learn that he appeared in a drama alongside Brad Pitt, and some fans were wary. Yet, Hill showed his dramatic prowess in "Moneyball," earning him his first of two Best Supporting Actor nominations for the Academy Awards.

7. Seth Rogen

A seemingly childish comedian fared well against Fasbender in "Steve Jobs."

Seth Rogen's distinct brand of comedy has become well-established by 2015. He had been a movie star for about ten years, establishing a reputation as one of the industry's top "stoner" performers. It was obviously getting a touch boring that almost all of his personas were stoners with booming laughs and a penchant for making inappropriate jokes.

Because of this, it came as a shock when he performed as admirably as he did as Steve Wozniak in the sadly underrated "Steve Jobs," expressing a distinct feeling of mounting resentment and hostility. He appeared on the same screen as the renowned Michael Fassbender, and both gave equally strong performances.

6. Steve Carell

Carell played the total opposite of his usual lovable and goofy characters

By 2014, Steve Carell had a friendly style of comedy that he had maintained. While he ventured outside his comfort zone for "Little Miss Sunshine," his horrific performance in "Foxcatcher" garnered much attention. 

Carell, who played convicted criminal John du Pont, was almost unrecognizably disguised by the prosthetics. He captured the unpredictability and steadily deteriorating mental state of du Pont before erupting in a horrendous act of violence. For once, Steve Carell was frightful, giving fans a much-appreciated surprise.

5. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise was compelling and horrifying as a sociopath

Undoubtedly, Tom Cruise is the biggest movie star of the era. From the 1980s until the 2020s, he was highly busy, usually playing some amiable, no-nonsense action hero capable of amazing athletic feats. And in "Collateral," he spent most of his time in the backseat of a taxi.

Vincent, the antagonist, played by gray-haired and gray-suited Tom Cruise, was outstanding, providing profound philosophical musings while coming across as truly dangerous. It's incredible what Cruise can accomplish with a few basic facial gestures and verbal nuances.

4. Henry Fonda

Jesus Christ, that's Henry Fonda killing a child

One of the most successful entertainers of the 1940s and 1950s, Henry Fonda, was known for portraying noble and courageous characters. He was a performer who held the audience's attention while enacting heroes they could aspire to be like. With the spaghetti Western masterwork "Once Upon a Time in the West," everything was transformed.

Fonda deviated from his usual roles and portrayed Frank as a cunning antagonist. Shockingly, Frank's very first deed is the murder of a young child. Consequently, audiences accustomed to the more charismatic and fearless Fonda were terrified.

3. Bill Murray

Murray acted like a melancholic man like he was born with it

Bill Murray has a famous career that spans decades. Furthermore, he has little trouble fitting into the list of the finest comedians currently performing. He frequently portrayed characters who were caustic and very unlikeable. Yet, they still had an underlying sweetness that usually came to the fore. 

In "Lost in Translation," he showed restrained maturity by portraying a silent, aimless man going through a midlife crisis. Murray received his lone Academy Award nomination for the part because he was endearing and empathetic at the same time.

2. Adam Sandler

Sandler proved he could act well if he wanted to

One must develop a taste for Adam Sandler. Some people adore his eccentric man-child humor, while others loathe it. An "Adam Sandler comedy" may usually be identified by its absurd plots, the profusion of fart jokes, and the presence of Sandler as a loud, irritating character.

Therefore, to think he has collaborated with a director like Paul Thomas Anderson is astounding. Because Sandler's acting in "Punch-Drunk Love" was the complete reverse of everything he stood for, for once, viewers might regard him as a mature, complex adult character.

1. Robin Williams

The best role of Robin Williams isn't a comedy

Robin Williams' distinct brand of humor is well known to anyone with even a passing familiarity with popular culture. Williams was prone to speaking at a mile-a-minute and hopping around the screen as he had just downed a pot of coffee. Yet, that was a perfect fit with most of his characters' wild and out-of-control personalities. It was aggressive and loud but effective.

In contrast, his portrayal in "Good Will Hunting" is reflective, depressed, quiet, and reserved. Throughout the movie, he communicates much valuable knowledge, and the audience empathizes with him as a disturbed man going through a trying time. The Academy awarded Williams with an Oscar for a best supporting role in his fourth nomination.

Typecast roles are both a blessing and a curse for a career. Many actors became instantly recognizable because of their own way of acting and the typical roles they were getting. Yet, typecasts are suitable for a career but bad for range and creativity, and most actors wish to try different roles at one moment. Some do it once just for the bragging rights, but others discover they could refresh their careers.

What's your favorite performance against the type? Which performances would you add to the list?

Cover photo: Pexels/Pixabay 



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