One of the worst things that can happen to an actor is to get constantly typecast. If someone becomes associated with playing a certain kind of role, like Michael Cera did for Arrested Development and Superbad, it’s hard for audiences to see them as any other kind of character. That’s why it’s best for actors to establish a wide range of performances in order to not get pigeonholed into specific roles. Some are better at this than others.
Here are 10 Actors with Incredible Range
After gaining teen heartthrob status for his role in My So Called Life, it would have been easy for Jared Leto to continue down that path, instead he made less obvious choices, appearing in offbeat films like Fight Club, American Psycho, and Requiem for a Dream, all of which now have cult status. After gaining 67 pounds to play John Lennon’s assassin in Chapter 27, Leto took a break from film to concentrate on music. Five years later Leto returned to movies to play a transgendered woman in Dallas Buyers Club. The role earned him an Oscar and gave him the acting bug again. A barely recognizable Leto will soon be seen going full method in this summer’s Suicide Squad.
As much as we all love her, Charlize Theron has avoided playing the love interest. Instead of making mediocre romantic comedies, Theron mostly made a name for herself by holding her own in male dominated action films like The Yards and The Italian Job before landing the role that demanded recognition for her serious talents. It was a lot more than makeup that made Theron virtually unrecognizable in Monster, the true story of an abused woman turned killer that would earn Theron an Oscar. She’s consistently puts out versatile work, and is probably the only person who could steal a Mad Max movie from Mad Max.
Brad Pitt is far too good looking to be as talented as he is. People who don’t watch his riskier films probably assume this is where all of his appeal ends, but Pitt has worked hard to shed his pretty boy image. Even early in his career he was taking different roles like the stoner roommate in True Romance, but it wasn’t until his manic, twitchy performance in 12 Monkeys that most audiences realized he was a force to be reckoned with. Pitt can play subtle and introverted in art films like Tree of Life, or he can be silly while scalping Nazis in Inglorious Basterds. He’s used his star power for good by supporting independent filmmakers and appearing in films outside the Hollywood box. You really never know where Pitt will pop up next.
Heath Ledger appeared in less than 20 films before he died at age 28, but in his short career he demonstrated more range than most actors do in decades of work. If you look at his most famous roles, you’ll find a sensitive bad boy, a knight in shining armour, a closeted cowboy, and the scariest super villain ever committed to screen. It felt like Ledger was just getting started and it’s sad to think what could have been if he’d been able to continue on his exciting career trajectory, but at least he made the best of the time he had.
While it’s now difficult to separate Christian Bale from his cape that he crusaded in for three films, at the time of his casting he was far from an obvious choice. He was best known for playing narcissistic serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Apart from the similar name, the only thing this character shared with Batman was a muscular physique, which Bale had recently shed to play an emaciated insomniac in The Machinist. In addition to his physical transformations, Bale has tackled just about every genre. His most recent Oscar nominated turn in The Big Short proves that Bale continues to be an actor who’s impossible to nail down.