The double-edged sword of a successful actor's career is typecasting. As a starving artist, beginners in the field will take any role handed to them, but once they're famous and looked at in a certain way by audiences, they would do anything to get out of repetitive parts.
Some are content with this, however, but others do their best to take themselves and the viewer out of their comfort zone. Sometimes it works wonders, other times the performance falls flat on its face. The following list will look at both sides of the gamble. Even the ones who failed deserve commendation for trying something new.
10 Succeeded: Woody Harrelson - Natural Born Killers
It may be hard to believe now, but before Oliver Stone's controversial 1994 masterpiece, Woody Harrelson was known almost exclusively as Boyd from Cheers, the lovable and often idiotic bartender. Stone cast him for this specific reason, and the move paid off in spades.
These days, Harrelson is a veritable chameleon, playing lighthearted characters in one film, and switching to a stone-cold badass villain in the next. Some find Natural Born Killers tough to sit through, but everyone should try at least once just to see his stunning performance.
9 Failed: Jim Carrey - Number 23
Jim Carrey's serious roles sit side by side with his outrageous comedic romps, but thrillers are a whole other ball game. Instead of a slapstick comedy or a subdued drama, Number 23 tries for psychological horror but misses the mark on every level.
The main character reads a book and becomes obsessed with the titular number and believes all events are connected to it. It's an interesting concept, but most critics agreed that the execution left much to be desired. Audiences, on the other hand, helped give the movie a box office intake more than twice its budget.
8 Succeeded: Robin Williams - One Hour Photo
Robin William's gift for improvisational comedy is still unparalleled, and his knack for the stage translated to dramatic roles as well. It wasn't until One Hour Photo, however, when he donned the hat of a villain in a horror thriller.
The early aughts film sees Williams play a photo technician who becomes obsessed with a particular family. The rise of digital cameras and the internet has rendered the concept outdated, but the film still holds up today.
7 Failed: Arnold Schwarzenegger - Aftermath
Aftermath is based on a true story of a grieving man taking revenge on the air traffic controller whose error caused a plane crash. Schwarzenegger plays the family man who kills the worker and serves ten years in prison.
It is a brutally touching story about revenge and redemption, but the movie does not reach the same heights as its concept. The Austrian actor clearly put his all into the part, but his performance fails the transcend his stardom. The whole time one watches it they just sit there thinking the T-800 lost its family.
6 Succeeded: Christian Bale - The Big Short
When not getting ripped for a role, Christian Bale is probably letting himself go for the sake of his craft. Physical transformation is a job requirement, which made his part in The Big Short so refreshing when all he did was have a little makeup applied and wear poorly fitted shirts.
Turns out, one doesn't have to put their body through a massive change in order to gain veneration for a performance. He's not a superhero or a psychopath, just a normal dude dealing with money who loves heavy metal.
5 Failed: Robert De Niro - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Robert De Niro plays all types of roles, from the brutal mafioso to the loving father. Rarely, however, does he show up in a dark fantasy setting. It worked once in Brazil, but it didn't take the second time in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
Kenneth Branagh's film was an attempt to faithfully recreate the original writer's novel, but it comes off as a bombastic horror film devoid of subtlety. It's certainly not terrible, but it is impossible not to imagine Travis Bickle or young Don Corleone under all that monster makeup.
4 Succeeded: Patrick Stewart - Green Room
As Captain Picard, Patrick Stewart became an integral part of all sci-fi lovers' childhoods. In modern times, many of his roles seem to be self-parodies, like his hilarious bits on American Dad. When Green Room came out, it was shocking to see him play a villain and an unrelenting white supremacist.
Stewart's nuanced performance to what could have easily been a cartoon character gives an added an intensity to an already nail-bitingly intense thriller. It's hard to believe Starfleet's best captain could play such a sinister bad guy.
3 Failed: Elizabeth Berkley - Showgirls
After Saved By The Bell, Elizabeth Berkley wished to do away with her good-girl image. Showgirls was that attempt, but it ended up ruining her career and feeling more like a comedy than a hard-hitting drama.
Paul Verhoeven made several action masterpieces in the past, including RoboCop and Total Recall, but he fumbled the ball when it came to Showgirls. The film is at least appreciated these days for its unintentional humor, but Berkley is more fondly remembered as Jessica from the high school sitcom.
2 Succeeded: Michael Keaton - Batman
Those old enough to have been around when Tim Burton's Batman came out will recall the ado surrounding Michael Keaton's casting as Bruce Wayne. Most bemoaned the actor's prior comedic experience and wanted somebody more serious.
Little did they know, however, that Keaton was the perfect man for the job. Once the movie hit theaters, everybody ceased their complaining and understood that the movie they just saw would forever change comic book adaptations, and Keaton was integral in making that happen.
1 Failed: Matthew Fox And Tyler Perry - Alex Cross
This one is a double whammy. Alex Cross was Tyler Perry's first attempt at a cop role, and Matthew Fox's turn at the villain was his first antagonistic performance after Lost. Unfortunately, the whole thing comes as an unintentional comedy. Neither of the actors is believable in their parts, and the tone feels more like a parody of cop thrillers rather than a sincere attempt at one.
Fox has since proven himself a fine actor with Bone Tomahawk, and Perry's career was hardly affected by the film's failure. It's good to see that both actors dusted themselves off afterward.