More often than not, Hollywood actors are typecast in a certain role, playing only slight variations of the same character. While most actors are typically able to break the mold, eventually able to find opportunities in a wider array of characters, others are never quite able to escape their original role, doomed to play the same character in every film.
While the topic is generally up for debate, as it’s largely a matter of personal opinion, the ten actors below typically play the same character, though some departures are a little bit stronger than others. This is in no way a commentary on their acting abilities, but rather on the roles audiences continually see them in.
Here are 10 Actors Who Can Only Play One Character.
10 Owen Wilson
The middle child in his family, Owen Wilson entered Hollywood as a self-proclaimed troublemaker with a crooked nose that became the identifying quality of his appearance. Though he began his career starring in big budget films – The Haunting (1999) and Anaconda (1997) – he was quickly propelled into larger films such as Meet the Parents (2000) and Zoolander (2001).
However, in all of these films, Wilson portrays an even-keeled, soft-spoken nice guy. In fact, throughout a great majority of his films, Wilson is a mellow, friendly character. And while sometimes he begins a little rough around the edges, he always matures by the end of the film, becoming the same, nice guy we’ve grown to love.
9 Channing Tatum
Frequently cast for his good looks and athletic talent, Channing Tatum’s acting ability is often overshadowed by casting decisions, which leave him with little to no arc. In fact, more often than not, Tatum plays a character that sells tickets, but that ultimately doesn’t do much to showcase his acting abilities. Even in "serious" films like Foxcatcher, he essentially plays the same character he's always played.
While he hit it big with films such as 21 Jump Street (2012) and 22 Jump Street (2014), Magic Mike (2012) and Magic Mike XXL (2015), the characters are all relatively the same: an attractive, talented young man that just needs the opportunity to prove himself. Oh, and he always gets the girl.
8 Jason Statham
Jason Statham’s deadpan, sarcastic delivery of lines and deep, gravelly voice have got the actor starring roles in countless action films, all of which result in essentially the same character. While his filmography is quite impressive, including the latest film in the Fast & Furious franchise as well as in the Transporter and Expendables series, at some point, it would be interesting to see him step out of his comfort zone into a role that fans wouldn’t expect.
While it’s always entertaining to watch Statham play the militant, unbeatable force that gets things done, a little variation here and there wouldn’t hurt, either. Then again, it’s really hard to picture Statham as anything else.
7 Katherine Heigl
Continuously reprimanded for her off-screen behavior and off-putting opinions, as well as frequently referred to as one of Hollywood’s most “difficult” women to work with, Heigl frequently takes roles in which she is a strong, independent, albeit oftentimes neurotic, female character.
Though not a surprising choice, the frequency of these roles (typically in romantic comedies) has defined her as a one-role actress. Though she may be pegged as a difficult woman to work with, the real wrench in her career is her inability to branch out from her comfort zone. While they’re not bad in small doses, sappy films such as 27 Dresses (2008) and The Ugly Truth (2009) aren’t going to cut it forever.
6 Zach Galifianakis
Easily one of the funniest names in comedy, Zach Galifianakis is somewhat new to big-time Hollywood, his first large-scale movie being What Happens in Vegas in 2008. Still, even with all the success that followed him after The Hangover (2009), Galifianakis has been unable to shake his penchant for playing socially awkward and completely strange characters.
Though it’s a more unique role, and one that viewers love to see over and over again, at some point, it’s possible the shtick will no longer be funny, at which point it might just be too late. While for many, it’s hard to see Galifianakis in any other role, it would certainly be a nice change of pace.
5 Zooey Deschanel
Loved by many for her quirky, unique and somewhat awkward real-life personality, Zooey Deschanel’s on-screen counterparts aren’t all that different. In fact, they’re pretty much always the same. Deschanel’s star status may be rising as time rolls on, especially given the success of New Girl, a show she stars in on FOX, but eventually, her cutesy characters are going to become monotonous.
While she’s continually compared to old-school Hollywood actresses, something refreshing in the modern film age, Deschanel continually plays the awkward, energetic, free-spirited and unbelievably quirky characters that we love to see her in. Still, a change of pace sometime in the near future might not be a bad idea.
4 Michael Cera
With the exception of the Seth Rogen comedy, This is the End (2013), Michael Cera’s looks have defined his roles. He’s repeatedly cast as the dorky, naïve character that’s soft-spoken and sweet. These sensitive roles have become Cera’s trademark, one of the big reasons being it’s hard to see him as anything different.
Unfortunately, looks in Hollywood have the ability to make or break a career, and though the roles currently work for him, and seem to fit his talents fairly well, the break of character that came in This is the End was refreshing, hilarious and proved, though satirically, that Cera has the ability to break away from this single role.
3 Bruce Campbell
Best known as Ash from The Evil Dead franchise, Bruce Campbell really hasn’t been able to escape the role. Literally. The ten episode series Ash vs. Evil Dead ran through the fall, allowing Campbell to once again reprise his role. But even outside the horror realm, Campbell really only ever plays one type of character.
His characters are typically aggressive and slightly arrogant, though likeable, and for the most part, they have the same delivery: slightly sarcastic and completely dry. The confident, self-assured characters are fun to watch, though fans wouldn’t mind seeing a different side of Campbell, either. Then again, he’s been playing these roles since 1981, why stop now?
2 Jennifer Aniston
The Friends star has had booming success in Hollywood, though recently, her acting abilities have been up for debate as many believe she has resorted to stripping down for her roles. Still, she’s an A-lister, there’s no question about that.
Since her role as Rachel Green, Aniston has found herself in a series of romantic comedies, typically as an attractive woman that knows exactly what she wants out of life. Of the actors on this list, Aniston is the one whose roles vary the most, one of the most notable being the sex-crazed dentist she plays in Horrible Bosses (2011), but even so, a majority of her roles are too similar to discount, and given her talents, it would be energizing to see another role in the works.
1 Woody Allen
Probably one of the most consistent actors on this list, Woody Allen continually casts himself in his films, typically as a neurotic New Yorker, a writer and nervous characters that stumble through their lines. Of course, this extends to the other characters he typically writes, as consistency is found throughout Woody Allen films.
While there’s always room for something new in Hollywood, Woody Allen is who he is because of the way he makes films. Audiences know exactly what to expect, and loyal fans love that about the man: he gives the people what they want. Typically, people either love or hate Woody Allen. Changing it up isn’t in his nature, so expecting him to do so is out of the question.
Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!
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