14 Actors That Suddenly Changed Their Type, and It Reinvented Their Career
It’s believed that the most important gift for actors and actresses is the ability to change themselves. However, it often happens that an actor gets stuck in a certain “type” that is hard for them to change thereafter. Viewers begin expecting to see these actors in only one type of role, making it very hard for them to show their multidimensional talent.
1. Melissa McCarthy
Melissa McCarthy started her career as a stand-up comedian, so there’s nothing surprising about the fact that she was a successful comedic actress for some time.
Most viewers remember her as the charmingly plump Molly from the show, Mike & Molly. After that, she played successful roles in Bridesmaids, Tammy, and The Heat. These roles made Melissa McCarthy’s appearance in the serious drama, Can You Ever Forgive Me? last year even more surprising. She played the part of Lee Israel and was even nominated for an Oscar.
2. Liam Neeson
- Before: Schindler’s List, Before and After, Les Misérables
- After: Taken, Run All Night, Cold Pursuit
At the beginning of his career, Neeson was great at dramatic roles. Fans remembered him as Oskar Schindler who saved the Jews during World War II in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. For this work, the actor received an Oscar nomination. After that, he played very successful roles in Michael Collins, К-19, and Gangs of New York.
But as he got older, Neeson’s career took a change in direction as he started taking part in action films with roles of brutal men who knew how to deal with bad guys. You can see this in movies like Taken, Non-Stop, and The Commuter.
3. Emma Stone
It’s hard to believe this today but Emma Stone started her career as a comedic actress. She was noticed after her supporting role in Superbad and was offered a lot of roles as “the funny, cute girl”. Only 4 years later did she win a role in the serious film, The Help. This movie was the start of her path toward more serious dramatic roles that she took on just as easily as the comedic ones.
Later, for her supporting role in Birdman, the actress was nominated for an Oscar, and 2 years later she actually won “Best Actress” in La La Land. Today, Stone is one of the most promising actresses in Hollywood.
4. Matthew McConaughey
- Before: Edtv, The Wedding Planner, Boys on the Side
- After: Killer Joe, Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, Serenity
The creative path of this actor was not simple. He started with thrillers but became famous once he started doing romantic comedies. At the end of the ’90s and the beginning of the 2000s, McConaughey was only seen as a sweet guy with a beautiful smile. Only in 2001, after he appeared in The Lincoln Lawyer, did he prove to be a talented dramatic actor, able to truly transform.
After this role, McConaughey was offered really interesting and difficult parts that revealed his full potential. His work in Dallas Buyers Club, Interstellar, and True Detective caused people to forget his womanizer type with the perfect body.
5. Jennifer Aniston
Jennifer Aniston became widely popular thanks to her role as Rachel in the famous sitcom, Friends. But Aniston was seen by producers and directors as the perfect actress for romantic comedies. For several years, she did the same kinds of comedic flicks like She’s the One, The Object of My Affection, and The Good Girl.
In 2005, Jennifer Aniston started to get away from her regular comedy type when she performed in Derailed. But her most unexpected and strongest role was in the psychological drama, Cake. This movie was completely different than any other movie Aniston had done.
6. Shia LaBeouf
- Before: Constantine, Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- After: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Lawless, Man Down
Shia LaBeouf made his first steps in Hollywood very quickly and then suddenly changed his role type. As the young star of Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the actor seemed to have a promising future in blockbuster movies. But LaBeouf didn’t want such a future for himself, he wanted to showcase his acting talent and tell the world he could do more.
LaBeouf started looking for a new image and began taking on parts for independent directors, playing completely non-typical roles. For some time, there was even information floating around the media that LaBeouf was a little insane. He did some weird things but later explained that he was looking for his new self. And it seems like he succeeded: he acted in the crime drama, Lawless, Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, and a war drama called Fury.
7. Kate Hudson
- Before: Almost Famous, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Bride Wars, Something Borrowed
- After: The Killer Inside Me, Wish I Was Here, Deepwater Horizon, Marshall
Kate Hudson started her career in comedy. In the early 2000s, she appeared mostly in such romantic comedies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Bride Wars with Ann Hathaway, and Raising Helen.
Later, she tried to change up her career’s direction and acted in the musical Nine alongside Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Sophia Loren. This was the beginning of her creative success. Later, Hudson did a great job in her dramatic roles in A Little Bit of Heaven, Wish I Was Here, and the thriller, Good People.
8. Jonah Hill
- Before: Click, Grandma’s Boy, 21 Jump Street, The Sitter
- After: War Dogs, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, The Beach Bum
2 years ago, Jonah Hill shocked everyone not only with his drastic change in appearance but with his career turn. For a long time, Hill played funny, fat guys in comedies such as 21 Jump Street and was even nominated for a Teen Choice Award as “Best Comedy Actor” in Superbad.
But later, Hill started choosing more serious projects where he could show his full acting potential. The first step on his journey was as one of the main roles in the crime comedy, War Dogs. After that, he made an unusual choice to star in He Won’t Get Far on Foot which uncovered the actor’s deep dramatic potential. Today, Jonah is trying himself as a director.
9. Sandra Bullock
- Before: The Thing Called Love, Love Potion No. 9, Miss Congeniality
- After: The Blind Side, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Bird Box
Sandra Bullock also started her career as a romantic comedy actress. Her first works were not very successful — few people can even remember the movies, Religion, Inc., Love Potion No. 9, and The Thing Called Love.
The boost in her career started with Speed which also starred Keanu Reeves. After that, Bullock returned to her comedy roots in Miss Congeniality. But her most prominent movies were dramas. For her role in The Blind Side, she received both an Oscar and a Golden Globe. She also did very serious roles in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Gravity, and Bird Box.
10. Steve Carell
- Before: Bruce Almighty, Date Night, Crazy, Stupid, Love
- After: Foxcatcher, The Big Short, Beautiful Boy
Steve Carell started with supporting roles, and until recently, was known strictly as a comedic actor. Viewers remember him from Crazy, Stupid, Love, Date Night, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Everything changed in 2014 after the release of Foxcatcher where Carell played John du Pont, the owner of a wrestling team. Critics loved his work and he was even nominated for an Oscar. After that, Carell played a part in Woody Allen’s film, Café Society, Vice, and Beautiful Boy. Today, he’s considered a full-fledged dramatic actor.
11. Ben Stiller
- Before: Meet the Parents, Night at the Museum, Meet the Fockers, Zoolander
- After: Greenberg, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Meyerowitz Stories, Brad’s Status
Ben Stiller’s fame as a comedic actor came after he started his comedy show on MTV called The Ben Stiller Show. At the end of the ’90s, after starring in There’s Something About Mary with Cameron Diaz, Stiller was invited to take on bigger roles in more expansive comedies. Among his most famous works, you may recall Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Duplex, and Zoolander (which Stiller also directed).
Eventually, Stiller decided to do some independent movies and performed in the drama, Greenberg. But working on The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a true breakthrough for him. It’s a movie that tells the story of a shy man who dreams of the amazing things he could do. He also worked on the very successful films, The Mayerowitz Stories, and Brad’s Status.
12. Robert Pattinson
- Before: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Twilight, How to Be
- After: Water for Elephants, Cosmopolis, Good Time, High Life
It seems that even the actor himself didn’t believe that he would ever get away from his image as the vampire Edward from Twilight. He reprised this role 4 times and has said many times that the role made him very uncomfortable.
Later, the actor tried to take on very different roles in order to prove that he’d grown out of the teenage stories. First, he did Water for Elephants with Christoph Waltz and then starred in Cosmopolis along with the thriller, Mission: Blacklist. Most recently, Pattinson starred in the movie, High Life. Needless to say, after this list of films, the actor has definitely outgrown his character from Twilight.
13. Michelle Williams
- Before: Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn, Brokeback Mountain, Shutter Island
- After: I Feel Pretty, Venom
Michelle Williams has always been a serious actress and has had chances to win an Oscar 4 times: twice for “Best Actress” in Blue Valentine, and My Week with Marylin, and twice for “Best Supporting Actress” in Manchester by the Sea and Brokeback Mountain. Michelle did a great job in these dramatic roles full of internal tragedy.
But last year, she changed up her usual image by playing characters in the action film, Venom and the comedy, I Feel Pretty.
14. Tom Cruise
- Before: Born on the Fourth of July, Rain Man, Vanilla Sky, Eyes Wide Shut
- After: Collateral, War of the Worlds, The Mummy, Edge of Tomorrow, Jack Reacher
Tom Cruise’s career has continued to thrive over the years. He was first noticed by Francis Ford Coppola who invited him to take part in The Outsiders. At the age of 26, Tom Cruise acted in the iconic film, Rain Man and then did a great job playing a traumatized veteran in Born on the Fourth of July. Yes, in 1996, Tom Cruise did play the role of a special agent in Mission: Impossible, but in general, he mostly performed in dramas and psychological thrillers. Later, he also appeared in movies with famous directors like Eyes Wide Shut, Vanilla Sky, and The Last Samurai.
But in 2004, Cruise appeared as a killer in the film, Collateral. Since that moment, we’ve seen Cruise in different kinds of action films, sci-fi movies, and crime dramas.