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10+ Actors Who Always Seem to Play the Same Character

Hollywood stars often gain fame from one role that catapults them into stardom. After that, some manage to play new characters and roles that challenge their acting skills, while the public remembers others for specific parts that seem to follow them throughout their career. If they were to venture outside of their repetitive roles, it would look weird seeing them play someone else.

Bright Side wants to walk you through a list of 11 actors and actresses who always seem to play the same role. We’re not saying they’ve never done anything else. It’s just that their roles all seem to be somewhat similar.

1. John Wayne

His name is synonymous with the “Wild West” vigilante, and for good reason. The prolific career of this American actor included a myriad of cowboy characters or other roles that were set during that same period. Much of this was due to his early role in the 1939 film Stagecoach, which brought back and revitalized the Westerner genre well into the 1960s. His only Oscar victory was for 1969 film True Grit.

2. Keira Knightley

If time travel ever becomes possible, we’re sure Keira will be the first to try it out. From the Pirates of the Caribbean to Anna Karenina and Atonement, the British actress has established herself as the actress for any historical role that may come her way. In an interview, she confessed her love for films set in the past: “I think some people find escapism through science fiction or fantasy, and I suppose my escapism into another world has always been through period drama.”

3. Noel Gugliemi

You probably don’t know him by his name, but you’ve undoubtedly seen his face. Gugliemi has made a healthy living playing a gangster in films like Fast and Furious, Training Day, and The Dark Knight Rises.

His career started after many twists and turns. In an interview he shared:

“I went from a normal life, to abandonment and homelessness, to a criminal life, and then to an actor’s life,” he said regarding the time he spent as a real gang member after his parents abandoned him at the age of 13. His ultimate salvation was a girl who took him to an acting class, which led him to play a role in a commercial. And the rest, as they say, is history.

4. Melissa McCarthy

This comedy actress had her beginnings on Gilmore Girls and in Mike & Molly. From there, she moved on to the big screen. Except for a few roles, she has ever since been pigeonholed in the role of the scandalous plus-sized woman. She has appeared in this role in films like Identity Thief, Spy, and Bridesmaids. For the latter, she was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress” in 2012.

Today, many of her films are produced by her own company, called On the Day Productions, along with her husband, actor Ben Falcone.

5. Seth Rogen

Identified by his dark humor and infectious laughter, Seth Rogen not only acts, but also directs, produces, and writes many of the films in which he stars. In the vast majority of films he’s been in, he seems to play the role of the character who is consistently under the influence of substances, but is too endearing to hate. For example: Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, and This Is the End.

Interestingly, one of his most successful and completely unrelated roles is as the voice of Mantis in the animated Kung Fu Panda saga.

6. Milla Jovovich

After a successful start in her early youth, Milla went from modeling to the big screen in the film Return to the Blue Lagoon. She then established herself as an international star thanks to the science fiction film, The Fifth Element, in which she played the fearless alien Leeloo.

After a short while, another opportunity presented itself that would end up defining her in the world of cinema: the film adaptation of the zombie video game Resident Evil, where she played the main protagonist, Alice. Since that distant 2002 film, a lot has happened, and by a lot, we mean that Milla has appeared in all 6 franchise films of Resident Evil.

In between each of the sequels, the actress has made other films, but in most of them, she played some version of her characters Alice or Leeloo, basically: a lethal and eccentric heroine or villain in a fantasy world. A few examples: Hellboy, Ultraviolet, or The Three Musketeers.

7. Liam Neeson

The Irish actor is a very particular case. It seems that half the time, he plays pretty defined dramatic roles, like his performances in Schindler’s List, Batman Begins, or Silence. The other half of the time he spends surviving or chasing after all the bad guys who are trying to kidnap his daughter or his wife, or... you get the idea.

It seems to have all started with his role in Taken, the thriller from 2008. Following the enormous success of the film, Neeson saw a niche. In the last decade, he has participated in Non-Stop, in 2014 (where he tracks a terrorist on an airplane), Cold Pursuit, in 2019 (where he seeks revenge for the death of his son), and Unknown, in 2011 (where he looks for someone who’s stolen his identity).

8. Katherine Heigl

Heigl’s career was set on the right track when she landed the role of Izzie in the critically acclaimed Grey’s Anatomy medical series. But after several years of discussions with producer Shonda Rhimes and the writers about the direction her character was taking, she decided to leave the role and focus on her family.

During and after the event, Katherine built a career in romantic movies where she played the girl who is very picky when it comes to falling in love, think 27 Dresses, The Ugly Truth, and New Year’s Eve.

9. Emma Roberts

A bad girl attitude, a popular student profile, and some irreverent phrases are the successful ingredients for many of the characters played by Emma Roberts, both on the big and small screens. Just think of Scream 4, in 2011, and what are perhaps her best-known roles: the witch, Madison Montgomery, in the third season of American Horror Story, and her starring role in Scream Queens.

For her role of Chane in Scream Queens, she was inspired by Regina George from Mean Girls, and by the characters of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her.

10. Jackie Chan

One of the most famous and prolific actors to date (in 2019 he was the fifth best-paid actor), Jackie Chan made his mark in cinema for his risky action scenes, which he performs himself without the help of a stunt double.

But what he offers in variety when fighting, he doesn’t in acting. No matter what the genre is of the movie, his character will always put on a martial arts show at some point, be it as a babysitter (The Spy Next Door), as a butler (Around the World in 80 Days), or as a policeman (Rush Hour saga).

11. Jason Bateman

You know who he is, but he often goes by unnoticed. He’s the main protagonist of the film, but usually just an ordinary guy, the character that serves as a reference for the public against the more eccentric roles. If there’s someone who fills that role, it’s Jason Bateman. His expression, his demeanor, and his way of acting in movies like Hancock and Horrible Bosses serves as a counter-balance to his co-star’s more “out of the box” actions. Someone has to do it, but hopefully, it won’t be him forever.

He currently stars in the Netflix series Ozark, where he seems to have finally changed roles, giving life to the patriarch of a family that enters into the world of money laundering.

Acting is a difficult profession, even more so for the big stars. There’s also a saying that goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” What do you think? Is it wrong for an actor or actress to always be playing the same type of role?