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10 Actors and Actresses Who Did a Fantastic Job Playing Against Their Type

There are many actors who get stuck in certain roles and are routinely typecast as romantic heroes, gorgeous bombshells, ruthless villains, world saviors, or girls next door. Some actors and actresses, however, work hard to resist typecasting and are willing to try something new and surprise their fans. Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Stewart, Emma Watson, and Bruce Willis are just a few names on this long list.

Today we at Bright Side want to talk about 10 actors and actresses who have such broad talents that they managed to beat stereotypes and reinvent themselves onscreen.

Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses

Type: A girl next door, a sweetheart with a bunch of problems and misfortunes

Dr. Julia Harris in Horrible Bosses: A man-eater, manipulative, and aggressive toward everyone, especially her male colleagues. To make this character stand out and look completely different from her other roles, Jennifer wore a brown wig on set.

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Type: A pretty, emotionless girl with angular teenage facial and body features

Diana in Spencer: Diana, Princess of Wales, one of the most popular women in history who is still loved by millions of people. Kristen confessed that she did a lot of research to look convincing onscreen: “I read everything, I wanted every photo... watched all the interviews that I could get my hands on. [...] I just tried to absorb her in an emotional and general way, and then trust the process, and expect her to show up.”

Emma Watson in The Bling Ring

Type: A dedicated, loyal, and reliable girl who always follows the rules

Nicki in The Bling Ring: A fame-hungry member of a gang of rich and audacious young people who are robbing the houses of Hollywood stars. In one of her interviews, Emma confessed that she probably couldn’t have chosen a role that was more opposite her type: “I’m probably the least obvious choice to play the role, as she’s the epitome of everything that I am considered not to be.”

Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich

Type: A gorgeous blue-eyed blonde bombshell who steals men’s hearts

Lotte Schwartz in Being John Malkovich: A brown-eyed, pet-obsessed woman questioning her identity. The actress looked almost unrecognizable with brown eyes and a mane of frizzy hair, and her image was at odds with what we saw in The Mask which was released a few years before Being John Malkovich.

Bruce Willis in Death Becomes Her

Type: A strong and courageous guy who is always ready to save the world

Dr. Ernest Menville in Death Becomes Her: A quiet, gentle, submissive, and at times awkward plastic surgeon, just the opposite of John McClane from the Die Hard movie series. Bruce did a fantastic job transforming into the black comedy character, a neurotic and weak-willed doctor, and we saw him as an actor who can dramatically transform himself onscreen.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

Type: A handsome and romantic hero willing to take risks to win a lady’s heart

Joker in The Dark Knight: A psychopathic villain, hyper-focused on destruction and chaos. The actor confessed that working on this role was emotionally draining. “Last week I probably slept an average of 2 hours a night. I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going,” said Ledger in one of his interviews while filming.

Robert De Niro in Meet the Parents

Type: A tough guy, often a ruthless mob boss

Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents: An overprotective head of his family, suspicious of his daughter’s boyfriend Greg. Robert was brilliant in a comedy role, and Ben Stiller, who played Greg, recollected how funny it was to co-star with Robert: “I think it was the scene where we meet for the first time at the doorstep. I said something like, ’Oh, this is a nice house’ or something, and I kind of looked up at the house, and Bob saw me look up and he, like, looked behind him like, ’What am I looking at?’ And he reacted, and I cracked up in his face. Just started laughing.”

Bill Murray in Lost in Translation

Type: A sweet and sometimes sarcastic comedic character

Bob Harris in Lost in Translation: A fading movie star, disoriented and lost in a new and unknown culture. Bob feels estranged and alienated when he realizes he can’t reach an understanding with the commercial producers in Japan, and he’s sleepless because of jet lag. These strange feelings create the common ground for Bob and Charlotte (a college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson) to develop an interesting bond.

Type: A romantic heroine in complex relationships with herself and her partner, often appearing in period films

Clementine Kruczynski in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: A spontaneous extrovert, characterized by her impulsiveness and reckless behavior. In one of her interviews, the actress said she would like to play Clementine again: “Actually, she’s one I’d love to play again because it was just so much fun. And the possibilities for the hair colors were just endless. Wouldn’t you like to see Clementine as a 42-year-old woman? I’d love to know what happened to her.”

John Travolta in Hairspray

Type: A stone-cold and ruthless “bad guy”

Edna Turnblad in Hairspray: An agoraphobic laundry business owner, ashamed of her obesity. Here’s what the actor said about playing a female character: “It took a lot of cashing-in of male ego to do this. But I finally said, ’You know John, acting is what you do best. You have to trust being an actor and not have this thing with the male ego get in the way.’”

Which of these actors and actresses were the most convincing playing against their type, in your opinion?

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