HomeEntertainment News10 Actors Who Portrayed Out-of-Character Roles, According to Reddit

10 Actors Who Portrayed Out-of-Character Roles, According to Reddit

It’s common for actors to get typecast. They have one successful role and find themselves playing similar characters for the rest of their career. However, it also sometimes happens that an actor becomes very famous for one particular role, even though it’s not the kind of character they typically play.

With this in mind, Redditors recently got together on r/movies, the largest film subreddit, to discuss which actors are most well-known for a role that was out-of-character for them. Some of cinema’s most iconic performances were actually actors playing against type.



10 Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins smirking in Red Dragon
Image via Universal Studios

Anthony Hopkins is one of the most respected actors of his generation, with uncountable iconic roles to his name. He’s perhaps most famous for his villain roles, especially Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. However, Hannibal is something of an outlier when looking at Hopkins’s filmography as a whole.

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The majority of his characters are actually kind and friendly, as in The World’s Fastest Indian, Amistad, and The Father. Even his take on Odin was more crotchety than mean. “Anthony Hopkins once played a serial killer. The rest of his career has been nice mentors,” said user amerijohn.

9 Heath Ledger

Heath Ledger in 'A Knight's Tale'

Heath Ledger‘s unquestionably most recognized role is Joker in Dark Knight. But his filmography is really nothing like that. Especially the years prior where he did Brokeback Mountain, A Knight’s Tale, and The Brothers Grimm,” said Redditor OShaunnessy. “Heath Ledger as the Joker is legendary and totally unlike his other roles,” agreed user Sinnafyle.

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They’re right. Ledger delivered the defining supervillain performance of the last three decades, but for most of his career, he was actually the leading man. His characters in 10 Things I Hate About You, Casanova, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus are so different to his Joker performance that you’d almost think they were by a different actor.

8 Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson looking at the camera as Bruce Wayne in 'The Batman'
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Robert Pattinson was Redditor rroz_dirvilha‘s pick for the actor whose most well-known role is the most different from the characters they usually play. “Here’s that wimpy sparkling vampire as his most recognizable role, and then there’s the rest, which is quite different, especially Tenet and Lighthouse. He has been making an effort to unmark himself from the Twilight saga, and I’m loving it,” they said.

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It’s true. Many were skeptical of Pattinson after his breakout role in Twilight (even though his turn as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter was also solid). Since then, he’s proved his acting chops in a range of intriguing projects like David Cronenberg‘s Cosmopolis, Claire DenisHigh Life, and the Safdie brothersGood Time.

7 Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm in Mad Men

Jon Hamm‘s multiple Emmy award-winning role as Don Draper in Mad Men made him a household name. The character easily ranks among the most complex and well-acted protagonists in TV drama history. However, in reality, he’s fundamentally more of a comedic performer, appearing most at home in projects like 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and as a fictionalized version of himself in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

“Jon Hamm has a big breakout with Mad Men then goes on to play ‘against type’ in comedies,” said u/Signiference. “Seeing who he hangs out and works with, and having heard him on various podcasts over the years… Jon Hamm is a comedy guy at heart who fell ass backwards into an iconic drama role (and obviously crushed it),” said user nevuking.

6 Alec Guinness

alec guiness star wars0

Sir Alec Guinness is most famous to modern audiences for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy. However, this role was something of a left turn for him. He was a Shakespearean actor who had established himself as a leading dramatic performer in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. His most notable films include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and Doctor Zhivago.

“Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan must be the biggest example [of an actor whose most famous role is an outlier in their body of work],” said Redditor Failure_Enabler. “I watched Bridge on the River Kwai a few days ago. It’s shocking comparing his role in that or Lawrence of Arabia with Obi Wan,” said user Ed_Durr.

5 Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in Breaking Bad 'Face Off'
Image via AMC

Giancarlo Esposito‘s defining role is the enigmatic and ruthless Gus Fring in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, a TV villain for the ages. But this just scratches the surface of his diverse filmography. He plays very different parts in projects like Gospel Hill and Once Upon a Time.

“Giancarlo Esposito plays a stone-cold badass on television, whose appearance usually indicates the protagonist is well and truly f—ed. But his most famous film role is a loquacious hyperkinetic activist from Do the Right Thing, literally named Buggin’ Out,” said user lisa_frank_trapper.

4 Al Pacino

Al Pacino in Scarface (1983)
Image via Universal Pictures

Al Pacino‘s most acclaimed project is still The Godfather, which catapulted him to the forefront of Hollywood. He’s utterly believable as a fundamentally good person who finds himself in a harsh, amoral world and is changed by the experience. However, most of his notable characters are simply wild and bad, like in Scarface, The Devil’s Advocate, and Carlito’s Way.

“Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone is a mostly cool-headed and decisive leader who rarely lets emotions get the better of him and when he does, you understand the power of the scene because of it. Al Pacino in 90% of his other roles tends to be hot-headed and/or over the top screaming things like ‘Say Hello to my little friend!’ Or ‘Attica!’ Or “You’re out of order! You’re out of order! This whole trial is out of order!'” said Redditor Aggravating_Poet_675.

3 Kathy Bates

Annie Wilkes holding a knife and looking serious in Misery.

Kathy Bates is adept at comedy and drama on both stage and screen. She’s equally at home playing realistic characters or decidedly eccentric ones. Her most lauded performance though was her chilling turn in Misery as Annie Wilkes, a disturbed fan who holds her favorite author hostage.

It really is an amazing performance, sickly sweet and almost as frightening as Hannibal Lecter. “Kathy Bates fits this. Best known for Misery,” said user PopHead_1814. “God she deserved that Oscar so much,” added Redditor GundersonOfficial.

2 Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays, and Otto in Airplane!
Image via Paramount Pictures

Leslie Nielsen is a textbook case of an actor whose most famous roles aren’t representative of the majority of their work – so much so that the phenomenon actually gets its name from him. “There’s an entire trope for this – Leslie Nielsen Syndrome. It’s when an actor best known for dramatic roles becomes even better known for comedic roles later in his career,” user Eroe777 explains.

His most iconic movies are absurd comedies Airplane! and The Naked Gun, but prior to this he was mainly a dramatic actor. In the 1950s, ’60s, and early ’70s he appeared in serious projects like Forbidden Planet and The Poseidon Adventure. The Zucker brothers deliberately cast dramatic actors in Airplane!, but the film ended up being a turning point for Nielsen. He went on to lend his deadpan comedic skills to many successful comedies in the years to follow.

1 Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston walking through a cemetery in Your Honor

With Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston delivered arguably the best lead performance in a TV drama ever. Walter White was believable, layered, and full of darkness. However, the majority of his roles are actually in comedies, most notably playing the father Hal in the comedy series Malcolm in the Middle.

“It took me so long to get used to him playing Walter White after watching Malcolm in the Middle for so many years. But damn is he a fantastic f—ing actor,” said Redditor Dragonborn83196. “I love Breaking Bad so much however him as Hal is just unbeatable to me. It’s truly incredible one of the best comedy characters ever imo,” said user Jinks28.

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