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15 Actors Who Seem To Get By Playing the Same Character Over and Over Again

  • Oct 1, 2009
You know how most actors seem to be playing the same guy over and over again?  Well, there's a reson for that.  Hollywood likes their character actors a lot.  It allows them to cast most films rather easily.  There are plenty of actors with range.  But let's not fault all these guys for playing the same character.  Some of us would rather these guys DIDN'T play different people.  There are some actors who have amazing range.  On the other hand, there are some who don't.  But we seem to like seeing them play the same guy.  These are referred to in film as "Character Actors."  Because they're meant to play the same character.  Some people hate that.  If you do... you might as well stop watching movies.  Nearly every movie ever made has a Character Actor of some sort... even if he isn't the main star.  But here we ARE going to focus on the main stars. 

On the other hand, let me also explain how this works.  With each actor there is a "Who is he/she" thing going on.  It's not meant to actually tell you who they are... but rather the type of character they play over and over again.  Sometimes it's a brief description but other times (as in Will Smith's case) it's a title name or something like that.

There are, of course, many more actors who do this sort of stuff.  But why make a list full of nothing but say... action heroes?  Or Comedians?  Or hot actresses who only get casted to look beautiful?  Instead we're just going to pull out a couple of names.  Fifteen to be exact and start going.  As usual, much of this is actually done in good humor. 

Have fun!
*William Shatner*
Who is He: William Shatner
What Started It: If I have to tell you, you probably didn't even know who William Shatner was anyway

My friends looking over my shoulder as I type up this list would get REALLY REALLY angry at me for not including William Shatner.  He's become a big joke to comedians.  So much so that he is only asked to play himself bceause of his unusual pauses and such.  Sure, he was James T. Kirk, but when it comes to Shatner that doesn't matter.  What matters is that he's a crazy goofy guy who is called upon for the sake of playing a self-parody of himself.  Hell, even those PRICELINE commercials are there for William Shatner to satarize himself.  That's right, William Shatner will be forever forced to play and make fun of... William Shatner.

Bruce Willis
Who Is He: John McClane!  Or if you prefer, he's always that badass guy spouting off one liners
What Started it: Die Hard!

Bruce Willis played John McClane in Die Hard in 1988 and he's been playing that kind of character ever since.  In his recent film Surrogates... he's John McClane.  That's not to say Willis doesn't have range... but it is to say that even in The Sixth Sense you expected Bruce Willis at some point to say: "Yippie Ki-Yay Motherf@#ker!"  Unfortunately he never at one point in the film says that.  In fact, he only says it in Die-Hard.  But I will tell you, if I was Bruce Willis, I'd make that my own personal catchphrase. Think of the autographs: "Yippie Ki-Yay Motherf@#ker!  Love, Bruce Willis."  But beyond that he's always locked and loaded and spouting off one liners in all of his films.  Now that he's getting older it's harder for him to do that, though...

Jeff Goldblum
Who Is He: A scientist or a plain old nerd
What Started It: Probably The Fly

Jeff Goldblum is one of the ultimate character actors.  He's always the scientist or nerd who is able to figure that the shit will eventually hit the fan... and then he's always right.  Jurassic Park and Independence Day are the best examples.  In both films he plays the charater that discovers all the horrible bad stuff that will happen and predicts it before anyone.  In both lines he even has the line, "Must go faster!  Must go faster!"  Problem is, unlike Willis, you don't actually see Goldblum step out of his own role much.  Even on Law and Order he's still the same guy.

Seth Rogen
Who Is He: Down and Out Loser Who Eventually Makes Something of Himself... and he has to be smoking pot at some point.
What Started It: Knocked Up

Seth Rogen actually IS one of the actors who gets annoying with his roles, but only because he's over exposed.  Ever since Knocked Up he has played that same down on his luck loser who spouts off obscenities and such that aren't even that funny most of the time.  In some films he smokes pot, but if there's anyone who really gets typecasted... it's him.  People don't even seem to want to care to SEE if Rogen can do more.  If Rogen is in the film you can bet he'll be a loser.

Morgan Freeman
Who Is He: The Wise Old Man
What Started It: The Electric Company

Most of you have probably not heard of this show.  It was on in the 70's.  But once he went hollywood, Morgan Freeman seems to always be that sagelike guy who is always able to help people and supply them with knowledge.  In Nolan's Batman films he is the one who is smarter than Wayne and able to provide him with his gadgets.  In The Shawshak Redemption he's the guy who can get it for you.  Even when playing Alex Cross he's that intelligent guy who is perfect for the information he gives.  Lastly... if you need a narrator, Morgan Freeman is perfect!  Absolutely perfect!  He has the voice that Hollywood loves.  So the question becomes... who is going to take up Morgan Freeman's mantle when he passes on?  Who knows, but when it comes to typecasting, Morgan Freeman is probably the Ultimate Character Actor... he's been playing the same guy for almost 40 Years!

Samuel L. Jackson
Who Is He: The Badass.  Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson!
What Started It: Pulp Fiction

Ever since Pulp Fiction Samuel L. Jackson has ALWAYS that ultra serious, ultra cool, almost prophetic character.  He almost defines cool in Hollywood as a result.  Even in those Star Wars prequels we all wondered, "When is Sam going to call Anakin a Motherf@#ker already?"  Never happened (but he has said it's his favorite word).  It's strange.  He plays the same character and he's in a lot of movies, but for the most part, Sam is a fun guy.  But he isn't always in your face in his roles.

Keanu Reeves
Who Is He: He is "The One"
What Started It: The Matrix

Actually, in truth, Keanu is just about always playing that lifeless guy.  The only reason he's perfect for The Matrix is the same reason Arnold was perfect for The Terminator... they needed a robot.  After Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure we all thought "Man, Keanu will never escape that!" but then we saw movies like Speed and then The Matrix came.  And ever since The Matrix hollywood doesn't let him do anything else. 

Also, in every movie he has to say "Whoa!"

Michael Cera
Who Is He: Timid, shy, and Stuttering Stanley
What Started It: Arrested Development

Ever since Arrested Development, Michael Cera has been the same guy over and over and over again.  In Juno, in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and even in the upcoming Youth in Revolt... he's the same guy.  That shy, stuttering guy who often has to repeat some of his lines.  "Yes you hit the garbage cans.  That's where we put the garbage."  For some reason, though, Michael Cera is quite charming.  Perhaps because he isn't actually over the top and therefore... not so annoying.

Adam Sandler
Who Is He: Adam Sandler
What Started It: He did.

Adam Sandler once said that he didn't think he could play someone who he didn't feel like he was similar to.  So often times you see him playing that character that has an unusual temper and will eventually punch someone or something like that.  In truth... that's really how Adam Sandler is.  Or so he claims.  However, much like some people on this list... Adam Sandler does show range.  Sometimes he's playing somber sweet characters like he does in Punch Drunk Love or The Wedding Singer.  But most times he's Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore (who the hell names their child Happy?)

Will Ferrell
Who Is He: An idiot
What Started It: I'm actually not sure

Will Ferrell is actually the kind of comedian who plays the same character over and over again.  Always that over excited ADHD like character who seems to run around in his underwear or something like that.  He's always shouting out strange unusual things.  If Will Ferrell was on Family Guy or Robot Chicken he'd be perfect, but most times he reminds you of that kid in school who just wants attention.  Sometimes he does other things... but the only role outside of his "I play an idiot" role is Stranger Than Fiction (which was actually a good movie).  Most times however, Will Ferrell is always playing some dimwitted idiot.  Strangely, however, Will Ferrell is nothing like that in real life.

Will Smith
Who is He: The Fresh Prince
What Started It: The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will Smith will never be able to escape The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and he knows it.  Will Smith, however, has range.  He has A LOT of range--boy does he ever.  But time and time again he keeps reminding people, "I was the Fresh Prince!"  Because he always has to make his wise cracks and the like.  So in some ways it's unfair to put Smith on this list, but if it weren't his need to constantly remind us of who he was, he might not be here at all.

Jack Black
Who Is He: A rocker
What Started It: Who the hell knows

One thing is for certain, Jack Black may be one of the most well known on this list just because of who he is.  He doesn't come on screen that often, but most times he's almost always that grown up child who wants to go crazy and rock out, and in return tell people they just don't understand what it means to be young, wild and crazy because they won't let themselves be that way or something like that.

Megan Fox
Who is She: A substitute for a Playboy Magazine for Teenage Boys
What Started It: Transformers

Megan Fox is one of only two women on this list only because I hear her name...  Every.  Damn.  Day.  So much so that I'm sick of her.  Now, I've made no secret that I don't like Megan Fox, but she's settling in nicely.  I could put A LOT of other women in this position but we're going to go with Megan Fox.  Lots of women are only casted in a film just to look hot.  In fact, it's the reason why many of hollywood's best actresses are older women.  But right now Megan Fox suffers from it the worst.  She suffers from it so badly that they made a movie just for her called Jennifer's Body which is about every guy's fantasy to have Megan Fox eat them.  But with bad results for the guys.  But it really goes to show just what Hollywood is going to keep Megan Fox around for.  Megan Fox+High School/College Boy=Money.  See how that works?  So Megan Fox is really just playing Megan Fox.  Because Megan Fox doesn't have to act.  She just has to look hot.

See the full review, "I Don't Know If She Can Act or Not So Umm... What Can I Say? She's Hot, I Guess...".
Anna Faris
Who Is She: A Blond Idiot... Even When She Isn't a Blond
What Started It: Scary Movie

Anna Faris really IS playing the same person over and over again.  Within the few movies I've seen her in she's always that ditzy, idiotic, dumb blond.  If you met Anna Faris on the street you'd almost be tempted to say, "I can't believe you're not really retarded."  She's probably not, but you'd never really be able to tell.  Because Anna Faris doesn't seem to get to be anyone else.

Chris Tucker
Who Is He: Whiny Bitch
What Started It: Friday

Yeah, Chris Tucker was in Friday and we all had a good laugh (I actually don't know why everyone loves that movie, I think I'm missing something).  But every time I see Chris Tucker in a film he's always the character that's running around screaming at the top of his lungs while someone else does all the work.  In short, Chris Tucker is just there to piss and moan and berate the main character.  Comedic entertainment?  Or Chris Tucker just not being useful for anything else in Hollywood?

What did you think of this list?

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September 14, 2010
i never really thought so much about actors roles until i read this Lol! Morgan Freeman is always the guy who can give you anything you need...and that comes to a head in Bruce Almighty when he personifies god lol
August 25, 2010
I appreciate all the suggestions guys, I especially like the suggestions of Christopher Walken, Tom Skerritt and Denzel Washington.  Jennifer Aniston is interesting too.  Likewise, so would Katherine Heigl.  So sit tight because it's possible that there might be another list of actors who seem content playing the same character coming.  OR, someone could make their own list and expand on this one if they so choose.
August 25, 2010
Great suggestion! Looking forward to your list and their's ;)
August 25, 2010
mickey rourke?? now it all advice giving junkie. with tacky retro clothing and a wife beater.didnt make it either. really! give will smith more credit
August 22, 2010
How about Cristopher Walkien? He is always the "Psychotic-slightly insane calm guy "
August 21, 2010
How could Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, and Tom Skerritt not make this list?!
August 21, 2010
Jennifer Anniston. . .she's always mildly attractive but humble working-class girl next girl trying to make it in the world. And Penelope Cruz is always the cute and sexy hardworking but mysterious girl with the accent in EVERY movie.
August 21, 2010
Um, how about Donald Sutherland? Always, always the older rich white guy. Always
August 18, 2010
You nailed it, Sean - great list. May I offer Al Pacino, who stopped acting after Scarface?
October 27, 2009
You forgot Jim Carrey and Mike Myers. It's funny, as far as Morgan Freeman goes, he may be playing the same character over and over, but he does it so well you just end up loving him all the more. Besides, how can you hold anything against Easy Reader?! ; )
October 27, 2009
Actually most of the actors on this list I happen to enjoy quite a bit. Hollywood seems to love their character actors too. Some guys are just good at what they do character acting wise. Morgan Freeman is definitely one who is awesome at it. He's the perfect wise man.
October 27, 2009
He's also great at playing the flawed character, who is full of guilt and regret, but always does the right thing in the end.

You should do a list of directors who make the same movies over and over too.
October 08, 2009
Hollywood has this idea that audiences won't accept actors if they play a part that's outside their "type", and oddly enough I think they're right to a certain extent. But they do carry it to ridiculous extremes. Did anyone pay the slightest bit of attention about 3 years ago when Russell Crowe stepped out of type and did a romantic comedy? I did, but I think I may be the only person on the plnet who did.
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About the list creator
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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