10 Actors That Broke Their Typecast
The CW’s teen drama Riverdale will premiere its final season in 2023. With the show ending, fans have speculated on the actor’s post-series fate. Two outcomes are plausible for the young stars: either they will flourish in different genres or somehow stay stagnant within their typecast.
The concept of typecasting isn’t as career damaging as once perceived. There are some industry professionals that view being typecast as a good thing because it means an actor is actually getting cast in projects and therefore succeeding. Although, there are actors that think the opposite. Not every actor is lucky enough to break their typecast, but some have established themselves as true thespians along the way.
10 Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey was a cinematic king of the ’90s. Some classics from his impressive filmography include Dumb and Dumber, The Mask, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Quite a few of Carrey’s follow-up projects to these establishing blockbusters have been equally promising and delightful.
1998’s The Truman Show would see Carrey playing the titular character with such vulnerability and courage. A year later, he would give an Oscar-worthy performance as comedian Andy Kaufman in the biopic Man on the Moon. Carrey also received critical acclaim for his role in the 2004 sci-fi romance Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
9 Jennifer Aniston
To many fans of the ’90s sitcom Friends, Rachel Green is Jennifer Aniston’s best character. From 1994-2004, she played the spoiled rich girl that evolved into an independent, successful career woman. Aniston hasn’t completely abandoned her comedic niche since Friends’ ending, but she hasn’t entirely stood by it.
Films such as The Good Girl and Cake were eye-openers of Aniston’s potential, but it is her Emmy-nominated role on Apple+’s The Morning Show that solidified her dramatic flair. She plays Alex Levy, a morning news anchor with a tenacious drive in the ranks of a predominantly male world.
8 Steve Carrell
When one hears the name Steve Carrell, it’s hard not to think of any other role besides his obnoxiously hilarious character Michael Scott from the workplace sitcom The Office. Before returning to television with The Morning Show, Carrell made strides in his post-Office film career.
For his role as millionaire murderer John Eleuthère du Pont in the 2014 sports biopic The Foxcatcher, Carrell would earn his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He would also receive immense praise opposite Timothée Chalamet in 2018’s biopic drama Beautiful Boy, which chronicles the familial effects of drug addiction.
7 Jennifer Lopez
As seen in the Netflix documentary Halftime, Jenifer Lopez is a rather vivacious musician, in addition to being an accomplished actress. After her breakout role in the musical biopic Selena, she became a rom-com regular with such classics as The Wedding Planner and Maid in Manhattan.
Attempts to distance herself from the typecast were commendable, but Lopez’s performances were either overlooked for her costars (Out of Sight) or suffered from critical and commercial failures (Enough). With 2019’s Hustlers, Jennifer Lopez received critical acclaim and a SAG nomination for Best Supporting Actress, proving that she is more than a hopeless romantic.
6 Adam Sandler
Like Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler was another silver screen ruler of the ’90s and early 2000s. A Saturday Night Live alum, Sandler has delivered gut-busting laughs with his movies, but he’s also gone outside the box in the way of acting.
Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me and Funny People saw the actor portraying earnest characters plagued by traumas or ailments. Sandler received unanimous applause and even some Oscar buzz for his roles in 2019’s Uncut Gems and 2022’s Hustle. Needless to say, a balance has been achieved in the way of Adam Sandler’s comedic and dramatic roles.
5 Alexis Bledel
Alexis Bledel will forever be known as intelligent bookworm Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. While the character brought her to mainstream recognition, it also limited Bledel to consistently playing the sweet yet smart character, as seen with Tuck Everlasting and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Luckily, she has proven her acting range over the years.
Her role as Emily Malek in the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale showed vast improvement. Not only is the role regarded as one of Alexis Bledel’s best performances, but it also earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series.
4 Will Smith
Will Smith jumped on the scene with ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The role catapulted him to super-stardom but following that came a typecast of comedy/action hybrid franchises such as Bad Boys and Men in Black. However, the evolution from comedies to biopic dramas resulted in some of Will Smith’s best movies.
Smith earned his first Academy Award for Best Actor nomination for 2001’s Ali, perfectly capturing the legendary boxer’s fierce essence. Twenty years after his first nomination (with one in between for The Pursuit of Happyness) Smith won the Best Actor Oscar for 2021’s King Richard.
3 Jonah Hill
A Judd Apatow regular, Jonah Hill was well known for being the sarcastic and goofy funny kid. Superbad, 21 Jump Street, and The Sitter are all proof of his comedy skills. As his career progressed, so did his acting range.
The 2010s would see Hill receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor, for Bennet Miller’s 2011 sports drama Moneyball and Martin Scorsese’s comedic crime biopic The Wolf of Wall Street. He has continued to work with prestigious directors such as Quentin Tarantino, The Coen Brothers, and Gus Van Sant.
2 Robin Williams
The late Robin Williams was a renowned funny man across the silver screen, television, and the stage. Whether it was Mork & Mindy, Mrs. Doubtfire, or Aladdin, a Williams movie was almost a guaranteed success. Throughout his lengthy career, Robin Williams consistently showcased versatility with his role choices.
Bicentennial Man and What Dreams May Come highlighted the dramatic side of Robin Williams. His portrayal as therapist Dr. Sean Maguire in 1997’s Good Will Hunting earned Williams the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Williams also took on grittier, more intense roles, as seen with One Hour Photo and Insomnia.
1 Hugh Grant
Similar to Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Grant became a rom-com fixture in the ’90s and early 2000s. He has been the leading man for such funny romances as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love Actually. A career resurgence in recent years has seen the actor landing a wider range of roles.
Grant received a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Limited Series for playing British politician Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scandal. His follow-up roles in 2019’s The Gentlemanand the 2020 HBO miniseries The Undoing earned Grant further critical acclaim.