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The 10 Most Shocking Career Choices Of Famous Actors

20 March 2013 | Features, Other Lists | by David Zou

It takes wisdom for an actor to turn down some roles and courage to accept some. Sometimes actors make shocking decisions by choosing a completely different role from their previous screen personas. As you can see in the following examples, these risky choices either pushed them to greater success or easily ruined their careers.


10. Macaulay Culkin – The Good Son (1993)

Macaulay Culkin The Good Son

The Home Alone movies established Macaulay Culkin as a smart and cute boy, we totally enjoyed the likable kid beat the crap out of the two stupid thieves with all kinds of tricks. The movies were very successful in the box-office and Culkin became one of the most famous kid star overnight.

Maybe Culkin chose it himself, maybe his agent signed the contract for him, but in 1993 American psychological thriller film The Good Son, Culkin played a psychopath kid – the total opposite character to his role in Home Alone movies – who even killed a dog. The film received a mostly negative response from critics. Roger Ebert, who deemed the film inappropriate for children, awarded it just half a star, calling the project a “creepy, unpleasant experience”.


9. Tom Cruise – Collateral (2004)


Think about the previous roles Tom Cruise had played before Collateral: the handsome and passionate aviator in Top Gun, the anti-war activist in Born on the Fourth of July, the righteous lawyer in A Few Good Men, every single character embodies the American value.

In Michael Mann’s 2004 American crime thriller film, Tom Cruise surprised everyone by dyeing his hair to grey and portrayed a assassin whose task was to kill four witnesses and a prosecutor. The film received positive reviews, with particular praise going to Tom Cruise’s brilliant performances.

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  • SJHoneywell

    Love the mention of Tom Cruise here–Collateral really is a good film, and part of the reason is because Cruise plays against type in it.

    My favorite role like this, though, is Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. He’s a true villain in that, and it’s such a shock when he almost always played characters with such a strong moral streak.

  • The Doc

    Woody Harrelson and Natural Born Killers? Changed everyone’s opinion on him from lovable Woody on Cheers

  • Josh Parsons

    I’d argue Heath Ledger as The Joker

  • Andrew Arnold

    What a weak number 1- It’s a shocking career choice for Robert DeNiro to play a mafia boss???? Shouldn’t number 1 go to John Wayne for playing a cowboy?

  • Person McSentientbeing

    Angle-like… … … …

  • Mark Harding

    Matthew Broderick in Glory, always the smart-aleck under achieving high school kid, he really pulled this one off.

  • Jon ‘Jonny’ Preece

    ass to ass

  • basuperstar

    Some gun films on this list….. except Catwoman

  • Jordan Richardson

    Craig actually was the lead in Layer Cake and had second billing in Munich, so he was on his way. His selection to play Bond is pretty close to type for the others playing the role, though. Connery at that point was best known for Darby O’Gill and the Little People (maybe even The Longest Day). Then there was Lazenby, Moore and Dalton – all minor stars at that point. Perhaps only Pierce Brosnan was the only established star to take the role, and even that’s debatable.

    As for Cruise, I would argue that his turn in Interview with the Vampire (or Eyes Wide Shut) was more against type than what he did with Collateral. But hey, what are lists for? :)

  • Olga Santos

    Can be shocking choices but they’re great. Except for Catwoman. And i never saw Analyse this.

  • David Louis Krownes.

    Robert De Niro was just spoofing his image as a mafia guy. It’s not much of a stretch or “SHOCKING” it seemed like the perfect fit. Which is different from “SHOCKING” I don’t know anyone who was shocked by De Niro in Analize This. This is a tough kinda list to make though actors choose their roles for very different reasons.