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10 Actors Typecast in Bizzarely Specific Roles

18 March 2017 | Features, People Lists | by Rafa Carrillo

6. Zoe Saldana plays strong female characters in space

Zoe Saldana seems to have been unofficially crowned the warrior queen of outer space, because she’s now played very strong female characters in three of the biggest sci-fi franchises of recent years.

What’s interesting here is that, given Hollywood’s usual lack of strong female characters in action oriented films, they could have just followed the same sort of template for the 3 characters and it would’ve been a regular typecasting situation. But each of Saldana’s characters is strong in their own particular way.

Star Trek’s Uhura is a human who earns her place and rank on the Enterprise as the communications officer. The strength of her character comes from her confidence, independence, intelligence and overall skills. Avatar’s Neytiri is part of an alien race called the Na’vi. This character is strong emotionally and spiritually as well as physically.

Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy is a skilled warrior with a vendetta who still has a lot to learn about feelings and friendship. Given that at face value these 3 characters might sound similar, how little they actually resemble each other is a true testament to Zoe Saldana’s performances.

 

7. Kevin Spacey plays a criminal mastermind who’s always one step ahead of the police

se7en

Kevin Spacey can play a manipulating psychopath to perfection, and he’s done it in multiple occasions. Yet, he’s included on this list because of the 3 times he’s played a criminal mastermind who is always one step ahead of the police.

In The Usual Suspects (1995), he plays Roger “Verbal” Kint, a small-time criminal who is being interrogated by the police to find the mythical criminal mastermind Keyser Söze. In one of the most famous twist endings in film history, “Verbal” Kint turns out to have been Keyser Söze all along, and the police only realize it after they have already let him go.

Later in the same year, Spacey played John Doe in Se7en, a serial killer who fashions his kills after the seven deadly sins. The police play right into his hands throughout the whole movie. Even when Detective Mills (played by Brad Pitt) kills him, it was exactly what John Doe wanted in order to complete his twisted master plan.

Lastly, Kevin Spacey played a criminal mastermind who’s used to being one step ahead of the police in 2000’s Ordinary Decent Criminal. While the film may pale in comparison to the previous two, it does showcase a different aspect of the trope.

In this film, Kevin Spacey plays a notorious thief who fears the police might be catching up to him after years of walking away scot free. In the end, he does manage to get away with it, just as in the other movies, but this time you can see his character actually break a sweat to pull it off.

 

8. Anjelica Huston plays the matriarch of an unconventional and downright clinically insane family

THE ADDAMS FAMILY

Anjelica Huston has been acting steadily since 1967, so it’s no surprise a few of her roles might bear some similarities. But the reason she’s on this list is definitely because of a very specific similarity, she’s played the matriarch of an unconventional and downright clinically insane family in The Addams Family (1991), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Choke (2008).

Being that The Addams Family is a family comedy film; her mad family is played for laughs just like in the original TV show it’s based on. While The Royal Tenenbaums and Choke are also comedies, they are much darker and not as family-friendly. The Royal Tenenbaums is a dramedy that is odd, heartfelt and rather dark at times, and the craziness of the family is something you would expect from a Wes Anderson film: quirky bordering on clinically insane.

Then Choke, based on a book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk, might feature the craziest of them all. Huston plays Ida Mancini, an extremely paranoid activist who keeps on kidnapping her own child from the foster families that adopt him. The kid grows up to be a sex addict who pretends to choke on restaurants so that people will “save” him, making them feel responsible for his financial wellbeing afterwards.

 

9. Edward Norton suffers from a violent split personality

Primal Fear (1996)

One of Edward Norton’s most iconic roles is the Narrator in Fight Club (1999), a sleep deprived office worker who develops a violent split personality played by Brad Pitt. But playing a character with a violent split personality is a role Edward Norton was already familiar with.

In Primal Fear (1996), Edward Norton plays an altar boy who seems to have a psychopathic split personality and he’s being charged with the murder of an archbishop. In the end, they differ in that The Narrator’s aggressive alter ego is actually a split personality developed by insomnia, and the altar boy is just faking it.

In The Incredible Hulk (2008), he stars as genius scientist Bruce Banner, who turns into his violent alter ego The Hulk every time he gets angry. The main difference here is that the split personality actually manifests physically for everyone to see.

 

10. Scarlett Johansson evolves to live forever digitally

Lucy

Hollywood’s highest-grossing actress of all time, Scarlett Johansson, doesn’t play it safe when it comes to characters and choices of films. She’s done everything from quiet indie dramas to big budget action films, but one strangely specific thing that a couple of her characters have in common is evolving to live forever as a digital entity.

Her character in Her (2013) is a fast learning Operating System that falls in love with the protagonist. Eventually, she evolves so fast that she isn’t content with just loving a human being; so she decides, along with all the other similar Operating Systems, to abandon human interactions and look for a deeper connection by living on the web forever.

Her is a romantic sci-fi drama, so it’s quite eerie that her character in the sci-fi action film Lucy (2014) has such a similar fate. In Lucy, she is accidentally drugged with a very strong experimental synthetic drug and her brain function starts to evolve at such rapid speeds that eventually she ceases to be human. It’s implied that her brain impulses are now travelling through all sorts of digital and electrical networks.

Now her new movie, Ghost in the Shell, is coming out in theaters soon and this could be the trifecta for Scarlett Johansson turning into a digital being. In the original Japanese anime film, her character merges with the main villain to form a new kind of entity that is not her anymore, and it’s not clear if she’s even still human at all.

Author Bio: Rafa Carrillo has been battling his addiction to movies by talking about them with everyone he knows; now he’s writing about them too. He’s from Mexico, he plays guitar and sings in a band, and he’s been known to occasionally enjoy films that feature long walks on the beach (preferably starring Sylvester Stallone and Carl Weathers).

 

 

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  • Brandon Thompson

    If Zoe Saldana was typecasted as “strong” female characters in space why hasn’t any of her characters saved the day in the end of the film?

    • Rafa Carrillo

      All of the characters mentioned end up on the victors’ side, they’re all team efforts. Besides, do you think it’s necessary for the characters to save the day in order to be classified as ‘strong’? I’m really interested in your thoughts on this

      Thanks for reading

      • Brandon Thompson

        Well these strong female characters are always bystanders to the male saving the day. Why can’t they save the day for once.

        • Rafa Carrillo

          That’s a fair point, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2

  • Bobby Calloway

    Leonardo DiCaprio is haunted by his dead wife (Shutter Island, The Revenant, Inception)
    Brian Cox creates an amnesiac assassin (XMen, Bourne Identity, Long Kiss Goodnight)
    Keanu Reeves kills himself to save the world (Constantine, The Devils Advocate, The Matrix)
    Keira Knightley dies but the culprit makes up a happy ending for her (The Hole, Atonement)
    Lena Headey is the mother of someone destined for greatness (The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Game of Thrones, City of Bones, the upcoming fighting with my family)

    • Rafa Carrillo

      That’s awesome, I hadn’t think of any of those

    • Ricardo

      Oh, great. I was gonna watch The Devil’s Advocate today and you just spoiled it.

      • Bobby Calloway

        You really don’t want to watch it lol.

        • sailor monsoon

          Bullshit!
          Al pacino gives the best worst performance in it.
          It’s truly spectacular

  • Marisol Del Carmen Rodriguez

    ¡Me encantó esta lista!

    • Rafa Carrillo

      Gracias!

  • Klaus Dannick

    Great list! Fun to read and interesting!

    • Rafa Carrillo

      Thanks!

  • Berna García

    Awesome :3

    • Rafa Carrillo

      Gracias bro 😀

  • Special_One

    You could also add The Score for Edward Norton. He plays a character who fakes being retarded in order to get information (not really a split personality, but playing the same character in different ways). Leaves of Grass is also in the same territory, where he plays two very different twins.

    • Rafa Carrillo

      You’re right, thanks, I thought of Leaves of Grass but it was different enough not to be included

  • ray gudel

    The Juliette lewis one is actually pretty much honest to god typecasting, she is always in that type of role

  • Juan Carlos Ojano

    Meryl Streep has syphilis because of unfaithful husband (Out of Africa, Florence Foster Jenkins)
    Glenn Close is sexually manipulative and drives the male protagonist to extremes (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons)
    Helen Mirren as opinionated wife of [insert historical figure] (The Last Station, Hitchcock)
    Jessica Chastain as strong-willed and intelligent woman in a very politically charged man’s world (Zero Dark Thirty, Miss Sloane)
    Julianne Moore as unhappy housewife during the 50s (The Hours, Far from Heaven – same year released!)