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Actors Who Play the Same Role in Every Movie

Feb 25, 2014 | 3:04pm EST

Bruce Willis, G.I. Joe: RetaliationParamount Pictures via Everett Collection

Part of an actor's job is finding connections between himself and his character. Very few Hollywood actors can completely transform themselves; that’s why Meryl Streep wins all those Oscars. But even without Streep's legendary range, many actors have innately likable personalities, or fit snugly into specific types of characters perfectly. There’s an authenticity to playing a role that’s close to your personality, so we don't fault them. However, some actors seem to be phone it in, playing the same character in every movie, TV show, and even interview they do. There are a few big name stars who really need to step out of their comfort zones...

Samuel L. Jackson

Jackson is folksy, funny, and approachable. That’s why he’s seems to be in five movies each year. His IMDb page has enough titles to for him to market his own RedBox station. That being said, all his roles seem to be as the motherf***er you don’t want to mess with. His notorious use of profanity and overall bad mamma jamma status (he even played Shaft) have created a permanent place for him in Hollywood. No matter what his role, you wouldn’t be surprised if he broke out into a curse-filled rant. After all, he did record the audio for Go the F**k to Sleep.

Bruce Willis

Willis is known best for action movies, but unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, he can star in movies outside the genre. However, he has stuck pretty rigidly to the wise-talking hero with deadpan delivery and taglines galore. He always has some sort of law enforcement or military background, with few exceptions (notably as the star of The Sixth Sense, or as a bumbling alcoholic surgeon in Death Becomes Her). Can Willis play anything other than the serious hero with the occasional humorous line? Or will he be playing Detective John McClane at a nursing home in Die Hardly: Do Not Resuscitate? Check out his stone-faced delivery in these SNL Promos: 


Katherine Heigl

Heigl has created a niche for herself in romantic comedies. She’s also created a huge polarizing effect in Hollywood: you either love her or hate her. Part of that is her ability to be stunningly attractive yet laughingly smug. Any one of her characters will carry the veneer of good humor, but always with a dismissive attitude toward her love interest or the supporting characters. She tried to play working class screw-up in One for the Money , but didn't quite fit the bill — it seemed like 27 Dresses if the lead was an aspiring bail bondsman. Check out how her usual shtick takes squirrel form in this The Nut Job clip.

Kristen Stewart

Everyone is familiar with how awkward Stewart is in interviews. However, why are all of her characters morose and uncomfortable, too? We accepted Bella Swan in Twilight  an awkward teen, but then we got the same ordeal in Adventureland. And Snow White and the Huntsman. If Stewart were to play happy would a rift in the universe form and undo creation? 

Zooey Deschanel

Deschanel has a stronghold on characters that know how to play the ukulele. Partly due to her big baby blues and distinct voice, Deschanel tends to play, to borrow from the SNL sketch, quirky girls. But is it too much to ask for her to play a character outside of her unique brand of hipster? It is a smart business plan for Deschanel to have a strong brand if she wants to sell '50s-style dresses, handcrafted ukuleles, or eye drops. But as an actor she seems to have painted herself into a corner. Could she ever play a high-powered criminal attorney on the run from mobsters? Or would the lawyer have to go undercover as a thrift store employee who plays the Theremin?


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