Over an actor’s career, it is common that they take on a role or two for which they become well recognized. Actors can become famous and well known for playing a particular character over the course of a series. For instance, Harrison Ford is best known for his roles as Han Solo (in Star Wars) and Indiana Jones. Likewise, Jennifer Aniston is known for her role as Rachel Green on the 90’s television show Friends – an identity which has stuck over the years despite Aniston’s best attempts to take on varying roles. Alternately, actors can become known for playing a type of character. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have played an array of mobster or crime related characters over their acting careers. Arnold Schwarzenegger falls into this category as well with his numerous action hero roles.
For an actor, dedicating so much time to one character can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, developing a name as someone who plays a certain character or type of character can mean a lot of work, fame and money. Generally speaking, an actor repeatedly playing a specific character, like Sylvester Stallone in Rambo, or a type of character, like Will Ferrell in almost all his comedies, means there is demand and fans enjoy the franchise.
The downside to acting one type of role too much can be typecasting, not only in Hollywood but by the audience as well. That is, audiences come to associate an actor with a certain role and performance. This explains why so many fans had trouble accepting actors like Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell or Robin Williams in anything other than a comedy involving a goofy and immature character.
This list somewhat involves typecasting some our favorite actors. Each actor on the list has developed or played a character (or two) who we, the fans, have come to associate them with over the years. These roles have been funny, inspiring or just plain entertaining. It is, perhaps, wishful thinking that we begin to think that these actors are just like the people they portray on television or the big-screen – or they at least have some of the same qualities. Therefore, when we see these actors behaving badly or having negative allegations brought forward against them, it can be a massive letdown. The following list gives 10 actors who we wish are a little more like the famous characters they portrayed on television and in the movies.
10. Chevy Chase (Clark Griswold)
From Saturday Night Live to Caddyshack to Community, comedic actor Chevy Chase has been making us laugh since the 1970s. Chase is probably best known for his character Clark Griswold from the National Lampoon’s ‘vacation’ series. Griswold was an everyman-family guy, always trying to see the positives in any situation and usually putting others first. Funny, kind-hearted, well-meaning yet awkward, the character of Clark Griswold was entertaining and, at times, relatable.
If one believes the stories and allegations of former cast-members, then, unfortunately, Chase is far from being the Clark Griswold we have grown to love over the years. From Saturday Night Live to Community, it is alleged that the 70 year old actor has burned a lot of bridges, taken all the credit for things that went right and blamed a lot people for things that didn’t work out. He even reportedly got in a fist fight with Bill Murray. More recently, the cast of the now cancelled sitcom Community reported more of the same behavior with Joel McHale highlighting tensions and bad attitudes on the set. That’s not the Clark we know and love.
9. Zooey Deschanel (Jessica Day)
Actress and singer Zooey Deschanel is known for playing quirky, bubbly and off-the-wall characters. Her best known character is Jessica Day, the protagonist of the television show New Girl. Day is what you’d expect from a Zooey Deschanel character – lots of empathy, adorability, quirkiness, charm and warmth. These are all admirable traits but it can be a bit much for some people to take.
Nonetheless, one article suggests that Deschanel is not as bubbly and nice to be around as we might first think. It is alleged that she can become bossy and demanding on set, making things difficult for the other actors. It is possible that it’s just her producer side coming out and in contrast to her Jess character, it’s like Hannibal Lecter has arrived. Then again, a bag of sugar would lose out in a sweetness competition if it came up against Jess Day. In any event, we hope that Deschanel at least keeps borrowing the characteristics of charm and warmth from her, so far, successful creation.
8. Shia LaBeouf (Sam Witwicky)
Shia LaBeouf is probably best known for playing Sam Witwicky in Michael Bay’s Transformer trilogy which began in 2007. Witwicky is awkward, inquisitive, innocent and comedic throughout the series. He also has the typical teenage problems of being a social outcast who is desperate to impress people, especially the opposite sex. It all comes together to create interesting and mostly humorous moments, some of which the audience can relate to.
In real life, LaBeouf is a far different person. In addition to a couple of arrests, he has given bizarre press conferences, wore a paper bag on his head at a film premiere, feuded with Jim Carrey and even been accused of plagiarizing parts of a small film he released. On the plagiarism/weird behavior front, the press conference for the film Nymphomaniac saw LaBeouf copy (albeit poorly) French footballer Eric Cantona’s famous 1995 ‘Seagulls’ speech. It’s to the point where betting houses are posting odds on whether he’ll make a scene at awards shows. We’re thinking if Sam acted this way he’d never get the Autobots to help him or impress Megan Fox.
7. Steven Seagal (Any of His Action Heroes)
Steven Seagal is best known as an action star who also utilizes martial arts in his films. He is best known for Under Siege, On Deadly Ground and Exit Wounds. Most of Seagal’s characters, like Casey Ryback in Under Siege (1992), are straight shooting, law abiding patriots you’d want around if you needed help getting out of a pinch.
According to various allegations, Steven Seagal is not the kind of person you want to hang around. Over the years, several women have accused the actor of sexual harassment and he is even known to be difficult to work with on set. While filming Executive Decision in 1996, John Leguizamo said that Seagal bullied him to show that he was the boss. That’s not the Casey Ryback we knew. Casey Ryback never bullied anyone, except a few terrorists and Gary Busey.
6. Bruce Willis (John McClane)
Since the 1980s, Bruce Willis has been best known for playing John McClane in the 5 Die Hard movies. McClane is a police officer who seems to always be in the wrong place at wrong time. He is not motivated by money or fame but only cares about getting himself (and his loved ones) out of harm’s way, usually by killing a bunch of terrorists. He is a no-nonsense character who is like a more modern Dirty Harry.
Perhaps Willis could take a couple queues from McLane. Rumors surfaced that Willis was difficult to work with on movie sets. Kevin Smith, director of Cop Out said that working with the Die Hard star was “soul crushing.” More recently, Sylvester Stallone further confirmed these allegations when he tweeted that Willis was being replaced for any future Expendables films. Sly tweeted that Willis was “greedy and lazy.” While John McLane may have been a lone cowboy, greedy and lazy he was not.
5. William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk)
Of all his roles, Canadian-born William Shatner is best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk, commander of the starship Enterprise in the Star Trek series and movies from 1966 to 1994. With Kirk, Shatner produced a character who was adventurous, fearless, smart and charming. In his 2008 autobiography, Shatner wrote that the character of Kirk “didn’t take things for granted.”
According to Star Trek cast members and fan posts on reddit, Shatner is less like Kirk in person. Wil Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek The Next Generation, recalled a first meeting with a rather cold and rude Shatner which left him stunned. George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu alongside Shatner, had a long feud with the former Enterprise captain and even alleged Shatner refused to go up on stage during James Doohan’s (Scotty) final convention appearance just a year before he died in 2005. To die-hard fans, such behavior is a letdown and makes you wish Shatner acted just a little bit more like James Kirk.
4. Katherine Heigl (Izzie Stevens)
Thirty-five year old American actress Katherine Heigl rose to celebrity status between 2005 and 2010. During this period she starred as Dr. Isobel ‘Izzie’ Stevens on the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy and starred in the films Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. Heigl’s character on Grey’s Anatomy was extremely popular as she faced a number of ups-and-downs at Seattle Grace Hospital. Relatable on a number of levels, Izzie was well liked and a fan favorite.
Unfortunately in 2007, after Knocked Up, various media outlets reported that Heigl had taken a swipe at the movie by saying it was ‘sexist.’ That same year, she allegedly started to upset things on the Grey’s Anatomy front by saying the writers didn’t give her enough good material to be worthy of an Emmy award. Since this period, Heigl’s career hasn’t been as strong with some accusations that she was difficult to work with on set and wouldn’t help to promote her movies. There have been some indications that she is changing her ways but she may have a lot of work to do to fix the damage.
3. Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane)
From 1984 to 2004, Kelsey Grammer amused everyone with his character Frasier Crane. A psychiatrist, Frasier was awkward, pretentious and never fit in terribly well with the crowd. That said, he was humorous, witty and often got himself (and brother Niles) into rather funny social situations.
Grammer has led a life full of scandal, controversy and heartbreak. He’s been accused of statutory rape, had substance abuse issues, admitted to cheating on his ex-wife, been in abusive relationships, had his own sex tape scandal and, allegedly, forbids any mentioning of his ex-wife’s name in his house. What makes this all so shocking is that Grammer has played Frasier for so long that it’s hard to believe he has led a life so different off-screen. It’s a case of wanting life to imitate art.
2. Michael Richards (Kramer)
When Michael Richards took on the role of Cosmo Kramer in the television show Seinfeld, he was developing one of the iconic sit-com characters of modern time. Kramer developed into a quirky, adventurous and outgoing character who, while a little strange sometimes, had a knack for making friends and imparting friendly guidance every now and then.
When Seinfeld ended in 1998, Richards never really stopped being Kramer in the eyes of most people. That is why the racially fuelled tirade he unleashed at the crowd of the Laugh Factory in 2006 was so shocking to everyone. The Kramer we knew would never say such things in any situation. He’d probably just ask the people if they knew Bob Sacamano. In any event, Richards’ career suffered because of the outburst. In an episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, the actor and comedian expressed regret over the incident and provided several moments of Kramer-like commentary while reunited with his old cast-mate.
1. Alec Baldwin (Jack Donaghy)
Since The Hunt for Red October in 1990, Alec Baldwin has had a lot of film and television success. His role as Jack Donaghy on the sitcom 30 Rock brought him awards, critical acclaim and a large fan base. While portrayed as a high-functioning alcoholic, Donaghy is also shown to be considerate and caring (at times) towards his friends and can keep his cool when the rest of the staff at the television production company are falling apart.
Alec Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock is so likeable that it shocks many people to see how much trouble and controversy he gets into in real life. He has verbally and physically assaulted reporters, allegedly threatened to kill himself after a fight with his daughter, left an insult filled voicemail on his daughter’s answering machine, had a run in with Shia LaBeouf while rehearsing a Broadway play. He even got kicked off a plane after going into another tirade. Perhaps he should take a page out of his own character’s book by keeping his cool, grabbing a drink and calling up Tina Fey to unload. Ok, maybe everything but the drink.