When it comes to famous actors, we usually know everything about them, every movie they were in and everything they ate. The lesser-known actors don’t get this same fan infatuation. They’re the unloved ones, the background music. Even the most die-hard fans can only name a few of their roles. A further subset of this group are the relative unknowns. The only way that anyone would know these names is because they were obsessed with one of the movies these actors were in and they know everything about the film, like a Star Wars or Harry Potter or something of that ilk. They’ve seen the behind the scenes stuff and they’ve dissected the film so much they’ll always remember the names. But this is rare. Yet, even though these actors might be a tad anonymous, they have had the opportunity to play well-known characters. Often, these characters are masked or costumed, otherwise we would know what they look like and who they are, right?
It seems that whenever a character is masked or wears costume makeup it makes the actor indistinguishable; we tend not to care about the actor underneath. It’s not fair but it helps to keep them anonymous and allows for us to make a list like this. What happens when anonymous actors play more than one recognizable character? It’s fun to note that the guy who played the Stay Puft Marshmallow in Ghostbusters also played Godzilla in Godzilla. Now, that’s not true, of course, but how cool would it be if it were? We’re not about to give away a freebie, so don’t get hasty. Let’s look at actors who actually have played multiple characters that we know and love. Here are 15 pairs of characters you never knew were played by the same actor.
15. Manu Bennett – Azog the Defiler and Crixus
With his recent role as Deathstroke in Arrow, Manu Bennett is becoming more recognizable than ever before, but he’s done a few other major roles on TV and in the movies. Perhaps the best role he ever played was the temperamental gladiator Crixus in the television show Spartacus. He looked quite a bit younger than he does now, time tends to do that to a man, but he was straight badass. Later, in The Hobbit trilogy, Bennett was cast as Azog the Defiler. While technically it was just his voice in the role, he was motion-captured, so you can see his movements in the character as well. Keen-eyed fans can even notice quite a bit of Crixus in the subtle movements and the voice of Azog during some sequences.
14. Jed Brophy – Sharku/Snaga and Nori
Jed Brophy is Peter Jackson‘s homeboy. He’s been in a number of Jackson’s films and, in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, he played multiple characters to help the director out. While several of the actors did this same thing, Brophy got a few of the better-known characters, like both Sharku and Snaga, two of the most recognizable orcs from The Two Towers. We don’t expect you to know the names of orcs, so we’ll help you out. Sharku was one of the orcs riding Wargs, the one that Aragorn gets stuck on and causes him to fall off the cliff. As Sharku died, he revealed that he was holding Arwen’s necklace. Snaga is the orc who first suggests they eat Merry and Pippin outside the forest, the one that said, “Yeah, why can’t we have some meats,” spitting and slobbering as he spoke. Later, when it came time to film The Hobbit, Brophy got his involvement amped up, getting the chance to play one of the dwarves, Nori. Unfortunately, Nori might have been the worst of the Thorin’s company.
13. Richard Brake – Night’s King and Joe Chill
The Night’s King in Game of Thrones might not be a front and center character just yet, but whenever he shows up on screen, people immediately pay attention. He’s got a great look, sort of zombie, sort of frost giant. The actor who plays the Night’s King is the same guy who killed Bruce Wayne’s parents in Batman Begins, Joe Chill. He’s also in Thor: Dark World, Spy, Hannibal Rising, Halloween II (Reboot) and Kingsman: The Secret Service, but none of those roles were nearly as iconic as the two we mentioned up top. Like we said above, whenever an actor gets all costumed up, it becomes difficult to tell who they are underneath, so Brake tends to go unnoticed amongst the Game of Thrones cast.
12. Danielle Harris – Jamie Lloyd and Annie Brackett
Since Richard Brake was in the Rob Zombie Halloween films we will stick with that connection for a little bit. Say what you will about Zombie’s reboots, he loves the Halloween franchise and did well to pay respect to the originals. One of the ways of doing this was casting Danielle Harris as Annie Brackett in both Halloween and Halloween II. Prior to this role, Harris was most famous for her childhood role as Jamie Lloyd in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989). These films were an honest attempt to insert new blood into the franchise, moving away from Laurie Strode and they were decent films. While they might not appeal to average film fans, tis the season and every list needs a little horror.
11. Tyler Mane – Sabretooth and Michael Myers
Born Daryl Karolat, the actor who played both Sabretooth in the original X-Men film and Michael Myers, again in the Rob Zombie versions of Halloween, is better known by his stage name, Tyler Mane. Obviously in Halloween, Mane is wearing the iconic Michael Myers mask for most of it, so we don’t get to see his face. In the original X-Men, Sabretooth may not be as badass in the films as he is the comics, but he looks cool, so we remember him. That big ol’ hairdo, the teeth, the eyes, Mane’s version of Sabretooth was great, especially if you consider that he had hardly any lines and he was way tougher than Live Schreiber’s version. For another reference point, Mane also played the amazing character of Ajax in Troy, which might be just as recognizable as Sabretooth for some.
10. Ray Park – Darth Maul and Toad
Speaking of X-Men, one of the other bad guys in the original was Toad. Toad was a pretty silly depiction and most of his lines were left on the cutting room floor, including a little running joke that he was supposed to have throughout, but that’s another story altogether. The actor who played Toad was Ray Park. You might recognize Park from G.I. Joe in which he played Snake Eyes, or from Heroes in which he played Edgar, but his most famous role came well before either of those. The year before Park suited up as Toad, he was heavy on the makeup in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace as Darth Maul. Even though the Star Wars film is heavily railed against, Park’s performance is considered excellent for what it was. His “death” was cheap and the surrounding film didn’t help him much, but you’ve got to give credit to his character.
9. Billy Redden – Banjo Kid and Banjo Man
There would be no reason for anyone to recognize this connection, but man is it ever great. You would recognize the perfectly cast Billy Redden best as the Banjo Kid in Deliverance. The poor guy was cast as a backwoods hillbilly in the film specifically because he looked as if he might be the product of inbreeding. Sadly, there is nothing wrong with him physically; he was just a messed up looking kid. The banjo kid, if you’re struggling to place him, was the one who famously played “dueling banjos” in one of the greatest scenes ever. Years and years later, 31-years later to be exact, the criminally underrated Tim Burton film, Big Fish was filmed. In Big Fish is the town of Spectre, a beautiful town that people from all over come to stay and never leave. When Edward (Ewan McGregor) first discovers this town, he walks in and he passes a man playing the banjo, playing “dueling banjos.” This is Billy Redden all grown up. Looks like he found Spectre and never left like the rest of the townspeople.
8. Leif Tilden – Donatello and Robbie Sinclair
By name alone, there’s almost no way that you would know Leif Tilden, but he’s played two massive characters that almost everyone knew, at least during the early 90s. First came Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1990 and the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, in 1991. In these classic flicks, Tilden was the man in the Donatello turtle suit. Then, from 1991 to 1994, Tilden played the teenage dinosaur Robbie Sinclair in Dinosaurs. Robbie always wore the red varsity jacket and looked fly as hell. For all you dinosaur fanatics, like real dinosaurs, Robbie was the Hypsilophodon. Nerds. Tilden hasn’t done a whole lot other than these roles, but not many people can say that they played two gigantic characters.
7. Doug Jones – Pale Man and Abe Sapien
Out of all the actors on this list, Doug Jones is probably the biggest name in the industry. Jones has been around for a while and has played some massive characters, almost always in costume. It’s difficult to say which characters of his are the biggest because it is such a subjective question, but we think that his Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth and Abe Sapien from Hellboy (both Guillermo del Toro films) are the biggest and best. Jones also played the zombie Billy in Hocus Pocus, Pencilhead in Mystery Men, the Gentlemen in the scariest episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Hush,” the Silver Surfer in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Fauno in Pan’s Labyrinth as well. He’s basically a legend and most people don’t even know his name.
6. Rick Baker – King Kong and Pilot
Rick Baker is one of the most celebrated special makeup effects artists in history and is known around the world for making some of the best creatures for film, but few recognize him in his acting roles. His biggest and best was as King Kong in King Kong (1976), but he was also in Planet of the Apes, MIB II & III and The Wolfman. In almost every movie that he’s appeared in as an actor, Baker was behind the scenes doing the makeup special effects too. He’s long been considered one of the best in business, so we just want to show him a little love for what he does in front of the camera as well. Since he was King Kong in the 1976 version, Peter Jackson decided to have him give a little cameo as one of the pilots who shoots King Kong down in the 2005 remake.
5. Ian Whyte – Wun Wun and Last Engineer
Ian Whyte is best known in the Game of Thrones world as playing the Wildling giant Wun Wun in seasons five and six, but he also played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane briefly in season 2. Since the Mountain has had a few different actors, we decided to ignore that role a bit. The other big roles that Whyte played were in the Predator and Alien franchises. He started by playing one of the Predators and then reprised the role in AvP: Requiem. After that, Ridley Scott cast Whyte as the Last Engineer in Prometheus as well. Due in large part to Whyte’s large 7-foot frame, he looks menacing on screen. Put a little costume and makeup on him and he can be any massive creature you need him to be.
4. Jodelle Ferland – Patience Buckner and Sharon
Jodelle Ferland might not have the biggest name around, but she’s done enough to warrant some more attention. Early in her young career, Ferland bounced around quite a bit until she landed the role of Mary Jensen in the TV show, Kingdom Hospital. After that she got her first big break in Silent Hill, playing the young girls, Sharon and Alessa. After that great role, Ferland wouldn’t make another big splash until she played one of the primary antagonists, Patience Buckner, in a movie filled with them, Cabin in the Woods. Ferland’s advanced age and zombie makeup makes her almost unrecognizable compared to Silent Hill, but it’s her folks. Trust us. Another cool tidbit. Ferland also voiced the little witch, Aggie, in the stop-motion film, ParaNorman.
3. Richard O’Brien – Mr. Hand and Riff Raff
Today he’s the voice of the father in Phineas and Ferb, but he will forever be Riff Raff to all the Rocky Horror Picture Show fans out there. Even if you hate the movie, you have to recognize the talents and awesome look of O’Brien in the film. O’Brien has had a healthy career outside of Rocky Horror, but his other major role that film fans would recognize was from Dark City, in which he played the antagonist Mr. Hand. Thanks to the sad fact that Dark City is so underappreciated by the average film fan, O’Brien’s fantastic performance is frequently overlooked, plus 23 years can do a lot to a man’s looks. Nevertheless, these are two characters that are scene stealers in their respective films, so O’Brien’s clearly done well with what he’s been given.
2. Naomie Harris – Tia Dalma and Eve Moneypenny
Miss Moneypenny is a very recognizable character from the James Bond franchise, but the actress who played her in Skyfall and Spectre, Naomie Harris, is not a very recognizable actress. Having said that, she has been in other big roles. Of those, the biggest must be Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Dead Man’s Chest and The World’s End. Dalma is the mystical human form of the goddess Calypso, marked by her awesome dreadlocks and nasty teeth. Even though her costume in the Pirates films couldn’t totally mask her beauty, it did make the actress underneath somewhat unrecognizable, hence why she made this list and we’re still writing about her.
1. Luke Goss – Jared Nomak and Prince Nuada
Luke Goss, for some reason, plays a lot of villains in film. He doesn’t look evil, necessarily, but he seems to have a “look” about him that directors see as dark. His first big role was one of his most recognizable, that of Jared Nomak, the first and the leader of the Reapers, in Blade II. Considering he was completely unknown as an actor at the time and his makeup made him impossible to distinguish, it’s no surprise that we didn’t care to learn who the actor was. Years later in Hellboy II (he likes sequels), Goss returned to the makeup as Prince Nuada, the amazingly cool-looking Elf Prince set on destroying humankind. While it would be tough to know that it was Goss in both roles, in hindsight, the two characters do look alike.