There are some actors that can play a wide variety of characters. Tom Hanks, for example, can play anything from a starving man on a deserted island to a newspaper executive to a talking cowboy toy.
However, there are just some actors who can’t escape their most famous roles. For example, whenever I see Timothy Omundson in anything other than Psych, all I can think is Carlton Lassiter. I’m sure we’ve all had similar experiences. Here are some of those actors who will never be seen as anything other than their most famous roles.
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers AKA Captain America
Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane
Alfonso Ribeiro as Carlton Banks
Jason Alexander as George Costanza
Jerry Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld
Leonard Nimoy as Spock
#10: Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil
Linda Blair was basically born into the horror genre. At the tender age of thirteen, she starred as the possessed child in The Exorcist (1973). From there, she starred in more horror films like Hell Night (1981); she would dabble in the crime genre as well in films like Savage Streets (1984) and Chained Heat (1983), but nothing ever seemed to stick. Like numerous other child actors, she was cemented into her role as Regan MacNeil and no one could forget it, least of all her. Despite guest starring on TV shows and small roles in movies, she has never struck gold as much as she did with The Exorcist.
#9: Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green
There’s something about Friends that everyone just seems to love — including me. A big part of the TV show’s success is due to Jennifer Aniston’s famous role as Rachel Green. Aniston exuded the perfect amount of sarcasm and sweetness to create a memorable character. Unfortunately, her character may have been a little too memorable because she just can’t seem to escape it. Sure, she may have been in raucous comedies like We’re the Millers (2013) and The Bounty Hunter (2010), but nothing can hold a candle to the fame she earned from Friends. Sorry, Aniston, but you’ll always be Rachel to me and the rest of the world.
#8: Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute
Being in a successful TV series is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you become really famous and people everywhere know your name (not to mention the pay isn’t too bad, either); on the other hand, that’s all that people see you as. Rainn Wilson is seriously cursed with the latter. After playing the annoyingly lovable Dwight Schrute on The Office for eight years, no one will see Wilson as anything else. Seriously, watch him in any movie and it’ll just make your skin crawl because it seems so unnatural. Dwight Schrute isn’t supposed to be out traversing the Sahara with Matthew McConaughey. He’s supposed to be in Scranton, Pennsylvania, cutting the faces off CPR dummies and wearing the same stupid brown tie/yellow shirt combo everyday.
#7: Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Don’t give me any flak for this one because I know exactly what you want to say right now. “But, Kali, Emma Watson has built up a successful career outside of Harry Potter. She was in Beauty and the Beast and Perks of a Being a Wallflower and so many other movies!” Yeah, well, what’s the first role you think of when you think of Emma Watson? If you say anything other than Hermione Granger, you are a liar. No matter how many other roles Emma Watson absolutely nails or how much she changes her image from the innocent child star, she will always be Hermione to me. That’s the curse of being a child movie star.
#6: Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner
I’ll be honest here — I think The Hangover franchise is really dumb. Just a bunch of alcoholics getting together to do extremely illegal things and then calling it humor. But, no matter how much I hate it, I cannot see Zach Galifianakis as anything other than Alan Garner. That’s partly his own fault — he tends to play the same character in every film; he’s always cast as the stupid guy who the others only keep around because he sometimes says things that are so stupid they’re funny. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of him (if you couldn’t tell already), but I respect him for creating a character so well-known that it defines his career.
#5: Frankie Muniz as Malcolm Wilkerson
I don’t care how often I see him in other films, Frankie Muniz will always be Malcolm. Even as a full-grown adult, he still looks like the nerdy little kid I’d see on TV reruns after school. He may have more famous roles, such as Agent Cody Banks (2003) or My Dog Skip (2000), but I think, deep down, he is still Malcolm; when you play a character for so long, you begin to adopt their traits (seriously, look at how alike Robert Downey Jr. and Tony Stark are). Like Galifianakis, he’s typecast as the nerdy kid so often, that it’s hard to see him as anything else. Nobody can convince me that he isn’t just Malcolm Wilkerson grown up and in the Hollywood business now.
#4: Ralph Macchio as Daniel LaRusso
As much as I love his other famous roles in The Outsiders (1983) and My Cousin Vinny (1992), Ralph Macchio will forever be immortalized as Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid (1984). His baby face is just so well-associated with the role that it’s hard to see him as anything else. Even when he guest-starred on Psych years later (yes, I like the show, how could you tell?), he still looked like teenage Daniel getting ready to use the famous crane kick on Johnny. I guess there are worse roles to have follow you through your life, but it’s still got to be pretty annoying to be defined by a movie you filmed nearly thirty-five years ago.
#3: Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker AKA Spiderman
Tobey Maguire has an awful crying face for an actor. I’m sorry, but you know it had to be said. Anyway, ever since he first donned the spidersuit in Spider-Man (2002), he hasn’t been anything else to the world. It’s not like he hasn’t been in anything successful since then: The Great Gatsby (2013), Seabiscuit (2003), The Good German (2006), and Tropic Thunder (2008) were all great movies. The problem is his face is too connected to the Spider-Man franchise to be used in anything else. Even if he were in five Oscar-nominated films that were as far as possible from Spider-Man, I would probably still say, “Oh cool! Spider-Man won an Oscar!”
#2: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Has Daniel Radcliffe actually been in anything since Harry Potter? I’m joking, of course. I know that he’s had quite a successful career ever since launching to stardom in 2001 with Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone. But he just looks so much like Harry Potter that I find it hard to believe him as anything else. I mean, it’s not a horrible thing really. The Harry Potter franchise is probably one of the most successful movie franchises of all-time. If you’re going to be known for only one really famous role, you might as well go big or go home. The problem is that the franchise had to end, but he can’t stop looking like Harry Potter.
#1: Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker
Ahh, Mark Hamill — how I love you. You’re one of those few actors who doesn’t try to distance himself from his most famous roles — you’ve accepted that you are Luke Skywalker. In fact, you’ve accepted it so much that you even revived him thirty years after the original trilogy ended just because you couldn’t deny your true identity. Some people may know you as The Joker or Red Skull or dozens of other cartoon character voices, but you’ll always be the greatest Jedi to me and millions of others. Here’s to you, Mark Hamill. You’ve earned your place on this list. May be the force be with you, Mr. Hamill.
Thank you for reading! What are you thoughts on top 10 actors who cannot escape their most famous roles? Did we miss any? Comment down below!
If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to MovieBabble via email to stay up to date on the latest content.
Join MovieBabble on Patreon so that new content will always be possible.
What movie topic should I discuss next? Whether it be old or new, the choice is up to you!