* Michael Crawford, prior to the mid-80s, had been cast almost exclusively in bumbling, comic roles. Then he [[Theatre/ThePhantomOfTheOpera put on a mask and a cape...]]
** Compare Crawford in ''Theatre/AFunnyThingHappenedOnTheWayToTheForum'', where he plays an IdiotHero who even bumbles when he sings, to the Phantom. Wow.
* Creator/DanielRadcliffe of ''Film/HarryPotter'' in ''{{Theatre/Equus}}'', to much acclaim.
** And again in the 2011 revival of ''HowToSucceedInBusinessWithoutReallyTrying''. Who knew Dan Rad could sing and dance and do an excellent CampGay?
* Two-time Tony Award winner John Cullum started out playing Shakespeare in New York, was in the original cast of ''Theatre/{{Camelot}}'', ''Theatre/OnAClearDayYouCanSeeForever'', ''On The Twentieth Century'', and ''Film/{{Shenandoah}}''. Then he was in ''{{Theatre/Urinetown}}''. He was understandably baffled the first time he read the script.
* Creator/IanMcKellen gave a monologue while hosting ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' where he talked about his experiences in a theater troupe with Creator/AnthonyHopkins and Maggie Smith. He ended with: "Who would have thought that Tony Hopkins would be known as [[Film/TheSilenceOfTheLambs a man who eats people's faces]], Maggie Smith would be known as the ''Film/HarryPotter'' lady, and I would be [[Film/{{X-Men}} an action figure?]]"
* Christy Carlson Romano took the role of Kate/Lucy in ''Theatre/AvenueQ''. There is something a bit jarring in hearing KimPossible cry "f* ck, it sucks to be me".
* Andrea [=McArdle=], the original ''Theatre/{{Annie}}'', has returned to show business and now plays the nasty Miss Hannigan.
* In 1980, Music/DavidBowie -- he of the sultry voice, smooth onstage moves, and cool persona -- made his Broadway debut as the title character in ''The Elephant Man''. Beyond the role being that of TheGrotesque, it is a notorious challenge for an actor, since the script's instructions dictate that he must rely on twisted body language and vocal distortion rather than makeup to convey his severe deformities. As well, no established rock star had appeared in a Broadway show (much less a non-musical) up to that point, and critics were doubtful this would work -- but Bowie got ''excellent'' reviews from them all the same. And film director Nagisa Oshima cast Bowie in ''Film/MerryChristmasMrLawrence'' after seeing him in this play.
* LaurenceFishburne, known for playing serious, stoic types, played the title role in ''Thurgood'', a one-man-play about Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, who was something of a BoisterousBruiser.
* The otherwise light-hearted Opal Peachey plays a naughty leather-clad character in ''Modern Luv''.
* Adamo Ruggiero, known for playing gay characters (most notably [[Series/{{Degrassi}} Marco del Rossi]]), played the stoner Van in a production of DogSeesGodConfessionsOfATeenageBlockhead, and outright asks a female character for a blowjob. Adamo even noted that when he was asked to audition, he expected to read for Beethoven, the kid who gets picked on because everyone thinks he's gay.
* Michael Ball, known for originating the role of TenorBoy Marius in ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' and for romantic roles/musical stylings, played ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'' in 2012, and in fact played an unusually thuggish and unhinged Todd at that.