— LeVar Burton, Dragon*Con 2010, when asked about this trope
You recognize the character immediately as being right off the Characters list. He hasn't said anything yet, but you know him because he is an example of
typecasting. There are a myriad of ways to be typecast, and it's the kiss of death for an actor (at least in their eyes). Whereas stage actors are shuffled around quite a bit, allowing them to play all sorts of roles, it's a different story with movies and television.
This is not entirely the fault of casting directors, either. When Ed O'Neill left Married... with Children to spread his wings as a dramatic actor, audiences laughed the instant he appeared onscreen in The Spanish Prisoner. An extreme example of this is I Am Not Spock (and also I Am Not Leonard Nimoy).
Genre television has a reputation for pigeonholing actors. Doctor Who has traditionally had a "Three-Year Rule" of actors exiting the lead role to avoid being typecast in the future. This tradition began with Patrick Troughton (in 1969!), who eventually gave up and embraced the fact that he would always be The Doctor.
Meta Casting is playing off this Type Casting to push it into another realm of familiarity.
When lampshaded in the work itself, this becomes Adam Westing. When it happen with voice actors, it's called Pigeonholed Voice Actor.
The opposite is, naturally enough, Playing Against Type (subtropes of which include Tom Hanks Syndrome, Leslie Nielsen Syndrome and Playing with Character Type).
Michael Biehn gets a lot of roles as intense military types — a cadet in The Lords of Discipline, a resistance fighter in The Terminator, a Colonial Marine in Aliens, the player avatar in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun, and a Navy SEAL in no less than 3 films — Navy SEALS, The Abyss and The Rock.
Jack Black's been known for playing either a hyperactive maniac Large Ham role or a slob. Except in The Holiday.
BRIAN BLESSED is always cast is big, boisterous characters who shout a lot.
Sean Bean got famed plying there's the Sharpe series, where he's practically a Napoleonic War's James Bond. He often plays characters that get killed or never get what they want. Most enter villain or Token Evil Teammate territory. Except Flightplan, where he's just a pilot. Since The Lord of the Rings he's played many a role very reminiscent of Boromir. Examples include The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Black Death, and Game of Thrones. The general rule of thumb is that if the film is in a historical, medieval or fantasy setting, he'll play one of the good guys... who dies. If it's set in modern times, he'll generally play one of the bad guys... and usually die.
Charles Bronson was the ultimate badass. Apparently, this extended to his offscreen life, too: he was a coal miner at the age of 10. In The Magnificent Seven, Bronson splits wood onscreen, with an axe and everything. Not only is this physically demanding, requiring good coordination, it's so dangerous that no insurance company is likely to ever let a name star do that again.
Gary Busey's son Jake Busey, who looks rather similar to his dad, gets his fair share of the kinds of roles his dad gets (for example, in Contact, The Frighteners, and Tomcats.)
James "Jimmy" Cagney, far down on the list, but among the first and most severe cases of typecasting in early Hollywood. Since smashing a grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face in The Public Enemy (1931), he will be forever known as the hardass gangster, complete with his own Beam Me Up, Scotty!, "You dirty rat..." Cagney started his career as a "hoofer" or dancer in stage musicals, was a teetotaler, spoke fluent yiddish (though a gentile), and was no slouch at judo (put to great use in Blood on the Sun (1945), with one of the most brutal fights ever filmed). Yet none of this erased the tough guy persona he was famous for, even after winning an Oscar for the musical Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). Part of the problem was that Cagney couldn't flash a smile that didn't imply godless bloodlust.
Bruce Willis tends to play tough guys - usually some sort of law enforcement, government agent, soldier or a hitman. This is due to the influence of Die Hard. Before that film, Willis was strictly a comedic actor.
Bruce Campbell has played so many jerks spouting one-liners that most fans don't know what to think when he tries something new.
A large number of Gary Chalk's live action roles has him working for the government. These includes jobs in politics, S.H.I.E.L.D., military and most frequently, a police officer.
Jackie Chan was typecast as a "nice guy" for decades, partly because Jackie aspired to be a positive role model for children. Until 2006's "Rob B Hood", Jackie hadn't played a negative character in over 30 years.
Roy Cheung plays a lot of psychotic Triad gangsters and other villains in Hong Kong movies, to the point that when he played a Shaolin monk in Infernal Affairs, it was seen as Playing Against Type.
Gary Coleman as the wisecracking black kid. See also Adam Westing.
The popularity of Steptoe And Son ruined the careers of its stars, Harry H. Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell. Corbett in particular suffered, having achieved acclaim as a Shakespearean actor before accepting his role in the show, and frequently being described as "Britain's Marlon Brando" early in his career.
Even stage actors aren't immune to this. Look at John Cullum, playing a cynical, worldwise, southerner and/or father, in Shenandoah (original cast and revival), 1776 (movie), Urinetown, and 110 in the Shade. Ironically, he initially turned down the role of Rutledge because he did not want to play a southerner.
On the other hand, he got to play a psychiatrist who falls in love with the past incarnation of a patient he regresses in the Tony-nominated musical On A Clear Day You Can See Forever — but this was before taking the other roles mentioned.
Vincent D'Onofrio, after Full Metal Jacket, generally plays a big, scary guy. In Men in Black, he plays a perfectly sane (wife-beating redneck) farmer who gets eaten and his skin worn by a creepy bug alien about sixty seconds into his first scene. Even on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Bobby Goren is impliedly a little off.
Rodney Dangerfield had played the same act in most movies he did the past couple of decades, with the possible darker exception of Natural Born Killers.
Anthony DeLongis provides the voice for several Jerk Ass video game villains, including Mick Cutler in Resistance3 and General Sarrano in Bulletstorm.
Robert De Niro almost always plays tough, confident and aggressive types with a blue collar or lower-class background. In the last decade, he's become more and more prone to Adam Westing his badass image than playing straight examples.
The only constant between Johnny Depp's roles is that, with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean (being a sequel), he hasn't done the same kind of character twice. And in that strange way, audiences have come to expect him to just be that kind of offbeat character.
Frequently pairing up with Tim Burton tends to do that.
He's done plenty of quirky man-child characters, though the quirks tend to shift quite a bit from movie to movie.
Leonardo DiCaprio is an interesting example. After his Star-Making Role in Titanic, media pundits almost unanimously predicted that Leo would be another flash-in-the pan celebrity, typecast as a Bishōnenteenage heart-throb before forever vanishing from the limelight after hitting 35. Unusually, he was Genre Savvy enough to move away from pretty boy roles into something grittier and started a very fruitful creative partnership with Martin Scorsese. Ironically, this led DiCaprio to being typecast in crime and/or business dramas, Scorsese's signature genre, where he usually plays intense, morally ambiguous types. Leo's lead role in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Inception was seen as an attempt at broadening his acting range... right until it turned out he was playing an intense, morally ambiguous mind thief.
Vin Diesel is the tough action hero who, appropriately, has something to do with big hulking machines.
In the 1960s and 70s there was the great Anton Diffring, who became the archetypal sinister German officer. For a period during the 1960s no self-respecting WWII film was complete without an icy glare or cold and calculating remark courtesy of Herr Diffring.
Jason Dolley, a member of the Disney Channel repertory, is typecast as two different types of characters: Either an unlucky, unappreciated loser who gets the girl in the end (in his three Disney Channel original movies: Read It and Weep, Minutemen, and Hatching Pete): or a moronic, slacker musician (in his two Disney Channel sitcoms, Cory in the House and Good Luck Charlie).
He's finally due to play a moronic, slacker musician in a DCOM for a change, when the Good Luck Charlie movie is released.
Which is strange, because he started off as the sweetest guy ever, Bill in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (still a Woobie!). It seems 2 years ago, finally, he was able to play someone who wasn't evil in any way, shape or form in the Halloween (2007) remake as the Sheriff of the town, and probably the nicest guy in the movie.
(Local prostitutes are giggling while being "examined" by the doctor.)
Doc Cochran: When you laugh, you leak piss.
His typecasting is Lampshaded in Urban Legend, where he plays a scary, stuttering gas station attendant. He runs up to a girl getting gas trying to yell something, but he Can't Spit It Out. She shakes him off and drives away in her car, assuming he was trying to attack and/or rape her. After she's out of earshot, he finally manages to shout "SOMEONE'S IN THE BACK SEAT!" Much later in the movie, he's mentioned on the news as a suspect in the murders.
He also cast himself in Unforgiven, where he plays an older version of his tough cowboy character. Clint likes to do this - and he knows what he's doing.
Now he's just known for playing "the character with the gravely voice".
Possibly the only exception is Every Which Way But Loose and its sequel Any Which Way You Can, which were off-beat comedies. Though even then his character was tough guy trucker who dabbles in bare-knuckle fighting.
On the other hand, Christopher Eccleston did get somewhat typecast over the years: either as a troubled, working-class, underdog everyman with some tragic story (Jude, Let Him Have It, Flesh and Blood, Strumpet, Revengers Tragedy, Hillsborough, The Second Coming, Heroes... even the Ninth Doctor fits this, at least stylistically), or as a mostly blockbuster-style villain (Gone in 60 Seconds, G.I. Joe, The Seeker, Elizabeth). The former because of activism and conviction; the latter to be able to take a badly paying theatre role once in a while. Still, when The Agony Booth wrote about his role in the admittedly awful The Seeker "You're Christopher Eccleston. You're practically synonymous with having a charming and likeable screen presence. There is absolutely nothing scary about you.", the reviewer clearly had never seen 28 Days Later, Shallow Graveor his Jago in Othello.
Sam Elliott, please pick up the white courtesy phone. A movie needs a wise, grizzled cowboy. Parodied with his role in The Big Lebowski.
Ermey plays a very racist police officer in the movie Life.
R. Lee Ermey was a Drill Sergeant Nasty during the Vietnam war. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is only a slight exaggeration of the way he, and most other drill sergeants, actually behaved at that time. Modern drill instructors are much less over-the-top than back then.
Ermey has played an evangelist at least twice: once in Fletch Lives, and again in an episode of The X-Files.
Name a Dennis Farina role that wasn't a cop or a mobster. We're waiting. (Justified in that, as an 18-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, Farina knows what he's doing in those roles.)
He played a soldier in Saving Private Ryan. Granted, it was a very brief role, and wasn't particularly different from his cop roles.
Kicking And Screaming also doesn't quite count. He was a meek but otherwise well-adjusted man with father issues. Of course, those father issues caused him to go both "Idiotic Manchild" and "Arrogant Buffoon" over the course of the movie, getting way too invested in peewee soccer for the sake of one-upping his old man.
If your film needs a Jerk Ass villain, Ralph Fiennes is your man. He's either that or an introverted, brooding hero. Or an introverted, brooding villain, like he was in Red Dragon.
Before his recent Oscar nominatedrolesColin Firth every role the poor guy got since Pride and Prejudice has just been a role saying "hey look, this guy was Mr Darcy! Look at him be Mr. Darcy!" Bridget Jones turned this up to eleven, by actually basing his character on Mr. Darcy. In universe, Bridget Jones is a fan of Colin Firth and of his portrayal of Mr Darcy.
Stephen Fry is often described to have been typecast as Stephen Fry, the charmingly quintessential Englishman who is probably smarter than you but too polite to say so.
Zach Galifianakis always tends to play the Psychopathic Manchild/creepy weirdo, more often or not with a large beard.
He somewhat breaks this type in his role as Ray on Bored to Death, as he often plays the snarky voice of reason to the bumbling main character. He does occasionally show poor judgement and a bit of emotional immaturity though, leaning back into his wheelhouse a little and handing off the Sanity Ball to Jonathan.
The Luke Skywalker image probably wasn't lessened by him effectively playing an older version of the character in Wing Commander III and IV, as Colonel Christopher Blair. Particularly not when you consider how to win WC3.
Jon Heder. Need the tall, gangly nerd who talk with a strange speech pattern to rival Shatner? Look no further. To the point that every role he's ever played is just Napoleon Dynamite to some degree.
Take the Italian duo of actors, better known with the Stage Names of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer, made famous by spaghetti-westerns and Bash Brothers movies. While the former has found some variation in his career, like playing a live-action Lucky Luke and, currently, a detective priest in a Italian TV Series, the latter (recently turned 80) is stll anchored to the characters he did in his movies — see this commercial.
James Hong, professional cranky old Asian guy. He's played the same role for over three decades, and it seems like he was never actually young.
Samuel L. Jackson nearly always plays foul-mouthedbadasses. Given his record in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Mace Windu wouldn't be nearly as badass in the EU had Jackson not been playing him.
Incidentally, Samuel L. Jackson apparently had trouble not cursing for one movie who was trying to keep a PG-13 rating. They were talking about it in the extras on the DVD.
Far more than the swearing alone, Samuel L. Jackson has simply been typecast ever since Pulp Fiction as a Bad Ass Motherfucker. Before that movie, he played a variety of small roles. Variety as in actually varied.
Samuel L. Jackson is so considered a Bad Ass that when it came time to give the Ultimate Universe version of Nick Fury (the most Bad Ass secret agent this side of James Bond) a new look, he was made to look like... Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson agreed to let them use his likeness on condition of getting to play Fury in the movies.
Ken Jeong as the "obnoxious Asian dude who thinks he's a badass".
German actor Thomas Kretschmann seems to be hopelessly typecast in Nazi roles. He has played a German officer or soldier in 10 unrelated works so far: The Pianist, Valkyrie, Downfall, Eichmann, the 1993 German film Stalingrad, U-571, the Norwegian film Warrior's Heart, Head in the Clouds, In Enemy Hands, and the Sinking of the Laconia, and it seems like he's gonna play another in the Russian 2013 film Stalingrad. On the plus side, he's usually a sympathetic Nazi. On the Jimmy Kimmel Show he stated he's been typecast more as a Captain than a Nazi (though this is probably due to him playing quite a number of Nazi Captains).
This is further added by the fact that after being known for playing the role of Hermann Fegelein in Der Untergang, YouTube users would sometimes make references to his character ("FEGELEIN FEGELEIN FEGELEIN!!!") on almost every video that he appeared on.
Fellow German actor Christian Berkel seems to be in the same situation, though to a lesser extent. He's played a German officer (alternating between Nazis and sympathetic Germans) in Downfall, Valkyrie, Zwartboek, Miracle At St. Anna, and Leningrad. He also made an appearance in Inglourious Basterds although there he's just a bartender.
Cracked: Grammer holds the distinction of being the only actor ever to win three Golden Globes for the same role. Sounds great, until you realize he has three statues at home reminding him every day that, as they lower him into the ground, there's a good chance the priest will accidentally refer to him as "the departed Dr. Crane."
Christopher Lee's sepulchral tones have made him a career out of playing villains. Though to be fair, he's well-suited for it, with his razor-thin build, dark eyes, towering height, and powerful deep voice.
Somewhat going against type, he plays Death in the TV adaptation of the first two Discworld novels.
John Lithgow went through a period in the 1980s where he played a scientist in several movies. If it's 1985, and your movie needs a physicist who does not act like a Mad Scientist (with an exception), then John Lithgow is your man.
Yeah, most of his roles were somewhat Dracula-like villains, even when a film wasn't supernatural. This was so much the case that his few good guy roles seem to have been intended in part to surprise the viewers in movies such as The Black Cat (1934). His favorite role was in Ninotchka, where he finally had a romantic role.
Michael Madsen (aka Mr. Blonde) as the ultimate gangster/psycho/both. Interestingly this is used by filmmakers either to create a certain feeling (in Donnie Brasco, I'm not sure we'd be so reluctant to trust Sonny Black in the first half of the movie if he was played by someone else) or to confound our expectations (in Kill Bill, the assassin played by Michael Madsen actually turns out to be a repentant, down-and-out Punch Clock Villain who gets Eviler Than Thoued by Elle Driver.
Actually used amusingly in the War of the Worlds parody bits of the Scary Movie franchise. When the guy offering the heroines shelter pulls down his hood and reveals his face, you know he's a nutcase before he's done anything because it's Michael Madsen.
In recent years, he's been playing American generals and agents in crappy Russian action movies. Why, would you ask?
Huge exception for Gary Oldman: the adorably clueless Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Considering the fact that both lead actors tend to be typecast as creepy villains, the following exchange from said movie becomes particularly awesome:
Rosencrantz (Gary Oldman): I want to go home now.
Guildenstern (Tim Roth): Don't let them confuse you...
Since Ghostbusters, Rick Moranis has been known for playing nerdy characters. According to some sources, he got tired of being typecast, which is why he's been in semi-retirement since 1997 (his primary reason for retirement was because he needed to raise his kids).
Mostly because that's how they are. Both are known for their huge amounts of Improv and most of their roles are just a long Throw It In.
Liam Neeson plays the aged badass with a haunted face and a certain chance of getting killed in his movies. If he doesn't die, he makes other people die in his place. (The last bit can either be about Darkman or Batman Begins)
Leslie Nielsen is an interesting case in that his style never changed, but his image did a 180 degree turn: Pre-Airplane he was the stern authority figure, but post-Airplane: bumbling slapstick idiot. This because the latter always hinged on him delivering completely, outrageously absurd dialogue with a perfectly straight face. Subverted with Creepshow, where he just plays an evil bastard... although it is over the top.
The last guy that tried to type cast Chuck Norris- oh, well, never mind.
When Josh Peck was still fat, he was known for playing the nerdy, socially akward goofball kid role.
Ron Perlman is usually cast as Man in a Really Good Monster Costume With None of His Lines Dubbed Over.
Which is a damned shame as his role as Vincent demonstrated that he is more than capable of expressing subtle emotions and doesn't need to always be The Heavy.
Even as the Heavy, his performance as One showed subtle emotions with no monster costume and none of his lines dubbed over even though he doesn't speak French.
It wasn't until Hellboy that he was able to play a lead character in a major movie, usually he is a smaller character and under so much makeup you almost can't recognize him. He's one of those actors that everyone respects, at least those who have heard of him.
Joe Pesci. Loud, angry, streetwise gangster-type from New York with a Hair-Trigger Temper who may or may not be an Ax-Crazy psychopath. He's currently retired from acting, perhaps to avoid doing such roles forever. Although he averted this in With Honors as the still crazy, but charismatic and educated bum Simon B. Wilder. His performance as Vinny in "My Cousin Vinny" where he was he wasn't crazy. Though he was still a snarky smart ass in both films.
Jeremy Piven is always the talkative jerk/drunk who spouts off asshole lines for no good reason.
Favio Posca as "the family-friendly version of Fernando Peña."
When Elvis Presley appeared in movies throughout the 50's and 60's most of them were as the happy-go-lucky guy in musical comedies such as Live A Little, Love A LittleKissin' Cousins and Stay Away Joe. Although he did play against type in a Clint Eastwood-style western called Charro!.
According to rumor, he gained a role in the 1953 film From Here To Eternity but his part was cut back when audiences, associating him with Superman, chuckled whenever he appeared on-screen. However Fred Zinnemann, the director, insists that this is not true.
Andrew J. Robinson made his film debut as the baby-faced serial killer Scorpio in Dirty Harry. He was so associated with the role that, despite winning an Emmy as the lead on Ryan's Hope, he was recast after 2 seasons because they didn't want someone noted for playing a serial killer as a sympathetic lead. He went on to play a whole string of psychotic killers in films like Hellblazer and Childs Play 3, until he finally got to play one of the good guys: former assassin and torturer Elim Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Edward G. Robinson, before he was known as the vocal inspiration for The Simpsons character Chief Wiggum, was famous for playing gangster Rico in the unflinchingly violent Little Caesar (1931). In his private life, Robinson was an enthusiastic art collector who hated guns — in fact, when firing blanks on the movie set, he had to tape his eyes open to keep from blinking in horror.
Tim Roth usually plays thugs/murderers/convicts/all of the above at the same time. And he tends to die violent deaths.
He's playing a rare good guy (and television role) in Lie to Me.
Adam Sandler frequently plays the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, is Jewish, just like him. He rarely even changes his hair. He also likes to have weird vocal quirks and act like a social retard, yet somehow get the hot female lead.
Sadly, Jerry Seinfeld will never, ever, ever be able to act in any live-action role whatsoever. At least, not until he is past the age of 70. Fortunately, the fact that he is one of the greatest comedy icons of The Nineties doesn't seem to have penetrated his mind, so for ten years he was happy just being a stand-up comedian, as he was before (and within) his prime-time reign.
He gets a lot of positively gushing critical notices for his ability to inhabit different characters. For many viewers who can only see him as a vampire or Tony Blair, this is an Informed Attribute.
John Simm is the man to go to when you want angst. Up until his late thirties, practically all the roles he played were those of cocky, broody, bratty young men (The Lakes, Human Traffic, Cracker). When he isn't playing angsty Northeners (most notably in Life On Mars), he's playing angsty 17th century mercenaries (The Devil's Whore) or angsty 19th century Russian axe mudrerers (Crime and Punishment) or angsty Danish princes (Hamlet) or angsty reporters (State of Play, Sex Traffic). He only breaks out of the angst if he gets to play an over-the-top villain (Caligula, The Master). Fitting for a guy who's frighteningly convincing when he cries.
Edward Van Sloan plays the same vaguely Germanic, gentlemanly, all-knowing doctor who is willing to take on the supernatural in Dracula (1931, as Dr. Van Helsing), Frankenstein (1931, as Dr. Waldman), and The Mummy (1932) (1932, as Dr. Müller).
Will Smith always plays the charming, witty leading man/action hero.
Except in Hancock, in which he plays a drunk loser despite the superpower he has.
Ray Stevenson seems to be starting to get stuck in a typecast as a hedonistic, laid-back, but still formidable warrior type; In Rome he was Titus Pullo, in Thor he portrayed Volstagg, and in The Three Musketeers, he's the type-codifying Porthos.
Patrick Stewart is almost as known for being Professor Charles Xavier these days as he is for his role on Star Trek: TNG.
At least in movies and on TV, he seems to be typecast for the "good, wise non-action leader" role, especially "good king" - which makes it either very funny when he plays against type (see Jeffrey - snarky, somewhat Camp Gay interior designer and Pink Panther activist - and Conspiracy Theory - "evil, wise non-action leader") or rather unsettling (The Lion in Winter - still superficially the affable "good king", but the dialogue establishes really quickly that he's actually a selfish, scheming jerk who has taken someone raised almost as an adoptive daughter as his mistress)
One could summarize Danny Trejo's start in acting thusly: He was training another actor how to fight after having networked his way onto the film in prison, when someone says, "You look like an ex-con! Come over here and play and ex-con." And now, he gets a film showcasing his talents.
It looks like Michael Trucco is being typecast as "the other side of the love triangle". He played that role to Starbuck and Apollo (sort of; their relationship is more complicated), to Leonard and Penny (contributing in their getting together), to Beckett and Castle, and, briefly to Barney and Robin.
Speaking of Psycho, the original Norman Bates - Anthony Perkins - faced typecasting twice. Prior to Psycho, Perkins seemed to be making a career playing the tall-and-gangly, boyishly charming male ingenue-like characters. After Psycho, he ended up playing creepy weirdos/psychopaths a majority of the time.
Whenever Tom Waits appears in a movie, he's usually crazy and/or magical. The crazy magical hobo schtick is actually a large part of his musical persona too.
David Bowie is a similar case of musical and movie personas overlapping as he is usually cast in roles that take advantage of what the trailer for his movie The Hunger (in which he played a vampire) called his "cruel elegance"; whether his character is good or evil, he usually has a mysterious, cool aura. This has served him well in a colorfulvarietyof rolesovertime. He also isn't afraid to play it for comedy or just play against type on occasion — in the Short FilmJazzin' for Blue Jean he gets to do both!
Elijah Wood is usually typecast as the wide-eyed innocent charming boy, ten years before playing Frodo from The Lord of the Rings. But since LOTR he's been desperately trying to avoid typecasting as, well, Frodo (wide-eyed innocent + Messianic Archetype). In fact, he was cast as a tough vandal in Green Street (also known as Hooligans) because he represented corrupted innocence.
He then completely reverses the ship by playing twisted serial killer Kevin in Sin City.
... A Half-Human Hybrid created by the villains to join up with the heroes and bring them down from within, but eventually changes sides through The Power of Love and plays a pivotal role in defeating his creators.
Chow Yun-Fat is good at playing tragic heroes in Hong Kong action movies. Since his work with John Woo, nearly every gunplay role he plays has him using two guns at least once in the movie.
Dwight Frye, the man that played the first Igor-like character Fritz in Frankenstein 1931 was well as doing a very good Renfield in Dracula ended up hating the fact he always ended up playing as "...idiots, half-wits and lunatics on the talking screen!"
It seems as though Kevin James is turning to filling the "sweet natured, but slightly clumsy obese guy" void left by Chris Farley.
Karan Brar (who, granted, isn't in that much yet) will typically play the Indian Funny Foreigner child.
Actors with dwarfism like Warwick Davis, Kenny Baker, Verne Troyer, Tony Cox, Phil Fondacaro and others are always stuck doing fantasy films because that's the only roles they can get. David Rappaport most likely suffered from depression because of this. Which probably lead him to be Driven to Suicide.
Timothy Olyphant is ALWAYS the villain.
Gilbert Gottfried is always the loud, obnoxious guy who squints, complains and screams a lot.
John Moschitta Jr, the world's fastest talker was always typecast as men who can talk very fast. Probably the reason we haven't seen him in anything lately.
Freddie Highmore is always the good natured kid in fantasy film.
John Cleese is......... well, John Cleese in pretty much every movie he's in. He often says "Jolly good" or "Marvelous".
A truly extreme and bizarre example is East German actor Fritz Diez (1901 -1979). He played the same character over and over in about two dozen films, TV features, and stage plays. And the character was... Adolf Hitler.
Overweight black actresses (such as Mo'Nique and Queen Latifah) are often typecast as the Sassy Black Woman, or as a Mammy type back in the day. Such actresses are often criticized for only choosing stereotypical roles, despite the fact that these roles are often the only ones they can get.
Mo'Nique completely averts this in Precious, and it could very well launch her career into new heights.
Hattie McDaniel played so many Mammy maid roles that she noted she would rather play a maid for $700 a week than be a maid for $7 a week.
When Bea Arthur was cast as Dorothy Zbornak in The Golden Girls, the similarities to Maude were noticed immediately and she was asked if she was worried about being typcast. She responded that life was too short to worry about that.
Let's be honest though, this happens to most attractive young actresses who are both really talented and willing to get naked on camera. See also: Anne Hathaway, Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Eva Green, Salma Hayek.
Keira Knightley is giving her a run for her money though "Princess of Thieves', "Pride and prejudice", "Pirates of the Caribbean", "Atonement", "King Arthur", "Silk", "The Duchess" "Anna Karenina" Corset Keira anyone?
Katherine Heigl usually plays a high maintenance woman who, while successful in her career, has a poor love life.
Period Movie: A type of film which features Keira Knightley wearing Gorgeous Period Dress and occasionally nude. She's the plucky main character and is most likely a little ahead of her time. She chose to tweak it slightly when Atonement came around as she was approached to play the adult Briony, but chose to play Cecilia instead as she'd "had enough of coming-of-age ladies".
Whenever Marlee Matlin is on screen, the show centers around being deaf. Same goes for Shoshannah Stern.
Marlee's role on The West Wing was mostly unrelated to being deaf. Sometimes (see also her roles in Walker (ever wanted to know the sign language for "Go fuck a pig!"?), The Linguini Incident and My Name Is Earl).
Actress Lupe Ontiveros estimates that she's played a maid between 150 and 300 times on screen.
Ellen Page is either The Troubled Teen or The Smarty Teen. Or both. Not that there isn't a lot of range in thoseroles. With Inception, she breaks new ground playing the smarty college student which is just a bit older than a teenager. Her roles could also be a Tomboy in general.
Joan Plowright is the ultimate Sweet Old English Lady.
C. C. H. Pounder usually plays some sort of Affably Evil authority figure. This even extends to animated works: she was Amanda Waller on Justice League.
Now subverted with Warehouse13: Mrs. Frederic is definitely an authority figure, but rather than being Affably Evil, she is a gruff, kind of creepy Chief who nevertheless not evil (so far).
Keri Lynn Pratt can never be cast as anything but a variation of The Ditz, due to her comically squeaky voice. A ditzy intern on Brothers and Sisters, ditzy girlfriend Missy on Jack & Bobby, then a ditzy sorority girl in Veronica Marsalbeit a manipulative, lying, blackmailing one. With a voice like that, it seems like there's no way for anyone to take her seriously.
Catalina Saavedra originally refused (angrily) the role of Raquel in The Maid (2009 Chilean film) because she had already played too many maids.
Although her most popular role was as Elliot's mom in E.T., the rest of Dee Wallace's acting career seems to subsist of that of the victim in various horror films, with The Howling, The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo and the remake of Halloween (2007) being amoung the most popular.
Subverted in The Frighteners, where she is portrayed as the victim only to change gears halfway through the film to become the villain).
Betty White tends to get typecast in a role and then subverts the typecasting in her next big role. Her role on the Mary Tyler Moore Show was a subversion of her earlier typecasting as a sweet, motherly type. In order to avoid the resulting typecasting as a bitchy, man-hungry character she chose to play the Ditz Rose on Golden Girls rather than the character of Blanche she was offered. She then subverts that typecasting by playing the character of Betty White on Ugly Betty as a Magnificant Bastard who gets the better of the show's antagonist.
Characters played by Mischa Barton usually tend to end up in relationships with other girls, at least briefly. The same is sometimes true for her OC girlfriend Olivia Wilde.
Myrna Loy was a classic example; she spent her early career stuck playing evil foreign vamps, and then when she finally managed to get more high-profile parts, she became best known for playing wholesome mother-type roles.
Has Jennifer Lawrence ever not played a troubled protagonist who spends half the film having her personal problems haunt her? Often they involve a dead loved one.
Deborah Kerr's career was mostly her playing the English Rose Proper Lady in lavish costume dramas - something which From Here To Eternitynote Where she played a Fake American unhappy wife who cheats on her husband with a Pearl Harbour soldier was an attempt to break out of. She also played a lot of governesses - The King and I, The Chalk Garden, The Innocents.
Linnea Quigley was always the girl in horror movies who gets naked.
And now we move onto the Deadpan Snarker Section:
Rose Mc Gowan is always the deadpan snarker, because that's who she is in real life.
Emma Stone is always the deadpan snarker in teen comedies or rom-coms who often squints her eyes and mouths her words.
Joan Crawford had to suffer greatly in whatever film she starred in. Especially if it was made during the 1930s or 40s.
Courtney Cox has tended to play uber bitch characters, sometimes with a Hidden Heart of Gold, sometimes without. Scream, Dirt, Cougar Town and her role in Scrubs are examples. Her most famous role was even Flanderised into this.
Patrick Stewart has been able to avoid the Trek curse; sure, his other major mainstream role is Professor X in the X-Men film continuity, but outside of film, he is a very, very respected Shakespearean actor, one of the finest of his generation.
In film he has had a number of good roles — like Scrooge or Henry II.
Shatner isn't so much typecast in Sci Fi so much as he is typecast as himself. Doesn't seem to bother him though, and he does it well.
Poor DeForest Kelley, on the other hand, jumped from one type of Type Casting (villains in Western movies and shows) to another (he would never do a well-known role again after being cast as Dr. McCoy). However, he was the only major Star Trek cast member who never bitched about it.
The main actors in the 2009 reboot have thus far avoided the problem because they were already well known for other roles, and/or very quickly after the movies release had other projects playing very different roles.