Follow TV Tropes


Typecasting / Actors

Go To

    open/close all folders 





  • James Tolkan has often been cast as Da Chief, the Mean Boss, the Dean Bitterman and deranged criminals in The '80s and The '90s.
  • 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.
  • Chris Tucker as the effeminate comedy relief.
  • Eric Vale lampshaded that he's often cast as a douchebag.
  • Do you need a snarky, smug, British, bad guy who loves to get into his work? Then you want Mark Sheppard. Seriously, the entries in his resume where he isn't playing a villain are the ones who stand out. Most prominently known as Badger from Firefly, Crowley from Supernatural, Canton Everett Deleware from Doctor Who (one of his few non-villain roles), and Nate Ford's Evil Counterpart Jim Sterling in Leverage. He also was the antagonist for the first half of season five of 24, The Ring Director in Chuck, and the first Villain of the Week in White Collar he later returned in the show's fifth season as its main antagonist.
  • If a movie script includes an Eastern European mobster, general, or scientist, chances are the character will be played by Rade Šerbedžija.
  • Vince Vaughn as the awkward nice guy, whether he's the protagonist or the best friend of the protagonist. He also usually has a hot girlfriend.
    • The remake of Psycho is an exception.
      • 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.
  • It wasn't particularly imaginative making Reginald VelJohnson's character in Family Matters a policeman, considering he had already played a cop in Die Hard, Turner & Hooch, Ghostbusters (1984), the TV movie One of Her Own...
  • After his Big Bad role in Nochnoi Dozor, Russian actor Viktor Verzhbitskiy has played one villain after another, including at least three evil oligarchs. Thanks to his larger-than-life acting style, he is often the only reason to watch those movies.
  • Italian actor Paolo Villaggio had a huge success in his home country with the Fantozzi series of dark comedies, starring him as an incredibly unlucky, awkward, servile and frustrated office clerk. So much so that he later starred in a lot of movies where he was Fantozzi in all but name and tend to be confused with those other films by unattentive viewers. He played some dramatic parts, but the audience didn't care, so he continued to be typecast as bumbling, goofy schmucks.
  • This was taken Up to Eleven for the Dutch actor Bram van der Vlugt, who went from performing Sinterklaas (the Dutch equivalent to Santa Claus) to being his official performer for TV events and films for 30+ years until he left the role in 2011 and handed it over to Stefan de Walle.
  • 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 colorful variety of roles over time. He also isn't afraid to play it for comedy or just play against type on occasion — in the Short Film Jazzin' for Blue Jean he gets to do both!
  • The late, great Eli Wallach always played villains of some sort, from conflicted Bitchin Sheeps Clothing Guido to goofy, likable Anti-Villain Tuco. In fact, after Tuco, Wallach was typecast a couple of times as the schlubby, off-the-wall bandito. In his old age, however, he played more mellow and kind-hearted roles such as in The Holiday.
  • Patrick Warburton is always cast as the big, dumb, lovable guy — Kronk, Puddy, The Tick, and so on.
  • Ken Watanabe will appear in almost every American produced film that needs a “Japanese guy”.
  • Denzel Washington as either a real life figure or a law enforcer.
  • John Wayne is John Wayne, pilgrim.
  • Robin Williams did voices. And funny stuff. Not so much later, but he continued to entertain and touch hearts. Even in death.
  • Bruce Willis tends to play soft-spoken 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. Apart from that he is always the badass everyman, and is known for being the king of the heroic comeback, getting beaten to shit by the bad guys and then coming back to win out. Unless we are talking about The Sixth Sense. Or The Siege where he plays a rare villainous part. Or In Country (embittered Vietnam veteran), or Death Becomes Her (a nebbishy doctor), or Mortal Thoughts, or Unbreakable, or...
    • Sin City put on a small spin: he killed himself, despite winning in the end.
  • Every role of Henry Winkler aka "Fonzie these days seems to be as an outrageously incompetent lawyer in various sitcoms and movies.
  • All through The '80s, Michael Winslow tended to be The Guy Who Makes Noises. In fact, his entire career is built on being The Guy Who Makes Noises. He even admits this.
    • That's who he is in real life. Though he was a voice in Gremlins.
  • Ray Winstone is invariably some kind of East End thug. Unless he's a boastful Anglo-Saxon thug.
  • 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.
  • A truly bizarre spin on the trope: judging by his most high-profile roles, Sam Worthington has been typecast as... a Half-Human Hybrid (Terminator Salvation, Avatar, Clash of the Titans).
    • ... 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.

    Types of roles with multiple examples 
  • Nazis / World War II German soldiers:
    • German-born actor Hans Schumm was one of the early examples in Hollywood, running the gamut from simple soldier extra to despicable Nazi officers and spies in films made during the war.
    • Swiss character actor Billy Frick. Under a wig and with the right grooming, he bore an uncanny resemblance to Adolf Hitler, and played him five times, including in Is Paris Burning?.
    • Michael Sheard also played Hitler five times.
    • Günter Meisner played several SS officers, and Hitler a couple of times as well.
    • Anton Diffring's "Germanic" physical type of blond hair, pale blue eyes and chiselled features saw him often cast as Nazis or German officers (Where Eagles Dare, Zeppelin, Operation Daybreak etc). Quite ironic considering his father was Jewish.
    • Wolfgang Preiss bests even Diffring as a go-to Nazi. Name a World War II movie from the '60s and '70s and he's probably in it: The Longest Day, The Train, Is Paris Burning?, Von Ryan's Express, A Bridge Too Far, even The Boys from Brazil. Additionally, Preiss portrayed a staggering five German field marshals: Erwin Rommel, Albert Kesselring, Alfred Jodl, Gerd Von Rundstedt and Walter von Brauchtisch. When Preiss wasn't a Nazi, he was Dr. Mabuse. Ironically, Preiss made his breakthrough playing Claus Von Stauffenberg in the German film Der 20 Juli - a heroic variant on his later typecasting.
    • Otto Preminger preferred directing to acting, especially after going bald at an early age. He did appear in several productions, almost always in the role of a Nazi. It's ironic that this helped restart his career during World War II, given that he was an Austrian Jew.
    • Hans Christian Blech (a genuine veteran of the Eastern Front) was often cast as lower ranked, down-to-earth officers... on the Western Front, mostly.
    • Ulrich Tukur, if you need honorable officers or officers with a conscience who do (or try to do) something against the Nazi regime. They usually end up paying it with their life. At least three officers he played committed suicide — Kurt Gerstein in Amen (hangs himself), Henning von Tresckow in 2004's Stauffenberg (blows himself up with a grenade) and Erwin Rommel in Rommel (ingests a cyanide pill).
    • Richard Sammel has emerged as a modern Anton Diffring-like example (22 out of about a hundred in his filmography are such roles). He's acknowledged it but, in all fairness, he refuses tons of such scripts as well.
    • Thomas Kretschmann usually plays sympathetic officers.
    • Ulrich Matthes, usually as leading Nazi figures (Joseph Goebbels in Downfall and Hitler in Munich - The Edge of War).
    • Joachim Fuchsberger played sympathetic soldiers in West German productions such as the 08/15 series or The Green Devils of Monte Cassino.
    • Götz Otto (Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies) has played a good bunch of officers, be they SS or Wehrmacht.
    • Sometimes, German-speaking actors who are looking for breakout roles in Hollywood want to specifically avoid such roles, which seems to be no easy task. Examples who have vocally opposed such typecasting include Jürgen Prochnow (who didn't want to play German officers again after Das Boot), Arnold Schwarzenegger (who refused many World War II-themed scripts and instead worked his way to become the quintessential Action Hero for The '80s and The '90s, even turning the perception of his accent around), Til Schweiger (who did end up playing one such role... as a rebellious and murderous German soldier who joins the Allies) or Matthias Schweighöfer (who very much prefers comedies and was very glad to do Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves with massive Netflix exposure after playing an infamous Gestapo figure in Resistance).
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal as an overweight, washed-up action heroes in direct-to-DVD movies since about the late 1990s.
    • ... which Jean spoofed in the film JCVD. Seagal has yet to show his sense of humor...
      • He pretty much does this in Machete.
      • Seagal appeared as a parody of his usual roles in The Onion Movie, as the Cock Puncher.
    • Seagal always plays himself in every role. Always a ex-SEAL/military/CIA/cop agent who unreluctantly finds himself back on the job without. He is also without emotion, merciless and invincible.