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 might as well have made Mammy her Stage Name; her screen contract forbade her from losing weight. Criticized by other African-Americans for playing these roles, she said, "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week, than be a maid for $7."
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.
Although, The Golden Girls almost had this happen three times over. Originally the other two parts were reversed, Betty White was to play the bitchy man-eater Blanche and Rue McClanahan was to play to cheerful airhead Rose. These lined up pretty well with the actresses previous roles, White's Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Vivian Harmon of Maude. When the show was cast this way, Arthur declined, saying she didn't want to do "Maude and Vivian meet Sue Ann." It was only after the parts were switched that she agreed.
Silent movie star Theda Bara was known to play The Vamp, she would be as dramatic as her characters. Sadly she was stuck in the type, despite playing wholesome women as wellnote like Juliet and Isabel Carlisle in East Lynne . After ending her contract to Fox she was unable to shake off the Vamp parodying it in 3 silent Comedies. She retired in 1926 just as Sound Films came in.
If you are looking for someone to play a beautiful woman that should not be trusted, look no further than Natalie Dormer.
Need a shrinking violet? This was Lesley-Anne Down's stock and trade during the seventies, eighties, and nineties. She deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award for her facial tics, lip-bitings, and eye-flutterings. Oddly, she also has a history of playing mothers beginning way back in 1994 with Munchie Strikes Back and continuing through Sunset Beach (got knocked up by her own daughter's boyfriend) and The Bold and the Beautiful (an extremely busy cougar).
Michael K.: Lesley plays Jack Wagner's mom on the show even though shes only 5 years older than his ass! Most actresses would shank a bitch over that, but Lesley is a true professional and thespian! ...On todays episode, Jackie got attacked by a cougar on a photo shoot! A real-life cougar, not the kind that slobbers over young peen.
Eliza Dushku is a sexy, morally unclear tough cookie in practically everything. Even if she's not an Action Girl, she'll still rise to occasion and beat somebody's ass. (Dollhouse only sealed the deal further.) Harrier jets may be involved.
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. Heck, Helen Mirren's career started this way, and some of her later roles lampshade it tongue in cheek.
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.
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".
Keira Knightley is giving Kate Winslet 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?
Jennifer Lawrence often plays a troubled protagonist who spends half the film having her personal problems haunt her.
Having a deceased loved one is also a common element.
If Blake Lively is part of any circle of four, she will almost always be Sanguine.
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.
Remember how fiesty and colourful Amy Madigan was as the wife in Field of Dreams? Well she's since become typecast as a joyless crone who's probably insane. The mind boggles.
Marlee's role on The West Wing was mostly unrelated to being deaf (ditto for The Magicians). Sometimes (see also her roles in Walker [ever wanted to know the American sign language gesture for "Go fuck a pig!"?], The Linguini Incident and My Name Is Earl).
Cathy Moriarty was an unknown before her splash as Vicki LaMotta, and looked to be Hollywood's newest sexpot. One nasty car wreck and 8 million cigarettes later, and, well... While by no means unattractive today, most of her credits have been black comedies or horror flicks.
Actress Lupe Ontiveros estimates that she's played a maid between 150 and 300 times on screen.
Now subverted with Warehouse 13: 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 & 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.
Lucy Punch (real name) gets regular work as the boozing, superficial floozy. She's been trying to break into Hollywood of late, resulting in a few serious roles—or, at times, even sluttier ones (Dinner for Schmucks).
Monica Rial is almost always found voicing an peppy, innocent schoolgirl, mostly because the voice she almost always uses is in fact her real, natural voice. There are exceptions such as when she voiced Lyra in Fullmetal Alchemist and Nyamo in Azumanga Daioh, and you can occasionally find her voicing non-type background characters, with her voice lowered several octaves.
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 (1977), Cujo and the remake of Halloween 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).
A number of girls who have appeared in Play Boy or other "adult" media found regular employment as a Fanservice Extra in sex comedies or horror films, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.
Subverted in Mamma Mia!, although it could be taken that in that film she is the nanny for the other two girls.
If you ever saw Stepping Out.
Betty White tends to get typecast in a role and then subverts the typecasting in her next big role. Her role on the 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 The 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 Magnificent Bastard who gets the better of the show's antagonist.
Anna May Wong was type-cast as a Dragon Lady most of the time. Being an Asian-American actress in the 1920s and 1930s, there wasn't much else she was allowed to do. She wanted to play as the leading lady in The Good Earth however The Hays Code prevented her (they instead gave her role to a white woman in yellowface due to the leading male being white). Anna May Wong was offered to play the villain but turned it down due to taking offense at the idea she would play the bad guy in a film about Chinese people, where every major Chinese character was played in yellowface.
When Zhang Ziyi appears on the screen, you start to count down to the beginning of some serious Waif-Fu.