There is no doubt that most decisions have pros and cons, and this is particularly true when it comes to actors decisions to play the same type of role. The main benefit is that they will most likely be guaranteed work when producers require a certain type of character to star in their upcoming show or film. Of course, the con is that this may make that actor look as though they lack versatility, and they will appear to viewers as only suitable for a certain genre. There is the concern that they will be labelled a ‘typecast’ actor which can ultimately limit their possibilities and therefore cause them to decline in the industry.
Being a typecast actor has not necessarily proven to have been a bad thing in several cases: many have actually thrived because of it and seen their careers sore. Goldie Hawn, for example, has been around in Hollywood since 1968, playing the similar role of the comic damsel in distress. The Hollywood Reporter’s review of the 1992 dark comedy Death Becomes Her describing her as a “top comic actress”.
Her roles in Overboard (1981) with Kurt Russell, Bird on a Wire (1990) with Mel Gibson and The Housesitter (1992) with Steve Martin are much-loved classics that will undeniably be watched by future generations to come. How could they not watch a charming and bubbly character who Heightline Magazine assures will “crack anyone’s ribs with her hilarious acts on screen”. There are also actors like Hugh Grant who will always be remembered as the awkward, English romantic lead of the early 1990’s: Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill to name a few.
Jennifer Aniston’s role as Rachel in FRIENDS has guaranteed her films playing the ‘hopeless romantic’ in Bruce Almighty (2003), The Break Up (2006) and He’s Just Not that Into You (2009). Whilst these film guaranteed her a name in Hollywood, she has been unable to escape her reputation as the one-dimensional romantic comedy star, who is happy to play it safe and stick to a character she knows she can portray well.
“When it comes to playing a typecast role, it seems that some actors are merely luckier than others”
Some actors have been lucky enough to escape their typecasts. Sandra Bullock often played the ‘singleton’ unlucky lover in cheesy romcoms, but her Oscar award-winning performance for the biopic drama The Blind Side (2009) proved there was more to her than originally assumed.
Others include Matthew McConaughey who started off well as a serious actor in the 1996 crime film A Time to Kill, gradually becoming a typecast as the self-obsessed cad in films like The Wedding Planner (2001), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and Ghost of Girlfriends Past (2009) all of which were near box office bombs.
When it comes to playing a typecast role, it seems that some actors are merely luckier than others. If every typecast actor just had a career like Morgan Freeman’s as the much loved wise character, a typecast actors career wouldn’t be so bad after all! There are both pros and cons on making such decisions, put it that way.
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Images courtesy of Polygram Filmed Entertainment and Alcon Entertainment via IMDb.