Patricia Heaton turns 55 today, but I would probably be more likely to bake her a cake and sing to her if her name were Debra Barone or Frankie Heck. It’s a testament to Patricia Heaton’s acting talents that I completely adore her when I watch her on television, but I don’t much care for her real-life persona.
Debra Barone was one of the few tolerable characters on Everybody Loves Raymond, a sitcom which causes me simultaneous rage (Just unpack the suitcase, Ray!) and a masochistic desire to watch six episodes in a row at two o’clock in the morning. On The Middle, Patricia’s character Frankie is pretty much a total mess, and I rarely support her decisions, but that bob haircut makes her so endearing.
Yet Patricia Heaton continuously inspires a negative reaction in me. For instance, whereas I cheer Debra on as something of a feminist icon, I cringe at Patricia’s cruel, tasteless tweets about law student Sandra Fluke, who testified about the importance of health insurance covering birth control. While my dislike for an actor — for instance Mel Gibson — often carries over into their onscreen roles, I am able to completely forget Patricia’s real-life persona when I watch her shows. For creating such an impressive separation between actor and character, Patricia deserves to win a lot of Emmys, but unfortunately I’d probably groan watching her acceptance speech. It’s all very confusing.
In honor of Patricia Heaton’s birthday and my reluctance to separate fiction from reality, I’ve compiled a list of five other actors (and in one case an acting ensemble) who baffle me by being – in one way or another – totally different from their famous roles.
1.) Matt LeBlanc vs. Joey Tribbiani
This one is particularly unsettling. Think about Joey from Friends. Lovable, charismatic, energetic, not-so-smart Joey. You’d think whoever played him would have a similar charisma and comedic energy, even if he had infinitely more IQ points. But Matt LeBlanc is disconcertingly low-energy. I’m not saying he’s not likable, just that it’s very surprising – and proof of a great actor – to discover such a marked difference between a character and the person who played him so convincingly for a decade. Even on Episodes, where Matt plays himself (or at least a version of himself), he appears to have more energy. Matt has admitted that people sometimes assume he’s depressed because he’s “more low-key and reserved” than Joey, but he assures us that he’s just different from his character. Cool beans, Matt.
2.) Jon Hamm vs. Don Draper
In this case, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a difference between character and actor. I was first introduced – like most of us – to Jon Hamm as brooding, womanizing ad man Don Draper on Mad Men. Then I saw a clip of his old hosting appearance on Talk Soup. At first I was slightly disturbed, then confused, then absolutely overjoyed to see that grin, that goofy personality. And then came his SNL hosting gigs (Jon Hamm’s John Ham, anybody?), his guest spot on 30 Rock, and his Bridesmaids role. This guy is funny! And he seems like a nice guy? What is that all about?!
3.) Johnny Depp vs. Every Character He’s Ever Played
How is someone who has played so many Tim Burton characters (ranging from creepy to manic to murderous), not to mention wacky pirate Jack Sparrow, so mumbley and unassuming in real life? Sure he dresses weird, but personality-wise the character that comes closest to him in real life is the guy he plays in Chocolat. Let’s face it, though, no one remembers that movie besides your artsy-fartsy aunt who wears the wrap sweaters and the homemade earrings. Whenever I see Johnny, I want to clap my hands in front of his face and shout, “Wake up!”
4.) Andrew Lincoln vs. Rick Grimes
The Southern zombie-killing sheriff on The Walking Dead should not have a British accent. And he should not be the guy who held up handmade signs professing his love for the extremely British Keira Knightley in the British movie to end all British movies Love Actually. Nope. Just stop talking. I refuse to believe it.
5.) The Cast of Downton Abbey vs. The Characters of Downton Abbey
Why is Mary Crawley showing sideboob? Why is Mrs. Patmore wearing lip gloss? Why aren’t O’Brien’s bangs curled? And for the love of God, why is Lord Grantham planning the London Olympics?!
(Lead Photo: Apega/WENN)