• Wed, Sep 25 - 3:40 pm ET

16 Actors Who Bore Us By Always Playing The Same Character

Zooey Deschanel being weird

Sometimes you turn on the TV and see a movie airing that makes you go, “Wait, is this the movie where Michael Cera plays that awkward guy, or is it the other one where he plays that awkward guy?” The same kind of question applies to a lot of actors who continuously get typecast as one character or another, over and over again to the end of time. Sure, somewhere in there a period actress with play a modern woman or a constant good guy will try his hand at villainy. But then they just go back to what they’re known for, forever and ever. Here are sixteen prime examples of that. On the one hand, it’s nice that we know what we’re getting ourselves into when we go to their movies. On the other hand, UGH PLAY A DIFFERENT CHARACTER ALREADY.

1. Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice Still(Photo: Focus Features via IMDb)

Character Type: Feisty Period Heroine

Examples: Pirates of the Caribbean, King Arthur, Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, The Duchess, A Dangerous Method, Anna Karenina

Are you adapting a classic piece of literature or telling the story of a spunky woman who rebels against corsets? Odds are you’re going to consider Keira Knightley. She’s a time traveling powerhouse. Sure, she’s played a few modern roles like in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but she keeps jumping at the chance to wear a floor-length dress.

2. Michael Cera

Michael Cera Juno Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Awkward Soft-Spoken Guy

Examples: Arrested Development, Juno, Superbad, Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

It’s pretty widely recognized that Michael Cera plays Michael Cera in everything he’s in. He’s always the shy sweetheart. But he’s getting older now, and it looks like he might be trying to break type by directing his own short films and starring in trippy movies like The Crystal Fairy.

3. Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant Four Weddings and a Funeral(Photo: MGM via IMDb)

Character Type: Bumbling British Charmer

Examples: Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Nine Months, Sense & Sensibility, Notting Hill, Love Actually

Oh, Hugh Grant. Even when you play smarmier types, like in Bridget Jones’s Diary, you’ve still got that stuttery British accent and that nervous way of presenting yourself. It’s interesting that you come across so charming and innocent onscreen, since offscreen you’ve been known to partake in less-than-innocent pleasures.

4. Helena Bonham Carter

Helena Bonham Carter Sweeney Todd Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Eccentric Lady

Examples: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Harry Potter, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Les Miserables, The Lone Ranger

It didn’t start out this way. Sure, Helena was known for period pieces like Howard’s End and A Room With A View, but she didn’t look like she reached into her closet, chose ten items at random and piled them on before back-combing her hair and applying lipstick in the dark. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s married to Tim Burton and has become Johnny Depp’s go-to co-star.

5. Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer Connelly A Beautiful Mind Still(Photo: Imagine Entertainment via IMDb)

Character Type: Long-suffering Wife/Girlfriend

Examples: A Beautiful Mind, Little Children, He’s Just Not That Into You, Reservation Road

Poor Jennifer Connelly and her eyebrows just can’t catch a break. She’s always either standing by her troubled man, getting cheated on, or losing her children. But she’s always so strong.

6. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Still(Photo: Warner Bros. via IMDb)

Character Type: Weirdo

Examples: Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Dark Shadows … you get the idea

You might think I’m crazy for putting Johnny Depp in here because he plays such a wide range of characters. You might say he’s the most versatile actor around. But to that I say that all of his supposedly diverse characters have a very important connecting thread — they’re really weird. Even when he’s not piling on the crazy makeup and doing a silly voice, he just looks like Johnny Depp, which is in itself pretty weird.

7. Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman Batman Begins Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Wise Mentor

Examples: Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Almighty, Million Dollar Baby

Morgan Freeman is the wisest guy around. He even played the ultimate wise guy, God himself.  When he’s not being the president/stand-in president, he’s giving advice to the film’s hero in that classic voice of his. But who gives Morgan Freeman advice, huh? You just go ahead and think about that one.

8. Vince Vaughn

Vince Vaugn Wedding Crashers Still(Photo: Richard Cartwright/New Line Cinema via IMDb)

Character Type: Wisecracking Douchebag

Examples: Old School, Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up, Fred Claus, The Internship

Whether he’s attending a wedding he wasn’t invited to or only getting Jennifer Aniston three lemons when she wanted twelve, Vince Vaughn is the ultimate smug slacker. It’s weird because in real life I tend to like him, but in movies he’s just such a douche.

9. Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg Ghost Still(Photo: Joseph Black/Flickr)

Character Type: Herself

Examples: Ghost, Sister Act, Made in America, every TV show she guest-stars on

There have of course been exceptions, like in The Color Purple, but when you look at a lot of her film roles and most of her TV gigs, she pretty much just plays Whoopi Goldberg. The very fact that she always has those dreadlocks is the first sign.

10. Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel 500 Days of Summer Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Adorably Quirky Girl

Examples: Almost Famous, Failure To Launch, Elf, (500) Days of Summer, New Girl

Zooey’s adorkable, and we love her for it. She’s got big blue eyes and cute bangs and wears vintage clothes and does silly dances. But it might be nice to see her try something different for a change.

11. Woody Allen

Woody Allen  (Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: A Woody Allen Type

Examples: Everything he’s ever been in

There’s a reason Woody Allen has inspired the phrase “Woody Allen type” for when you’re trying to describe a sarcastic, neurotic guy. He casts himself in a lot of his movies, and he pretty much plays the same guy at different ages and with different names and different levels of neurosis. But we keep watching.

12. Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton Because I Said So Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Wealthy Overbearing Mother

Examples: Something’s Gotta Give, The Family Stone, Because I Said So, Smother, The Big Wedding

If Because I Said So is on TV, I have to change the channel. How can anyone be that overbearing? It’s not always quite so bad with her, but she still seems to be playing Annie Hall all grown up with adult kids.

13. Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler Happy Gilmore Still(Photo: Universal Pictures via IMDb)

Character Type: Man Child

Examples: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, Mr. Deeds, That’s My Boy, Grown Ups

He was quite literally a man child in Billy Madison, and ever since he’s just played various forms of the immature, annoying guy. Unless he’s playing his own twin sister, in which case I’d rather he just stick to the man child thing. Shudder.

14. Rachel McAdams

Rachel McAdams The Time Traveler's Wife Still(Photo: New Line Cinema via IMDb)

Character Type: Time-Traveler’s Love Interest

Examples: The Time Traveler’s Wife, About Time

Seriously. How in the world did Rachel McAdams get cast in TWO movies about falling in love with a guy who time travels? Talk about being very specifically typecast. Even though About Time looks kind of cute, I’m very worried this will be a rule of three thing and Rachel will get cast as the next Doctor Who companion.

15. Kate Hudson

Kate Hudson How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days Still(Photo: Paramount Pictures via IMDb)

Character Type: Woman Trying To Have It All

Examples: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Raising Helen, Bride Wars, Something Borrowed

Professional woman with great clothes and fabulous hair who’s unlucky in love. Whoopdeedoo!

16. Seth Rogen

Seth Rogen Knocked Up Still(Photo: IMDb)

Character Type: Lovable Stoner

Examples: Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Funny People, 50/50, This is the End

Seth Rogen is arguably Hollywood’s most famous stoner. At first you’re like, ugh again with the pot? But then you hear that booming laugh and you’re like, aww Seth Rogen, I love you.

(Lead GIF: Tumblr)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
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  • Xolodnyj

    Whoever put this list together needs to see more movie.. for example, lets take Diane Keaton.. Fail to mention Godfather movies, Little Drummer Girl, Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Reds..

  • Cole

    Don’t forget Kristen Wiig – quirky woman who has horrible luck and lands in uncomfortable situation. Girl Most Likely, Bridesmaids

  • Nelly

    Well excusez-vous! Helena Bonham Carter played Charlie’s mother in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and to anyone that has actually viewed the film with their eyes saw she played the character as a sweet, motherly figure. Not as an eccentric. I spit at you.