Cake
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    • Sometimes actors land roles that are so iconic that it comes back to bite them in the behind several years later. You know, actors who land a role in a multi-movie franchise that sees them return as the same character for multiple performances, and on the surface, it looks like a good thing. For the next few years they have a job locked down, consistent income and publicity, every thing is going their way. But what happens after that franchise is over? Can they be seen as any character other that the one they've portrayed countless times over a span of a few years?

      On the one year anniversary of Avengers: Endgame, it seems like some of Earth's Mightiest Heroes are finding life a little difficult outside the MCU.

      Robert Downey Jr.’s Dolittle tanked with critics and audiences; it currently sits at an astoundingly low 15% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film notoriously lost Universal a heap of money. Scarlett Johansson’s recent Ghost in the Shell remake didn’t fare much better. Even critical darlings like Chris Evans’s Snowpiercer failed to gain traction in theaters.

      Some of the Avengers have had success outside of the MCU, like Chris Evans' appearance in Knives Out, or ScarJo's Oscar-worthy performance in Marriage Story. The rest, not so much.

      It doesn't just apply to the Avengers. The kids from Harry Potter? Emma Watson has done a few things here and there, so to has Daniel Radcliffe, but again, nothing as big as Harry Potter. Has Mark Hamill ever done anything outside of Star Wars? I know he has a lot of voice acting under his belt, but any acting jobs? Vin Diesel will probably struggle in anything that's not a Fast and Furious movie.

      And what about TV series? Actors tend to stick with a series for much longer than those who work primarily in movies, so will that make it harder for them to move on after their series ends? Out of the six FRIENDS, I don't think any of them have been able to maintain a steady series of performances since the show ended in 2004, except maybe Jennifer Aniston. I don't think we'll see any of the cast of The Big Bang Theory in anything else anytime soon.

      It seems like as far as Hollywood is concerned, you either put in a few amazing performances as different characters throughout your career, or you nail one single role which you hold on to for years and years, and risk never being able to be seen as anything but.

      Can you think of any other examples of actors who have been pigeonholed? What about the opposite? Great actors who have never returned as the same character and have only ever played each character once?

    • Huh, that’s fascinating, but the ones that stand out to me are the ones that are so versatile and convincing they can transition from one iconic role to another — Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and Matt Damon, for example.

      My personal default, and I am so very far from being an expert, is to think “okay, you played that role really well, but what happens if you try another?” My deepest admiration goes to the ones who can move from one to another.

      That goes for real life: Steve Jobs with Pixar, Bill Gates with pandemics, Elon Musk with rockets,

    • The cast of Friends, with the exception of Jennifer Anniston? They have tried to continue their careers but none have hit the same success as their time in Friends?

    • What about the opposite? Great actors who have never returned as the same character and have only ever played each character once?

      I find this question the most intriguing and so I’ll try my hand at solving that riddle.

      Patrick Stewart is an actor that should have been pigeonholed after seven seasons and half a dozen movies as Jean Luc Picard. But instead he succeeded in playing numerous major roles in movies: Professor X in the X-Men franchise, Bosley in last year’s Charlie’s Angels movie, the TV series American Dad and Family Guy. He’s been in at least two or three movies a year for the past twenty years. (Source: IMDB)

      Why? Because he was a Shakespearean trained actor and actually knows how to act. Super hero, fantasy and science fiction films aren’t typically known for Oscar winning actors.

    • Why? Because he was a Shakespearean trained actor and actually knows how to act. Super hero, fantasy and science fiction films aren’t typically known for Oscar winning actors.

      This is a poignant point you brought up. I've come to the realisation that actors with theatrical training (usually British actors) tend to be much, much, much better at acting than those who don't have theatrical training (mostly Americans).

    • Indeed. There seem to be a lot of actors that have built a career playing themselves in every role. Watchable perhaps, but great acting, no.