10 actors who played roles against type, and totally nailed it

  • 10 actors who played roles against type, and totally nailed it

When it comes to Hollywood, there are some constants that we can always rely on: Harrison Ford will play the cocky swaggering hero, Jim Carrey will flail around like an over-excited Daddy Long Legs and Tom Cruise is the pearly white-toothed hero who always saves the day with a wink and a cheeky grin.

But, as we shall see, sometimes those rules are made to be broken when actors decide to step out of their familar roles and try on something a bit... different.

10. Emma Watson - The Bling Ring

In the Harry Potter films, Emma Watson was the smart, bookish Hermione Granger, but once she completed the wizard series, Em wanted to shatter peoples' perceptions.

She starred in Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, based on real life events, as selfish, self-centred Nicki who - along with her similarly bitchy friends - rob the Hollywood homes of young, rich socialites.

Emma Watson was singled-out for praise as her performance as the young actress proved her range and incredible potential.

9. Anne Hathaway - The Dark Knight Rises

Eyebrows were raised, although not quite to the extent of Ben Affleck as Batman, when Anne Hathaway was announced to play Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Christopher Nolan's ending to the Dark Knight trilogy.

Nolan had already convincingly transformed Heath Ledger into The Joker and Anne Hathaway, whose characters up until that point were nice and good-hearted, was another project for the acclaimed director.

Audiences discovered the prviously whiter-than-white Hathaway playing a scheming, deceptive Selina Kyle, as those who questioned her suitability found themselves silenced.

8. Tom Cruise - Collateral

Before 2004's Collateral, Tom Cruise's 23-year career had surprisingly never seen him play a bad guy, that was until he dyed his hair grey to play ice cold contract killer Vincent.

Cruise took on the role of a contract killer who uses a cab driver, played by Jamie Foxx, to escort him around while he goes about his hitman activities and generally being a violent, remorseless criminal.

Tom was praised for his role as movie-goers got to see a darker, sinister side of the perennially-smiling Scientologist.

See Also: Cruise's portrayal as chubby, balding obnoxious agent Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder.

7. Adam Sandler - Punch-Drunk Love

Adam Sandler appearing in a rom-com where he plays an angry man may sound exactly the same as Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison, but in 2002's Punch-Drunk Love he is darker and less of a man-child than his most famous roles.

Playing a lonely guy who gets into fits of rage from being harangued by his seven sisters who falls for a girl while being extorted by a crooked phone-sex line, Adam Sandler dispensed with his usual fart gags and childish humour and let his acting shine.

Critics and fans were stunned at Sandler's acting ability and depth, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance.

Unfortunately it didn't prompt Sandler to break out, as he followed it up with the likes of I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Jack and Jill.

6. Jennifer Aniston - Horrible Bosses

After Friends finished, Jen somewhat acted herself into a romcom corner, starring in such films as Along Came Polly, The Break-Up and The Bounty Hunter.

That was until she took on the role of a manipulative dentist who sexually harasses her male assistant in the 2011 crime caper Horrible Bosses, and she showed a raunchier and conniving new side to her acting.

It's punched Aniston out of her rom-com rut, as she went on to play a stripper in comedy We're The Millers and bagged herself a Golden Globe award for her role 2014 drama Cake.

5. Jim Carrey - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

We'd previously seen the wild-limbed comic actor turn his hand to drama in 1998's The Truman Show, but the comedian really gave us something to chew on when he starred opposite Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Playing a depressed illustrator, Carrey dialled back all of the physicality that he was famous for throughout his career and used his own experience suffering from depression for the character of Joel.

It turned out to be to his credit, as his performance was widely regarded as his most mature and dramatically powerful of his career.

4. Harrison Ford - What Lies Beneath

With a career playing much-loved heroes in the mould of Han Solo, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford shocked fans when he portrayed the cheating, violent Dr Norman Spencer in the supernatural horror What Lies Beneath.

Ford was genuinely unsettling as the murderous philanderer and believable in the role that stripped away the roguish swagger of the roles in which he became famous.

3. Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained

Throughout his career Leo has played heroes, or in the case of Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street, anti-heroes at the very least.

But that all changed when he starred as the brutal slave plantation owner Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarrantino's blood-soaked Django Unchained.

DiCaprio was arguably the stand-out star of the violent western adventure, as he veered from terribly charming to downright terrifying.

He stole the show with the most memorable scene in which he kept in character despite having cut his hand on a broken glass and dripping blood all over the set.

2. Robin Williams - One Hour Photo

The legendary comedy genius and master of improvisation, Robin Williams showed that he's more than just wacky impressions and hyper performances in psychological thriller One Hour Photo.

The star plays a solitary photo technician who develops an obsession with a family whose photos he develops.

Williams was nominated for many awards for his portrayal, as fans and filmgoers saw the actor's ability to step into darker territory than they were used to seeing from him.

1. James Stewart - Vertigo

One of the earliest, and perhaps greatest, examples of actors playing against type was It's A Wonderful Life's James Stewart in Hitchcock thriller Vertigo.

Starring in comedies and light-hearted dramas like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Philadelphia Story, Stewart played private detective John "Scottie" Ferguson, suffering from acrophobia, who develops an obsession with a woman he has been hired to follow.

At the time Vertigo was greatly received by fans or critics and Hitchcock blamed its lack of success on Stewart looking too old to be with the female love interest.

The film has subsequently gone down as a cinematic classic and one of Hitchcock’s greatest, and it is just as much a part of Jimmy Stewart's legacy as his upbeat comedies.

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