One thing so many actors attempt to free themselves of, is stereotype. The idea of being pigeonholed into a certain brand of filmmaking, or certain type of character detracts from the diversity of acting, and that innate desire to try new things and expand your horizons. It’s suffice to say that sadly this isn’t always the case; and while some actors evidently thrive in their stereotype – building entire careers for themselves based on characters that sometimes merely reflect their own personalities, such as Seth Rogen for instance – for many others, it’s not something they wanted to happen, but sadly, something that already has.
It can be a real challenge to break free, as audiences can become comfortable with the similar roles, and grow to be afraid of change in case the results aren’t as positive. There are, however, some glaring exceptions to this rule. And we’re now going to share a few we feel not only broke free of their stereotype, but then went on to build an accomplished and triumphant career for themselves. Oh, and if you like this one, why not check out our other feature where we highlight some of those who have been less fortunate and succumbed to their stereotype.
Having been cast in one of the most successful character-based sitcoms of all time, attempting to continue a prolific acting career is no easy task. Friends was a collaborative effort, as each character relied on the other five for support, both from a narrative and emotional perspective. Working on a show for so long can also make it difficult to progress into any new roles. However, Jennifer Aniston is the only cast member who’s really gone on to further herself beyond that series. In 2012, she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, and while many of her previous films have featured her in relatively comparable, family settings, such as Marley and Me, she has tried her hand in more dramatic roles too, shining in the brilliant drama The Good Girl, and has even played a stripper in offbeat comedy We’re the Millers.
As soon as Daniel Radcliffe was cast in Harry Potter, few people could have predicted a career outside of the Hogwarts walls, as so many child actors struggle to forge careers for themselves having been so synonymous with that one particular role. Having been catapulted into the spotlight – playing the role for a decade – it was no easy task for him to break free, but it’s something the talented performer has done emphatically. Starring in theatre and taking on brave roles in films such as Woman in Black, in which he played a widowed lawyer haunted by a mysterious spectre, and Kill Your Darlings, where he played Allen Ginsberg. Perhaps a little ironically, he’s making films that many Harry Potter fans are too young to be let in to see, which can only be a good thing where his career is concerned.
While Zac Efron had a few minor roles in TV, his career really started as a star of the Disney Channel, having held one of the lead roles in the hugely popular High School Musical. A perfect typecast, the typical young American teen. However he’s now become quite the prolific actor, with an eclectic range of titles in his filmography, ranging from the serious drama Charlie St. Cloud, to dramas such as The Paperboy, and even in comedy, with That Awkward Moment and Bad Neighbours adding to his growing repertoire.
For a young actress with good looks and a charming personality to match in Hollywood, discovering layered, intriguing roles can be a real challenge, as the industry is caught up on image and what sells above most other factors. It’s therefore a great credit to Cameron Diaz that she broke free of the mould, managing to not just play thankless love interests in movies, but be the star herself, and play strong-willed, independent women. Recent roles such as Gambit and The Other Woman illustrate that fact, while her moving performance in My Sister’s Keeper shows off her dramatic potential too, showing that she’s not just restricted to comedy, either. And she was almost unrecognisable both physically and performance-wise in Being John Malkovich.
Travolta is most known for his roles in Grease and Saturday Night Fever. As an actor, he suited the 70’s scene incredibly well, with some pretty impressive dancing skills to boot. However when disco became a thing of the past, as did his career, which recessed during the 80’s, However, after his surprise casting by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction, his career blossomed and shifted. Travolta’s profile suddenly became much more varied, working on films such as Face/Off and Get Shorty. While it took time to change perceptions of the actor, he managed to ditch the 70’s facade that made him popular in the first place and replaced it with a much grittier character set. Fair play to him.