Typecasting is common even in the best actors to ever grace the big screen. Famous examples of typecasting include Jack Nicholson (playing sarcastic and intelligent characters who are crazy in a way and have deep personal issues), Morgan Freeman (a wise old man), Samuel L. Jackson (a badass), Bruce Willis (a rule-breaking law enforcer who blows up stuff) and many others.
However, almost every actor at some point during his career breaks (or at least tries to break) his typecasting image by playing completely different roles. Well-known examples of this are Michael Keaton, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Buscemi and Jonah Hill.
Finally, there are actors who have either played completely different and diverse characters or have absolutely shattered their typecasting image. These are the actors who have shown an exemplary range in the roles that they have played, or in other words, here are 10 of the most versatile characters in modern cinema.
P.S. Do you (dis)agree with my list? Who do you think is the most versatile actor? Share your opinion in the comment section below and thank you for reading!
10. Liam Neeson
Most famous for: The Bounty (1984), The Mission (1986), Schindler's List (1993), Michael Collins (1996), Les Misérables (1998), Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), Kinsey (2004), Batman Begins (2005), The Chronicles of Narnia series (2005–2010), Taken - series (2008–2014), Clash of the Titans (2010), The Grey (2011)
In recent years Neeson has established himself as an action star but before that he played many other types of roles. Moreover, it is hard not to include an actor who, among other things, played Oskar Schindler, Zeus and Aslan, trained Batman and Obi-Wan Kenobi, led the A-Team and wreaked havoc in Europe with only one goal - to save his daughter.
9. Brad Pitt
Most famous for: Thelma & Louise (1991), A River Runs Through It (1992), Legends of the Fall (1994), Interview with the Vampire (1994), , Se7en (1995), 12 Monkeys (1995), Fight Club (1999), Snatch (2000), Ocean's Trilogy (2001-2007), Troy (2004), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Moneyball (2011), World War Z (2013)
With all the popularity, his image as a sex symbol and the focus on his personal life, it is easy to forget how great and versatile actor Brad Pitt really is. He has played so many characters that are different from one another, but usually the result is an astounding success.
8. Leonardo DiCaprio
Most famous for: What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Romeo + Juliet (1996), Titanic (1997), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010), Inception (2010), Django Unchained (2012), The Great Gatsby (2013), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
It is an absolute shame that DiCaprio is yet to win an Oscar. However, he does not need it because even without an Oscar, he is easily one of the greatest actors of our generation. Whether he is playing characters based on real people, literary adaptations, billionaires, visionaries or characters with mental issues, the transition that DiCaprio makes is always seamless and the result is more than impressive.
7. Christian Bale
Most famous for: Empire of the Sun (1987), American Psycho (2000), Reign of Fire (2002), Equilibrium (2002), The Machinist (2004), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), The Prestige (2006), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Terminator Salvation (2009), Public Enemies (2009), The Fighter (2010), American Hustle (2013), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
There is nobody that is better at transforming himself for a role both physically (and psychologically) than Christian Bale and this is why his range of roles is so astounding. Furthermore, it is hardly a surprise that Bale has received so much recognition and so many awards for his performances, as it is well-deserved.
6. Robert de Niro
Most famous for: Bang the Drum Slowly (1973), Mean Streets (1973), The Godfather Part II (1974), Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980), The Untouchables (1987), Goodfellas (1990), Awakenings (1990), Cape Fear (1991), Casino (1995), Heat (1995), Jackie Brown (1997), Meet the Parents Series (2000-2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Apart from the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of all time, De Niro is also one of the most versatile thespians. Whether you are talking about thrillers, dramatic roles or comedies, De Niro has done it all. Moreover, his incredible transformation for Raging Bull (he put on 60lbs to play the boxer Jake LaMotta) remains the greatest physical transformation of all time, achieved by an actor.
5. Kevin Spacey
Most famous for: Swimming With The Sharks (1994), Se7en (1995), The Usual Suspects (1995), L.A. Confidential (1997), American Beauty (1999), K-PAX (2001), The Shipping News (2001), The Life Of David Gale (2003), Beyond the Sea (2004), Superman Returns (2006), 21 (2008), Recount (2008), Moon (2009), Casino Jack (2010), Horrible Bosses 1&2 (2011, 2014), House of Cards (2013-present)
Two-time Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey is well-known for its chameleon-like versatility. He has played an array of characters who are morally ambiguous and can be ranging from mildly shady to murderous and vicious.
4. Tom Hanks
Most known for: Big (1988), A League of Their Own (1992), Philadelphia (1993), Forrest Gump (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), The Toy Story Series (1995-present), Saving Private Ryan (1998), You've Got Mail (1998), Cast Away (2000), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Road to Perdition (2002), The Terminal (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006), Captain Phillips (2013), Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Tom Hanks, another two-time Academy Award winner, is arguably one of the best actors ever. He has played a wide variety of roles, from an AIDS victim (Philadelphia), to a slow-witted and naïve, but good-hearted and athletically prodigious man (Forrest Gump), to a war weary Captain (Saving Private Ryan), to a gangster (The Road to Perdition), to a FED agent (Catch Me If You Can), to a refugee on an island (Cast Away) and every role of his is unique in a way.
3. Daniel Day-Lewis
Most famous for: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), My Beautiful Launderette (1988), My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), In the Name of the Father (1993), The Age of Innocence (1993), The Crucible (1996), The Boxer (1997), Gangs of New York (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007), Nine (2009), Lincoln (2012)
It seems like there is no role that Daniel Day-Lewis cannot play. In the past 25 years or so, he has constantly given gripping performances in roles that are extremely different from one another. Consequently, it is not surprising at all that he has three Academy awards, as well as many other awards and universal acclaim for his work.
2. Johnny Depp
Most famous for: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Donnie Brasco (1997), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Chocolat (2000), From Hell (2001), The Pirates of the Caribbean Franchise (2003-present), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Public Enemies (2009), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Into the Woods (2014)
Johnny Depp's biggest strength as an actor is most probably his mind-boggling versatility. Whatever type of a character you can think of, there is a high chance that he has played him. Besides, he is also well-known for being artistic and creative, traits that he has used in his wide variety of amazing roles.
1. Gary Oldman
Most famous for: Sid and Nancy (1986), State of Grace (1990), JFK (1991), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), True Romance (1993), Léon: The Professional (1994), Friends (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), Air Force One (1997), Nil by Mouth (1997), Lost in Space (1998), The Contender (2000), Hannibal (2001), The Harry Potter Film Series (2004-2007), The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
Gary Oldman is really an actor of a thousand faces, who is also criminally underrated. He has played so many diverse characters, ranging from Sirius Black and Commissioner James Gordon to a Florida mental patient, a cutthroat scif weapons tycoon, Dracula and Sid Vicious, as well as many other unforgettable characters. Looking at the wide range of all of his memorable performances, it is hardly a surprise that he is #1 on this list.