Many people hate the idea of an actor who eventually becomes typecast to a character style that features in most of their films. You know who I mean. Michael Cera’s mumblecore nerd, Seth Rogan’s casual everyguy, Samuel Jackson’s bad motherf**ker, Robert DeNiro’s ..err… Robert DeNiro? The list is endless, but is this a bad thing or not? Sometimes these actors break away from their moulds and try something new, but usually fall back into what they do best.
Personally, I sometimes don’t mind typecasting of actors. Will Ferrell may always play the spoilt manchild, but it does make me laugh. Do I need to see him show off some acting chops so he can prove to the world he can do serious drama? I like to see it for sure, but sometimes actors need to remember what made them famous in the first place. Even Jim Carrey has been trying a few different roles to be accepted as a serious actor. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t but I sure do miss the Carrey of old. A raving lunatic with a rubber face. He’s still got it but doesn’t seem to want to use it much anymore, which is a shame. Maybe it’s not even by his own choice and there’s no scripts doing the rounds that will bring his character style back.
Samuel Jackson’s bad mofo archetype, which he’s pretty much made his own and none other can do nearly as well, is also one style of character I love to see on screen. How many times has he done it now? It’s still not old for me. This is a case where stereotypes are great. Black Snake Moan is great and all but I want more of Jules the yelling, bible quoting hitman or his portrayal of John Shaft. That is why the man is so appealing in the first place. The downside to maintaining a stereotype is, of course, everybody getting sick of you. Michael Cera would surely know about this phenomenon. I never really liked his characters anyway but the amount of times he’s played that mumbling, nerd character has gotten old for many.
One man who seems to have equal amounts of love and hate from the public is Morgan Freeman. I personally love his work but how many films can the man narrate? As amazing as his narration voice is, there’s only so much he can do surely? The Shawshank Redemption was easily his best film in my opinion and his sombre narrative hits the mark on so many occasions throughout the film, it’s touching. Hence why it usually always appears in the top 5 of the greatest pictures of all time polls. Not bad for a film that bombed at the box office. I put it all down to Mogan Freeman himself, the entire backbone of the film. Without him, it would’ve failed. Forgetting his narratives though, even his characters usually ooze that world weary, respected, calm demeanour. Seven’s Dectective Somerset and the two James Patterson novel film adaptations where he plays Detective Alex Cross could be the same guy who changed his name by deed poll. Did I care? Not one iota.
Bruce Willis can be the good guy kicking ass and taking names forever for all I care. Some people were born to portray certain roles. Willis has great charisma, comedic timing and action chops though he is getting a little long in the tooth now, he’s certainly still got it. I was even a fan of Die Hard 4.0 which copped a lot of flak, but I think that was because I already knew what I was getting when I watched it. If Willis never does another type of film that isn’t action, I won’t complain.
To tell you the truth, I’m neither one way or the other on the subject. If DeNiro stars as himself, as he mostly usually always does, I won’t be the one to stand up and shout “BOLLOCKS TO THIS!” and walk out. The guy does what he does well and is always enjoyable to watch. It also makes me just as happy to see an actor break the mould and become something you never thought they could possibly do. Tom Hanks went from lovable idiot to serious Oscar winner in spectacular fashion. Bachelor Party is still one of my favourite films of his. Compare that to his performances in Saving Private Ryan, Philadelphia or The Green Mile and it’s a completely different person. That takes some incredible skill to achieve, though I do understand that you can’t be the loveable idiot your entire life. Remaining in a stale character type could kill your career. In saying that, I’m glad he didn’t keep on with the “romcom” route. There’s only so much Meg Ryan I can handle.
What are your thoughts? I have many friends who lament the fact of actors doing the same thing over and over. I personally don’t care. If they do a great job, then what does it matter? In cases with Michael Cera, I never liked the initial character he became famous for anyway so the entire stereotypical run didn’t appeal to me, many people love it though. Are you up for actors pursuing more challenging roles or retaining the stereotype and rolling with it. Or are you like me and completely indifferent, just so long as it’s entertaining? (Anything from Martin Lawrence with Big and Momma in the title definately does not fall into the entertaining category.)