For an actor, it’s a dream come true to land a high-profile role that will immortalize them forever. Also, it’s a nightmare once it’s over, and it’s time to shake off the character that defined them. How did these actors notoriously known for one role avoid being typecast?
Defined by: Frodo in Lord of the Rings
Notable & worth to watch films/TV shows: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Sin City, Day Zero
What can you do after you portray one of the most iconic characters in history, a good-hearted, wide-eyed, innocent, and brave Frodo Baggins? While Elijah will forever live with references to the famous hobbit, he did snatch a couple of intriguing roles after. Similarly to some of his colleagues (Kristen Stewart, Dakota Johnson, Daniel Radcliffe…) fresh out of major franchises, he picked artsy and indie films that show another side of him. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, he was great as the obnoxious boyfriend no one rooted for, and in Sin City, he was a disgusting mute cannibal.
When he appeared in Maniac (2012) as a serial killer, he acknowledged that Frodo is here to stay. “It’s funny when Maniac was first announced, all the references in the press were to Frodo – yet that was eight years ago! I’ve worked on a bunch of vastly different movies since then I guess what it showed is that Frodo’s never going away,” he said for The Guardian.
Defined by: Phoebe in Friends
Notable & worth to watch films/TV shows: The Comeback, Easy A, Booksmart, Kabluey
After Friends, one of the best sitcoms of all time ended, its stars faced an uncertain future. To this day, we remember Rachel, Ross, Chandler, Phoebe, Monica, and Joey, but not necessarily the actors’ names. Jennifer Aniston went on to become a movie star, while the rest of the cast mostly (dis)appeared in less high-profile works.
As for Lisa Kudrow, the unforgettable quirky Phoebe, she landed another TV show right away: The Comeback. While short-lived, it became a cult classic – similarly to her films Easy A and Booksmart. And who could forget her role as Kimmy’s mom in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! But let’s face it: after earning one million dollars per episode of Friends, it’s not like she needs to work 🙂
Defined by: Angela in American Beauty
Notable & worth to watch films/TV shows: American Pie, American Horror Story, American Woman, Caffeine
American Beauty, one of the most influential movies of the 90s, included celebrated actors such as Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, and Chris Cooper. Mena Suvari never reached their acclaim, yet to this day, her lying in a pile of red roses is the most unforgettable visual from American Beauty. As Vanity Fair noted, she’s largely flown under the radar after the Oscar-winning drama and the comedy American Pie, but she deserves much more recognition than she ever did.
“Being cast specifically as an object of desire may have given the wrongful impression that her beauty was more vital to her success than her talent. The fact that she has the talent of a character actor but also bombshell good looks is confusing to this industry. Her acting skills have been criminally underrated,” explained Daniel Powell, co-writer and co-director of Becks, an indie film starring Mena. Besides the works mentioned above, the actress’s career is full of B-movies, but it’s worth checking out her films Stuck and Slums of Beverly Hills.
Defined by: Walter in Breaking Bad
Notable & worth to watch films/TV shows: Argo, Isle of Dogs, Godzilla, Wakefield
While Bryan Cranston is a distinguished actor, Walter White overshadowed everything else he’s ever done. The role of the chemistry teacher turned drug dealer was as huge as it was brilliant. Nevertheless, he’s got a number of great films under his belt.
Besides the Oscar-winning Argo, Wes Anderson’s gorgeous Isle of Dogs and a blockbuster Godzilla, you should definitely check out his performance in Wakefield, where he portrays a father who escapes his own life and watches it unfold through a garage window. Throughout and after Breaking Bad, he was in high-profile films such as The Lincoln Lawyer, Contagion, and Drive, and there’s so much more you need to see!
Defined by: Daenerys in Game of Thrones
Notable & worth to watch films/TV shows: Solo: A Star Wars Story, Me Before You, Last Christmas, A Voice from the Stone
Before Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke was an unknown actress. Everything changed after she landed the role of Daenerys (the First of Her Name, Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons ?). She was fierce, brave, stunningly beautiful, and terrifying all at the same time, and it was difficult to see her as anyone besides Daenerys. However, as Clarke explained, no one really recognizes her without her signature blonde wig, so it wasn’t that difficult to leave Daenerys behind. The beloved actress has since appeared in a couple of films that performed well, and we’re sure there are many more achievements to come!