The Type: The Tough Sexpot
As Seen In: Gone In Sixty Seconds, Tomb Raider, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Wanted, Salt, The Tourist
Against Type? Ange’s performances in both Changeling and A Mighty Heart strip back the pouting in favour of a beaten-but-unbowed determination. She’s tough as nails in both, but there’s a generous helping of vulnerability thrown in for good measure.
The Type: The Spluttering English Gent
As Seen In: Sirens, Four Weddings And A Funeral, The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain, Nine Months, Notting Hill, Mickey Blue Eyes, Love Actually
Against Type? Grant riffs on his charming gentleman shtick to good effect in both Bridget Jones movies, but it was his turn as a selfish, thirtysomething waster in About A Boy that marked the most significant departure from his usual fish out of water routine.
The Type: The Snarling Asshole
As Seen In: The Hunt For Red October, Glengarry Glen Ross, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Shadow, The Edge, The Aviator
Against Type? Having used it to strike fear into on-screen rivals for years, his role in 30 Rock finally utilises Baldwin’s throaty growl for comic effect, particularly in his occasional snarl-offs with the equally histrionic Will Arnett. His turn in The Departed is another example of Baldwin playing his youthful, aggressive persona for laughs.
The Type: The Awkward Indie Geek
As Seen In: Superbad, Juno, Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Year One, Paper Heart, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Against Type? It’s hardly a massive departure, given that for at least half the film he’s doing the usual routine, but Youth In Revolt does at least give Cera a few scenes to show he can do something different as devil-may-care alter-ego Francois Dillinger.
Samuel L. Jackson
The Type: The Badass Muthafucker
As Seen In: Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, The Negotiator, Star Wars Episodes 1-3, Shaft, The 51st State, SWAT, The Incredibles, Snakes On A Plane, Lakeview Terrace, The Spirit, Iron Man 2, The Other Guys
Against Type? He starts off as a timid shopkeeper in Die Hard With A Vengeance , but it isn’t long before he’s in full-on badass mode again. However, his turn as a wheelchair-bound manipulator in Unbreakable is something genuinely different, and all the more creepy for it. Ditto his slightly odd Blues-man in Black Snake Moan .
The Type: The Sadistic Nutcase
As Seen In: JFK, Dracula, True Romance, Leon, The Fifth Element, Air Force One, Hannibal
Against Type? Oldman plays on his villainous reputation to throw us off the scent in the Harry Potter movies, before revealing Sirius Black to be something of a loveable rogue. Meanwhile, his performance as Jim Gordon, one of the only straight cops in Gotham, is an excellent piece of role-reversal casting.
The Type: The Zany Goofball
As Seen Is: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb & Dumber, Batman Forever, Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Liar Liar, Me, Myself & Irene, Bruce Almighty, Fun With Dick & Jane, Yes Man
Against Type? The Truman Show saw the launch of “serious Jim”, a persona perfected in the bittersweet Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind , and an altogether more palatable proposition than the rubber-faced goonery of his day job.
The Type: The Loveable Schlub
As Seen In: The 40 Year Old Virgin, You, Me & Dupree, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Zack And Miri Make A Porno, Funny People
Against Type? Before becoming Hollywood’s cuddly stoner du jour, Rogen was anything but loveable in Donnie Darko as bullying asshole Ricky Danforth. “Ummm, didn’t your dad, like, stab your mom?” he asks a mortified Gretchen in front of the entire class. Nice.
The Type: The Smug Smartarse
As Seen In: Wall Street, Young Guns, Major League, Navy Seals, Terminal Velocity, Major League 2
Against Type? Platoon obviously provides much heavier material than the majority of Sheen’s other work, but to find him playing completely against type, look no further than mid-‘90s clunker Free Money , in which he plays a nerdish sap, conned into marrying one of Marlon Brando’s daughters.
The Type: The OTT Buffoon
As Seen In: Austin Powers, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, Zoolander, Old School, Elf, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Talladega Nights, Blades Of Glory, Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, The Other Guys
Against Type? His straight roles have revealed Ferrell to be a surprisingly affecting actor when the mood takes him. He showed promise in the underrated Melinda & Melinda before blowing us away with his remarkably moving performance in Stranger Than Fiction . More of that please Will!