Once an actor takes on a specific role there is the possibility that people won’t be able to see them as anything but that character moving forward. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for the actor to take on any other roles since they’re either not able to shake the previous role or people just don’t respond to them any longer since they can’t see that actor as anyone or anything else. It’s a definite career-killer, though some have managed to finally shake it and do something else in their lives or have continued their career and finally found a way to break free from that single role. In a way, this problem is often attributed more to the fans, which it should be since the fans are typically those that can’t force themselves to see their favorite actors in another role if they happen to truly enjoy the one character that the actor has played. The thing to remember though is that actors will take on multiple roles during their lifetimes and will seek to make each one of them famous in their own way. Thinking that an actor is a one-trick pony is something that can put a serious damper on their career, though there are actors out there that really can’t play more than one role for some reason or another.
Here are a few actors that had trouble finding work after a specific role.
5. Leonard Nimoy
Can you imagine anyone else wanting to hire Leonard and NOT thinking “I just hired Spock”? That’s the unfortunate downside of having spent so much time as one of the most popular characters on one of the most popular franchises. Trying to find work that was anything but Star Trek was incredibly difficult for Nimoy, who had the specter of Spock hanging around him for a good part of his career. In fact, it feels safe to state that a lot of people might not even know that much about anything else the actor did in his life since the pointy-eared Vulcan WAS his entire life for a long, long time.
4. Mark Hamill
Eventually, Mark did find meaningful work outside of Star Wars and he did get to shed the mantle of Luke Skywalker for a while, but the fact remains that every time he showed up in a live-action movie people would likely cry out ‘There’s Luke!’ or make some Force-related joke. In fact, this point was made quite well on the show Just Shoot Me when Hamill guest-starred and David Spade’s character attempted to quiz him on all things Star Wars. Obviously Mark did find other ways to be famous since his voice role as the Joker made a big hit, but it took a while for him to really find anything else he could be known for.
3. Andrew Robinson
Does anyone remember the psychotic villain from Dirty Harry? This role stuck with Andrew for a while after his portrayal and kind of messed up a lot of movie deals moving forward since people thought that he really was just as crazy as his character. The problem with differentiating between the character and the actor though isn’t exactly the actor’s fault since Andrew did his best to make certain that people saw him in a different light. But sometimes the act is a little too convincing and people can’t get it out of their head. That’s the mark of a good actor in some ways, but it’s also their downfall at the end of the day.
2. Fred Gwynne
Think about having something like The Munsters as your calling card for a couple of decades. It’s not the worst thing in the world after all, but if it’s the only way that people know who you are then it’s likely to screw up any chances you have of being taken as a serious actor. Fred did manage to find a few roles moving forward, but not all that many and none that were too memorable until later on in life. One might remember that he had an important role in Pet Sematary at one point, which was uplifting in its own way since he managed to play the wise old neighbor. He also starred as the hard-nosed judge in My Cousin Vinny, which was a good role.
1. Anthony Perkins
It didn’t feel as if Anthony Perkins was really treated fairly after his role in Psycho since this was how people perceived him afterward. The movie was something intense and thrilling, but at the same time it was killing off his career with every passing minute since there was no way that he was going to be viewed as anyone but Norman Bates after it was all said and done. He created a great character and helped push a terrifying movie, but it came at the cost of his career.
Sometimes people just can’t see past a certain character.