Many of our favorite actors have certain personas that follow them throughout their careers. We fall in love with them, and watch role after similar role. It’s comfortable film-viewing. We know what to expect (hello, Steven Seagal) and we are rarely disappointed.
However, there have been some exciting moments in movie casting history. Seeing a hero-by-trade as a villain adds a jarring effect to the film. Do we look away? Can we stand to see them playing so against type? Some of them are disappointing, some are overrated (Tom Cruise in “Magnolia,” Grace Kelly in “The Country Girl”), but often some pleasantly surprise us.
Here are seven of my favorites:
1) Anthony Hopkins in “Silence of the Lambs.” His performance was so incredible that he has not been able to escape it in the years since.
2) Henry Fonda in “Once Upon a Time in the West.” I grew up watching him in “Yours, Mine and Ours” and now he’s a murderous gunslinger?
3) Gregory Peck in “Boys From Brazil.” Atticus Finch as an evil Nazi.
4) Laurence Olivier in “Marathon Man.” Now we have Heathcliff as a Nazi, and adding to my paralyzing fear of the dentist. “Iz it safe?”
5) Robert Mitchum in “Ryan’s Daughter.” The tough, noir-era guy is now a sensitive, honorable man with an Irish accent.
6) Robert Stack and Peter Graves in “Airplane”: “Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?…Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
7) Patrick Swayze & Wesley Snipes in “Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar.” This is a good-hearted guilty pleasure. Swayze and Snipes in drag — need I say more?
And here are seven transitions I’d love to have seen or would love to see someday:
1) Dennis Hopper in something not psychotic of psychedelic.
2) Charles Bronson as a romantic hero.
3) Peter Lorre as a romantic hero.
4) Lee J. Cobb in anything upbeat and happy.
5) William Holden as a compelling villain.
6) Al Pacino and Jack Nicholson playing anything but the roles they’ve had for the past ten years.
7) James Dean as someone that wasn’t ridden with angst.
What are some of your favorites or some casting choices that you’d love to see?