Thursday, October 2, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #60: Cast Against Type

Thirteen Performers Who Were Cast Against Type

In the case of many performers, they get associated with a specific character type. On some occasions, the performer spreads their wings and takes on a role that is totally uncharacteristic from what we are used to seeing. Below are 13 examples of performers who took a chance by getting out of their acting comfort zone.

If you know of other examples where performers played against type, please feel free to list them in the comments section.

1. Lucille Ball- The funny redhead played a tough New York bag lady in the 1985 TV movie Stone Pillow.

2. Harry Belafonte- The smooth "Day-O" man appeared as Vito Corleone-like mobster Geechie Dan in the 1974 comedy Uptown Saturday Night.

3. Humphrey Bogart- The legendary tough guy played a gold prospector consumed by greed and paranoia in the 1948 classic Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

4. Diahann Carroll- The picture of class and elegance, Ms. Carroll glammed down to play a welfare mother of six in the 1974 comedy-drama Claudine.

5. Tony Curtis- Best known for playing light leading man roles, Curtis turned in arguably the best performance of his career as a slimy unscrupulous press agent in the 1957 drama Sweet Smell of Success.

6. Rodney Dangerfield- The legendary comic surprised many with his turn as the abusive father of Juliette Lewis in the 1994 film Natural Born Killers.

7. Bette Davis- The Warner Bros. diva earned her seventh Oscar nomination as an insecure spinster who finds love in the 1942 romantic drama Now, Voyager.

8. John Garfield- Best known for his roles as tough and cynical rebels, Garfield (pictured with co-star Anne Shirley) switched gears to play mild-mannered dreamer Rims Rosson in the 1940 comedy-drama Saturday's Children.

9. Andy Griffith- Widely known for playing such homespun nice guys as Sheriff Andy Taylor and lawyer Ben Matlock, Griffith was absolutely terrifying as a psychotic father in the 1995 TV movie Gramps.

10. Gene Kelly- The dapper song and dance man demonstrated his dramatic skills as cynical newspaperman E.K. Hornbeck in the 1960 film Inherit the Wind.

11. Richard Pryor- The controversial funny man showed off his serious side in the 1977 factory drama Blue Collar.

12. Edward G. Robinson- Best known for playing tough gangsters, Robinson portrayed a milquetoast clerk in the 1945 drama Scarlet Street.

13. Denzel Washington- The good guy leading man shocked many of us with his frightening Oscar-winning portrayal of rogue cop Alonzo Harris in the 2001 movie Training Day.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


pjazzypar said...

I forgot all about Lucille Ball in "Stone Pillow". Wonderful idea for a TT. Mine is up, but I haven't been able to get on the TT website.

Nicholas said...

Tony Curtis also played the Bostons Strangler in the film of the same name!

pussreboots said...

Great list. Happy TT.

BookMama said...

Malcolm, I just want to say thanks for the time you take to do your great Thursday Thirteens! And your Tuesday quiz, and everything else. I know I don't comment very often, but I read your blog every day and am always entertained and often enlightened. Thanks! :)

Lori said...

Great list and you are right about #13...but did you see American Gangster??? OUCH...he was bad. He is an awesome actor though. I love watching him in action. Happy TT.

Thembi Ford said...

great post!

Candy Minx said...

All very interesting roles and I enjoyed working my way down your list. I haven't seen them all, but I think most of them...Bette Davis, Denzel Washington, Tony Curtis, Humphrey Bogart...all true they were so against type.

I think I bgan to like Julia Roberts when she went against type in her "Law and Order" episodes and in "My Best Friends Wedding". I thought Nicole Kidman was amazing playing against her own image of squeaky clean red head in movie "Malice".

Amy's Blah, Blah, Blogging said...

I can't say I've seen any of these movies. I'm not really a big movie kind of watcher, but I'm sure it is interesting to see these well known actors go against how we have seen them in the past. It certainly would show their talent.

Unknown said...

Great t13! Mine is up at a daily dose.
A Daily Dose of Toni

Unknown said...

Great topic, now I have to remember to work on my trivia later...

Happy Thursday!
Hope you'll check out my TTs,
My Before 50 Bucket List & Great Picture Books

Meju said...

Great TT, I think Andy Griffith gone wrong is tooooo creepy!

Carmen said...

It's the against types that sometimes surprise you. :)

Bryan said...

How about Carol O Conner (Archie Bunker) as the sweet grandfather of the cursed Salinger kids in Party of Five.

Gattina said...

That was interesting to read !

Darla said...

I know there've been a lot of times when I've been surprised that an actor was playing a certain role, or playing in a certain type of movie, which was probably because they were playing against type, but right now all I can think of is tough guy Vin Diesel in Pacifier, and I'm not sure that's against type--as it was about a tough guy type having to deal with kids. (and not a particularly good movie, either.)

Anonymous said...

I would have to say Jack Lemmon. He usually played hilarious characters (The Out-of-Towners, The Great Race, The Odd Couple, etc.), but played against type as an alcoholic in Days of Wine and Roses.

Pop Art Diva Enterprises said...

What a great TT, Malcolm! And you really picked some great ones for it. I never even heard of "Gramps" with Andy Griffith, I think I'd like to see him play that role!

I posted my favorite shows of the Fall season, but posted it to my Boob Tube Blog since it was not "retro" tv, lol!

BookMama said...

Malcolm, I just tagged you for a non-partisan "Don't Vote" meme, which actually encourages people to register and vote. The accompanying video is very funny. See the post at my site.

I know you don't usually blog about politics but I hope you'll consider it for your blog. :) - BookMama

Cindy Swanson said...

What a terrific list, Malcolm. I usually like it when actors go against type...we get to see a whole different side of them.

Holly Smith said...

I love this idea for TT. Andy Griffith played a crabby old man in Waitress and it was hard for me to see him be kind of a I really can't imagine him as a psycho grandpa at all :).

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy: I was debating on whether to put Lucille Ball on this T13 because I was thinking about using this as a future trivia question. Who knows, I still might.

Nicholas: The Boston Strangler is a good one. When Tony sent headshots of himself in character to the producers, they didn't recognize him at first.

Bookmama: Thanks!! It's always great to hear when my efforts are appreciated. As for the "Don't Vote" meme, I'm going to take a pass. Thanks for thinking of me though.

Lori: I haven't seen American Gangster yet. I've heard good things about it though. For years, I used to tell my best friend that Denzel should play an out-and-out bad guy. As you can guess, I was pleased that he took a chance with his role in Training Day.

Candy: I'll have to look for those Law and Order episodes with Julia Roberts. I've never been a big fan of her persona, so maybe I too might appreciate seeing her play against type.

Amy: You're not a movie watcher? That's borderline blasphemous. :-)

Meju: You are right... evil Andy is creepy. Another uncharacteristic role he did was in the 1957 movie "A Face In the Crowd". TCM airs it on a fairly regular basis if you are interested.

Carmen and Jim: This is true.

Bryan: Carroll's role in PO5 is a good call on your part. I never would have pegged you as a PO5 fan. That was one of my favorite shows when it aired.

Gattina: Thanks

Darla: I wouldn't argue that Vin wasn't playing against type in The Pacifier. As long as he wasn't maiming and killing the kids, I think it counts as playing against type.

Cooking Mom: Jack's role in Days of Wine and Roses is a good example of playing against type. I've seen that movie countless times. Me and my sister often recite lines from it. Even though I own the DVD, I will still watch it if it airs on TV.

Pop Art Diva: I caught "Gramps" on the Encore Drama channel about 5 years ago. He was even more terrifying in that movie than he was in "A Face In the Crowd".

Cindy: I agree. I like to see a performer put their career on the line by stepping out of their comfort zone.

Holly: Thanks. The first time I saw Andy play against type was in an episode of The Bionic Woman. Although he wasn't an evil psycho, he was a bit grumpy... the anti-Andy Taylor. Since I saw that Bionic Woman episode when I was a kid, it made it easier for me to see him in roles like "A Face In the Crowd" and "Gramps".

Waitress is yet another movie on my ever growing list of films I want to see.

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