15 Iconic Actors Who Always Play the Same Roles in Movies

For whatever reason, some actors always play the same characters in every movie they're in. Here are our favorites and why!
15 Iconic Actors Who Always Play the Same Roles in Movies

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There are some actors who, no matter what character they're playing, always seem to play themselves. The characters are meant to be different, but for whatever reason we only see the actor.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it's not always due to an actor lacking acting skills or acting range.

Sometimes, they're actually quite good at acting—but maybe they acted so well in a particular role that they've become typecasted.

It's almost like these actors are so uniquely identifiable with their own personas that they've become their own character franchise of sorts.

Here are our picks for the best actors who (generally) play the same roles in every movie and pull it off well!

15. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Dwayne Johnson is a pro-wrestling champion turned Hollywood celebrity who carried his wrestling alias—first "Rocky" and then "The Rock"—from the ring to the big screen.

Sadly, no matter how hard he tries, it appears that his origin as a pro-wrestler continues to cling to him, making him unable to shake off his iconic image as "The Rock."

Johnson plays the ripped action hero in nearly every movie role, even when dipping his toes into comedy and family films.

His most notable roles include The Mummy Returns (2001), San Andreas (2015), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and, of course, the Fast and Furious franchise.

14. Jennifer Coolidge

Jennifer Coolidge doesn't just play the same bizarre character in every movie—she's also like that in real life. Ditzy, offbeat, and able to make anyone laugh, it's never entirely clear whether Coolidge is acting or being genuine, whether on- or off-screen.

The White Lotus co-star Haley Lu Richardson admitted that even she wasn't sure whether Coolidge was always in-character or not.

Most people just assume it's her personality—one that translates so well on screen that she just stays that way for her roles!

Underneath all her "dumb blonde" charm is perfect comedic timing and intelligence. You can find this in movies like American Pie (1999), Legally Blonde (2001), and A Cinderella Story (2004).

13. Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum isn't only known for his exceedingly good looks (though that plays a big part in his persona). His impressive dance skills are what really help him stand out.

Catching his first wave of mainstream popularity with the hip-hopping musical drama Step Up (2006), Tatum went on to swoon viewers with his strikingly handsome face and shirtless handstands, even leading as the sexy stripper in Magic Mike (2012).

Although Tatum has occasionally branched out into other genres, he's mainly known for comedy and romance. But whether it's Dear John (2010) or 21 Jump Street (2012), Tatum will always be the cool guy.

12. Jack Black

In 2016, Jack Black made the bold statement that he may be quitting acting forever. Why? Because he's bored of all the repetitve roles—or, in other words, being the "lovable loser."

We can't blame him! It must get tiring bumbling around as the same nerdy guy with a big heart. But we also can't blame the casting directors who select him for these parts. After all, he's so good at it!

Jack Black's biggest claim to fame was as the failing rock star Dewey Finn in School of Rock (2003), who poses as a substitute teacher for some cash and ends up entering his class in Battle of the Bands.

After that, Black reclaimed similar characters in Nacho Libre (2006), Kung Fu Panda (2008), and Gulliver's Travels (2010). Luckily, Black did eventually decide to continue his career!

11. Ryan Reynolds

Even before Deadpool (2016), Ryan Reynolds was already fairly famous. He's always been a conventionally attractive Hollywood actor, and he usually starred as the playboy in comedies.

He had his first stab at the superhero market in 2011 with Green Lantern, a role he's gone on to mock several times. He also starred in Waiting... (2005), The Proposal (2009), Buried (2010), and The Change-Up (2011).

And when Deadpool happened, he became really famous. In that film, Ryan Reynolds didn't play Deadpool—Deadpool played Ryan Reynolds, the sarcastic actor who isn't so different from the sarcastic characters he always plays.

10. Jeff Goldblum

Jeff Goldblum is so iconic an actor, he parodied his own pose from Jurassic Park (1993) in a photo shoot 27 years later.

Leaning back with his shirt spread open, Goldblum did some fan service on Instagram by recreating one of his most famous roles from the Steven Spielberg classic.

Jurassic Park wasn't the only time Goldblum played an oddball scientist. Think The Fly (1986) and Independence Day (1996), in which he also infused his inventor characters with a strange sort of charisma.

Jeff Goldblum always brings an eccentric, manic energy that fans love. Combined with his distinctive voice, he gives us characters on the big screen that no other actor can embody.

9. Michael Cera

Michael Cera's awkward performances and eccentric style make him a one-of-a-kind gem of comedy.

Whether it's as the lanky teen or the oddball sidekick, Cera perfectly embodies the essence of a geek. Despite his wispy voice and blank expressions, Cera has a distinctly matchless on-screen presence.

Michael Cera's acting career really took off in 2007 when he starred in the highly successful indie flicks Superbad and Juno.

He carried that same energy forward into Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), which infamously blended a comic book story with coming-of-age comedy.

8. Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan is the modern-day equivalent of Bruce Lee, with a hefty dose of masterful comedy mixed in.

A kung fu master with an aptitude for slapstick, Chan is a family-favorite movie star who kicks his way through comedic drama. Chinese culture and American humor are united by Chan's iconic performances as the lovable action hero.

You can find his hilarious action-oriented antics in his famous collaborations with Chris Tucker in Rush Hour (1998) and with Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon (2000) and Shanghai Knights (2003).

He also brought a new dimension to the character of Mr. Miyagi (or Mr. Han) with his touching portrayal in 2010's The Karate Kid.

7. Seth Rogen

Why does Seth Rogen always play a stoner in movies? Well, probably because he's a stoner in real life! So much so that Rogen even launched his own marijuana company (Houseplant) in California.

Most don't know that Rogen is also a writer, having started his writing career at the tender age of 13 with the first draft of Superbad (2007), which wouldn't be turned into a movie until 15 years later.

But for the most part, Rogen can be found fogging up the lens with comedy flicks like The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), Pineapple Express (2008), The Interview (2014), and many more.

With James Franco often by his side, Seth Rogen has proven his talents for writing, acting, and furthering the stoner archetype.

6. Paul Rudd

Nowadays, there aren't many actors left who haven't been in a superhero or supervillain role. Even esteemed names like Christian Bale and Jake Gyllenhaal have appeared in the MCU!

That said, most actors bend to the fantastical needs of their character, like Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange (2016) and Robert Pattinson in The Batman (2022).

But Paul Rudd's superhero role is just himself in spandex. As Rudd once put it, Ant-Man is "just a regular guy" who also happens to be a superhero, and isn't particularly keen on it.

So maybe it makes sense that Ant-Man is basically like all the other characters Paul Rudd has played: endearing, handsome, funny, and somewhat stupid yet well-intentioned.

You can see more of the same in movies like Wet Hot American Summer (2001), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Role Models (2008), and I Love You, Man (2009).

5. Jim Carrey

The thing about Jim Carrey is that he has a surprisingly wide acting range, thanks to his dedicated method acting.

In fact, did you know Jim Carrey was literally trained by the CIA to endure torture for his role in 2000's The Grinch?

But most moviegoers remember him best for his zany personality and hilarious slapstick. Few actors can control their facial muscles as well as Carrey, who can contort his face to a caricature-like degree.

Jim Carrey's most extreme and cartoonish characters can be found in The Mask (1994), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Liar Liar (1997), Bruce Almighty (2003), and even Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) as Dr. Robotnik.

4. Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis is undoubtedly Hollywood's number one action hero—or, at least, he used to be back in his heyday. Detective, superhero, or black ops agent? Bruce Willis has played them all.

A hard man with good morals, Willis always defeats the bad guys while things explode behind him or time bends backwards.

Bruce Willis's reputation as a leading man started with the oft-debated "Christmas movie" Die Hard (1988), then carried on with Armageddon (1998), Unbreakable (2000), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Looper (2012), and, of course, the rest of the Die Hard movies.

3. Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell is one of the most recognizable faces in American comedy, whether as the happy-go-lucky elf in Elf (2003), the cocky anchorman in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), or the man-child stepbrother in Step Brothers (2008).

Everyone's seen at least one of these Will Ferrell personas, and they all share a sort of child-like quality—an ignorance to the world around him—that only Ferrell can pull off in a convincing manner.

Will Ferrell often takes an absurd approach to masculinity, with his characters manifesting as the loser, the child, the failing everyman. He's perfect for any mismatched buddy movie, and often stars alongside John C. Reilly and Mark Wahlberg.

2. Ricky Gervais

If there's one trait that unites every Ricky Gervais performance, it's sarcasm. King of dry British humor, Gervais rarely plays a character who doesn't have a bitterly pessimistic view of humanity.

The stand-up comedian launched his mainstream on-screen career as the awkwardly inappropriate David Brent in the UK version of The Office, then went on to write most of his own work since.

The uncomfortable silences and underdog humor in The Office shaped Gervais's reputation, and he took that with him into films like Ghost Town (2008) and The Invention of Lying (2009), as well as the critically acclaimed After Life series on Netflix.

1. Bill Murray

Bill Murray is practically a character to himself. He has no particular genre or archetype—hero or villain, comedy or drama, character or cameo—yet it rarely feels like he's assuming a character.

Bill Murray is always playing Bill Murray, regardless of the film's time period, setting, or character. Even the animated ginger cat in Garfield (2004) was still just a disembodied Bill Murray.

Murray has had a long run of leading roles, including Ghostbusters (1984), Groundhog Day (1993), and Lost in Translation (2003). But he also loves to make cameo appearances where viewers can have that "Hey look, it's Bill Murray!" moment.

As a long-time collaborator of Wes Anderson, Billy Murray has popped up in films like Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). But he's also appeared in films like Zombieland (2009), in which he literally played himself!