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30 June 2010

What actor or actress can you totally NOT picture in any other role besides their signature one?[More:]For me, it's Roy Scheider. He IS Chief Brody, and it just seems bizarre to have Chief Brody dancing in "All that Jazz". Who's yours?
I have two patients (husband and wife) that love the old TV show, In the Heat of the Night. We have TVs in my workplace and they tune in to this show when they arrive. I never watched this show but have now seen many episodes. It's strange seeing Archie Bunker playing a police chief with a southern accent. I'm getting used to it.
posted by LoriFLA 30 June | 09:26
I'm not sure who I've struggled with, but I was realizing the other day that Bryan Cranston has done an EXCELLENT job of making me forget he was ever Malcolm's dad on Malcolm in the Middle.

I think Ian McShane might be Al Swearengen to me forever though. I'm okay with that.
posted by richat 30 June | 09:41
Hugh Laurie will always be Bertie Wooster to me. I just can't imagine him as anyone else, which is why I could only stomach five minutes of a single episode of House.

Richat, Ian McShane will always be Lovejoy.
posted by Senyar 30 June | 09:56
Lance Henriksen will always be Frank Black.
posted by sperose 30 June | 10:03
senyar...I never saw a moment of Lovejoy! So, for me, Ian McShane was a guy I hardly knew before Swearengen got SEARED INTO MY BRAIN.

It's interesting how one actor can be different things to different folks eh?
posted by richat 30 June | 10:26
to me Roy Scheider will always be identified with the Bob Fosse Charcter he played in All That Jazz . It's Showtime Folks !
posted by rollick 30 June | 10:34
mine are all going to out me as a huge dork, but that's probably no big reveal here:

Hugo Weaving = Agent Smith. I could NOT get used to him in LOTR, and it tended to really jar my suspension of disbelief.

Likewise, I now have difficulty seeing Elijah Wood as anything but Frodo, or Daniel Radcliffe as anything but Harry Potter, no matter how many other roles they take on.

Leonard Nimoy = Spock. There is no other.

also, what Senyar said about Hugh Laurie. I was a HUGE Jeeves & Wooster fan in the early 90's and have the whole series on DVD, in fact. House is just... not my thing, I guess.
posted by lonefrontranger 30 June | 10:47
Ian McShane will always be Lovejoy and Hugh Laurie will always be The Prince Of Wales.
posted by arse_hat 30 June | 11:05
The entire Seinfeld cast, which is why, of all their later sitcoms, only Julia Louis-Dreyfus' "Old Cristine" survived more than one season. Really iconic TV comedies trap most of their cast: "M*A*S*H", "Cheers", "Taxi". Andy Griffith as "Matlock"? No way!

Another odd example: Most of the actors who played The Doctor; oddly, I accept different faces in the role, but Tom Baker or Chris Eccleston as something else? No way. Related: I can't see Alex Kingston as River Song on that show without thinking "ER!"

And, sorry, Gillian Anderson, you ARE Scully.
posted by oneswellfoop 30 June | 11:18
Hugh Laurie will always be Bertie Wooster to me.


And for the first 5 or 6 episodes of Deadwood, I had big Lovejoy/Swearengen dissonance, but now Ian McShane is all Swearengen all the time.

I got very freaked out when Stringer Bell showed up on The Office. Idris Elba will always be a Baltimore drug lord. Even though he's English.
posted by gaspode 30 June | 11:42
Leonard Nimoy = Spock. There is no other.

I liked Quinto as Spock right up until he met the old Spock. Nimoy totally outclassed Quinto as soon as he opened his mouth. That voice IS Spock.
posted by octothorpe 30 June | 12:09
And, sorry, Gillian Anderson, you ARE Scully.

Have to disagree with you on that. Anderson's a fine actress — has two or three times David Duchovny's acting ability — and with all that can be done with makeup, hairstyling and costuming, it's not hard to make her look nothing like Scully. I saw a TV version of Bleak House one night on TV and kept thinking, I know that actress from somewhere... but where? It must have taken me ten minutes to figure out it was Gillian Anderson. Although her Bleak House character, like Scully, was a restrained and serious woman, it was a completely different kind of restraint and seriousness, and she really did seem like a completely different person. Oh, and by the way, she sounds nothing like Scully. She was voted "Most Bizarre Girl" of her high school class and was arrested on graduation night for trying to glue the front doors of her school shut. Does that sound like Scully to you?

I have read that Larry Linville, who was the moronic Frank Burns on M*A*S*H, had always played villains prior to that. When they were casting for the show, it was a near thing because those in charge were saying the public wasn't going to accept Linville as funny, because they thought of him as evil. Now you can't imagine him being a villain, at least not one you would take seriously. Linville was *nothing* like Frank Burns. He built small planes and flew them for a hobby. He spent his post-M*A*S*H career as a theatre director. Alan Alda said of him that he was a real Renaissance man who could talk more intelligently on more topics than anyone he ever knew. Linville could play the stupid, hypocritical, selfish and greedy Frank Burns so convincingly because he was a talented actor.

I think often it's a failing on our part, rather than the actors, that we can't "see" actors as anyone other than their best-known character.
posted by Orange Swan 30 June | 12:17
I liked Quinto as Spock right up until he met the old Spock. Nimoy totally outclassed Quinto as soon as he opened his mouth. That voice IS Spock.

Bingo. Quinto nailed the look and mannerisms but his light tenor doesn't quite cut it, and it serves to make the character sound a bit more whiny/nerdily pedantic than he should. Spock is an authoritative, no-bullshit baritone.
posted by lonefrontranger 30 June | 13:36
I got very freaked out when Stringer Bell showed up on The Office.
Me too! We kept waiting to find out that he was hiding drugs in the paper shipments or using Dunder Mifflin as a front to launder money. And yes, McShane is completely Swearengen.

I had a really hard time accepting Terry O'Quinn as John Locke because he was The Stepfather to me for so long. Likewise, Rutger Hauer will always be the scary guy from The Hitcher.
posted by jrossi4r 30 June | 13:50
I got very freaked out when Stringer Bell showed up on The Office.

I loved the Idris Elba arc on "The Office"! Charles brought a refreshing whiff of reality to the show, which only highlighted how bugnuts insane the whole place is.

[Hardcore nerd alert.] One subtle but really fascinating thing about Charles: his body language is typically so direct and assertive, as you'd expect from a powerful executive... but when he speaks to David Wallace (Andy Buckley), the CEO, Idris Elba softens his body language to mirror Wallace's. Until I saw him perform that shift, I'd never noticed that Wallace's posture and gestures were so self-effacing, so non-confrontational, so shrinking from any trouble. That little dynamic really illuminated a lot about the show and, paradoxically, made the whole ridiculous scenario much more believable for me.
posted by Elsa 30 June | 14:31
Oh, and I do have an answer to the original question, but it's A) an actor who's still doing smaller parts and B) kinda spoiler-y for "Six Feet Under":

Whenever I see Michael Weston, I get the shivers. Even though he often plays a sweetheart of a guy, his performance in the "That's My dog" episode of "Six Feet's Under" is indelible.
posted by Elsa 30 June | 14:37
I remember being very disturbed when Jed Clampett turned into some kind of private investigator. He's a hillbilly, dammit.

There are lots of actors like this for me, especially on TV. It probably denotes some kind of inflexibility in my personality.
posted by DarkForest 30 June | 16:35
Chuck Norris is Walker, Texas Ranger, and that's ALL.
posted by toastedbeagle 30 June | 16:38
I watched Gillian Anderson in the movie of The House of Mirth. But she was still Scully. Scully being SO SAD!
posted by DarkForest 30 June | 16:40
Anthony Perkins. The first movie I saw him in was Psycho, and I've subsequently seen him in other roles, but my brain always freezes for a moment and thinks "OMG there's Norman Bates!!!"
posted by amyms 30 June | 16:55
I more have issues with actors who are always the same character in every movie. Kevin Costner is ALWAYS Kevin Costner, wheather he has gills or plays baseball or is building it so they will come.

No matter what, the moment he opens his mouth James Earl Jones IS Darth Vader. If you really want a messed up experience, get ahold of a copy of his early 70s movie "End of the Road" with Stacy Keach. It's a very messed up little film, but seeing a skinny J.E.J. jive talkin' and spouting hippie lunacy will make your head 'asplode.
posted by evilcupcakes 30 June | 21:09
Eddie Deezen always played Eddie Deezen.
posted by King of Prontopia 30 June | 21:20
With the exception of Tommy Chong, the entire cast of That 70s Show.
posted by box 30 June | 21:41
Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe. Which adds an interesting subtext to Dirty Dancing.
posted by box 30 June | 21:42
evilcupcakes, it sounds like you might enjoy The Vader Sessions.
posted by Elsa 30 June | 21:52
Ian McShane is also only Lovejoy to me, and Jeremy Brett is Sherlock Holmes, so seeing him in My Fair Lady was a bit odd.
posted by TrishaLynn 01 July | 13:30
How in the hell (pun intended) did this thread get so far with absolutely NO MENTION of Linda Blair? Amazing.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 01 July | 19:10
You guys are crazy. Watching actors do roles different from their iconic ones is one of my greater pleasures.
posted by dhartung 01 July | 22:40
Am I the only one who thinks that Ian McShane will always be Disraeli?

When I went to look this up on imdb, I was thinking, "Yeah, that old BBC mini-series from a few years back."

Woah, 1978 !!??!!??!!??

Gosh, I feel old.
posted by marsha56 03 July | 00:51
Photo Friday Heads Up: Storms || “Been around the world and I, I, I… I can’t find my baby”