Whether on the big or small screen, the most talented actors have a remarkable ability to enthrall an audience with their portrayal of a character. The impact of a great character can linger with us long after we’ve finished watching the film or television program, often in the form of affection but occasionally even hatred.
When someone can embody two roles that are wildly dissimilar from one another, it is all the more impressive. We might not even be aware that the actor playing both characters is one we are familiar with from earlier work. Check out some of the remarkably distinct roles and performances that the same actor has taken on…
Bryan Cranston: Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad
When it comes to portraying dramatically different characters on screen, Bryan Cranston is a master of all trades. Many people regard his iconic portrayal of Walter White’s transformation from shy high school chemistry teacher to cunning meth kingpin as one of the best acting performances in TV history.
In contrast to his earlier portrayal of the father Hal on the sitcom Malcolm In The Middle, Cranston plays White with such darkness by the end of the series. The patriarch of the family, who is good-natured, mild-mannered, and utterly lovable, displays some pretty amazing range from the actor.
Amy Adams: Catch Me If You Can and American Hustle
American Hustle, which is based on actual events involving two con artists who are coerced into participating in a sting operation by the FBI, showcases Amy Adams’ acting prowess to the fullest. She portrays the ideal blend of evil and tender as the mistress of serial killer Irving Rosenfeld.
In contrast to the innocent and nerdy Brenda Strong she portrays opposite Leonardo DiCaprio’s conman in Catch Me If You Can, she gives a polished performance in American Hustle. In her first significant role, Adams nailed the lovelorn nurse, showcasing the star she’d become.
Natalie Dormer: Hunger Games and Game Of Thrones
Natalie Dormer didn’t have to second guess the changes she would go through to play Cressida, the warrior woman, in The Hunger Games. She gave the role in the dystopian world her all, as evidenced by the fact that she only shaved part of her head.
In the popular television series Game Of Thrones, Maisie Williams plays the doe-eyed, elegant, but cunning Margaery Tyrell, in contrast to the tough-as-nails Cressida. She was able to be a formidable opponent for Queen Cersei, to put it mildly.
Oscar Isaac: Star Wars and X-Men: Apocalypse
Poe Dameron, a resistance star fighter in the most recent Star Wars trilogy, is a perfect match for the dashing Oscar Isaac, who nailed the role of the laid-back but rebellious pilot. In stark contrast to his role as the title antagonist in X-Men: Apocalypse, he is now one of the heroes fighting the First Order.
Isaac does not have a positive memory of his time spent on the movie set, despite being a part of another well-known franchise. For Isaac’s Apocalypse, hours of stage makeup and prosthetics may have rendered him unrecognizable and terrifying, but Isaac did everything he could to maintain his blue skin for the duration of the movie’s filming.
Halle Berry: Catwoman and Monster’s Ball
Halle Berry is a well-liked American actress who has given a number of standout screen appearances. Sadly, her performance in the 2004 film Catwoman has not been well remembered. For the movie that wasn’t quite the pinnacle of her career, she received a Razzie.
Berry was the first black woman to win an Oscar, which is hard to overcome despite winning an award for the year’s worst actress. A few years prior to playing the feline role, she won the prestigious statue for her performance as the lead in Monster’s Ball.
Natalie Portman: V For Vendetta and Jackie
In V For Vendetta, Natalie Portman transforms from a helpless damsel to a fearless revolutionary opposite Hugo Weaving. Portman exhibits a wide range of emotions as Evie in the movie, serving as V’s successor and trying to bring about change against the corrupt state.
In the movie Jackie, Portman transforms from a social outcast hiding in hiding to a polished First Lady. Jackie Kennedy is portrayed in the story as she struggles to balance her grief with her enormous responsibilities in order to carry on her late husband’s legacy.
James McAvoy: X-Men: First Class and Split
In the movie adaptation of the well-known comic book series X-Men: First Class, James McAvoy plays mutant leader Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, who organizes the team. Onscreen, his physical presence and emotional sensitivity are palpable as he envisions a coexisting world of mutants and humans that would be advantageous to all.
McAvoy flexes his acting muscles with the introduction of his character in Split, sporting 24 different distinct personalities and wreaking havoc on three teenage girls, as if playing the good guy weren’t impressive enough.
Zoe Saldana: Star Trek and Guardians Of The Galaxy
Long before the Guardians of the Galaxy film series was even a concept in the minds of movie producers, Zoe Saldana played Nyota Uhura in Star Trek. She brought independence and intelligence to the role that perhaps weren’t taken into account in the first season.
Saldana magically transformed into the marvel known as Gamora for the Marvel Cinematic Universe thanks to the magic of computer-generated imagery, giving the character a powerful, fearless presence. Even after spending hours on her hair, makeup, and motion capture suit, audiences are still in awe when they first see her character.
Margot Robbie: I, Tonya and Suicide Squad
Because of her portrayal of Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, Margot Robbie anticipated both widespread critical acclaim and some audience backlash. Her performance received a strong 9.5, making one of the bad guys in a well-known Olympics scandal from the 1990s into a genuinely sympathetic figure.
Similar to DC villain Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Robbie is equally adept at changing into her roles. Even though devoted comic book fans were critical of the movie, they praised Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn. Playing the eccentric and crazy main squeeze of the Joker is undoubtedly a difficult pair of clown shoes to fill.
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Gary Oldman: Fifth Element and Harry Potter
An alien clan hires industrialist Zorg, played by Gary Oldman, in The Fifth Element as their nemesis in order to take down special forces agents led by Bruce Willis. Oldman’s eccentric Zorg and distinctive appearance stand out in the movie, which has now gained some status as a cult classic from the 1990s.
Oldman breaks out of the easy bad guy role he played as fugitive Sirius Black in the wildly successful Harry Potter film series. Fans agree that Oldman was a great choice for the role, despite the fact that his character’s complex role required him to play both a villain and a loving godfather for the series.
Christian Bale: The Machinist and Batman Begins
Christian Bale is now well known as an actor who will do whatever it takes to physically commit to a role. He followed a diet of just an apple, water, and coffee for six months in order to lose 62 pounds for his role in the 2004 movie The Machinist.
He would put on weight six months later in preparation for his Batman debut in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Bale put on 100 pounds in order to reach 220 in order to play the Caped Crusader, who has a background in martial arts. These two roles are just a few illustrations of the actor’s commitment to his craft.
Claire Foy: The Crown and The Girl In The Spider’s Web
For the role of Queen Elizabeth II in the popular television series The Crown, Claire Foy’s skin tone and royal coloring made her the ideal choice. She was dressed in period-appropriate attire and accessorized with fake royal jewels so that she appeared just like the illustrious aristocrat.
Imagine our surprise when The Girl In The Spider’s Web (2018) cast the same Claire Foy as the lead. In stark contrast to her refined role in The Crown, Lisbeth Salander is a leather-clad, tough-as-nails teen with a shaven head and attitude to match.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Catch Me If You Can and Django Unchained
Acting as Frank Abagnale Jr. in Catch Me If You Can was one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s earliest roles that helped showcase the star he would eventually become. DiCaprio excels at playing both the sympathetic teenager fleeing a life-changing event and the slick, convincing con man who connives hundreds of people.
Calvin Candie, the owner of a notorious plantation in Django Unchained, is another colorful character that DiCaprio expertly captured. DiCaprio’s ability to be so smug about his cruelty mesmerizes the audience in Quentin Tarantino’s epic tale of a slave settling the score. For the sake of authenticity, Leo even cut his hand while filming a scene but continued.
Helena Bonham Carter: The Queen and Bellatrix Lestrange
Darkness and fantasy are prominently combined in Tim Burton movies. He frequently casts his ex-wife Helena Bonham Carter in his films. She assumes the role of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland and does an excellent job.
Beginning with the fourth movie, Bonham Carter’s terrifying portrayal of Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange delighted and frightened Harry Potter fans alike. Fans praised her for perfectly capturing the character’s cruelty and sociopathic playfulness.
Zac Efron: High School Musical and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile
In the Disney Channel film High School Musical, Zac Efron captivated teenage girls with his good looks. It was his breakthrough role that made audiences realize he would one day be a star as the endearing lead with additional musical talent.
In stark contrast, Efron’s award-winning portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile leaves us feeling shook to our very core. You can watch his too-accurate portrayal of terrifying real-life events on Netflix, which showcases the young actor’s versatility.