Best Actors Tackling 10 Diverse Roles in the Year 2023


Best Actors Tackling 10 Diverse Roles in the Year 2023

Actors possess an extraordinary talent for morphing into diverse characters across various movies. It’s like they have magical powers! They can go from playing a villain in one film to a hero in another, showcasing their amazing acting skills. These talented individuals refuse to be typecast and constantly seek out new and exciting roles.

But hold on, there’s more! Some actors take it a step further and dive into iconic roles that truly make them stand out. Picture this: they not only play different characters but also tackle completely contrasting roles in the same year. It’s mind-blowing! It’s like watching a superhero transform into a supervillain right before your eyes.

Prepare to be amazed as we dive into the fascinating world of actors who have achieved this incredible feat. We’re talking about stars who have the ability to seamlessly shift from one extreme to another, displaying an unbelievable range and versatility.

Each celebrity mentioned in this list had a year filled with jaw-dropping performances that spanned from one end of the spectrum to the other. Can you believe it? If you think they absolutely nailed both roles, go ahead and show your love for these exceptional performers. Let’s give them a round of applause!

1. Robin Williams – ‘Good Will Hunting’ And ‘Flubber’ (1997)

Robin Williams - 'Good Will Hunting' And 'Flubber' (1997)
Robin Williams had a long and successful career, playing a variety of characters across different genres. While he initially gained fame in the comedy show Mork & Mindy, he quickly transitioned to headlining movies that showcased his incredible improvisational skills. However, Williams also proved his talent in more serious roles, earning Academy Awards for his dramatic performances.

In 1997, Williams appeared in four films, two of which received significant recognition: Flubber and Good Will Hunting. In Flubber, he took on the role previously held by Fred MacMurray in The Absent-Minded Professor, effortlessly capturing MacMurray’s charm while adding his own unique hilarity to every scene.

In Good Will Hunting, Williams portrayed Dr. Sean Maguire, a psychologist assigned to help the film’s protagonist, Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon). Maguire’s character is a delightful combination of charm, sensitivity, and humor – qualities often associated with Williams himself. Despite the film’s serious tone, Williams managed to infuse moments of laughter through his improvised lines, such as the memorable story about his character’s deceased wife’s flatulence:

“She used to fart in her sleep. One night it was so loud it woke the dog up. She woke up and was like, ‘Oh, was that you?’ I’d go, ‘Yeah’ – I just didn’t have the heart to tell her.”

This performance in Good Will Hunting stands in stark contrast to his zany work in Flubber, highlighting the incredible range and versatility of Williams as an actor.

2. Gary Oldman – ‘Leon: The Professional’ And ‘Immortal Beloved’ (1994)

Gary Oldman - 'Leon: The Professional' And 'Immortal Beloved' (1994)
Gary Oldman is widely regarded as one of the great actors of his generation. His remarkable ability to completely immerse himself in any role he takes on is a testament to his talent. From portraying the ancient Count Dracula to the futuristic Dr. Smith in Lost In Space, Oldman has shown his versatility time and time again.

In 1994, Oldman showcased his skills in two very different films. First, he portrayed the corrupt DEA agent Norman Stansfield in Luc Besson’s Léon: The Professional. Later that year, he took on the role of the renowned German composer Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved.

Stansfield, in Léon: The Professional, is a truly terrifying character. He seamlessly transitions from being calm and reserved to unleashing his rage with ear-shattering screams. Many consider Stansfield to be an underrated cinematic villain.

In Immortal Beloved, the film revolves around a letter left by Beethoven after his death. Oldman’s portrayal of Beethoven is truly impressive as he brings the composer to life on screen. The movie delves into Beethoven’s life, showcasing his brilliance, anger, and frustration through various flashbacks.

Director Bernard Rose praised Oldman’s approach to the role in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. He described how Oldman would take inspiration from actors like Richard Burton and even incorporate elements from Robert De Niro’s iconic scenes in Taxi Driver. Oldman’s ability to flawlessly execute even the most obscure suggestions was truly remarkable. In addition to his prodigious talent, Rose also highlighted Oldman’s comedic abilities, suggesting that he would excel in a comedy role.

Overall, Gary Oldman’s talent and his dedication to his craft are evident in the diverse range of characters he has portrayed throughout his career.

3. Morgan Freeman – ‘Glory’ And ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ And ‘Lean on Me’ (1989)

Morgan Freeman - 'Glory' And 'Driving Miss Daisy' And 'Lean on Me' (1989)
In 1989, Morgan Freeman had a busy year with three standout performances in different films. First, he played US Army Sgt. Major John Rawlins in Glory, where he delivered a heartfelt performance that made him a standout character among the many great ones in the film. His memorable monologue as Rawlins is still remembered today:

“And who are you? So full of hate that you have to fight everybody, because you’ve been whipped and chased by hounds. Well, that might not be living, but it sure as hell ain’t dying. And dying’s been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying for you, fool. And all this time I keep askin’ myself, when, O Lord, when gonna be our time? Gonna come a time when we all gonna hafta ante up and kick in like men! Like men! You watch who you callin’ n*gger! If there’s any n*ggers around here, it’s you, just some stupidass, swamp runnin’ n*gger, and if you not careful, that’s all you ever gonna be!”

Later in the same year, Freeman portrayed the character of chauffeur Hoke Colburn in Driving Miss Daisy, a film that explores the relationship between a wealthy Southern widow, Daisy Werthan, and her chauffeur over a 25-year period. Freeman’s performance in this reprisal of the off-Broadway production was a shining example of his talent for creating captivating and believable characters.

Finally, Freeman took on the lead role in Lean on Me, a biographical drama about Joe Louis Clark and his struggles as the principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ, in the late 1980s. Freeman’s portrayal of Clark was both poignant and authoritative, capturing the essence of the man’s challenges. This powerful film resonates with viewers as it depicts a real-life struggle that many can relate to.

4. Michael Keaton – ‘Beetlejuice’ And ‘Clean and Sober’ (1988)

Michael Keaton - 'Beetlejuice' And 'Clean and Sober' (1988)
Michael Keaton had a string of hits in the 1980s, and his role as Batman in 1989 solidified his status as a top actor. But it was the year before that he showcased his versatility with two wildly different performances. In Beetlejuice, he played the mischievous ghost tasked with getting rid of troublesome house occupants. This iconic role is often considered one of Keaton’s best.

Interestingly, Keaton admitted that he initially didn’t fully grasp the character of Beetlejuice. However, he eventually got on board and even took charge of designing the character’s distinctive look. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Keaton revealed that director Tim Burton never saw any of his ideas. He wanted Beetlejuice to have wild hair that looked like it had been electrocuted and to have a moldy appearance because Burton had described the character as living under rocks. Keaton took a risk, showing up on set with his unique interpretation, uncertain of how Burton would react.

Just four months after the success of Beetlejuice, Keaton tackled a completely different role in Clean and Sober. In this drama, he portrayed Daryl Poynter, a real estate agent struggling with addiction. Keaton’s performance in this film earned him rave reviews, and it’s so distinct from his role in Beetlejuice that it’s easy to forget it’s the same actor playing both parts.

5. Vincent D’Onofrio – ‘Full Metal Jacket’ And ‘Adventures in Babysitting’ (1987)

Vincent D'Onofrio - 'Full Metal Jacket' And 'Adventures in Babysitting' (1987)
Vincent D’Onofrio kickstarted his acting career in 1983, but it was in 1987 that he truly made his mark. His breakthrough came with his portrayal of Pvt. Leonard “Gomer Pyle” Lawrence in Stanley Kubrick’s intense Vietnam War drama, Full Metal Jacket. In the film’s first half, which centers around a group of trainees at a US Marines boot camp, D’Onofrio’s performance as Lawrence is nothing short of captivating.

As Pvt. Lawrence, D’Onofrio convincingly portrays a deeply troubled young man who endures relentless abuse during his training. The pinnacle of his performance occurs during a powerful scene in the latrine, which has earned him widespread acclaim for his unwavering dedication and intensity. Reflecting on the film’s 30th anniversary, D’Onofrio shared his perspective:

“It was just acting. I was young and a confident actor, so I didn’t experience nervousness… I approached the role with a clear vision and gradually, Kubrick started to recognize and appreciate my interpretation. He never raised any concerns, so I just kept doing what I believed in.”

During the same year, D’Onofrio also had a smaller role in Adventures in Babysitting. In this film, he portrays the character of Dawson, a mechanic who exudes a different kind of intensity. Unlike Pvt. Lawrence, Dawson is a well-toned, physically fit individual who bears a resemblance to Thor from the Marvel Comics Universe. The contrast between the two characters is apparent in their appearance and demeanor.

6. James Earl Jones – ‘The Greatest’ And ‘Star Wars’ (1977)

James Earl Jones - 'The Greatest' And 'Star Wars' (1977)
James Earl Jones had a prolific career that began in 1964. By 1977, he had already appeared in five films, although he wasn’t credited in one of them. Let’s delve into that in a moment. One of his notable roles during this time was portraying Malcolm X in the biopic The Greatest, which depicted the life of Muhammad Ali, with Ali himself playing the lead role.

Jones delivered a remarkable performance as Malcolm X, showcasing his immense talent. It wasn’t until Denzel Washington took on the challenge in his 1992 biopic that Jones faced a worthy competitor in portraying the Black Nationalist leader. In a complete contrast, Jones also took on the role of Darth Vader in 1977. However, he only provided the character’s iconic voice, while the physical presence of Vader was portrayed by the towering British actor David Prowse.

Initially, Jones didn’t feel the need to be credited for his vocal work alone. However, as time went on, he recognized the impact his voice had on immortalizing one of cinema’s greatest villains. This led to him becoming an international celebrity, and he continued to lend his voice to Vader for over 40 years. In a 2023 interview, Jones shared how he landed the role.

According to Jones, George Lucas had initially hired David Prowse but desired a “darker voice,” not in terms of ethnicity but in terms of timbre. Rumor has it that Lucas even considered Orson Welles for the role, but he may have been too recognizable. Eventually, Lucas settled on a voice that belonged to someone born in Mississippi, raised in Michigan, and even struggled with a stutter at one point – James Earl Jones himself.

7. Edward Norton – ‘Primal Fear’ And ‘Everyone Says I Love You’ And ‘The People Vs. Larry Flynt’ (1996)

Edward Norton - 'Primal Fear' And 'Everyone Says I Love You' And 'The People Vs. Larry Flynt' (1996)
Edward Norton is one of those rare actors who can truly captivate an audience with their performance. In his first film, Primal Fear, he takes on the role of Aaron Stampler, a young man accused of a priest’s murder. Stampler suffers from dissociative identity disorder, with one of his alter egos, Roy, being the actual killer.

Primal Fear is a legal drama that showcases Norton’s incredible range as an actor. You don’t even need to watch multiple movies to see his versatility, as this film alone offers it all. However, Norton didn’t stop there and appeared in more films in 1996.

One of those films was Woody Allen’s only musical, Everyone Says I Love You. Norton’s character, Holden Spence, gets to show off his singing talents in three musical numbers. This romantic comedy is quite different from Primal Fear, but Norton effortlessly transitions between the two genres.

In addition to these two films, Norton also starred in The People vs. Larry Flynt, a biopic about the life and legal troubles of Hustler founder Larry Flynt. In this film, Norton portrays Flynt’s attorney, Alan Isaacman. Although some aspects of the character are fictionalized, Norton’s portrayal is spot-on.

Norton’s debut year in the film industry was a remarkable one, with three outstanding performances that earned him well-deserved recognition. In fact, his work in Primal Fear even earned him an Academy Award nomination.

8. Adam Driver – ‘Marriage Story’ And ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ (2019)

Adam Driver - 'Marriage Story' And 'The Rise of Skywalker' (2019)
Adam Driver’s portrayal of Kylo Ren in the Star Wars prequel trilogy has divided fans, but it’s hard to deny that he brought depth to the character. A major factor in this was the intensity of Driver’s performance. Throughout the films, he transformed Kylo Ren from a villain to a hero, and this character arc culminated in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker in 2019.

Interestingly, Driver initially had reservations about taking on the role. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he expressed his concerns about bigger-budget movies sacrificing character and story for spectacle. However, when director J.J. Abrams approached him, Driver was reassured by Abrams’ focus on character and story. Despite his apprehensions, Driver, being a fan of the franchise, saw the fear as motivation to take on the challenge.

In the same year, Driver also starred alongside Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story, a film that explored the painful journey of a couple going through a bitter divorce. In this role, Driver showcased his acting prowess and emotional range as Charlie Barber. This performance further solidified his talent beyond his final Star Wars appearance.

9. Jim Carrey – ‘Eternal Sunshine’ And ‘Lemony Snicket’ (2004)

Jim Carrey - 'Eternal Sunshine' And 'Lemony Snicket' (2004)
Jim Carrey’s career has followed a similar trajectory to Robin Williams, as he started in comedy and then ventured into drama, only to return to comedy again. Carrey’s comedic work from the 1990s onwards has been iconic, but he has also proven his versatility as an actor. A notable example of this is his portrayal of Joel Barish in the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

In the movie, Barish decides to have his memories of his ex-girlfriend erased, only to realize that she had done the same. The film takes us through the procedure as Barish struggles to reverse his decision by reliving various memories with his ex. Many critics and viewers found the movie to be touching, well-written, and well-acted. Carrey shared his thoughts on the role in a 2019 interview:

“It wasn’t just about memory. It was about being erased. It offered a different perspective. The strongest attraction for me was the feeling of being erased. That’s a heavy emotion. That’s what struck me about the script. When he discovers that she has erased him, it’s a brutal blow to anyone’s ego, especially a male ego.”

“I loved the concept of the memories going in reverse. There were so many elements that set it apart from your typical memory-loss movie. I particularly enjoyed the clunky, sci-fi aspect of the film. It doesn’t dominate the story, but rather serves as an intriguing element within it.”

In addition to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Carrey also took on the role of Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events in 2004. This marked a return to his comedic roots, as he brilliantly brought the character to life with his over-the-top performance. Count Olaf is a stage actor, and Carrey clearly had a blast playing the role, exuding humor in every frame he appeared in.

10. Brad Pitt – ‘Seven’ And ‘Twelve Monkeys’ (1995)

Brad Pitt - 'Seven' And 'Twelve Monkeys' (1995)
Brad Pitt’s career has been incredibly diverse, proving that he can’t be easily typecast. He has played a wide range of characters, from cops to pretty boys to psychopaths. In 1995, he took on two very different roles that required completely different acting styles.

In the movie Seven, also spelled Se7en, Pitt played the role of David Mills, a homicide detective investigating a serial killer who bases his murders on the Seven Deadly Sins. One of Pitt’s most memorable performances comes at the end of the film when all he does is ask a simple question: “What’s in the box?”

On the other hand, in 12 Monkeys, Pitt becomes a deranged mental patient with anti-corporate and anti-capitalist views. Interestingly, Pitt wasn’t the director’s first choice for the role. Terry Gilliam initially didn’t think Pitt would be a good fit. However, Pitt proved him wrong and delivered one of the film’s standout performances, despite having limited screen time.

Surprisingly, Pitt himself doesn’t feel completely satisfied with his performance in 12 Monkeys. He admits that the two halves of the film played out very differently for his character. In an interview with The New York Times, Pitt shared his thoughts, saying, “I nailed the first half of 12 Monkeys. I got the second half all wrong. That performance bothered me because there was a trap in the writing. It’s not the writing’s fault, but it was something that I couldn’t figure out. I knew in the second half of the film I was playing the gimmick of what was real in the first half – until the last scene – and it bugged the [expletive] out of me.”

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