You’ve probably heard me say before that Denzel almost always seems to play the same role — some sort of authority figure — no matter the film. But he almost always plays it well and there are often subtle differences between the characters that draw us back to the theaters to watch him time and again.
It got me to thinking about those actors that have no shot, no hope, no nothing in their field because of a role they played long ago that has them typecast as a specific character. As a matter of fact, I’ll just name the roles that these actors can’t escape no matter how hard they try.
1. Al Bundy. I know Ed O’Neill is doing his thing on the show “Modern Family.” But you can’t tell me that you’re not expecting him to plop on a couch, grab the remote and stick his hands in his pants whenever you see him. It’s the only way you I can envision him.
2. Steve Urkel. An exact 83.7 percent of the people who watch “Family Matters” called the show “The Steve Urkel Show.” Sure, they tried to help Jaleel prove he could play another role. But Stephon was just Urkel without glasses and that annoying voice. That’s all anyone sees.
3. Carlton Banks. Every time I see Alfonso Ribeiro I want him to break out into the Carlton. Instantly. It doesn’t matter if he’s being interviewed or if he was busy co-starring on that show “In The House,” I wanted to see him do the dance. Think about it. When you have a dance named after the name of your character, you have no hope. Although, I bet he could go on “Dancing With The Stars” and win.
4. Maury Povich. What? I know he’s not an actor. But can you imagine Maury going all Geraldo on us and doing anything but saying his most infamous phrases? Didn’t think so. At this point, there’s pretty much nothing he can do aside from retire and go home to Connie for good.
5. Jessica Spano. Watching her in Showgirls was just weird. The first time I watched it, I kept waiting for her to break out into “I’m so excited! I’m soooo excited! I’m soooo, soooo….” You know the rest. Alas, it never happened. And in “Any Given Sunday” I was shocked that Elizabeth Berkley’s character could stomach the idea of being with a man who was shorter than her. Nevermind that she was getting paid.
6. Omar Little. I don’t care what other roles Michael K. Williams plays in his career. I will always think he has a sawed-off shotgun on his person and that no child — save Kenard — will stand in his vicinity. So sure, he could play Sam Jack’s character in a remake of “Coming To America.” But beyond that and other criminal roles, I’m not sure there going to be that much more work. Kinda sucks because he’s a good actor.
Who else belongs on this list?