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?


17 responses to “Castouts

  1. Michael Cera – Tall skinny kid from Superbad. Every movie he’s been in since then has been the same role just a different setting and all this stems from his original role on Arrested Development

    John Witherspoon – he is the quintessential dirty old man/ “Pops” and has played the role is absolutely every movie he has been in.

  2. Lisa Raye – although she generally sucks as an actress, I don’t think anyone can get past the role she played as ‘Diamond’.

  3. Morning, y’all.

    Jenifer Lewis.

    • Lol, part of the reason for this is because she acts that way in real life. She’s from my home town and also happens to be friends with my mother-in-law’s sister, who’s also an actress. The characters she plays are a mirror of who she really is, that’s why she plays them all soooooooooo well….lmao!

      • I swear. St. Louis is so small. She’s a second cousin by marriage. She’s also the sister of my 8th-grade civics teacher. I think everyone in St. Louis knows Jennifer Lewis some kind of way.

  4. This is how bad this is: I didn’t even realize you were using the character names until Jessica Spano. These people are so well-identified with the characters they portrayed that it’s hard to think of them any other way. Sad but true.

    I’m going to add Leo DuPres (Josh Duhamel) and Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar). Leo DuPres was one of my favorite characters on All My Children who died after falling over a cliff with his psychotic mother (don’t ask). He’ll always be Leo to me.

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is still one of the best shows ever put on television. Sarah Michelle Gellar will never be anyone else. Even when she was in Cruel Intentions, it was just Buffy gone wild.

    • @AYE: I’m with you! I loved Leo! I still call him Leo & my husband always says “This isn’t AMC.” Funny.

    • I usually welcome differing opinions. It gives me a chance to learn. But the other day someone was talking bad about Buffy (someone who had never seen the show), and I had to get serious. I went on a 10 minute rant explaining why the show was so good. She’ll never do it again.

  5. Speaking of Family Matters..

    Eddie Winslow (Darius McCrary) and Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson). That show really was just a typecast heaven. It’s hard to see any of those actors and not think of their corresponding characters. I see Bryton McClure on Young and the Restless and always think “Lil’ Richie”

  6. I think soap fans have a harder time seeing the characters in other roles. Shemar Moore is my one exception because he’s sexy regardless of what he’s doing.

  7. I would say Braxton P. Hartnebrig also. I saw him on some movie (New Jersey Drive, I think) and it was unbelieveable to see him as some type of gangster. I kept waiting for him to call someone “Broham” or something similar.

  8. I know I’m late on the commentary BUT I automatically hate Bokeem Woodbine in every role because of the character he played in Jason’s Lyric. In addition, he usually plays an *ss in every other role he’s in so I will never like him anyway.


    – Tha Mgmt

  9. OMG – I feel the same way about Bookem Woodbine!!

    Kenny AKA Bud – Will always be just that Kenny AKA Bud 😉

  10. @Damon- Even though you just watched The Wire yesterday, you’re right about Omar Little. It’s funny because he’s really the only one that will fall into that trap. Most of the other actors have a wide range. I don’t know if you watch Friday Night Lights, but look for Wallace when it starts on regular TV later this year.

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