The Best of Anti-Typecasting

We’re talked about miscastings on this blog before – you know, those choices that are so obviously, evidently wrong that they just sit like so much scum floating on the top of an otherwise decent movie. But what about typecastings? And what about anti-typecastings?

You know what I’m talking about – Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, Jim Carrey in The Truman Show or The Cable Guy. Those roles that were filled by people who seemed totally wrong on the surface, whose career should never have allowed for them to take a job like that one – but whose oddness ends up totally adding to the performance and turning it into something iconic. Well, that’s what I’d like to discuss with you today: the very best of actors who got stuck doing one thing, and how they turned it around in unexpected roles and rocked an anti-typecast performance.

  1. Shea Wigham – Splinter

Picture a movie cop. Congratulations! You’re picturing Shea Wighman. From Death Note to Joker to The Conspirator to Fast and Furious to Non-Stop to City of Lies to literally basically everything else you’ve ever seen him in, Shea Whigman is the go-to for on-screen cop or otherwise figure of authority.

Which makes his casting in low-budget body-horror Splinter so totally brilliant. Playing a grizzled career criminal, Whigham brings a totally different energy to this performance as he and the excellent ensemble battle a mysterious and seemingly sentient infection of an enemy. If you’re a movie fan, you’ve seen Whigham deliver a specific kind of performance for the last thirty or so years, and seeing him subvert that in such a grubby, gritty performance really turns his leading role into something totally compelling.

2. Octavia Spencer – Ma

Ah, Octavia Spencer. Just hearing that voice fills you with a warm sense of comfort, right? Even though she’s put in some killer performances in heavier roles, she’s generally typecast as warm, loving, caring, maternal, and very much pro-fish-man-intercourse.

Which makes her turn in Ma all the more inspired. Ma recieved dreadful reviews when it came out, perhaps because it’s such a diversion from Spencer’s normally-prestige performances, but honestly, as a piece of B-movie pulp thrillery, it doesn’t get much better than this. Spencer plays the titular Ma, a woman wreaking revenge on the children of the people who rejected her in high school, and honestly? Somebody needs to give Spender her own franchise, because flipping her usual warmth on its head and into something darker and more deliciously twisted is just so stupidly watchable, and Spencer seems to be having a damn fine time doing it to boot.

3. Daniel Radcliffe – Swiss Army Man

What do you do after you become the most famous actor on the planet? Well, for Daniel Radcliffe, the answer was to pick the strangest roles possible. From Horns to Equus to Broadway, Radcliffe looks like he might be having the most fun in his career that anyone in Hollywood is enjoying right now.

But this role is the one that stood out to me, because it’s, well, so small. After becoming one of the most recognizable faces at the forefront of one of the most recognizable franchises the planet has ever seen, picking a role where you’re a bloated, farting corpse manipulated by a suicidal Paul Dano couldn’t be further from reality. Seeing the world’s most famous teenager shift into such a low-key, low-dignity role was honestly an inspired piece of casting, and might still be my favourite role Radcliffe has worked on to date.

Do you have any favourite unexpected anti-typecastings? Let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it,  please consider supporting us on Ko-Fi. You can check out more of my work on my personal blog, The Cutprice Guignol!

By Louise MacGregor

(header image via The Indian Express)

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