Being typecast as an actor in Hollywood is a weird thing. It can definitely hinder your career, but it also helps keep it afloat. And with the way the inflation and gas prices are set up, not many can afford to pass over a paycheck.
What is typecasting?
Typecasting happens when an actor plays a similar character in every TV show or film they act in. An actor is usually typecast because they have a certain appearance or demeanor that a producer or director is looking for. As a result, that actor becomes known for playing the same character over and over again, i.e., “the grumpy old man” or “the sassy Black auntie,” no matter the production.
Why is typecasting bad?
Typecasting can really hurt an actor’s career because they’re often only seen as the characters they usually play. So when they want to explore other roles, they’re often overlooked in favor of other actors. For example, an actor who usually plays an intimidating, assertive lawyer may want to audition for the vulnerable love interest role in a romantic comedy. But with typecasting, they may be assigned a small part in the movie as the domineering divorce attorney instead. Or they may even be declined for the role altogether.
Actors who’ve been typecast
Typecasting can be frustrating for actors who want to explore other genres. In addition, their acting skills may become stunted if they cannot expand beyond their current roles.
Dwayne Johnson is a multi-talented actor known for his big personality and even bigger muscles. He started his career as a professional WWE wrestler, where he earned the nickname “The Rock.” His success in the wrestling industry led him to other opportunities as a Hollywood actor.
Johnson was celebrated for being the first third-generation pro wrestler. And his reputation as a big, bad tough guy has pretty much followed him in Hollywood, too.
He stars as the gritty pack leader in many of his popular films, including San Andreas, G.I. Joe, and The Mummy Returns. Fortunately, his resilient, muscle-man persona helped him become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood today.
Loretta Devine is a Hollywood legend, especially in Black Hollywood. And her roles in films such as Waiting To Exhale and Jumping the Broom charmed many in the Black community as well.
But even though Devine has seen much success in her acting career, she is often typecast in many of the TV shows and films she stars in. For example, many recognize her as the sweet, baby-voiced maternal figure she typically portrays.
In an interview with the Tammi Mac Late Show, she talks about being typecast. She jokes, “I got here late, so they moved me into the mama category right off. I’ve played so many mamas. I’ve been everybody’s mama that has my skin tone.”
Morgan Freeman has a very successful Hollywood career. He began acting as a child in school plays. From there, he managed to snag a recurring role as Count Dracula in the children’s television series The Electric Company, which helped put him on the map.
Even more impressive, he maintained a steady career even as he aged — something many Hollywood actors aren’t able to do.
Some of his most popular movies include The Shawshank Redemption, Bruce Almighty, and Million Dollar Baby. But in each film, he plays a similar role — the wise old man.
Maybe it’s his deep, bellowing voice. Or perhaps he really does know everything. Either way, as long as we get to see more Freeman, we aren’t complaining.
Samuel L. Jackson
You know him. You love him. And how could you not? Samuel L. Jackson is definitely the man when it comes to his onscreen persona.
He typically stars as the lead in every film he acts in, which is certainly nothing to complain about. But he also tends to play a similar role in many films. And that role is usually a slick-talking, foul-mouthed head big shot, a la Shaft or Deep Blue Sea.
Fortunately, Jackson has been able to turn lemons into lemonade. Despite being typecast, he is reported to be one of the highest, if not THE highest, paid actors in Hollywood.
Kevin Hart started his career in comedy, with his stand-up comedy tours selling out all over the world. But we weren’t the only ones laughing. His comedy sets had him laughing all the way to the bank, and helped pave the way for his acting career.
Hart is a funny man. Or rather, he’s THE funny man. He is another Black Hollywood actor who is constantly being typecast. He typically stars in comedy films like Ride Along, Central Intelligence, or The Wedding Ringer, where he plays the hilarious and sometimes clueless sidekick.
Fortunately, his comedies are box office hits that earn him even more fans, though some admit they want to see him act in more diverse roles.