10 Actors Who Crushed It In Unexpected Roles

In Hollywood, certain actors get known for certain sorts of roles. Once an actor shows a particular skill or affinity for a certain type of performance, it makes sense to put that actor back into a similar position. It's a sure thing and trying something new doesn't always work.

Actors, for the most part, don't like this, as it keeps them in a box and doesn't let them try new things. Every once in a while, an actor is given a chance to shine by doing something new. A lot of the time, all this does is remind us why these actors only play particular roles. Sometimes, however, an actor shows up in the last role you'd expect them to take, and absolutely nails it. Here are 10 times actors blew us away by trying something we never saw coming.

Daniel Craig Logan Lucky

Daniel Craig, Logan Lucky

Most people probably weren't all that familiar with Daniel Craig as an actor before he was tapped to be the new James Bond. If you had seen him before, it was likely in a movie like Layer Cake. For this reason, it was surprising to see him pop up in the recent Steven Soderbergh heist movie Logan Lucky, playing a southern, bank-robbing convict with a penchant for explosives. If we hadn't ever seen Craig before, we would have assumed that's who he was. He's the highlight of Logan Lucky and now we want to see what else he can do.

Jim Carrey The Truman Show

Jim Carrey, The Truman Show

While Jim Carrey has made a wide variety of films by this point in his career, back in 1998, he was really only known for ridiculous over-the-top comedies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Those films fell in line with the work he'd done on television as part of the sketch comedy show In Living Color. This is why nobody knew quite what to expect when he stepped out of that comfort zone for the first time in The Truman Show. The surreal drama had none of the slapstick humor we expected from the actor, and yet, he was absolutely perfect in the role. This opened several new doors for Carrey as a bona-fide Movie Star.

Robin Williams One Hour Photo

Robin Williams, One Hour Photo

Similar to Jim Carrey, there was a time when Robin Williams was known strictly for comedy. His frenetic personality lent itself perfectly to movies and TV shows that just had you laughing until you hurt. He surprised us a lot as he began to shift to more dramatic films like Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting, where he won an Academy Award. However, that shift wasn't nearly as impressive as the one he made in One Hour Photo. Playing a photo developer who develops an unhealthy obsession with his customers, Williams wasn't just surprisingly serious, he was terrifying.

Charlize Theron Monster

Charlize Theron, Monster

Charlize Theron has been stunning audiences throughout her career. It's no surprise that she's often cast as the femme fatale or in some other role that has sex appeal as a key component. However, for her Oscar-winning turn in Monster, the actress didn't just change the sort of role she played, she changed everything about her. Theron was unrecognizable in the role of a serial killer, which may have helped audiences look past the actress and see the performance to be something truly special. We haven't seen her do anything like it since.

Heath Ledger The dark Knight

Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight

Your first exposure to Heath Ledger could have come from a few different places. Perhaps you knew him from the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, or maybe you saw him in A Knight's Tale or Brokeback Mountain. Whatever sort of film you used to associate with Heath Ledger, nobody knew what to expect when he was cast as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Few people probably expected the performance we got. The fact that nobody saw it coming is half the reason Ledger's role has become so iconic, even in such a short time. The Joker has been around for decades, but now everybody who takes on the role is competing with Heath Ledger

Jonah Hill Moneyball

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Jonah Hill made his name working in comedies written by the likes of Judd Apatow and starring the likes of Seth Rogen. As such, Hill became associated throughout his early career not simply with comedy, but with a particular brand of comedy. This made his role in Moneyball a stand-out moment for the young actor. Hill plays a Yale-educated math nerd, and if anything, he's the straight man when paired with Brad Pitt. Moneyball earned Hill his first Oscar nomination, which was well deserved. It also started him on a path toward other films that have also earned him award nominations.

Emma Watson The Bling Ring

Emma Watson, The Bling Ring

Emma Watson spent a decade of her life making a single film franchise, so in this case Watson wasn't simply known for a single type of role, but in fact a single role, Hermione Granger. A couple years after the Harry Potter franchise wrapped, Watson took a part which was about as far from the family friendly Hermione as you could get. In The Bling Ring, Watson played a character at the center of a group of Hollywood thieves who broke into the homes of celebrities. Everybody loves Hermione, but Watson proved she could play a role that's utterly detestable, as well.

Steve Carell Foxcatcher

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Steve Carell found his way to the public eye on The Daily Show and so it would make sense that when he made the leap to film, he started out in comedies. We expect to see him in movies like the 40-Year-Old Virgin or adding his voice to the Despicable Me franchise. What we don't expect to see him do is play a psychotically obsessed wrestling coach who becomes a murderer in Foxcatcher. Carell's role as John du Pont not only isn't funny, it's truly chilling. It's not that we didn't believe the actor was capable, we just never thought we'd see it.

Cameron Diaz Being John Malkovich

Cameron Diaz, Being John Malkovich

We're not sure that anybody in Being John Malkovich is really playing to type, as a Charlie Kaufman movie is pretty much the definition of unusual. However, while everybody else in the cast had certainly been in their share of offbeat films before, Cameron Diaz was probably the last person we would think of for the role she played. Diaz had done all sorts of comedies up to this point, and while Being John Malkovich probably still technically counts, it's a bizarre sort of humor. Her character is as far from the romantic comedy sex appeal we were used to seeing as possible. She was plain and more than a little odd. She was perfect.

Michael Keaton Clean and Sober

Michael Keaton, Clean and Sober

While Michael Keaton has made his name in just about every sort of movie imaginable at this point, in the late 1980s his movies all had the same thing in common -- comedy. From Mr. Mom to Johnny Dangerously, Keaton made some really funny movies. Before Keaton surprised us by being Batman, however, he surprised us by playing a drug addict who struggles to make his way out of addiction. It was the last thing in the world we expected from the actor at the time, but it was a harbinger of things to come, such as the number of amazing dramatic roles he's played recently.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.