We’d all love to be an A-list actor but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Bringing a character to life and making it convincing is hard work and truly shows off an actors’ craft. Often times, movie and television characters are nothing like the actor that portrays them, which makes it so much more impressive.
On the flip side, making a character convincing is easy when you’re exactly like them. Why do you think Michael Cera has been so successful as a quirky, awkward romantic? Because that’s who he is in real life. Read on to see which actors are just like the characters they played, and which ones truly had to show off their skills.
Charlie Sheen Was Just Playing Himself On Two And A Half Men
It’s hard to think of any character better suited for Charlie Sheen. In Two And A Half Men, his character Charlie Harper was described as a “man-child who lacked touch with reality.” Harper was a playboy millionaire who loved to party and hated taking responsibility.
That sounds an awful lot like Sheen’s “bad boy” persona that’s followed him since the 1980s. Sheen has been arrested, sent to rehab, has multiple ex-wives and children, and famously ranted about tiger blood and cocaine.
Steve Buscemi Is Hardly A Mobster
Even though most of Steve Buscemi’s roles on the big screen include murderers, gangsters, addicts, and bums, he’s actually an impressive guy. Buscemi comes from a blue-collar background and grew up in Brooklyn.
He was a firefighter before becoming an actor, and actually put back on his old firefighting gear after the 9/11 attacks. He worked long shifts for more than a week helping remove rubble and searching for survivors.
There’s A 99% Chance Robert Downey Jr. Is Iron Man
Being cast to play a charming, reckless, smart, and smug character sounds like Robert Downey Jr. was cast to play himself. The Marvel franchise can never end. Six of RDJ’s last eight films were Marvel movies.
Let’s be honest, Iron Man was the movie that saved Robert Downey Jr.’s career. Before Iron Man, RDJ had been essentially cast out of Hollywood for his behavior and drug addiction that began when he was just a kid thanks to his dad.
Danny Trejo Isn’t A Criminal (Anymore)
Danny Trejo is known for basically being cast as the same type of villain or antihero in over 250 movies. He’s got tattoos, long hair, and one harsh look that could kill. Trejo says his appearance was a big part of why he got into so much trouble as a kid. He was in and out of prison for years and actually became a boxing champion in San Quentin prison.
After he was released, he went to rehab and has been clean ever since. He may look intimidating, but Trejo is straight as an arrow and a huge family man now.
Except For Being A Witch, Emma Watson Is Just Like Hermione
Minus having magical powers and the crazy brown hair, all the other Harry Potter cast members always asserted that Emma was just like her character. Hermione was level-headed, clever, and quick-witted, just like Emma.
Hermione was also known for being book smart and Emma has spoken about how important education is to her. She was one of the few cast members to leave acting briefly to get a college education.
Jack Gleeson Is The Exact Opposite Of Joffrey
Joffrey from Game of Thrones was one of the most hated characters on television. Fans of the show were actually happy to see him choke to death on poison at his wedding, which is a bit harsh.
Nearly every member of the Game of Thrones cast says Jack Gleeson is nothing like the sadistic king he portrayed. Gleeson even spoke out often about the “unjust misogyny” in the television show. He sounds like the ally we all wanted and needed.
Adam Sandler’s Career Is Based On His Personality
Sandler’s films can be a hit or a miss, but everyone can agree that his best roles are when he’s practically playing himself. Sandler has made an entire career out of being a regular, funny, and uncomplicated guy that gets into a complicated situation.
Movies like Happy Gilmore, 50 First Dates, and The Wedding Singer are some of the best because they utilize Sandler’s sense of humor. Movies like Don’t Mess With The Zohan and Jack & Jill are bad for obvious reasons, but also because Sandler plays too much of a character.
Bryan Cranston Is A Goofball At Heart
If you grew up knowing Bryan Cranston as Hal from Malcolm in the Middle then you might have a better idea of what he’s like. If you’re part of the generation who only knows him as Walter White from Breaking Bad, then he’s the complete opposite.
Cranston is a comedic genius who is a laidback goofball at heart. He famously cried when having to talk about Jane’s death scene in Breaking Bad. Walter White is almost like Cranston’s own alter-ego.
Michael Cera Has Made A Career Of Being Awkward
Michael Cera’s big break was being cast in Arrested Development. Playing a socially awkward teenager has basically been his bread and butter ever since with roles in Superbad, Juno, and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
The only problem is he’s no longer a teenager, he’s thirty (yes, thirty) and doesn’t know how to act any other way. He does pander to the image at least and knows that he’s been typecasted for life.
Nolan Gould Isn’t As Goofy As Luke Dunphy
On Modern Family, the youngest brother, Luke Dunphy, is the comedic relief in the family who is usually up to something silly and dim-witted. In real life, Nolan is more like the middle sister Alex.
Nolan is incredibly smart and graduated from high school by the time he was 13. He has an IQ of 150 which means he’s in the top 25% of people. He says he actually loves playing Luke on the show because it’s a “rare display of humility.”
Seth Rogen Is Just An All-Around Good Guy
The real Seth Rogen is well known for being an honestly friendly guy, has a terrible sense of style, spends most of his time with his friends, and loves to smoke the green stuff. Coincidently, all the characters he plays are just like that too. Even Seth’s more “grown-up” characters like being a new dad in Neighbors still have all those elements.
Rogen co-writes most of the films he stars in, so he has the ultimate say on what he plays.
Neil Patrick Harris Is Definitely Not A Womanizer
That’s because he’s openly gay. Yes, in case you don’t follow Neil Patrick Harris on social media—and you totally should because his annual Halloween costume is also incredible—he’s openly gay, married to his partner, and has two adopted children.
It’s definitely a far cry from the character NPH played on How I Met Your Mother. He’s hardly a womanizing, cocky guy who can’t commit to being happy and only has one pillow.
David Duchovny Used To Be Like Hank From Californication
Hank Moody, the main character from Californication, was a troubled writer whose life revolved around his sex addiction. It made for an entertaining show, but an even more entertaining tabloid headline when it came out that David Duchovny also had a longstanding sex addiction.
It’s never been clear if Duchovny had the addiction before or after he began playing the character, but we’re sure it didn’t help. After his stint in rehab though Duchovny says he’s all better.
Blake Lively Is Not As Serious As Serena Van Der Woodsen
Aside from The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, Blake Lively is best known for playing the socialite Serena on Gossip Girl. The character is posh and pristine and nothing at all like the real Blake.
All you have to do is go through her social media and see how much of a laidback goofball the blonde bombshell is. She and husband Ryan Reynolds often exchange punches on Twitter that has the internet rolling around in laughter.
Larry David Is The King Of Sarcasm
Larry David is another one of those actors who succeed largely because they were also the writer. David is actually the mastermind behind Seinfeld. The character played by Jerry Seinfeld was supposed to be based on David’s melancholy, sarcastic view of the world.
Writing himself as a character for someone else wasn’t enough, so David created Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is a show entirely based on David’s personality and life.
Rami Malek Thinks He’s The Opposite Of The Hacker
Rami Malek recently starred as Freddie Mercury in the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, but his claim to fame was as Elliot Alderson on Mr. Robot. Even though fans love the character and even made it into a meme, Malek says he hates the comparison and isn’t anything like him.
Malek says he is “exuberant” and “thrives on affection” and “chitchat.” On the other hand, his character is a stoic, anti-social hacker.
Dustin Diamond Ruined His Life Thanks To His Character
You might recognize Diamond as the every-so-repelling Screech Powers from Saved By The Bell. Screech was systematically rejected by the cool kids, girls, and basically anyone that he met. The rejection caused him to do some pretty crazy things.
In real life, Diamond has admitted that playing Screech and being compared to the coolest, hottest actors at the time was terrible. After the show ended, Diamond ended up being arrested for drugs and releasing his own sex tape with the hopes that someone would notice him. Yikes.
Keanu Reeves Is Way Smarter Than He Looks
Keanu Reeves had the unfortunate problem of being typecast for his entire career thanks to his early roles. His breakout character Ted Logan from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a doofus and no amount of action films has seemed to shed that connection.
In real life, Reeves is supposedly one of the smarted and most down-to-earth celebrities you can find. He’s extremely private but is known for giving back to charities and being an amateur philosopher.
Bill Murray Only Takes Roles Like Himself Now
Even in the early days of Bill Murray’s career, he seemed to get typecast into a specific role. His deadpan humor was always spot on, yet he had a boyish charm that worked in romantic comedies.
Now that Murray is older and is rich enough to do whatever he wants, he basically just crashes weddings and takes on acting roles that don’t require acting. In Lost In Translation, he played a deadpan, aging movie star and in Zombieland, he just played himself in zombie form.
Lisa Kudrow Isn’t As Eccentric As Phoebe Buffay
Phoebe is one of the most under-appreciated, but most memorable characters from Friends. Her one-liners and hilarious outbursts always provided the perfect comedic moment between the drama. In real life, the actress who plays Phoebe is as different as it gets.
Lisa Kudrow attended Vasser College rather than having to busk the streets of New York. She had the full support of her family when she went into acting and before her big break on Friends, was actually cast as a serious dramatic actress.
John Malkovich Is So Malkovich That They Made Being John Malkovich
The real John Malkovich is one of the most acclaimed actors in Hollywood today. He’s been in more than 70 films and showcased a wide variety of characters and talents. Still, his most memorable film will always be Being John Malkovich simply because it exposed his real self to the world.
After the film was released, it proved difficult for Malkovich to be anything but Malkovich. Being sharp, smart, witty, and dry isn’t the worst character to be stuck to at least.
Tom Felton Isn’t A Bully Like Draco Malfoy
Tom Felton rose to fame as Draco Malfoy, the bully and nemesis in the Harry Potter franchise. The character is all about status, social hierarchy, and climbing his way to the top, even if it’s beside someone as evil as Voldemort.
In reality, Felton is as laid-back as it gets. Felton actually struggles with all the fame from Harry Potter and would get bullied at school because of the role.
Tracy Morgan Wrote His 30 Rock Character
Even though Tina Fey thought up the character, as soon as Morgan was cast on 30 Rock, Tracy Jordan became a caricature of the real-life Morgan. Jordan is described to be a “rich, famous B-list movie star with a reputation for unpredictable behavior.” Even though it sounds like a bad character to play, Morgan made it work.
Morgan was an eccentric but humble comedian who got his start on Saturday Night Live. He played the “character” so well that Entertainment Weekly ranked Tracy Jordan the 55th best character of the last twenty years.
Lena Headey Is Another Game Of Thrones Actor Nothing Like Their Character
The only Game of Thrones character who could possibly be more hated than Joffrey is his mother, Cersei, played by Lena Headey. The Lannister queen has always been cutthroat, but actions in the sixth season definitely bumped her to the top.
In real life, Lena is as sweet as it gets. She actually only got the role because a good friend recommended her for the audition, and she even describes herself as a “clumsy nerd.”
Taryn Manning Took Too Much Of Her Character Home With Her
Manning, who played Tiffany “Garbage-Mouth Chaos-Magnet Pennsatucky” Doggett on the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, has become known for her violent ways. Manning’s character from OITNB primarily struggles with the law thanks to her violent outbursts.
In real life, Manning has become pretty violent herself and has multiple accusations of assaulting and threatening her makeup artist. The makeup artist alleged Manning head-butted her, sprayed Windex in her eyes and mouth, and whipped her with a wet towel.
Jim Carrey Is Way Smarter Than His Characters
At the peak of Jim Carrey’s career in the 1990s, he was always cast as the over-the-top, slightly dumb character who is just goofy enough to still get the girl. In real life, Carrey is much more contained.
He’s had his fair share of ups and downs and has been candid with his mental health. Now, Carrey takes on more serious roles as an actor, focuses on painting, and is a political cartoonist on Twitter. Definitely not the young goofball we think of with him.
Christopher Walken Is Always Playing Himself
Christopher Walken has a one-of-a-kind voice, personality, and look, so it’s not surprising that he’s basically cast as himself in everything he does. Walken has become known for playing kooky, offbeat characters that deliver the best one-liners.
His exaggerated speech is like the perfect mix of dread and excitement, which is hard to come by. Even when he was on Saturday Night Live saying “more cowbell” he sounded just like himself.
Liev Schreiber Was Nicknamed “Huggy” As A Kid
Liev Schreiber is well-known for playing the tough guy or the bad guy in films like Scream, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Salt, and Goon. In real life, he’s as sweet and good-natured as it gets. He might have those intimidating Eastern European looks, but his family actually called him “huggy” as a kid because of his soft, plush cheeks.
Schreiber even makes fun of his chubby cheeks today by saying thanks to his roles, he looks like a “homicidal chipmunk.”
Mike Meyers Is As Mild-Mannered As It Gets
With characters under his belt as outrageous as Austin Powers and Shrek, we’d like to hope the Mike Meyers isn’t like that in real life. Meyers is Canada’s golden child and likes to keep to himself. Even though his characters are as loud and ignorant as it gets, he’s a homebody.
Meyers always takes three years off between films to spend time with friends and family, and is an avid Dungeons & Dragons player.
Christopher Reeve Was Perfectly Cast In Above Suspicion
Most people might not even remember this show, but way back in 1995, HBO aired a TV special written by William H. Macy and starring Christopher Reeve. The show was about a paralyzed cop. To perfect the role, Reeve practiced how to properly use a wheelchair.
The premise of the show coincided terribly with an accident that left Reeve also paralyzed. Two days after the premiere, Reeve was thrown off the back of a horse and paralyzed from the neck down.