The goal to being a good actor is stepping outside yourself. Walking in the skin and shoes of someone else. The actors and actresses who are best at it are the ones who utterly convince you they are someone else every time you see them on-screen. Then, you have the actors who only play themselves. You know the kind I am talking about. They are the actors who seem like they walked on stage during a movie and just started saying stuff they would have said in real life. While it can work in some instances, most of the time it is grating and completely pulls the audience out of the movie they are watching.
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Hey, do you need a smug, blue collar kind of guy who seems smarter than he looks, but you may end up wanting to leave your house immediately? A permanent man-child who is always rallying lesser man children to his cause? Look no further than Vince Vaughn. Granted the man is awesome at his roles but its tough to see him in anything else. Remember Psycho? That didn’t fare too well. Proof of this: Just compare Wedding Crashers to The Internship to Dodgeball to Swingers.
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Now keep in mind, I am one of the guys who actually kind of likes Jack Black, but it takes a very specific type of movie for his personality to work. The slightly annoying, slightly likable oaf. Try to cast him in anything else, it pretty much fails. Look at King Kong to see what what we mean. He was pretty great in Bernie, but we are gonna need more than one great role before we can pull his name from the list. Proof of This: Compare who he played in School of Rock to who he played in basically every other movie he’s ever been in. Even the movie Airborne which is where he started it all!
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Okay, I understand he has a bit more versatility to who I have mentioned so far, but give me a minute here. You need someone who is good looking, cool, and kinda funny, Channing is your man. Outside of that, he only plays in films where he takes his shirt off, fights people, or looks dreamy. While I do think this may change over time, McConaughey style, for now, I stand by it. Proof of this: Compare Magic Mike to G.I-Joe to 21 Jump Street. Though he was funny in Jump Street, pretty much all the same guy.
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So if you want a fairly young guy who acts like a self righteous elitist and who seems interested in little but himself, Eisenberg is your man. The new king of smug, he is like a much more annoying version of Michael Cera, who is on the list for the same reasons. He may think he will change this with the new role as Lex Luthor, but I can promise you, he will just seem like the kid from Social Network with a little more power. Proof of this: Compare The Social Network with Now You See Me.
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Do you need an attractive woman who seems slightly frazzled by her circumstances, yet oddly determined? Do you also want her to be a pain in real life, and almost impossible to work with? Boy, have we got just the actress for you. Katherine Heigl not only plays herself over and over but she also makes it so that no one in Hollywood wants to work with her anymore for just how much of a diva she is said to be. Proof of this: Compare who she was in Knocked Up to who she was in The Ugly Truth to who she was in Life As We Know It.
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Do you want an attractive but quirky and approachable forever teen who is always ready to do a cute little dance and act surprised and shocked by everything? Cameron Diaz is your go to. While she has made some okay films, when she doesn’t play “herself” (think Gangs of New York or Being John Malkovich), it just doesn’t seem right. Yes, she was good in Being John Malkovich, but one example does not outweigh the dozens of others. Yes, she is cute, and yes, she seems real sweet in real life. But it seems that only one type of character works for her. Proof of this: Anything she has made in last five years
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I hope this is not too soon, and we mean no disrespect to the actor, but honestly, Paul Walker played the same role in every film. It could also be said all those roles were just him playing him. A handsome guy who was not above doing something extreme, and liked the pull of adrenaline and the love of the ladies. If those are your types of movies, then he fit them quite well. But sadly, we did not get to see him step outside of that too often, and now we will never know just what he could have pulled off down the road. Proof of this: All the Fast and Furious movies, to Into the Blue, to Joy Ride.
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Let it be known, I love Seth Rogen and I think he is the man. His vibe that he pulls off and puts into every one of his roles is often a riot. But let’s be honest here. Seth is never really acting. He just shows up, acts like himself, does that goofy laugh, and collects his check. Now, I kind of liked him as Green Hornet, but even in that film he was just playing himself. A lot of this might have to do with the fact the he often writes the movies he is in. Curious to see if he can pull anything else off. Time will tell. Proof of this: Literally, every single movie he has ever been in.
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I think Adam Sandler is the most erronious example of this on all the list. The one time he really stepped outside of playing himself (in Punch Drunk Love) he was amazing, but never really went that route again. Instead, he just writes himself roles for him to play opposite actresses that seem to be very attractive. Granted, not a bad job if you can find it, but we can safely say Sandler just shows up in his Sox hat and sweat pants and just says the same lines, every time. Proof of this: From Click to Jack and Jill.
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Do you need a larger guy who is in really good shape and super British to mess people up and look for (or) protect someone? Well, we have just the actor for you. Also, he makes mostly American films, but keeps his old school British accent because it makes him sound tough and adds credibility. Not bad if you like action films, but if you are waiting for him to star in a Shakespeare remake, you may be waiting a long time. Proof of this: Any movie he is in with THE in the title.
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Michael Cera is the go-to guy if you want some skinny kid who is somewhat submissive and sheepish. He plays up the sort of “indie” look of ski jackets and unkempt hair, and his shtick involves him second guessing himself and fumbling awkwardly over things and interactions. Even in the frankly awesome Scott Pilgrim adaptation, he was still playing Michael Cera. He was just playing a very cool version of himself (with way more swagger and ninja skills). Though he did step outside that for the recent thriller, Magic Magic, no one but me saw it so to mention it would be foolish.
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You know, I can’t quite figure this one out. She is stunning, and seems talented enough, but always seems to land the same roles, over and over. She usually just ends up playing the “girlfriend”. Now there can be much going with that (girlfriend mid break-up or girlfriend other guy is into, etc etc). Maybe some of the stars on this list need to find some new agents. Or maybe they all really are one trick ponies. Proof of this: The Break-Up to Wanderlust to The Switch
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