Actors You Didn't Realize Played The Same Character Twice
In the era of the megafranchise, actors who have played the same role twice - or three times, or more - is not at all uncommon. Samuel L. Jackson, for instance, has appeared in about as many films as Nick Fury as he has in every other role combined. Instances in which actors played the exact same role in multiple films while technically portraying different characters are rarer, and require a little more critical thinking to pick out from the crowd.
In Hollywood, actors are frequently typecast - pigeonholed into certain sorts of roles and then never allowed to explore their range beyond that. It’s one thing, however, to be typecast as a “tough guy” or a “smarmy socialite” and another to be pigeonholed as a “nice person with no discernable flaws whatsoever, but who still ends up losing their love interest to a superpowered interloper.” And yet, it happens.
- 1522 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. / Universal Pictures
Goodfellas (1990): Joe Pesci plays Tommy DeVito, a mob enforcer based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone. After he gets a little too comfortable taking out his enemies, the rest of the organized crime outfit grows tired of Tommy and lures him to a meeting under the pretense of becoming a “made man,” only to brutally whack him instead.
Casino (1995): Joe Pesci plays Nicky Santoro, a mob enforcer based on real-life mobster Tony Spilotro. After he gets a little too comfortable taking out his enemies, the rest of the organized crime outfit grows tired of Nicky and lures him to a meeting - in the actual case of Spilotro, it was a ceremony to make him a “capo” - only to brutally whack him instead.
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Bloodsport (1988): Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Frank Dux, a captain in the US Army who just so happens to have been born in Belgium, thus explaining his thick accent. Dux’s true talents lie in the martial arts, and specifically ninjutsu. He’s drawn into an underground tournament and a vengeful fight against Chong Li, the man who injured his close friend. He, of course, wins, despite his opponent’s attempts to cheat.
Kickboxer (1989): Jean-Claude Van Damme plays Kurt Sloane, an American who just so happens to have been to be born in Belgium, thus explaining his thick accent (despite the fact that his older brother, Eric, has no such accent). The Sloane brothers’ true talents lie in the martial arts, and specifically kickboxing. Kurt is drawn into a vengeful fight against Tong Po, the man who paralyzed his brother. He, of course, wins, despite his opponent’s attempts to cheat.
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Vincent Regan Plays The Trusty Sidekick Of The Best Warrior In Greece In 'Troy' And '300'Photo: Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
Troy (2004): Vincent Regan plays Eudorus, right-hand man of Achilles of the Myrmidons, the greatest warrior in all of Greece. Eudorus accompanies Achilles on an epic journey to battle against a seemingly unbeatable foe in Troy. In the end, Eudorus lives and Achilles is slain as the battle is won - but at what moral price?
300 (2007): Vincent Regan plays Captain Artemis, right-hand man of King Leonidas of Sparta, the greatest warrior in all of Greece. Artemis accompanies Leonidas on an epic journey to battle against a seemingly unbeatable foe in the Persians. In the end, Artemis is slain alongside Leonidas as the battle is lost, but a moral victory is won.
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Braveheart (1995): Mel Gibson plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish warrior who really did exist, but who has been heavily mythologized by Gibson’s portrayal. Though he is born to Scottish nobility, Wallace is exiled to a humble peonage and then returns to lead his people in rebellion against the invading English and King Edward I. Wallace wages guerilla warfare against a seemingly unbeatable empire in the name of “Freedom!” and suffers the loss of his wife, until it all culminates in the overly glorified Battle of Falkirk, where he suffers grievous wounds - and impales a horse - before being captured and ultimately executed. Wallace doesn’t play a role in the film’s final battle, because he’s been slain, but his posthumous inspiration helps wins the day anyway.
The Patriot (2000): Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a composite character based on four real figures from the American Revolution and then heavily mythologized by Gibson’s portrayal. Though he comes from humble beginnings, Martin’s actions after forming a colonial militia soon bring him to a place of prominence in the revolution against English rule and King George III. Martin wages guerilla warfare against a seemingly unbeatable empire in the name of liberty, and suffers the loss of his sons, until it all culminates in the overly glorified Battle of Cowpens, where he suffers grievous wounds - and impales a horse - before being saved at the last minute from a lethal strike. Martin doesn’t play a major role in the film’s final battle, but his inspiration helps win the day anyway.
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Dabney Coleman Plays A Lecherous Boss Who Makes Advances On His Female Employees In ‘9 to 5’ And ‘Clifford’Photo: 20th Century Fox / Orion Pictures
9 to 5 (1980): Dabney Coleman plays Franklin Hart Jr., the seemingly professional but actually quite lecherous boss of the film’s three protagonists. He uses his position of power to hit on all his female employees, especially Doralee Rhodes, with whom he falsely claims to have had relations before attempting to create a situation in which she has to be alone with him so that he can finally actually seduce her. Though he’s ultimately unsuccessful, Hart doesn’t seem to suffer any serious consequences for his actions at first - until a final note reveals that he has been abducted in Brazil by a tribe of indigenous women.
Clifford (1994): Dabney Coleman plays Gerald Ellis, the seemingly well-meaning but actually quite lecherous boss of Martin Daniels, one of the film’s protagonists. He uses his position of power to hit on Martin’s wife, Sarah Davis, and then attempts to create a situation in which she has to be alone with him so that he can seduce her. Though it’s ultimately unsuccessful, Ellis never really suffers serious consequences for his actions.
Bonus: Coleman also plays overly horny boss-types in You’ve Got Mail and Boardwalk Empire.
- 6334 VOTESPhoto: 20th Century Fox / Warner Bros.
X-Men Trilogy (2000): James Marsden plays Scott Summers, AKA Cyclops, romantic interest to Jean Grey. Summers has no obvious character flaws, aside from being a little too perfect, but he still can’t compete with the undeniable appeal of Wolverine, who manages to steal a kiss or two from Jean. Despite the tension, the trio is able to work together to defeat Magneto, and Jean stays with Scott (until she kills him in the third film and goes all-in on Wolverine).
Superman Returns (2006): James Marsden plays Richard White, fiancé to Lois Lane. White has no obvious character flaws, aside from being a little too perfect, but he still can’t compete with the undeniable appeal of Superman, who manages to steal a kiss or two from Lois (and who happens to be the real father of their child). Despite the tension, the trio is able to work together to defeat Lex Luthor, and Lois stays with Richard.
Bonus: One doesn’t need superpowers to cuckold Marsden on film. The roles are reversed in Enchanted, where the charming prince Marsden loses Giselle to some ordinary divorce lawyer. He also famously plays the “other man” in The Notebook.