It does not happen often, but sometimes, an actor plays the exact same character in totally different movies. These films do not include sequels, prequels, spinoffs, or remakes. They are totally different films.
Some of cinema’s most acclaimed thespians have played the same character twice, but not necessarily the same "roles." For example, Dame Judi Dench played Queen Victoria in two completely different movies. However, the films were made 20 years apart and told the story of Her Majesty at two totally different stages of her life.
Find out which knighted actor played Napoleon Bonaparte twice. Which Old Hollywood star took on famed Wild West lawman Wyatt Earp two times? How did Jesse and Celine from the Before trilogy wind up in an animated movie?
If anyone is going to portray a British queen twice, it should be played by someone who is practically English royalty. Dame Judi Dench first took on Queen Victoria in the 1997 drama Mrs. Brown. That film takes place in the early 1860s when Queen Victoria becomes involved in a scandalous relationship with her servant John Brown (Billy Connolly) following the passing of her husband. The role earned Dench an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
There is a lot of story to be told about Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years (the longest of any queen up to that point). And just because Dench played Her Majesty before, it was not going to stop her from telling the story of Queen Victoria's later life.
Twenty years later, Dench signed on to portray Queen Victoria in 2017's Victoria & Abdul. The British biopic takes place in 1887 and tells the true story of a much older and lonely Queen Victoria as she forms a friendship with her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal).
Why would Dench play the same character 20 years later? “I consider it to be a sequel of the story we told then,” explained the actress. “I hope it will match up to the person that I played in Mrs. Brown.”
Michael Keaton played FBI Agent Ray Nicolette in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 crime movie Jackie Brown. The film was a loose adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1992 novel Rum Punch. Jackie Brown is the only screenplay that the writer-director ever adapted. That fact makes the leather jacket-wearing lawman a Leonard character, not a Tarantino original.
Steven Soderbergh's crime movie Out of Sight shares a lot of Tarantino's genre-subverting characteristics and even features a non-linear puzzle narrative. The film's screenwriter Scott Frank adapted his screenplay from the Elmore Leonard novel of the same name. Jackie Brown and Out of Sight were made just months apart, and both featured the Ray Nicolette crimefighter.
Miramax produced Jackie Brown, and Universal produced Out of Sight. However, it made sense to all the filmmakers involved that Keaton should play Nicolette in Soderbergh's movie, especially since the role only called for a brief uncredited cameo. Tarantino and Miramax owned the rights to the character. However, the director didn't want to charge Universal for use of Leonard's original creation.
J.K. Simmons played John Jonah Jameson Jr. in director Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy (2003, 2004, 2007). Those films star Tobey Maguire as the webbed superhero. The opinionated Daily Globe chief editor was certainly not one of Spider-Man's biggest fans. He enjoyed seeing him fail and even called Spider-Man a "menace." However, Jameson was a smart enough newspaperman to know that any headline featuring Spider-Man was going to sell newspapers.
The Academy Award-winner popped in for a surprise cameo during the end credits of Marvel Studio's Spider-Man: Far From Home. In the MCU, JJJ's newspaper has taken an Alex Jones-esque turn to focus on wild conspiracy theories and aims to out the man behind the mask.
Simmons discussed the future of his MCU character. He said:
Well, yeah, [I’ll be back as J. Jonah Jameson] that’s the short answer. There is a future for J. Jonah Jameson after a several-year hiatus. He showed up very briefly for those who were wise enough to stay through the credits of Far From Home... There is one more JJJ appearance in the can, and from what I’m hearing, there’s a plan for yet another. So hopefully, JJJ will continue now and forever.
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy played Jesse and Celine in Richard Linklater's Before trilogy. The film series consists of Before Sunrise (1995), Before Sunset (2004), and Before Midnight (2013). The first installment of the trilogy features Jesse and Celine meeting on a train in Europe. They then spend an entire night walking around the city of Vienna and just talking. The minimalist films are each spaced nine years apart as the characters depart and meet at different points in their lives. Jesse and Celine discuss everything from love, to kids, to personal reflection.
In between the first and second Before movies, the chatty couple pop in for a brief cameo in Linklater's 2001 adult-animated rotoscoped Waking Life. The experimental existential film explores the real world and the dream world. Jesse and Celine lay in bed together and talk about various topics like reincarnation, telepathy, and science.