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Actors Known For Roles Opposite To Who They Are In Real Life

Updated November 4, 2020 5.2k votes 1.3k voters 120.2k views14 items

List RulesVote up the actors who are least similar to their most famous characters.

You think you know someone then bam!, image shattered. Some actors feel comfortable playing roles close to their own identity. Then there are actors who are a far cry from the characters they portray. You may believe Liev Schreiber scowls at produce like Ray Donovan, but he’ll tell you he’s an absent-minded klutz. What about Rami Malek? He’s got to be intense, right? Glaring at his coffee, saying about six words a day? Nope. He's a chatterbox.

There’s plenty of times we want to believe the character we see onscreen is really like that and then there’s Machete. It’s probably for the best that Danny Trejo is a really nice guy who’s been on the straight and narrow for decades. Read on to learn about actors who play some of our favorite roles, but are nothing like their characters in real life.

  • Photo: Instagram / HBO

    In real life: Iwan Rheon is not into sadism in his day-to-day life, but he is a singer/songwriter, and has an album out. Rheon dreaded the graphic scenes with Sansa Stark at the hands of his character on Game of Thrones, and he rooted for her when she found her strength.

    In film and TV roles:  While understanding how much Ramsay Bolton, his character on GoT, was hated, Rheon relished playing the villain. He identifies with Ramsay’s joy in doing what he loves. Rheon loves music. Ramsay loves psychologically and physically torturing people before killing them. Different passions, but passions nonetheless.

    Notable quote: “I wasn't, you know, Mr. Popular. I was somewhere in the middle ground. I was quite alternative, the things I liked to do. Skateboarding, at the time. Playing in a band as opposed to playing in the rugby team. You know, that kind of thing.”

    Is there a big difference here?

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  • Photo: Instagram/HBO

    In real life: Lena Headey is sweet and fun-loving. A far cry from her plotting, scheming, brother-loving Cersei. She has described herself as a “clumsy nerd.”

    In film and TV roles: Clumsy nerd she may be, but Headey is completely believable as the sadistic, incestuous narcissist Cersei on Game of Thrones. She's been less despicable in plenty of other roles, but never so memorable.

    Notable quote: “I hate being looked at. Can't stand it. I know, I know - I picked the wrong career. I should have been a doctor. If you play certain parts you have this nice face painted on you, and then you have feel as if you have a responsibility to this idea of being beautiful. I hate that about our business.”

    Is there a big difference here?

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  • Photo: San Diego ComicCon/HBO

    In real life: Rory McCann characterizes himself as “goofy” and “a bit daft.” He was such a cut up on the Game of Thrones set, co-star Maisie Williams had to keep him in check. McCann has been a bouncer, a lumberjack, lead singer in a band, and a tree surgeon.

    In film and TV roles: Because McCann is so likable and swift on his feet mentally, he brings a unique, sympathetic quality to the hate-filled Hound. He’s also played up that goofy side as Michael Armstrong in Hot Fuzz. However,  he uses the Hound’s persona when he doesn’t want to be bothered in public.

    “I remember drinking with Peter Dinklage at a Belfast pub, and you could feel them creeping toward us. I just turned around and went ‘F*ck off.’ They took it right away: ‘The Hound told me to f*ck off, so I f*cked off, because he'd kill me if I didn’t.’ It probably made their day. [Laughs].”

    Notable quote: “In the business, I meet some beautiful women, but to be honest, 80 percent of them are raving lunatics and are to be avoided. It's just insecurity; actors are generally quite insecure. I wouldn't date, or I've never had a fling with an actress, and I'd quite like to keep it that way.”

    Is there a big difference here?
  • Photo: NBC/Showtime

    In real life: Liev Schreiber was called “Huggy” as a child because he was sweet and good natured. As an adult, he’s loquacious, ponderous, funny, and kind of clumsy and absent-minded.

    In film and TV roles: He frequently comes off as scary onscreen and has said, “This is a problem I’ve had my whole life.” Due to his “Slavic fatpads” (his cheeks), Schreiber calls his looks reminiscent of a “homicidal chipmunk.”

    Notable quote: “You know, I have a deep, deep affinity for Dr. Seuss.”

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