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

List Rules
Vote 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.


  • 1
    628 VOTES
    Danny Trejo
    Photo: Instagram/20th Century Fox


    In real life: Danny Trejo did a stretch in prison and became a champion boxer at San Quentin before becoming clean and sober and finding his way into acting by way of his drug counselor job. His fierce look and background made him popular with directors and casting agents, but real life, Trejo has been a straight arrow and family man for a couple of decades.   

    In film and TV roles: Trejo brings an authentic quality to his characters because he looks like he could eat your face off. He’s made an accidental career out of playing mainly scary bad guys. He's got a wicked sense of humor, though, too. 

    Notable quote: “Hollywood wants guys who can act tough - Hollywood don't want tough guys.”

  • 2
    561 VOTES

    In real life: Of course Tom Felton is not a Slytherin monster, like his famous character Draco Malfoy. He’s a nice guy who loves to have fun, has an uneasy relationship with fame, appreciates Potter fandom, and takes things in stride.   

    In film and TV roles: Felton can certainly relate to Jack Gleeson. As Draco Malfoy, he’s nearly as hated as Joffrey in Game of Thrones. He also played a creepezoid murder suspect on Murder in the First

    Notable quote: “I would miss months of school and then return with bright blond hair. Needless to say, there was bullying. I wasn't beaten up daily, but there was name-calling and jealousy. You have to bear in mind that Harry Potter wasn't cool. I wasn't part of the Terminator franchise.”

  • 3
    461 VOTES
    Bryan Cranston
    Photo: NBC/AMC

    In real life: Kind, silly, and dead funny, Bryan Cranston is also sweet and emotional. He famously cried when talking about Jane’s death scene in Breaking Bad. He’s a craftsman, a goofball, and a human being.

    In film and TV roles: He played Walter White to perfection. He’s channeled President Lyndon Baines Johnson in All the Way and Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo. He’s also thrown a sweet 60 party on Kimmel and threw a fit in a lion’s outfit. Cranston isn’t afraid to leave it all on the floor.

    Notable quote: “What's interesting is a man with no facial hair is less intimidating than a man with facial hair, and a man who is bald is more intimidating than a man with hair.” 

  • 4
    460 VOTES
    Keanu Reeves
    Photo: NBC/20th Century Fox

    In real life: A devourer of books and art, a life philosopher, and incredibly articulate, Keanu Reeves has put up with being considered a doofus his entire career. He’s very private, so many have sought to fill in the blanks. Most of that speculation has been wrong, according to those close to Reeves. He reluctantly got swept up in the popular Sad Keanu meme, admitting “It's still a drag to get your picture taken when you're eating a sandwich. It's a downer.”  

    In film and TV roles: Reeves has whoa’d himself through a stellar career playing Ted Theodore Logan (Bill and Ted), Tod Higgins (Parenthood), Johnny Mnemonic (Johnny Mnemonic), and Johnny Utah (Point Break). He’s been accused of being a little too Keanu in many of his roles. Critics and audiences agree there’s a lot more there that could be explored.

    Notable quote: “I used to have nightmares that they would put 'He played Ted' on my tombstone.”

  • 5
    203 VOTES
    Lena Headey
    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.”

  • 6
    228 VOTES
    Rory McCann
    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.”