The entertainment industry isn’t known for churning out tons of interesting roles for women; although, it’s getting better to some degree. This, in part, creates a situation in which actresses who are a lot like their characters get pigeonholed into roles. The biggest culprit is profits. To guarantee box office returns, studios tend to play it safe and choose actresses who are the same as their characters. If the picture needs a hopeful mother, call Jennifer Garner. If it calls for a quirky millennial, call Ellen Page. Fair or not, that’s how a lot of films get made, and even the greatest American actresses are not exempt. It has become what audiences expect.
One shining example of actresses known for roles similar to their real personalities is Felicia Snoop Pearson from The Wire. After meeting Wire star Kenneth Michael Williams at a Baltimore bar, Snoop found her way onto the series, playing a version of herself. Jennifer Lopez probably solves crime at night on the way to set, right? And every time we see Kristen Stewart, she's in the middle of something important and doesn’t want to be bothered, okay?
Melissa McCarthy, Cameron Diaz, and Zooey Deschanel are just a few examples of actresses who are a lot like their characters... we’re guessing. It feels true, anyway.
In real life: Can’t tell if she’s on all the time or an excellent piece of A.I., but Hathaway appears to be so nice and happy that it’s creepy.
In film and TV roles: She roamed the edges of edgy in Rachel Getting Married and Les Miz, but it's hard to buy Hathaway as deeply unhappy onscreen. We don’t know about her as a person, though. Maybe she cries into a large, expensive pillow hourly to make way for that million-watt smile. Even getting stuck in space with Matthew McConaughey didn’t dampen her spirits. Hopefully, she’ll be allowed to cut loose one day and play the serial killer she’s capable of portraying.
Notable quote: “There's something very addictive about people pleasing. It's a thought pattern and a habit that feels really, really good until it becomes desperate.”
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In real life: Not taking anyone’s BS (looking at you media and paparazzi), Aniston is fully aware of her place in the universe and the entertainment industry.
In film and TV roles: If you’re Jennifer Aniston, you might as well make that cheddar being a screen version of yourself. Office Space, Friends, Bruce Almighty, Marley & Me, and The Iron Giant wouldn’t be the same without her. Aniston has a range; it’s just that she hasn’t gotten to show it off too much. More Cake, The Good Girl, and Friends with Money, please.
Notable quote: “I was starting to buy into my own sort of stereotype in a way.”
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In real life: The girl next door married Ben Affleck, had three children with him, and then realized that nannies just can’t be trusted. Like many ladies on this list, Garner is one of those people whose brand is niceness.
In film and TV roles: And she can’t escape it, which is fine with audiences. We don’t normally see the gritty side of Garner as most of her roles are an extension of her wholesomeness. Now that’s she’s dropped Ben, it might be time for some onscreen cussing and fighting.
Notable quote: “I do all my own stunts!”
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In real life: Johansson leads a fairly measured life, avoiding scandal while also being accessible. She’s the girl you want to have a cocktail with or marry.
In film and TV roles: Neither method or simply a movie star, Johansson commands a presence onscreen. Whether she’s donning a super hero leather jumpsuit or her underwear in a Japanese hotel room, Scar-Jo is always fully formed as Scar-Jo, smoky of both voice and eye.
Notable quote: “I just want to work on things that are really hard, and when I'm not working on things that are really hard, I want to hang out with people I like to be with, and that's it.”
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