10 Incredibly Talented Actors Whose Skills Were Overshadowed by One Role  

Michael Anderson
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Sometimes there's a simple explanation for one-hit wonder actors: they just aren't any good. But what about those actors who honed their craft at prestigious acting schools or rushed themselves from one open-mic night to another in perpetual hope of finally being discovered? Sometimes, it turns out their big break was actually a curse.

In the acting community, there can be no bigger shame than seeing exceedingly talented actors who are typecast into just one role. Even worse, it's usually the result of that actor doing such a standout job playing that role. Directors and casting heads then see them as being able to play only that one role, which can royally f*ck over an actor's career if that role is monumentally idiosyncratic.

So while, yes, there are some one-hit wonder actors who hit pay dirt with a role that was magically fitted to who they were in real life, there are a number of instances in which actors who are only remembered for one role are extremely talented and therefore miss out on receiving their due praise. Check out some really talented actors who could never break free of their iconic role below.

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The precursor to such finicky fussbudgets as The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon (played by Jim Parsons), Niles Crane was rarely seen without a hanky to wipe down any seat and was almost always clad in fine Italian suits. Yet these traits do little to capture the idiosyncrasies that David Hyde Pierce was able to portray in his tenure as Frasier's always jealous younger brother.

While Frasier without a doubt exposed Pierce's skills to a massive audience, it effectively pigeonholed the actor into the role of the persnickety milquetoast. This drastically limited the TV and film work made available to him. 

His post-Frasier TV/film career is spotty at best, with his most notable appearances coming in the Wet Hot American Summer reboot and an eight-episode recurring role on The Good Wife (a show that features nearly every actor ever).

Thankfully, his career outside Hollywood has been more lucrative. He has won multiple Tony Awards and has been nominated for several other stage-related awards. Pierce was also exceptional in his role as a plague-victim collector in the acclaimed musical comedy Spamalot

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Who knows the Carlton dance? That's right: everyone. But is everyone aware that Alfonso Ribeiro began his career as a child actor, dancing on Broadway and alongside the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, in a Pepsi commercial? In fact, before The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirRibeiro had already made a name for himself. 

However, after his tenure as the entitled, do-right snoot, Ribeiro was never again able to replicate that success. Instead, he turned to reality fare, participating as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars (where he reprised the Carlton dance) and gave a slew of appearances on daytime talk shows. 

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If you think you're more of a Samantha, that may not bode well for your acting career. Kim Cattrall's identity has become inseparable from her character on Sex and the City. This is despite the fact that her career had been prolific, spanning back to the mid-1970s, before she landed the iconic role. 

It's clear that Cattrall has some serious acting chops based on her attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (the school's alumni include Jessica Chastain, Danny DeVito, and Paul Rudd, to name a few). After graduation, she consistently landed roles in diverse films from Otto Preminger's Rosebud to Police Academy

However, after playing the powerfully uninhibited socialite Samantha Jones, Cattrall has yet been able to enjoy the same amount of success as she did before her iconic role. 

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Early in his career, Anthony Perkins had been typecast as a nervous adolescent, especially in films such as Fear Strikes Out, The Tin Star, and Desire Under the Elms. And in these performances, the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock saw the potential for one of cinema's most notorious murderers. 

Perkins's devilishly innocent good looks and adoption of a slight stutter to flesh out the murderous dichotomy within Norman Bates sealed his fate to forever be associated with the killing mama's boy.  

Even though Perkins was able to work steadily for the three decades after his iconic turn in Psycho, capturing such roles as Joseph K. in The Trial and Hector McQueen in Murder on the Orient Express, he ended up reprising the role of Bates in three more installments of the Psycho series and continued to be cast in the role of mentally disturbed characters, as in Edge of Sanity.

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