In case we haven’t made enough noise about it already, we’d like to restate our enthusiasm for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to television with the CW’s new series Ringer. We already used the show’s twins-in-trouble element as a springboard to look at our favorite twins in popular culture, but the dualism got us thinking about something else, too — specifically, how many other actors have been able to successfully star in more than one show during their career, shrugging off typecasting to embody a whole new, equally welcome persona. As Gellar takes on this feat in 2011, here’s a look back at some of the others who have done it, and done it well. Don’t see your favorite? We know we left some out, so feel free to add more in the comments.
Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad
In a move pretty much no one could have predicted, Bryan Cranston — who played the goofy but lovable dad, Hal, on long-running sitcom Malcolm in the Middle — underwent one of the most drastic transformations in TV history by tackling the role of Walter White on Breaking Bad. Once known for haplessly trying to wrangle his brood of mischief-making sons into some state of normalcy, Cranston re-emerged almost unrecognizable as the increasingly desperate White, a chemistry teacher turned crystal-meth dealer who goes steadily over the edge after a terminal-cancer diagnosis. And while Malcolm earned Cranston numerous Emmy nods, it’s Breaking Bad that finally snagged him the trophy — three years in a row.
Click through below for a roll call of more two-time television superstars »