10 Actors Who Finally Broke Out of Typecasting

Hollywood has a way of telling us who we are and who we should be, and there’s no one more amenable to its requests than its own biggest commodities — actors. The handful of molds are generally unchanging: the blonde bimbo, the unmarriageable brunette, the debonair gentleman, the dopey, dorky friend. Any number of people can fill these steadfast forms — Jean Harlows are replaced by Grace Kellys are replaced by Marilyn Monroes are replaced by Madonnas. But once an actor has been molded into an archetype, it’s often difficult for them to be anything else. Still, even those who get caught in the quicksand of typecasting can sometimes eventually make it out, like these pigeonholed actors, who, for better or for worse, finally played a kind of different role.

Robert De Niro, Stardust

In 1990, Robert De Niro was offered the role of Dick Tracy, but, worried that he would be typecast as the tough guy he perfected in Taxi Driver, he politely declined. The part eventually went to Warren Beatty — after Jack Nicholson turned it down as well — but by then, De Niro had already been pegged as film’s favorite hard-ass…which is why it’s a little surprising that he played a cross-dressing pirate in the 2007 fantasy movie Stardust.