Actors Who Couldn’t Escape Their Biggest Role

Although he won critical acclaim for several award-winning performances — including a role in Civil War movie Friendly Persuasion as a young man drawn to battle to protect his family and a part in May-December romantic drama Goodbye Again — multifaceted talent Anthony Perkins will forever and always be known as Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. Immortalized on celluloid as the meek and deeply troubled murderer, Perkins’ — who would have been 80-years-old today — played Bates with a boyish vulnerability, quiet charm, and repressed anxiety that Hitchcock skillfully helped mold into one of the greatest screen villains of all time.

Many have said that Bates’ most unfortunate victim was Anthony Perkins, and that the character eventually consumed him — at least through three other sequels that spanned into the ’90s. “Without Pyscho, who’s to say if I would have endured?” Perkins once told the New York Times.

What other actors never escaped their biggest roles? We explored the careers of a few stars past the jump. Sometimes the deal of a lifetime can haunt you, making you wonder who is playing whom in the end. (And sometimes it’s not always a bad thing.) Check out our picks, and drop your faves in the comments section.

Mark Hamill

Batman fans who have long been following Mark Hamill as Joker in the DC Animated Universe — and all the shorts, videogames, and other spinoffs that go along with it — may protest about this pick. We feel Heath Ledger’s performance and incredible transformation as Joker in The Dark Knight has overshadowed Hamill’s vocal work for most folks, but we digress.

Film fans grew up with Hamill’s iconic Jedi Knight, who evolved from an inexperienced boy into a skilled fighter and spiritually wise leader. After Star Wars, Hamill tried to avoid being typecast and did little film work. Despite his efforts, his lead, recurring role in one of American cinema’s greatest achievements will always follow him.

It’s got a life of its own. Mazel Tov, people … Live long and prosper and all that stuff, but so what? It doesn’t have any relevance to me in terms of what I want to do in my career, callous as that may sound — but truly, it’s show and business … I did the show — now all I’m dealing with is business … I always just tried to go for things that challenged me in some way. Sometimes I faltered and did things just for the money, and it shows, but I’m in a really good place now.”