New York Magazine recently chronicled the career of funny boy Michael Cera, noting that the actor, known for his sheepishly charming cute dork roles, hasn’t really, how do you say, branched out. Ever. As they put it, he plays “a sweet, downtrodden, awkward wingman who falls for a confident spaz” every time he appears on screen. Which got us thinking, who else has made a career playing the same role in every film? While there are a boatload of older actors who have made a living perpetuating a specific character (Steven Seagal, Jackie Chan, Woody Allen), none from our generation came to mind quicker than Ben Stiller.
While Stiller has played varying roles throughout his career, he has only shown audiences three sides of himself: the awkward romantic who can’t get anything to fall in place; the neurotic yuppie searching for clarity; and the bat shit crazy, overly-aggressive psychopath. Let’s start there.
Heavy Weights: Tony Perkis is an extroverted fitness freak who starts a fat camp to make fun of losers.
Dodgeball: White Goodman is an extroverted fitness freak who starts a gym to make fun of losers.
Happy Gilmore: Hal L. is an extroverted caretaker who works at a retirement home and makes fun of old people.
Reality Bites: Michael is an overworked TV executive hoping to get his hands on a voyeuristic Gen X documentary and the woman who made it. (Winona Ryder)
There’s Something About Mary: Ted is an underemployed nerd looking to rekindle an old flame. (Cameron Diaz)
Along Came Polly: Reuben is an overworked nerd looking to ignite a flame with an old friend. (Jennifer Aniston)
Keeping The Faith: Jake is a self-righteous Rabbi hoping to get together with old flame/BFF. (Jenna Elfman)
Zoolander: Derek is an overworked model trying to stay relevant while courting silly reporter. (Christine Taylor)
Meet the Parents: Greg is an overworked nurse trying to impress parents and stay with his girlfriend. (Teri Polo)
Royal Tenenbaums: Chas is a neurotic, workaholic widow overly concerned with order and his children’s safety.
Permanent Midnight: Jerry Stahl is a neurotic comedy writer overly concerned with finding his next high.
Starsky & Hutch: David Starsky is a neurotic workaholic cop overly concerned with order and obeying the law.
Envy: Tim is a neurotic, workaholic neighbor overly concerned with his best friend’s new-found wealth.
Now if only Ben could play a washed up actor looking to revive his career by taking on a challenging role. Oh wait, he already did that.