8 Examples of Unusually, Overly Specific Typecasting in Hollywood Movies

"I, ugh, I ugh, I'm I'm stroking my chin now, right now, as a proper Jeff Goldblum should do, and I, I, I, um, am about to tell you some, some, um, disturbing FUBAR event that we will marginally escape..."

By: Peter Parker Most movie goers are familiar with the phenomenon of typecasting, where a certain actor, be it by his or her own efforts or by the capricious whims of some Hollywood Executive, ends up playing the same basic role over and over again. Examples include John Wayne’s myriad performances as Cowboys, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s frequent portrayal of guys who’ll “be back” and Shia Labeouf’s endless depictions of people I want to repeatedly punch in the face. However, what has gone largely unnoticed by folks with so-called “real lives” is what I have labeled “U.O.S.T.” or Unusually Overly Specific Typecasting. U.O.S.T is often so bizarre that it seems more like some wonky Synchro-Mystic reincarnation across an actor’s career history rather than a reflection of the utter unoriginality of Hollywood casting directors but perhaps we should just let the examples of it speak for themselves. Mary Steenburgen: The Girlfriend, Turned Wife of Guys Who Travel Between the Late 19th and Late 20th Centuries. Other than playing Bride of Frankenstein to giant foreheaded hubby Ted Danson, Mary Steenburgen is probably best known for playing the part of Clara Clayton, a schoolmarm romanced by nutty scientists Emmett “Doc” Brown, when he travels back to the year 1885 in the third Back to the Future movie. After contemplating destroying his time machine on the grounds that it might fuck shit up on a galactic scale, Doc eventually says “screw the laws of causality,” marries Clara and returns with her to his own era.

"We named our kids Jules & Verne, so basically, we’re one of those annoying yuppie couples that makes you wanna barf! But at least, be thankful we didn’t pull a Will & Jada Smith & call em Clemet & Emra."

What’s less remembered, however, is Mary played almost this exact same part ten years earlier, with only one slight inversion. In the 1979 film Time After Time, Mary plays Amy Robbins a late 20th century woman who is romanced by a time traveler from the year 1893, specifically the pimp-daddy of time travel himself, H.G Wells, who came through time to pursue none other than Jack the Ripper. After saving Amy from “Saucy Jack” Wells decides he must return to his own time and destroy the machine. Proving the old adage “time machines are the ultimate pussy wagons,” Amy begs Wells to take her with him. They return to 1893 with the ending credits telling us that they later married. Hell, both movies even feature scenes where Mary gets all pissy when her respective beaus, reveal that they are time travelers. Apparently, she believes “I’m a time traveling scientists” to be a sleazy con to get up under her hoop skirt and as we’ve already established, it’s definitely an angle that works! Speaking of perfectly executed segues; our next example of U.O.S.T also involves another actress from Back to the Future.

Maybe this movie traveled through time to become “Back to the Future 3.”

Lea Thompson: Young Women in Sci-Fi Related, Deeply Disturbing, Sexual Relationships. If you weren’t creeped out by the Steenburgen/Danson pairing, then this next segment probably won’t phase you one bit, however if your disturbo-threshold is that of a normal human, prepare to go “eeww!” The lovely Lea Thompson has twice played parts that combine sci-fi and totally wrong sexual relationships. Many of us remember, mostly in therapy sessions, the scene in Back to the Future where Lea plays 1950s chick Lorrain Baines, who through the miracle of time travel, tries to get it on with her own son, Marty. Hell, both movies even feature scenes where Mary gets all pissy when her respective beaus, reveal that they are time travelers. Apparently, she believes “I’m a time traveling scientists” to be a sleazy con to get up under her hoop skirt and as we’ve already established, it’s definitely an angle that works!

Speaking of perfectly executed segues; our next example of U.O.S.T also involves another actress from Back to the Future.

Lea Thompson: Young Women in Sci-Fi Related, Deeply Disturbing, Sexual Relationships.

If you weren’t creeped out by the Steenburgen/Danson pairing, then this next segment probably won’t phase you one bit, however if your disturbo-threshold is that of a normal human, prepare to go “eeww!”

The lovely Lea Thompson has twice played parts that combine sci-fi and totally wrong sexual relationships. Many of us remember, mostly in therapy sessions, the scene in Back to the Future where Lea plays 1950s chick Lorrain Baines, who through the miracle of time travel, tries to get it on with her own son, Marty.

"Eewwwwww"

Despite the Oedipal freakiness, Back to the Future was a huge success but as is often the case, there were producers who mistook “success in spite of” for “success because of,” and as is also often the case, one of those Producers was George “Greedo shot whenever I damn well say he did” Lucas. Fresh off the original Star Wars Trilogy, Lucas was a god who could green light any cinematic travesty not matter how ill-advised (gee, how much things have changed) and of this magical Jedi power was born the 1986 box office train wreck, Howard The Duck.

Okay, I admit it. Even I'd fuck this duck just to drink Lea's bathwater!

In this film Lea’s sexual machinations nauseate all right thinking people once again, as she stars as Beverly Spitzer, a woman who becomes infatuated with Howard, a 3 ft humanoid duck from another world. Initially, Howard is of the same mind as Marty in BTTF and resists Beverly’s advances, but upon seeing Lea in her panties, his resolute opposition to bestiality begins to crack. Can’t say I blame him but then again, I am a human being and not a hominid waterfowl from a planet where she-ducks have breasts for some reason.

Yeah, that happened. You can’t make it unhappen.

Continuing with the topic of midget sized aliens that lust after our human women, let’s move on to our next victim.

Armin Shimerman: Crooked Rat-Like Aliens Who Operate All Criminal-Like on Deep Space Stations.

As all good 40-year-old virgins know, Armin Shimerman is the actor best remembered for playing the sleazy, double-dealing Quark on the popular sci-fi series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Quark was a Ferengi, a ratty looking species of alien, who practiced a religion based on cutthroat capitalism. Frequently running cons, crimes and backroom deals, Quark managed a shady bar on Deep Space Nine, a space station on the frontiers of the Alpha Quadrant.

Wow, that's some amazing alien prosthetics right there.

Far from the over-idealized recurring characters that peopled prior Star Trek series, the morally flawed Quark was, by comparison, a highly original anti-hero and a groundbreaking and unique role for Shimerman, except for the fact that he’d played the exact same part just a couple of years earlier.

There ain’t enough gold pressed latinum in the universe to get a guy who looks like this laid, unless it’s at a Star Trek convention in which case he’s pretty much Clark “Fucking” Gable, with slightly smaller ears. I put that last reference in for my grandma.

In the 1989 film, The Arena, Shimerman portrayed Weezil, an alien criminal whose name, appearance and personality conveniently all complimented each other. Like Quark, the similar looking Weezil, was deeply entrenched in the seamy underbelly of crime and corruption, which festered on the deep space station he called home.

He’s like something outta Bob Hoskins’ worst nightmares!

Jon Favreau: Stupidly Named Buddies of Marvel Superheroes.

Apparently back in the swinging sixties Marvel Comic’s Editor Stan “The Man” Lee was convinced that part of the winning formula for any superhero was, a normal human pal with a cripplingly idiotic name. Though Spider-Man’s number one fan, Flash Thompson ranks pretty high on this list, the neck in neck winners have to be Daredevil’s pal Foggy Nelson and Iron-Man’s buddy Happy Hogan. Foggy and Matt Murdoch (Daredevil’s alter ego) are old friends and lawyers at the same law firm and Happy is the bodyguard and old friend of Tony Stark (Iron-Man’s civilian identity). Basically these two characters are two-dimensional enough as to be completely interchangeable, which made it a walk in the park for Hollywood veteran Jon Favreau when he played both of them. Favreau co-starred as Foggy in 2003’s largely forgettable Daredevil movie and then went on to play Happy Hogan in 2008’s highly praised Iron-Man film.

“Gettim Daredevil and or Iron-Man!”

Since Favreau directed Iron-Man it is quite possible he cast himself as Happy, which would suggest he is now actively seeking these very specific roles. If Favreau dons the Flash Thompson letterman jacket in the up coming Spider-Man remake, we’ll know the man is in need of serious professional help.

Riding the superhero movie Sea-Doo across Lake Segue, our next example of U.O.S.T is none other than…

Liam Neeson: Old Members of Knightly Orders Who Train Young Novices in Sword Fighting & the Like.

Before he beat up overt, foreign stereotypes in the movie Taken, Liam Neeson was taking on barely veiled, racist caricatures from space as the sage Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, in the 1999 cinematic war crime, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. As a high-ranking member of a mystic martial order, Jinn trained his young apprentice Obi Wan Kenobi, in swordsmanship, strategy and fighting techniques.

Be mindful of the living force my young Pada… My young what? Padawan? What the hell is that? Well why doesn’t he just say, “apprentice”?

Despite being only slightly less terrible than having your testicles removed, deep-fried and fed to your family goldfish, Phantom Menace was a box office smash. Never estimate the power of name recognition and dumb people’s love of flashy moving objects. Evidently Liam, thought he had stumbled onto a good thing and played Qui Gon at least two more times under different names.

In 2005’s Batman Begins (and you thought I couldn’t make that superhero segue work) Neeson plays Ra’s Al Ghul (or Henri Ducard) a member of (or leader of) The League of Shadows, a secret, mystical martial arts order that arbitrates justice throughout the world. Ghul (or Ducard) trains a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne in (you guessed it) swordsmanship, strategy and fighting techniques.

Have at you my young Padawan, I mean Batman!

2005 also saw Neeson play Godfrey of Ibelin in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. Godfrey, a wise old member of a knightly order, trains Orlando Bloom in (say it with me now) swordsmanship, strategy and fighting techniques. More power to you Liam! Make those fencing lessons pay for themselves!

This is pretty much becoming old hat for me my young Padawan, I mean, elf prince, I mean… Ah feck it!

If that last one wasn’t an example of Unusually Overly Specific Typecasting we don’t know what is. Oh wait we do, this next one featuring Liam’s Kingdom of Heaven co-star.

Orlando Bloom: Blacksmiths With Missing Dads, Who Get Embroiled in Swashbuckling Adventures.

When you think of the typical Blacksmith you unusually picture a soot-covered, strong-armed, tough guy and when you’re casting a soot-covered, strong-armed, tough guy the image you have in mind is, obviously Orlando Bloom.

Blacksmith (tm)

Sheetsmith. (tm)

Okay maybe not but that’s probably why you’re not a billionaire, Hollywood producer. Despite the fact that his teen-girl stalkers have created thousands of web pages in his honour, none of them seem to have commented on Orlando’s propensity for playing blacksmiths, with missing Dads, who get drawn into epic sword wielding adventures. This egregious oversight will be cured now!

In 2003 Bloom starred in Pirates of the Caribbean alongside fellow willowy, pretty boy/better actor Johnny Depp. Bloom played Will Turner one of the several characters in the film that wasn’t Captain Jack Sparrow, which means right now your drawing a total blank. To jog your memory, Will was a young man living in the olden days when everyone had fancy English accents. His pirate father disappeared when he was young and he grew up to be a blacksmith, till one day a pirate showed up, drawing him from his simple existence into a life of pirate related adventures and sword fights. Eventually he romances and marries a beautiful woman of higher social status.

Showing his range as an actor Bloom decided to branch out in the aforementioned 2005 Ridley Scott epic Kingdom of Heaven in which he plays Balian of Ibelin. Radically different to Will Turner, Balian was a young man living in the olden days when everyone had fancy English accents. His knight father disappeared when he was young and he grew up to be a blacksmith, till one day a knight showed up, drawing him from his simple existence into a life of knight related adventures and sword fights. Eventually he romances and marries a beautiful woman of higher social status.

We suppose we could have also pointed out Orlando has been U.O.S.Ted in moves featuring besieged fortresses but his skinny ass already gets enough publicity as it is so we’ll just move onto our next contestant. Heck we’ll even skip the clever segue this time.

Cillian Murphy: A Guy In Movies Where People Try and Stop Dudes from Inheriting Full Control of Their Fathers’ Giant Corporations.

This next one’s a bit more tangential since it isn’t so much characters being played by an actor but rather the plot points of movies he’s been in. In the last half decade Murphy has managed to be in several, separate blockbusters that feature the son of a billionaire struggling against adversity to reclaim full control of his departed father’s corporation.

In 2005 Cillian played Scarecrow in the movie Batman Begins, in which Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City after several years’ absence, attempting to take back his father’s company, Wayne Enterprises from corrupt CEO, William Earle. After Wayne gives him his walking papers, the mentally & financially devastated Earl is forced to ride the rails as a Hobo With a Shotgun.

I heard the same thing happened to the Exec who gave the go ahead to Clear Pepsi.

In 2010 Cillian himself starred in Inception as Robert Fischer, a young billionaire, who is set to inherit his late father’s company until Leonardo DiCaprio & the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun, crawl up into his brain in an attempt to make him retarded. At least that’s what I remember happening. Truthfully, I got confused and fell asleep in the last 40 minutes of the film. Everyone tells me it was really deep though.

That same year saw the release of the long-awaited Tron sequel. In this film Garrett Hedlund (Yeah, I don’t know who that is either) plays Sam Flynn, a young man engaged in a veritable ideological war with the board members of his long-lost father’s company, Encom. Cillian manages to make a cameo in Tron: Legacy that’s so quick you’ll practically need to watch your DVD at one-tenth normal speed just to see it. We’re talking Japanese laser disc, Jessica Rabbit beaver shot territory.  It’s so brief that he’s almost completely pointless to the story. It’s as if he heard it was a film about people trying to stop a dude from inheriting full control of his father’s giant corporation & got on the phone to his agent, demanding he get a part by any means necessary.

OMG! The legends are true; you can totally see her Cillian!

Why’s he keep appearing in movies with such a specific plot point? I don’t believe in coincidences so, obviously, the only logical answer is he’s some kind of insane obsessive; well, one of us is anyway.

Speaking of crazy people, let’s finish off with everyone’s favorite bellow maniac:

Christian Bale: Guys Who Worshiped WWII Era Pilots in Their Youth, Only to Later Wind up in Asian Prisoner of War Camps and Yet Still Manage to Remain Upbeat.

When it comes to Christian Bale, we could examine his frequent portrayal of rich dudes who, exercise a lot and put on fake personalities to cover their secret night lives, dispensing brutal violence but we decided to one up the level of specificity and focus on his apparent obsession with playing guys who worshiped World War 2 era pilots in their youth, only to later wind up in Asian prisoner of war camps and yet still manage to remain upbeat.

This well-known stock character provided Bale with his first break through role, when he played Jamie Graham in the 1987, Steve Spielberg film Empire of the Sun. Jamie is a plucky English schoolboy living in Shanghai in 1937. He’s so obsessed with World War II flying aces that he even gets excited when Japanese airplanes bomb the shit out Shanghai. He doesn’t even seem all that put out when the Japanese capture him and put him in a death camp and starve and torture him. Eventually he’s freed when allied forces push the Japanese out.

Later an adult Bale would star as Dieter Dengler in the 2007 film Rescue Dawn. Dieter a plucky kid living in Germany at the end of World War II, is so obsessed with flying aces that he has a veritable orgasm when an American fighter plane nearly bombs him off the face of the earth. This experience imbued young Dieter with a life long love of both airplanes and Uncle Sam, which just goes to prove, despite what anyone says, we can win the hearts and minds of third world dictatorships simply by firebombing them into the stone age. Suck on that Chomsky, show’s what you know! Dieter grows up and becomes a pilot in the U.S Navy, only to be shot down over the jungles of Laos. Captured by enemy forces, he’s locked away in a prisoner of war camp, where he’s starved and tortured. Eventually he makes a daring escape and is so upbeat about his whole hellish ordeal that he gets all excited about chowing down on some birthday cake.

No matter the part it seems Bale can’t cut a break with Asian people. Heck, even the opening of Batman Begins, finds Christian in a Chinese work camp. We hope and pray, for the good of the Batman franchise, that Christian and one half the world’s population can come to some kind of reconciliation. Then again, since China currently owns the lion’s share of our debt, maybe the pragmatic thing would be to just hand Bale’s Welsh ass over to them and call everything even.

Keanue Reeves: Dudes that get their brains jacked into computers.

Reginald Val Johnson: Cops or people who dress like cops.

Christian Bale: Bale + Bat = Baletman.

Judd Hirsch: Lovable Old Jewish Math Dads.

Sarah Pauly: Women who get raped by monsters.

John D’Aquino: Presidential Sit-Coms set in the Whitehouse.

Melinda McGraw: Close Confidant of Police Commissioners.

Liam neesan: knights batman, star wars, kingdom of heaven

Bloom: Blacksmiths

Roc/National Treasure

Veego: Jorney across barron lands chucking away a ring

Leonardo DiCaprio: Inception & Shutter Island

Brad Wesley

David Hyde Peirce (Fraser & Sleepless in Seattle)

3 Comments on 8 Examples of Unusually, Overly Specific Typecasting in Hollywood Movies

  1. Haha, Goldblum is sad that he didn’t make the list as guy who always plays “hip” scientists. Thanks for putting this up.

  2. Thanks for sending it. I needed a pic at the top, so Jeff is a nice addition.

  3. Love Lea. Some Kind of Wonderful is one of my favourites.

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