6 Actors Who Played the Exact Same Role in Two Very Different Franchises

Talented actors and actresses get typecast all the time. Michael Cera could play an awkward teen well into his mid-40s and nobody would bat an eye; Seth Rogan has carved out a nice niche for himself as the lovable muttonhead stoner; and it’s hard to imagine Jennifer Aniston as anything but a smoking-hot, down-to-earth 30-something (seriously, does she ever age? Because I’ll be crushing on that woman long after her Social Security kicks in). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes it’s probably unavoidable. Some actors are just better suited for certain roles than others.

But this is old news. There are countless blog posts, editorial pieces, and list articles about the most typecast actors in Hollywood, and I don’t have a whole lot to contribute on that front. Instead, let’s check out a few examples of actors playing nearly identical roles in two completely unrelated franchises. Some entries on this list may or may not be a result of typecasting, but they still stand out on their own since each actor has proven their range in a variety of genres.

These are the types of characters who make me pause and think, “Come on, the director had to have done this on purpose.” Let me show you what I mean.

1)  Ben Stiller in Heavyweights (1993)/Dodgeball (2004)

Heavyweights is one of those movies that got funnier over time for me; I didn’t even know who Ben Stiller was in the early 90s, and his over-the-top Tony Perkis character aged for my friends and I like so many pounds of expensive cheese. And when Dodgeball came out in 2004, Stiller played the role of a ridiculous, relentless, used-to-be-fat fitness freak whose dastardly plans get thwarted by a rag-tag group of altruistic (though mostly out of shape) do-gooders. So yeah, I guess those plots are basically identical too.

But just look at Stiller in both of these flicks! He’s got the same hair, the same aloof-but-definitely-lacking-in-the-intelligence-department demeanor, the same brand of hilarious oddball one-liners. Jesus, he’s even accompanied by roided-out cronies in both movies.

Spin-off idea: Lars and Me’Shell star as fledgling photographers, and obese people ALWAYS break Lars’ cam-er-a.


What the director must have told him on the first day of shooting: “OK, Ben, here’s the deal. Remember that crazy asshole with sweet quads you played 11 years ago? This is basically a sequel. Same guy, new script. Oh, and we’re giving you a mustache.”



Fun (and possibly related) fact: Judd Apatow co-wrote Heavyweights in 1993, the same period in which he worked on The Ben Stiller Show as co-creator.

2)  Jeremy Piven in Old School (2003)/Entourage (2004)

Old School was a great movie, and the fun lasted right up until about the 42,000th time I heard “Fill it up AGAIN!!!” at a college kegger. Jeremy Piven plays Dean Pritchard, a snarky, manipulative douche who will stop at nothing to get his way in the political world of collegiate academics. Entourage premiered on HBO just a year or so later, and who should appear as Vinny Chase’s bloodthirsty agent but a non-four-eyed Pritchard.

What the director must have told him on the first day of shooting: “Heyo, fill it up again, am-I-right? But seriously, try to envision yourself as Dean Pritchard, but with even more success, even more acerbic wit, even more duplicitous assholery. Also, your suits will cost $5,000 each.”



Fun fact: Ari even gets Frank the Tank’s old wife!

3)  Ryan Reynolds in Blade Trinity (2004)/X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

For anyone keeping track, I’m obviously cheating on this one; Ryan Reynolds is typecast often enough as badass eye candy. Heck, my girlfriend banned me from watching Van Wilder just last year because of his awesome, awesome.. just awesome abs…Um, anyway, the real reason I’m cheating here is because Blade and Deadpool are under the same Marvel umbrella. Reynolds’ persona is similar in a bunch of different roles, but for these ones he plays a snarky ne’er-do-well who ABSOLUTELY HATES LONG-SLEEVED SHIRTS.

What the director must have told him on the first day of shooting: “Hey, so I see you’ve still got a shirt on. What would you say if I told you I’d trade you that ONE shirt for TWO swords?”



Fun fact: This is my official man crush.

  • Uncoolaidman

    Great call on Stiller. I can’t imagine why I never made that connection before.

  • Gabriel

    ….i feel the same way about reynolds

  • monstrinho

    not to mention Danny from Withnail and I and Del Preston (the roadie) from Waynes World 2. I did wonder if they were infact meant to be the same character 30 years apart.



  • Bert

    Can’t say I really see the point to many of these. Jeremy Piven is ALWAYS like that. And Frank Reynolds isn’t even close to the Penguin. And check out Stiller in Happy Gilmore – same mustache, same character, right?

  • Steve

    I’m starting to wonder if TJ is trying to be ironic or something… Are these supposed to be funny? Witty? I always trail off about part way, like I’m hanging out with a boring friend who’s trying too hard to be “quirky” in his observations of truly unentertaining things… he doesn’t get into the minutae enough to suck you in to his mania, and he’s not pointing out anything outlandish enough to even catch you with the initial “wait, what?”

    The implied “Huh? Huh?” that seems to come at the end of every half-hearted “reveal” is at once the most annoying thing about the articles and its potential saving grace, as it’s just such a douchebag move that it screams “I’m trollin’.”

  • JuanSolo

    Denzel Washington is the same person in every single movie he has been in.

  • Fun fact, Kevin Spacey also played the same character in Fred Claus. Hell, he even donned a Superman cape as a play on hiis role as Lex Luthor

  • dirtydblfjc

    How did no one notice that Kevin Spacey’s character in Horrible Bosses is a carbon copy of His character in Swimming With Sharks (awesome movie by the way. Kevin Spacey at his most smarmy/ snarky/ assoholeiest).

  • OK, I don’t respond to a ton of comments for my articles, but I’ve got a few extra minutes now that my work day is winding down…

    I just can’t read you, man. You’ve commented on enough of my shit that I assume you’re an Unreality regular, and your comments generally seem to be either neutral in tone or profoundly negative (assuming this is the same Steve, and I think it is). This honestly doesn’t bother me as a writer, and everybody’s entitled to their own opinions; that’s what comments sections are for. Your remarks from this and one other piece I wrote stick out to me, though:

    “If this was Paul, I’d have forgiven it, because Paul was a guy doing a blogg about whatever he was into at the time. If Paul went through a ‘torturing myself with bland romantic comedies’ phase, I’d expect this. But, as a guest column? I don’t get it…is this what ‘unreality’ has become; a dumping ground for uninspired stream of consciousness bloggers to unenthusiastically deride their poor entertainment choices?”

    (Granted, I did explicitly request negative comments for that previous article, but it reads like something you probably would have written anyway. And even if this is the wrong Steve, my next arguments don’t change a whole lot.)

    Well, I don’t really get it either, dude. To me, it’s starting to sound like you simply don’t like my overall writing style or editorial decisions. Like, AT ALL. Again, totally fine. Not every article can be a home run, and my sense of humor is absolutely not for everyone. I’m a huge fan of Cracked.com (if you couldn’t guess), but by now I know which regular columnists I like and which ones I just don’t care for. And if after a few paragraphs I just feel ‘meh’ about a given article, I’ll move on to something I’ll actually enjoy reading. I take the same approach when I’m drinking beer at a house party: I’ll drink the shitty Busch Light in the keg if that’s all there is, but if Magic Hat #9 is in the fridge, wouldn’t that be so much better instead?

    It appears you not only continue to read my articles, but also manage to get all the way through them; your angry comments are thoughtful, soundly based, and well-articulated. And my articles are usually at least 1,500 words long, which isn’t the shortest read.

    Obviously my goal is to entertain the good denizens of the internet, and hopefully future posts of mine will rub you the right way. But here’s what I don’t get: If you vehemently despise an article by the 5th paragraph, why would you read all the way to the end, let alone take the time to comment? There is SO MUCH MORE internet to peruse!

    In short, I feel like you’re doing yourself a disservice by wasting time on posts you simply don’t enjoy. Although, if you’re the kind of person who loves to hate things (I’m definitely like that sometimes), maybe you ARE enjoying my uninspired drivel. If that’s the case, you’re welcome in advance.

  • emignatius

    Make that three for Ben Stiller. Camp Hope anyone?

  • Steve2

    To avoid further confusion, I will be Steve2 from now on.

  • Deke

    Haha, I referred to Reynolds as my man crush for like 4 years. I believe I’ve finally moved on now though.

  • Amy

    Lol Reynolds is also my man crush. Although, I’m a girl, so maybe not so awkward? But I’ve loved his stuff since I first saw him in Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place. Man I loved that sitcom. I think he’s a great actor, and a lot of people say Green Lantern was a big negative on his acting report card, but I disagree. I think it was written poorly. He did a good job, otherwise.

  • Dan

    I don’t think you actually watched Drive or Lars and the Real Girl. If you had you would know their characters aren’t even remotely the same. Everything else was pretty much spot on.

    and Ryan Reynolds is a fucking stud.


  • Willis

    Who doesn’t have a man crush on Ryan Reynolds?

  • Brian

    @TJ: I think Steve may be your guardian troll. Much like a guardian angle, he has been assigned to be with you at all times. But instead of protecting you, he just acts like a total dickhead.

  • Mark Jr

    Reynolds and Jason Statham are my two mancrushes. I’ve adapted use of phrases similar to, “This rhetorical analysis is harder than Reynolds Abs.”

  • JessKitty

    TJ, I understand your frustration with someone who hates your work and seems to be eager to tell you all the time, “Hey, still hate it. Yup, hate it today too. Yes, hated it yesterday!”

    I read his remarks and I don’t see where they’re helpful. It wasn’t valuable criticism, it was spewing for the sake of spewing. That seems to be a common thing on the ‘net, as most fanfiction writers can tell you. For some reason, people seem to think that the ‘net exists to provide them endless shitz’n’giggles and feel it is their right to get pissy when something they read does not turn out to be as entertaining as they hoped.

    While in the real world, we’d probably stop reading/watching, on the ‘net, because we can leave comments, instead of leaving, folks feel that they have a right to vent their spleen upon the person who had the balls not to be exactly the sort of entertainment they wished them to be at the moment.

    A favorite critique of my own writing was someone who told me, “I read that entire novella… that’s three hours of my life you owe me.” Yeah, like if you hadn’t decided to read my writing, you would have cured cancer or something.

    Keep writing. Don’t worry about folks like Steve. I’m not saying ignore all criticism, but look carefully and see if it contains useful information you can incorporate. If it does, use it. If it doesn’t, then look at it as useless venting and ignore it.

  • JessKitty

    Sorry, I just reread what I wrote and I’m afraid it comes across like I’m trying to tell you what to do. I’m not. Ultimately, it’s your choice. I just think that you shouldn’t even waste your time responding to someone who is negative and not at all helpful.

  • @Josh
    Good call on Fred Clause; I hadn’t actually seen the movie (just the trailer and a couple other scenes with Spacey in them), so I ended up cutting it off my list. Definitely would have kept him if I’d known about the cape thing, though.

    Warned you that last one was a stretch. I’ve seen both movies, though, and still think there a lot of similarities between Lars and the driver.

    “Guardian troll”! Haha, that’s hands-down the funniest thing I’ve heard all week.

    Are you channeling one of my super cool aunts? 😉

    But seriously, it didn’t sound like you were telling me what to do. And I’m honestly not frustrated by negative feedback for my written work, though I can see how that long response up there might suggest otherwise; that was kind of my online version of thinking out loud, I guess, after observing the same brand of negativity from one Unreality regular on a consistent basis. I very rarely respond to negative, unproductive comments (it’s almost never worth it), but I genuinely feel a little bad when I see people pouring so much effort into things they don’t even like.

  • Wite Boy

    i thought i was the only person that realized that about Heavyweights and Dodgeball. i like to think they are the same person

  • I totally didn’t realize until just now that it was Ryan Gosling in Lars and the Real Girl. Suffice it to say, my mind is thoroughly blown.

  • Edgarska

    “Just…just do what you do, man. You’re beautiful.”

    That’s what they tell Devitto in all his roles.

  • Henrik

    I would go with Swimming With Sharks and Horrible Bosses instead of Superman for Kevin Spacey.

  • Reven

    How did Johnny Depp not make this list?!

  • FunnyFaceKing

    where are the other three?

  • Steve

    Also, TJ, I love how you call yourself a “writer”. I consider myself an astronaut.

  • Joe

    Actually; the two roles for Spacey that are IDENTICAL is 1) Horrible Bosses and 2) Swimming with the Sharks
    Shoot, even his turn in Glengarry is closer to Bosses than his Superman one.