Some actors are fantastic at playing themselves or a version of themselves that connects well with the audience. On the other hand, some simply don’t have the acting chops or can’t be bothered to immerse themselves in the role. Either way, they’re known for playing themselves or a type of character in every film and show.
Check out 27 actors who seem to deliver the same performance in every project, as discussed by members of a popular online forum, and some we added ourselves.
1. Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is essentially one of the two or three best actors alive. However, once you've acted for as long as he has, you end up playing yourself a lot. The Equalizer is the same as the Man on Fire, if you get what we mean. But this isn't a knock — this isn't saying Denzel doesn't have range. It's saying he's perfected the art of Denzel Washington.
2. Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson is an actor capable of nuance and subtle emotional complexity, but if you saw Taken, you've seen all of his mainstream roles the last 15 or so years. We're not mad, though — get to the bag, Liam!
3. Kevin Hart
Kevin Hart is at the top of my list because I don’t think he has ever acted. He basically just does his stand-up act in every single film he’s in. One of the most egregious examples is in the new Jumanji movie, where his character was supposed to be a vapid high school girl trapped in a man’s body. Instead, it’s just Kevin Hart in Kevin Hart’s body.
4. Ryan Reynolds
So many people adore Ryan Reynolds’s relentless sarcasm and dry humor, which is probably why he delivers it no matter what role he is in. At this point, Deadpool is essentially Ryan Reynolds in a red costume, and it’s nearly impossible to differentiate his personality from any of his characters.
5. Jason Statham
As one online fan put it, “Jason Statham is basically a character.” I don’t think he’s an assassin in real life, but I’m guessing he has the same moody, tough-guy personality as most of his characters. He’s a brooding, no-nonsense kind of guy, and we see that in every single film.
6. Emma Roberts
Emma Roberts frequently plays a spoiled, prissy girl who lacks self-awareness and empathy. I like to think she’s just cast as that because she’s good at it, but some reports concerning her tipping habits and manners suggest that she’s not the nicest lady in real life. I hope it’s not true, but she is exceptionally good at playing the mean girl.
7. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
This one was a common mention in an internet thread discussing this topic. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is definitely not the most versatile actor and consistently plays the same likable but tough character. While I don’t think he’s the best actor, I also suspect he’s told to play himself over and over again because it sells movies.
8. Owen Wilson
A few people brought up Owen Wilson, and I’m struggling to agree 100%. He is often a quirky and gentle character with more depth than people realize, but I don’t believe that he’s always playing himself. I just think his mannerisms and voice are so distinct it’s difficult to discern his acting from his real personality.
9. Taryn Manning
One online commenter said, “Taryn Manning, your go-to trailer park girl,” and it couldn’t be more accurate. When a casting director needs a trashy girl with some country roots, Taryn Manning is always the right answer. Unfortunately, it seems her real personality isn’t far off from the crazy roles she plays.
10. Jason Mantzoukas
As much as I adore Jason Mantzoukas, I agree with online commenters that he tends to play the same person in everything. However, he can exaggerate or refine this character to either be insane or just a little quirky, so at least there is some diversity.
11. Justin Timberlake
Justin Timberlake plays the sensitive and friendly guy in every movie, and I think this act extends into real life. Even in his more serious roles, his mannerisms are always a little jittery, and his attitude is righteous, to the point of being a little annoying. I get the feeling he’s not much better in person.
12. Zoe Kravitz
Zoe Kravitz always plays the hippie-dippie type of girl who’s different than everyone else and has chill vibes. I’m guessing she’s similar in real life as she gives off that energy in interviews and on red carpets, but at least she’s a distinct and entertaining character. One online fan put it perfectly, saying, “I love her but she’s always the same ‘cool girl.’”
13. Tara Reid
Tara Reid is known for playing the stupid, promiscuous girl, and she nails the role every time. I like to think she’s more intelligent than she seems on-screen, but considering she plays the dumb, pretty girl over and over again, it’s hard to say. The mean and slightly trashy character is her gig.
14. Michelle Rodriguez
We get it. You’re moody and tough. My introduction to Michelle Rodriguez was her role as Ana-Sophia in Lost, and yes, you guessed it, she plays a hostile and impatient woman. I loved her in Lost, but as I saw her in more things, I realized this is the only role she ever plays, and I wonder if that’s how she is in real life.
15. Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg has been put in so many different roles, from an aggressive cop to a wanted criminal to a sweet family man. However, he still strikes the same tone in almost every movie and tends to keep a slightly bewildered and puzzled look on his face. His acting isn’t super diverse, but I think it’s more versatile than many others on this list.
16. Seth Rogen
Frankly, I don’t need Seth Rogen to play anyone but himself because he is so lovable! Most of his roles are typical stoners or lackadaisical characters with little to no direction in life. While I think he’s just as awkward and bumbling in real life as his roles, he’s a successful and motivated individual.
17. Hugh Grant
Is saying “um” between every word in a line an artistic choice, or is he incapable of saying a full sentence without pausing? I love Hugh Grant, but he truly plays the same dopey but likable fool in every movie. I’m not complaining, but I don’t think he’s winning an Oscar anytime soon- much less getting nominated.
18. Tracy Morgan
I feel the same about Tracy Morgan as I do about Kevin Hart; they genuinely only play themselves. Again, it’s like he’s rehearsing his stand-up routine while filming a movie. Morgan is hilarious, way funnier than Hart, in my opinion, but exclusively plays Tracy Morgan, which can be tiring.
19. Jennifer Coolidge
Here is one actress who should always play herself because she’s remarkable. Jennifer Coolidge’s mannerisms, voice, and facial expressions are so unique and unforgettable that it does feel like she plays herself. However, I have to give her credit that there are nuanced differences between characters, so I still think she’s talented.
20. Tiffany Haddish
Another lady who is always fun to watch, Tiffany Haddish, tends to assume the same role in most movies and TV shows. She’s always a little spunky but decently intelligent, and based on reports, she’s the same in real life. Luckily, she’s hilarious and endearing, so I don’t think anyone minds seeing her on screen.
21. Aubrey Plaza
I love Aubrey Plaza, but I have to admit her characters are almost identical. She’s always a gloomy and somewhat difficult character, but she also sees more than everyone around her and is insightful. While she seems the same in interviews, I feel she is always playing some sort of character in public.
22. Rebel Wilson
I think Rebel Wilson can be funny, so it annoys me that she never tries to add depth to any of her roles. I’ve seen her in a decent array of films and roles, but she always plays the slightly clueless and racy character that uses the shock factor to get laughs. I think she could do better.
23. Zooey Deschanel
The OG quirky manic-pixie girl, Zooey Deschanel, always plays a lovable but offbeat character who never fully grasps what’s happening. While I think she partly plays herself, I doubt she is as weird and clueless in real life and, like Aubrey Plaza, plays up these stereotypes in interviews as it’s her public persona.
24. Adam DeVine
When it comes to Adam DeVine, I think you get exactly what you see. His characters are always immature and playful, with a hint of sensitivity beneath the funny surface. He’s likely more intelligent than most of his characters, but his silly ways seem consistent with his personality.
25. Jennifer Aniston
We all want Jennifer Aniston to play herself because she’s relatable and lovable. Rachel on Friends is probably her most iconic character and seems to be largely influenced by Jennifer’s true personality. While her performances aren’t particularly diverse or earth-shattering, they’re always charming.
26. Pete Davidson
I’m a huge Pete Davidson fan, but his acting chops are not incredible. Like Jennifer Aniston, I think he mostly plays himself because that’s what he’s told to do. He’s a beloved cast member on SNL, so I suspect people cast him in movies expecting the same goofy and somewhat edgy vibe.
27. Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler was mentioned by a few people discussing this topic, and I think he’s one of the best actors on this list. Yes, he has 100% mastered playing his funny and dry self, but when he needs to morph into a new role, I think he does so impeccably. My top example is Uncut Gems, where I can feel his anxiety through the screen.
Veronica is a food, fashion, and entertainment writer from Boston, MA, with a passion for all things lifestyle and culture. She graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a bachelor's in English literature. From Anna Wintour to Angelina Jolie to Alton Brown, she has her finger on the pulse of all things Hollywood and celebrity.
If she's not in the kitchen crafting new recipes, then she's binging the latest HBO series and catching up on the hottest trends in Vogue.
She has written for and been syndicated by publications like The Weather Channel, The Daily Meal, The Borgen Project, The Good Men Project, The Express, MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Not Deer Magazine. Her writing experience ranges from global news articles to celebrity gossip pieces to movie reviews to homemade recipes and more.