For an actor, getting typecast is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can be fairly sure you'll always get work. On the other hand, if your breakthrough role was "guy with frantic diarrhea," you can look forward to a long career of feigned intestinal distress and people on the street yelling "Hey, diarrhea guy!" No one will care that you played Shylock in the Royal Shakespeare Co. or trained at Yale, only that you were hilarious in the straight-to-DVD movie Diarrhea Guy Saves Christmas. Below are nine actors who, for better or worse, are probably going to play the same part until they either die rich or get relegated to The Surreal Life, where they'll get sloppy drunk and bitch to their housemates about being typecast.
Role: Family-man cop with a bit of a weight problem, who often has to deal with idiots and is therefore exasperated
The Movies/The Shows: Ghostbusters, Kojak: The Belarus File, Plain Clothes, Die Hard, Perfect Strangers, Turner & Hooch, Family Matters, Die Hard 2
The History: There' no good reason why this openly gay, erstwhile short story writer, who dances and sings in his free time, should portray the same straight-laced, blue collar gumshoe every time he passes in front of a camera. Sure, he appeared as Sgt. Al Powell (Die Hard) early in his career, but before he was shooting German terrorists who had inexplicably come back from the dead outside the Nakatomi Tower, VelJohnson was donning a badge for bit parts in Ghostbusters, Kojak and something called Plain Clothes.
The Verdict: Some men are born with talents that just don't make much sense. We, for example, have the totally worthless ability to remember that Reginald VelJohnson is the guard who opens the jail cell in Ghostbusters. VelJohnson, on the other hand, just naturally looks like he should be wearing a police uniform and getting exasperated about something. So uncanny is his gift, that after only one season playing the bit part of Officer Carl Winslow on Perfect Strangers, ABC handed him a series that managed to fill nine seasons worth of the premise: "Officer Winslow expresses exasperation with his son Eddie and neighbor Steve." Sure he'd probably rather be playing the chubby girl in Hairspray-but trust us, there are worse gifts to have.
8. Julia Roberts
Role: Woman who is strong-willed but eventually shows vulnerability by breaking down into silent, gross-looking tears
The Movies Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman, My Best Friend' Wedding, Notting Hill, Runaway Bride, Erin Brockovich, Ocean' Eleven, Mona Lisa Smile, Ocean' Twelve
The History: The goddess of plucky, scrappy, can-do women, Julia Roberts has made it in a man' world and not taken any crap enough times to form her own chapter of NOW. We get it: she' as good as any man and she' being blunt in a wry, humorous fashion designed to make Richard Gere/George Clooney/Albert Finney seem taken aback. But that' not all there is to Julia. Beneath that tough exterior, there' the softer side, where all her fragility and hurt is let out in a series of silent, puffy-lipped sobs that make her look revolting. By repeatedly packaging both of these extremes into a single role, Julia has achieved what idiots call "depth of character."