6 Actors Who Play the Exact Same Role in Multiple Movies
Some actors do the same thing in almost every movie: Tom Cruise plays secret agents, Bruce Willis plays bald guys holding machine guns, and James Marsden causes women to bang other men.
But as we've pointed out before, other actors find themselves in the same oddly specific situations in different movies. Not because they're typecast, but seemingly by pure coincidence. For example ...
Keanu Reeves Always Commits Suicide to Thwart Superhuman Evil
Keanu Reeves, you have a problem. And that problem is that you keep killing yourself to stop some ultimate evil from taking over the planet, often in religious or pseudo-religious situations. That isn't healthy, Keanu. We think it's time you gave it a break. Let someone else save the world -- what's Alex Winters doing these days?
This all started in 1996's The Devil's Advocate, an entire movie based on the idea "What if Keanu Reeves was literally Satan's attorney?" (that phrase was also the entire screenplay). Then it turns out that Satan, played by Al Pacino, is not only Keanu's boss but also his father, and his master plan involves getting Keanu to have sex with his own sister in order to produce the Antichrist.
"And I saw a beast having seven heads and 10 horns, and upon his body a diaper, because he was too inbred to control his own bowels."
Keanu tries to shoot Satan, but his bullets have no effect, because Satan eats AK-47s for breakfast. Since simply not screwing his sister is apparently not an option, Keanu, in a shocking twist ending, turns the gun on himself and blows his brains out, fucking up Satan's whole plan.
This was also his exact reaction to the Sad Keanu meme.
The twist ending is not so shocking when it happens again in the film Constantine, in which Keanu portrays a modern-day exorcist who must stop Satan's son, the demon Mammon, from taking over the Earth behind his daddy's back. Knowing that his own soul is damned to hell because of all those times he cheated in Monopoly, Keanu cleverly slits his wrists specifically so he can have a chat with Lucifer and rat out Mammon.
How many black suits has Keanu ruined in his career?
After he has dealt with Junior, Satan tries to take Keanu's soul to hell, only to find out that he can't because Keanu's been redeemed by his self-sacrifice. So, instead, he begins ascending to heaven.
Look familiar? You might remember Keanu floating in a similar pose at the end of the Matrix trilogy. This time, Keanu, as Neo the cyber-Jesus, allows himself to be absorbed by the virus that's putting both humans and our machine overlords in jeopardy, letting the machine leader send an energy overload through his body -- killing Keanu and the virus at the same time. Once again, the day is saved by Keanu Reeve's suicide!
"We would have used Norton, but the license expired."
Jennifer Connelly Really Likes Standing at the End of Piers
Directors borrowing shots from other directors' movies is nothing new; Quentin Tarantino has built his entire career on that, and besides, there are only so many ways you can frame Samuel L. Jackson's angry face. But sometimes filmmakers will copy exact shots from other films without even realizing it -- and without even realizing it, they'll also put the exact same actress in them.
Take Alex Proyas' 1998 neo-noir sci-fi cult classic thriller Dark City, which, true to its title, contains no shots in daylight throughout the entire movie ... until the last 60 seconds, when we see a long pier framed by a stunningly blue ocean, with a woman standing at the end and holding a red dress.
And, somewhere beneath the pier, Jaws lurks.
Yep, it's a striking visual -- one that was repeated two years later in Darren Aronofsky's lighthearted romp about addiction and ass-to-ass action, Requiem for a Dream. In a dream sequence, the stoned protagonist sees his girlfriend standing at the end of a beautiful pier and walks toward her. Now the woman is actually wearing a red dress.
The "woman at the end of a pier" shot appears yet again in the 2003 drama House of Sand and Fog, although this time it's a bit less sunny and a lot more seagull-infested.
She's still wearing the red dress, it's just covered in bird droppings.
And here's the kicker: The woman in all those shots? That would be Jennifer Connelly. Check it out:
"Comeeeee ooooon, I've been here all day."
According to Aronofsky, this was a complete coincidence -- he says he hadn't even seen Dark City when he came up with his version of the "woman on a pier" shot, and only found out it had been done again when Connelly herself mentioned how strange it was that both films used the same image (at that point, it was too late to change it). By the time the director of House of Sand and Fog asked her to do the same thing yet again, her reaction was "Wait, how many times have I done this now?"
James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair Twice Play African Royalty Whose Son Flees the Country
Disney's The Lion King is often accused of ripping off a lesser-known Japanese cartoon called Kimba the White Lion, and while the evidence to support that accusation is pretty compelling, we think there's another source that deserves at least as much credit: Eddie Murphy's Coming to America. Seriously.
Disney owes you money, Eddie.
More specifically, veteran actor James Earl Jones (best known for playing Darth Vader's voice in Star Wars) portrays suspiciously similar characters in both movies. While they differ in superficial details, like their degree of horniness, whether they're dead or alive, and the fact that one of them is a talking lion, Jones was paid to do pretty much the same thing in both movies.
"The craft services table for Coming to America had better have wildebeest jerky."
In The Lion King, Jones voices King Mufasa, an African lion and father of Prince Simba (Matthew Broderick). When Mufasa is killed, Simba leaves the kingdom and spends the rest of the movie hakuna matata-ing before an encounter with his dad's ghost motivates him to make a triumphant return and become the king himself.
This vision had nothing to do with the mushrooms Pumba and Timon gave him.
Meanwhile, in Coming to America, Jones portrays the awesomely named King Jaffe Joffer, whose son, Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy), also leaves the kingdom early in the movie, in this case to work at a knockoff McDonald's in America. Like in The Lion King, a third-act encounter with James Earl Jones' character causes Akeem to return to his homeland and marry his sweetheart. In fact, someone went ahead and pasted some dialogue from Coming to America on top of Lion King footage, and it works pretty well.
Of course, King Joffer isn't quite as wise as Mufasa, so the happy ending in Coming to America probably wouldn't have happened without the intervention and common sense of the queen, played by veteran actress Madge Sinclair. If you're wondering what other movies she's been in, here's one you might have seen: She voiced Queen Sarabi, Simba's mom, in The Lion King. We're now convinced that Disney would have gotten Eddie Murphy to play Simba, too, but then they'd have to legally call it a remake.
"Sweet coat, right? Found it lying under a bunch of wildebeests."
Jena Malone Is on the Other Side of the Mirror
Every once in a while, you'll see a shot in a movie that leaves you wondering, "How the hell did they do that?" (the answer is blue screens, probably). Those shots tend to stick in your mind, so the chances of another filmmaker getting away with doing the exact same thing are slim. The chances of them doing it with the exact same actress (albeit 14 years older) are even slimmer, but apparently no one told that to Zack Snyder.
You see, in Robert Zemeckis' 1997 film Contact (which according to the IMDb summary is about "aliens or some shit"), there's a tricky sequence where a girl finds out that something has happened to her dad, and in her panic, the world gets all slow-motiony as she's running for the medicine cabinet. The girl is Jodie Foster's character as a 12-year-old, played by child actress Jena Malone.
Who has a much better agent than Foster, since she's not playing hookers at that age.
The camera follows as Malone runs up the stairs and into the bathroom in one continuous shot, but then this happens:
Turns out the whole thing -- including the part where the camera follows her up the stairs -- was happening inside the bathroom mirror, somehow. You can listen to Robert Zemeckis explain how they did that here (but, yeah, it's "blue screens").
Jump forward 14 years to Zack Snyder's Sucker Punch, which is basically Alice in Wonderland with machine guns (and strippers). The same effect shows up in a scene where two of the leads are having a discussion in front of a series of vanity mirrors. The camera slowly pans around them ...
... eventually crossing over to the other side of the mirror and blowing your mind.
Recognize the woman in the middle? Yep, that's a no-longer-child actress Jena Malone, repeating the same intricate special effect she did when she was a kid. In a movie where she plays a stripper. OK, so maybe her agent isn't so good after all.
Snyder was probably trying to draw a visual parallel between his movie and Through the Looking Glass with this shot, or maybe he just thought it looked neat. Whatever the case, he owes a great debt to Zemeckis' Contact, because he also repeated the shot of the main character running in slo-mo for every other scene he's ever shot.
Michael Biehn Repeatedly Gets Owned by an Incapacitated Secondary Character
Michael Biehn is known for playing iconic roles in some amazing movies, many of them directed by James Cameron, who for some reason is fond of having Biehn's characters get bitten on the hand. But at least we can chalk that up to Cameron secretly hating Biehn; what's less explicable is that, for some reason, the actor also has a thing for playing badasses who get taken down by another character who is sick and specifically says he can't go on, in movies by different directors.
He's saved the world from aliens and killer robots, but honestly, his girlfriends did the bulk of the work.
This started in Cameron's 1989 flick The Abyss, in which a team of deep-sea oil drillers led by Ed Harris find themselves dealing with Cold War-era nukes, paranoid Navy SEALs, and underwater aliens. Biehn portrays the leader of the SEAL team, who succumbs to HPNS, flips his shit, and must be taken out by Harris before he nukes the fuck out of the friendly deep-sea aliens. The fight goes about as well as you'd expect a fight between Kyle Reese and Jackson Pollock to go.
But then, just as Harris is about to have his throat slashed by Biehn, his far more formidable buddy Catfish -- last seen shivering from hypothermia and apologizing for being unable to help out -- shows up and dislocates Biehn's smug mustache with a well-placed knuckle sandwich.
Biehn tries to escape in a sub, which, well, doesn't really work out for him very well.
You'd think he would have learned the lesson, but nope: Later, in the Western Tombstone, the same thing happens. This time Biehn portrays psycho badass Johnny Ringo, an enforcer for outlaw gang the Cowboys, who must be taken out by Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell) before he escapes justice and reproduces, creating more people with the surname "Ringo." Earp knows he's no match for Ringo, but agrees to a duel anyway, because he has no choice.
And then, at the last moment, Earp's far more formidable buddy Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer) -- last seen shivering from fever and apologizing for being unable to help out -- shows up and dislocates Biehn's hairline with a well-placed bullet.
The lesson here is don't grow a mustache if you can't handle it.
Brian Cox Plays a Government Operative Who Created an Amnesiac Badass ... Three Times
Brian Cox is a fantastic character actor, which is what we call someone who plays essentially the same person in every movie. In his case, that person is an operative of a shadowy government agency that is always brought down by an amnesiac super-agent it created. How does an accomplished Shakespearean actor end up becoming Hollywood's go-to guy for such a specific role? No idea, but he's played it in four movies so far (and only two of those belong to the Bourne Identity series).
It all started in 1996 with a film called The Long Kiss Goodnight. In it, Geena Davis is a housewife who was found washed up on a beach, all amnesia-y, eight years prior. One day she discovers that she's an unstoppable killing machine trained by the CIA, and the man who trained her is Dr. Nathan Waldman, played by Brian Cox.
"The first critical spy lesson: Never be on the same continent as sobriety."
It turns out Geena's old CIA bosses are involved in a plot to perpetrate a chemical weapon attack and blame it on terrorists, so she decides to end their shit, and does. Yes, the amnesiac secret weapon comes back to fuck up the shadowy agency that spawned it, which you might also recognize as the plot of the Jason Bourne movies, only with Geena Davis instead of Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson instead of Franka Potente ... and Brian Cox instead of Brian Cox.
Brian "Tell Wardrobe I'll Bring My Own Glasses" Cox.
In The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy, Cox plays Ward Abbott, a CIA man whose black ops group Treadstone was responsible for creating the amnesiac killing machine Jason Bourne. And we know what Bourne is all about: ending them fuckers' shit. Say, where else have we seen this type of character? Hint: Add metal claws and a ridiculous perm, and you've got ...
Yep, Wolverine of the X-Men. As it happens, in X2: X-Men United, Cox portrays General William Stryker, head of the goddamned Weapon X project that creates fucking Wolverine, who of course has amnesia and whose mutant power is murder.
"He never learned the noble art of face painting, so we declared the project a failure."
In all three instances, Cox ends up dying as a result of his involvement in the project. So maybe training someone to kill everything in its path, wiping its memory, and then standing directly in its path isn't the greatest plan after all.
Mike Floorwalker has a website that is just tops.
For more acting quirks, check out 6 Iconic Movie Scenes That Happened by Accident and 5 Amazing Performances From Actors Who Weren't Acting.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out A Video Game Made by the NRA (That Explains A Lot).
And stop by LinkSTORM to see why Nic Cage is never acting.
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