4 Super Specific Roles (Actors Played More Than Once)
Some actors are destined to get typecast, their IMDb pages full of "Bouncer #2," "Burly Doorman," and "Bar Fighter." But then there are the bizarrely specific roles that big actors keep showing up in, either by accident or because casting departments were really pressed for time. For example ...
Bruce Willis Keeps Running Into His Younger Self
There are so many things I'd like to tell my younger self -- primarily "Eat some other vegetables besides potatoes, it seems like our body needs them now" or "Your parents know what you're doing right now! You think you're being careful, but THEY KNOW!" That's why I'm kind of jealous of Bruce Willis' characters. They get to meet their kid selves all the freaking time.
The first time this happened, in Twelve Monkeys, Willis plays a guinea pig in an awesome-possum science experiment to send him back in time so that he can rat out the weasel that caused / will cause a deadly global pandemic. Instead, he only manages to accidentally get shot in front of his younger self, mentally scarring him(self) for life. To be fair, though, my plan to time-travel and force-feed my younger self broccoli would probably have the same result.
Then, five years later in 2000, Willis starred in The Kid, a seemingly heartwarming movie about a total jerkass meeting his kid self through wholesome magic or whatever. While interacting with Lil' Bruce, he decides to unjerk his ass after learning that being nice will eventually make him a millionaire and let him bang Emily Mortimer, like in some kind of cynical capitalistic version of A Christmas Carol.
OK, well, if you've been in as many movies as Bruce has, everything probably turns up twice. There's probably some other movie wherein he steals a motorcycle after a rapist gets his dick shot off. But then in 2012, we of course got Looper, in which Willis plays a remorseless murderer who escapes from some other murderers into the past, where his younger-though-equally-murderous self tries to murder him. They even did makeup on Joseph Gordon-Levitt to make him look more like a young Bruce Willis, and you can barely tell it's not real!
If only the film could have ended with an even older Willis coming back to tell his two younger selves that they need to go back and warn infant toddler Bruce about the dangers of time travel. And on a weirdly similar note ...
An Actor Father And Son Duo Specialize In Playing The Same Characters At Different Ages
Mark Sheppard has sure made a career out of playing irredeemable assholes, including an unscrupulous smuggler on Firefly, an arrogant insurance investigator on Leverage, and a literal demon / king of Hell on Supernatural. Essentially, whenever Sheppard appears on screen, you get the urge to use his head as a ball in a game of Crowbar Tennis. But thousands of actors have made a career doing that -- we're looking for alarmingly specific recurrences here.
In 2011, Sheppard appeared in an episode of Doctor Who, playing heroic FBI agent Canton Everett Delaware III. Fans may remember him pumping a menacing alien full of lead before grumbling "Welcome to America." Non-fans may be shocked to find out badass things like that happen on Doctor Who.
Later, when it came time to show an older version of the character, Doctor Who had a choice: They could either slap a grey wig on Sheppard and stuff his pockets full of mothballs / Werther's Originals for that authentic old man smell, or they could hire his dad, William Sheppard. After they realized they spent all of their makeup budget on highlighter to contour Matt Smith's supernatural chin, the show chose the latter option.
This, oddly enough, is something of a habit for the pair. In the 2010 movie Mysterious Island (directed, in fact, by Mark Sheppard), the father and son tag-teamed Captain Nemo. That is, they played the younger and older versions of Jules Verne's famous submarine captain. So that's twice that they A) were in a movie/show that feature a flashback/flashforward showing a character at a different age, B) it was decided they needed a separate actor rather than makeup, and C) they chose the same father/son acting combo. And even this wasn't the first time.
The pair's shtick started (as far as we know) with the 2009 NCIS episode "Broken Bird," wherein William and Mark Sheppard both play a villainous ex-CIA interrogator/torturer, nicknamed "Mr. Pain" because it's NCIS. Of course he was.
The Same Guy Keeps Teaching Robot Girls How To Love
Programmable humanoid sex partners may be a staple of the future, at which point it would be very reasonable to expect "Man teaches robot girl how to love" to be a Hollywood archetype. As it is, it seems like the kind of role that wouldn't come up all that often, unless you're actively seeking it out. And if you are, that's ... kind of weird, right?
In the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, character actor Tahmoh Penikett plays Karl "Helo" Agathon, one of the last survivors of the human race. On the show, humanity is nearly wiped out by Cylons, sophisticated robots who used to look like walking toasters but now can engineer biological bodies and pass themselves off as human. At one point, they send one of their own ("Athena") to seduce Helo and learn about this strange thing we humans call "love," because Battlestar did involve some elements of a middle school nerd's masturbation fantasy.
Naturally, Helo's penis ends up overriding Athena's programming, causing her to fall in love with him for real and become good. They later have a child and live happily ever after. Until they and everyone else on the show get murdered, probably.
A few years later, along came Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, in which Penikett plays FBI agent Paul Ballard, who's investigating "Dolls" -- people who can be temporarily imprinted with whatever personality their rich clients want, from escort to thief to everything in between (functionally robots, if not mechanically). This includes a cute girl named Mellie, who thinks she's falling in love with Ballard but is, unbeknownst to her, programmed to spy on him to see how much he's uncovered about the titular Dollhouse.
So once again, Penikett gets a lot of attention from a programmed not-quite-human spy until, again, the two end up falling in love for reals. We're assuming that somewhere, right now, the guy is browsing job listings for "Male actor to play role of 'Man whose penis grants free will to automata.' Looking for a Tahmoh Penikett type."
Jodi Benson Voices Non-Humans Looking For Their Place In The Human World
Jodi Benson first made a name for herself as the redheaded fish mutant Ariel in Disney's The Little Mermaid. There, her character yearns to be part of the human world after feeling like an outcast in her underwater kingdom, essentially making her the merperson equivalent of a zoophile.
And while you might think that kids' movies only have about five plots, it's still a bit weird that five years later, in 1994, Benson voiced the title character in Don Bluth's Thumbelina, a movie about a redheaded, tiny non-human trying to find her place in the world after feeling like an outcast. Then a toad and a mole try to marry her, because at one time, major animation studios were really betting on interspecies romances being the next big thing.
And despite the other roles that came Benson's way, she always managed to circle right back to voicing non-humans looking for the meaning of life, which they usually hoped to find down the pants of someone from another species. That's the basic, creepy summary of Weebo, Benson's character in Flubber, the Robin Williams movie that answers the question "What if snot was lovable?" Weebo is a flying robot that really wants to be human so she can have sex with Robin Williams. Whom she later almost sexually assaults.
Ultimately, she/it realizes it's never going to happen, and surrenders to the idea that Williams' character is destined to be with a flesh-and-blood partner. Dammit, where's Tahmoh Penikett when you need him?
Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.
Rest in peace, Robin. You've made so many lives so much better.
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