Five actors that need to change genre

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Dwayne Johnson should try more comedy, while Johnny Depp needs more biopics.

Certain actors are typecasted and, for many, it works spectacularly: there’s Arnold Schwarzenegger as king of cheesy action flicks, Daniel Day-Lewis as the Oscar baiting machine, while Helena Bonham-Carter can often be found making teen-gothic misadventures with Tim Burton. Yes, all performers find their genre or niche and make a worthwhile career out of it. But there are others who have been poorly casted in a genre and can’t seem to return to that one role where we saw them flourish. Here are my top five.


Dwayne Johnson to do comedies

the other guys dwayne johnson samuel l jackson

2013 was an exciting, if critically poor, year for Dwayne Johnson; he was a body building machine bulking up for his role this summer as Hercules, he starred in five films, four of which were released before the summer, one in which he had the main role and two were major blockbusters, and all this whilst he was still partaking in his wrestling endeavours. Indeed, an incredibly busy and active professional.

But the one role where Dwayne shined was in the otherwise abysmal, ugly “comedy” Pain & Gain. For Dwayne Johnson has impeccable comic timing. His cameo in The Other Guys was on-par with Samuel L. Jackson’s (how many actors can do that just via a cameo?) and his quips on WWE have always been a delight. Whether or not you find the joke itself funny, it’s important to note Johnson is able to time the punch line with perfection. This man could be the answer to the seeming impossibility of the talented Western action-comedy star.


Zac Efron to do dramas


Since parting from the High School Musical franchise (yes, it’s easy for us grown adults to mock a clearly marketed kids film), Zac Efron has been experimenting. There was the audience-insulting ensemble romantic drama New Year’s Eve, the controversial Dr Seuss adaptation The Lorax, while this year sees him in two comedies. To say Efron isn’t trying is harsh, it’s just the results so far haven’t been all that great.

But lurking in there is the masterpiece The Paperboy. This was a film that many did not see (which is pitiful, for I would argue it was one of the best films of 2012). Here, Zac Efron proved that he was comfortable in sordid roles and really did show off his acting chops. He could one day blossom into a serious dramatic actor and The Paperboy could be his cult debut.


Naomi Watts to do thrillers

funny games naomi watts

2013 was a poor year for Naomi Watts – four films, mostly drama, all poorly received by critics. And it is a shame, for Watts is a two-time Academy Award-nominated Actress – the world knows she can act. In amongst Watts’s questionable roles, two films rank above them all: Mulholland Drive and 21 Grams.

Here are two rather complex roles that Watts not only tackles with skill, but the films also fit within the thriller paradigm. Even certain questionable thrillers like the Funny Games remake or the quasi-political The International show Watts is able to act with range within the thriller genre. More of these please!


Jack Nicholson to do gangster movies


His role in The Shining cemented him as an actor with great range. He can do comic book villainy in Batman, grumpy old antics in As Good as It Gets and a quirky cameo in Easy Rider. But Jack Nicholson’s performance as Francis Costello in Martin Scorsese’s remake of Infernal Affairs, The Departed, is by far his most terrifying, corrupt and charming to date (“They call that a paradox”).

Nicholson’s opening Departed monologue lures you in, but his sociopathic nature terrifies you. He is able to convey an unhinged immoral human being who revels in his debauched existence. What makes this more shameful is Nicholson has only made two films since, both of which have seen him return to safe and homely comedic territory. The Departed could have been a turning point in Nicholson’s career, replacing De Niro and Pacino as the new aged, crooked mobster.


Johnny Depp to do biopics

the libertine johnny depp

Since his explosively marketable role as Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp’s choices have had a mixed reception. His recurring collaborations with Tim Burton have predictable results (Dark Shadows looked like a parody of the Depp/Burton collaboration), while his voice work on Rango and cameo in Spongebob Squarepants were warmly welcomed. But his roles as John Dillinger in Public Enemies and John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester in The Libertine highlighted Depp’s gravitas as a mature actor.

Dillinger is unlike other gangster roles and Wilmot is unlike other period characters. More so the latter, for Depp’s role as Wilmot is akin to John Malkovich’s Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons, only with minimal remorse and a heavy load of hedonism. Depp, for both roles, was able to balance truthful representation and artistic expression through these real characters.


Featured image: The Weinstein Company

Inset images: Columbia; Millenium Williams; Warner Independent Pictures; Warner Bros; The Weintein Company

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