Actors who are so strongly identified with a character that it is hard to dissociate the two.

In this thread about Peewee Herman there was some discussion about separating the actions of Paul Reubens and those of Pee Wee Herman.

I admit that I often use the two names interchangeably. I have seen Reubens on talk shows AS PWH so many times, that it is almost like PR is PWH.

Anyone else so closely identified with a character that, if you approached them in public, that a person would reasonably not be sure who to address: the actor or the character.

The only other one I can think of is Andy Kaufman. He was just weird in general, and I am still not sure how much of that was an act.

I always though it was too bad that Captain Kirk was so typecast that people could only see him as William Shatner.

Woody Allen

Mark Hamill.

I don’t know if this is just me, but I can’t see Ed O’Neill as anybody but Al Bundy.

Sort of a different thing, but I can never really take Johnny Depp seriously in anything because I always see him as JOHNNY DEPP! and not whatever character he’s supposed to be playing. I think his personal mannerisms carry over into all of his roles - either that, or he’s just phoning it in. I think he’s phenomenally overrated.

David Tennant is Doctor Who. It’ll be hard accepting him in another role.

Leslie Nielsen as Frank Drebben.

Anyone from Animal House, and always by their nickname (“Hey, it’s Otter!”)

Most Star Trek main cast members get this treatment.

I can’t watch Castle because I keep wondering why Mel Reynolds is writing books.

Really, you think Captain Jack Sparrow is exactly the same as Donnie Brascoe is exactly the same as Hunter Thompson is exactly the same as Ed Wood? I think the guy is phenomenally underrated myself.
As to the OP, Stephen Colbert kind of blurs the distinction between his real self and his schtick self at times.

I thought that about him for about the first half of Modern Family but he’s really good in it and believable as a wealthy patriarch. It’s weird.

I’ll agree with Ed O’Neil and Leslie Nielsen (maybe not always as Frank, but either Frank or the Doctor on Airplane!). However, I’ll have to disagree with Paul Reubens. I think you always see him as PeeWee because he’s still milking that role. He’s entirely different in Blow and I had no problem believing him in that role.

I think Donnie Brascoe was definitely distinct from his other roles, and I liked it. (My favorite scene is when he’s undercover at the Miami airport with Michael Madsen and some cop he used to work with recognizes him and comes up to him yelling, “Joe Pistone!” and Donnie, without missing a beat, punches the guy in the face and knocks him out cold and then turns to Madsen and exclaims, “he grabbed my cock!”)

I think Thompson, Sparrow, Wood, his version of Willy Wonka, all share certain facial expressions and speech patterns, as different as the characters may be.

It was hard for me to see Jackie Gleason as anyone but Ralph Kramden. Even when he did other roles, I saw it as Ralph Kramden acting, not Gleason, if that makes sense.

Also has Bob Newhart ever played a role other than himself? Let’s face it in his two long lived shows and his two short lived shows, he was essentially playing the same guy with some superficial differences

The late George Reeves was forever Superman, just as Clayton Moore was the Lone Ranger. Reeves didn’t care for it quite as much.

Wasn’t Newhart kind of devious and amoral as a tobacco executive (is there any other kind?) in “Cold Turkey”?

In the mid70s when I saw “Klute” the entire audience yelled “Dingbat!” when Jean Stapleton appeared on the scene.

I was never able to keep Mr. T distinct from his role on the A-Team.

I thought I would never see him as anyone but Al Bundy too… but I agree, he is so good in Modern Family. Everytime I watch that show I announce how much a love it. And he is awesome as the father.

But to add to the discussion. I think many of the characters from LOST will always be just that to me… especially Naveen Andrews (Sayid) and Terry OQuinn (Locke).

Oh, and Kiefer Sutherland. I have always been a fan… long before “24”. But no matter what future rolls he plays, I will always expect him to turn into Jack Bauer at any given moment.