Actors who killed (or very nearly so) their careers by taking *too* memorable a role.

We were discussing the movie Deliverance at lunch, and Ned Beatty came up. For the rest of his life, no matter what other roles he takes, Ned Beatty is going to be known as the guy who squealed like a pig. It’s been over 30 years, and that’s still the first thing that leaps to most people’s minds when you say Ned Beatty.

So, who else has acquired one of those “Oh yeah, s/he was in…” infamous roles?

Tony Perkins’ career was more or less ruined after playing Norman Bates. He still got work, but no one ever saw him as anything other than Norman.

George Reeves had similar difficulties after playing Superman. And ask Adam West what playing Batman did for his career.

Whoops–I was going to list people who had one role for which they were supremely famous, rather than one role that killed their career…

Lesley Anne Warren played in a massively successful version of Cinderella and felt terribly typecast for a while after that. She took the role of the bimbo in Victor/Victoria to try to break out of it.

Most of the cast of the original Star Trek were pretty much doomed once the show tanked, even though some of them were actually pretty good actors and should have been able to move on.

Anthony Hopkins of course will always be “Hannibal the Cannibal”.

Louise Fletcher will always be the frosty “Nurse Ratched.”

As much as Patrick Stewart might want to believe otherwise, he will always be “Captain Picard.”

I’ll throw Mark Hamill out for consideration…though his career may not have been ruined because he was Luke Skywalker as much as because he really isn’t that good an actor.

Powers Booth, who (brilliantly) portrayed Jim Jones in a TV movie about Jonestown.

Mark Hamill will always be Luke Skywalker.

Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) and Tina Louise(Ginger) had solid movie careers go !POOF!

Bob Denver was an up & coming actor & commedian before the Island. !POOF!

That’s not really fair, though. He was in the accident that screwed up his face after, uh… The Empire Strikes Back, I believe. He got a bum rap as he lost a good deal of expressiveness. He has done some other things, voice acting and whatnot that are very good. But yeah, I couldn’t look at him without thinking “Hey Luke, I’m your Father!” (he probably hears this 100x a day…)

Mark Hamill has had a very successful run as a voice actor, so I’d hesitate to say that Luke-dom ruined his career.

Hopkins?!?! Are you kidding! He is one of the finest, most versatile actors ever!
C.S. Lewis, the Remains of the Day Butler, Titus Andronicus, Dr. Abraham Van Helsing- he owned those roles just as much as he did Hannibal!

Louise Fletcher- I’ll concede her.

Patrick Stewart dethroned Alistair Sim as THE SCROOGE for me, I haven’t yet seen his MOBY DICK (ewwwww!) but I do suspect he will capture Ahab, and he was a
supremely majestic Erotic Baker and Satan on Saturday Night Live.
But Christopher Lee- always Count Dracula, except when he’s Lord Summerisle, oh- and the Duke di’Richeleau.

OK, the Captain of GOLIATH AWAITS and Saruman, also.

But other than those- just Count Dracula.

ESPECIALLY WHEN HE’S CALLED “Count Dooku” (“yeah, sure, OK Drac, er, Dook.”)

Frankly, when I see Ned Beaty, I think first of Otis, Lex Luthor’s sidekick in the Superman flicks. Then there’s another half-dozen other roles before I think of Deliverance. I don’t think he was typecast at all.

My first thought was Christopher Reeves from Superman, but there are a few other roles that were very memorable (Mousetrap, Somewhere in Time) that allowed him to break the casting. Now of course, people think of him quite differently.

I think the wookie from Star Wars has been pretty badly typecast. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him outside of the Star Wars franchise.

Come on, either one of them walks down a street towards you and what’s going to go through your mind?

“I ate his liver with fava beans & a nice chianti wine.”


“Make it so.”

And he already had a pretty sound carreer in voice work before Star Wars, so you can’t really say (as someone on another board did) he took up voice acting to save his carreer - it’s always been a significant part of his carreer.

Before Andy Robinson got the role of Garak on ST: Deep Space Nine, I understand he spent many years trying to get beyond being typecast by his role as the Scorpio killer in Dirty Harry.

Along similar lines, Steve Railsback’s role as Charles Manson in Helter Skelter.

Ralph Macchio. Sure, there was My Cousin Vinnie, but after doing three *Karate Kid *movies, he will always be Daniel-san. It’s a shame, too, because now I can’t shake the mental image of Matt Dillon psyching up the Greasers by saying, “Let’s do it for Daniel-san, man! We gotta do it for Daniel-san!”

“Deliverance” was Ned Beatty’s first credited film role.

On the IMDB, he has 122 credits listed after that, so I don’t think his career was hurt too much by it.

And he received an Academy Award nomination AFTER “Deliverance” for his role in “Network”

I really think the OP could have picked a far better example than Ned Beatty, who will always be Stan “Big Man” Bolander in my mind.

Yeah, I gotta disagree about Anthony Hopkins too. Sure, most people will always think of him as Hannibal Lecter first, but that hasn’t come close to stopping him from having a varied, successful career – unlike, say, Adam West.

Although if he does any more crappy sequels/prequels he’ll be heading into Anthony Perkins-land pretty quickly.

Pretty much the entire cast of Seinfeld.
In fact I just saw an episode of Curb your Enthusiasm where Jason Alexander appeared and complained about this very thing.