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Top 10 Multi-Genre Actors

by Eion Spellman
fact checked by Alex Hanton

Throughout the history of cinema, actors and thespians alike have had to portray multiple personalities in order to fit into specific roles. However, as films become (arguably) more “one-sided,” Most actors only need to fit one role to fit several. There are some actors and actresses that portray multiple roles very well. The following is my interpretation of who fits this description the best. Sadly, it is too hard to pick out which of these actors are more deserving than others, so this list may or may not be in any specific order.


Leonardo DiCaprio

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Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the many “method actors” involved with this list. Method acting is the act in which someone researches and develops a character around its real life counterparts. This is evident in Leo’s role in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape where, at only the age of 19, he describes visiting a home for mentally challenged teens to investigate the mannerisms and behaviors of said teens. He has played in a variety of roles the range from action-oriented, to drama and portrayed J. Edgar Hoover in the latest Clint Eastwood-directed film.


Johnny Depp


Although known mostly for his roles in The Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland, Johnny Depp has definitely earned the title of being a good actor. With several roles under his name, you can rely on Johnny Depp to portray a good hero, villain, or historical figure. The biggest accomplishment is his astounding work in both animation and live-action; seeing as portraying a physical character is a bit easier than portraying an imagined one.


Matt Damon


Matt Damon is an actor that can accomplish a representation of an average every-day guy as in Good Will hunting, just to proceed by representing an average international spy/assassin the next. Joking aside, Matt Damon is also known as a method actor, and this is evident through a previously unexplained factor in method acting – physical representation. For the film The Informant, Matt Damon prepared to play character Mark Whitacre by purposefully gaining weight on a diet of hamburgers, pizza, and dark beer – a diet which he described as being “really, really, really fun.”


Casey Affleck

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If there is one thing Casey Affleck is known for, it’s being the younger sibling of Ben Affleck. However, his acting is also superb, and while he hasn’t had as many titles as Ben, Casey Affleck makes up for that in content. Casey has done serious major roles in movies like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, to comedic roles (American Pie), and even crime and thriller movies such as the Ocean’s Eleven films.


Mark Wahlberg

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“Marky” Mark Wahlberg hasn’t had a superb career per se, which can be seen with movies like The Truth about Charlie, but then there were instances like Fear, in which he genuinely scared audiences, and his buddy cop acting with co-star Will Ferrell in The Other Guys was surprisingly well-done. His best work was arguably in The Departed, but with one of the most effective casts in cinema, you’d imagine being a supporting actor would be less important.


Edward Norton

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Now, this is a real turning point in the list seeing as Edward Norton is a horrifyingly good actor in every role he’s worked with. Now the name, or more likely the face, will conjure up images of The Hulk in popular culture terms. However, do many people still remember his role as the determined investigator from Red Dragon or what about his recently overlooked role in the film Stone, where you could genuinely think he was a philosophical criminal?


Tom Cruise

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Tom Cruise has managed to not only capture the imagination of intelligent adventure buffs with the Mission Impossible films, but he played roles that questioned life itself in movies like Vanilla Sky and Magnolia alongside another member of the list. Surprisingly, Tom embodies his characters to quite an impressive extent, yet he is not a method actor. It is beyond me to comprehend how he accomplishes this so well. Sadly, we can’t see much of a career from Tom Cruise based on his being generalized as crazy after a few incidents, the most famous being his appearance on Oprah.


Joaquin Phoenix


Joaquin Phoenix was never a very big actor, he didn’t make it into every headline or into celebrity gossip, but when he would star in a film, whether it was through a main or secondary role, he never failed to impress. Then, in a now infamous David Letterman appearance, he announced his retirement from acting and his involvement with rapping. He quickly became a joke in both his old and new profession, and everyone assumed their perception was true. However, when he announced his return to acting in February 2010, it was coupled with an announcement for his and Casey Affleck’s documentary collaboration “I’m Still Here” in which, his true motive behind retirement were found to be one elaborate acted-out ploy.


Christian Bale


Christian Bale is probably the most well-known actor in current cinema. This is due to his roles in the recent Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films. However, his reach extends further than that, as each one of his roles have surpassed expectations and in some cases, have defied logical reasoning. When Christian Bale had done American Psycho, his representation of a seemingly subtle-minded serial killer had a sense of genuine terror to it, and his no-holds-barred performance just added to that feeling. Most impressively was when he lost around 60 pounds to play his role of a meth-addicted machinist, he even wanted to drop more weight but was advised not to by the filmmakers in order to preserve his health. This was all done on a diet of one can of tuna and one apple per day, and to add to the impressiveness, he regained it all in muscle for Batman Begins.


John C. Reilly


Out of every actor on this list, the most likely name to stand out as unfamiliar would be this one, in this day and age, John mostly works as a sidekick-type character with Will Ferrell and other comedies. Now, most people know John as “that guy from Talladega Nights or Step Brothers.” Actually, that in itself is nothing bad, not at all; what makes it so impressive is that John C. Reilly wasn’t always portrayed in this way. In movies like Hard Eight and Magnolia, John C. Reilly proved his acting didn’t only fit with comedy films, but also in dramatic roles, roles that require pristine memorization and character self-development. Bearing this in mind, John has not lost his serious acting ways. He recently portrayed a main character in the film We Need to Talk about Kevin based on the wildly popular book of the same name, and then the comedic drama film Carnage.

fact checked by Alex Hanton