Undefended: Against Type

For this month’s Undefended lists, FilmFisher’s writers picked their favorite performances by actors playing against type.

12 (788)

Timothy Lawrence

  1. Henry Fonda as Frank in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  2. Tom Cruise as Vincent in Collateral (2004)
  3. Brad Pitt as Chad Feldheimer in Burn After Reading (2008)
  4. Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H. in The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
  5. Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in Fargo (2014)

A.C. Gleason

  1. Matthew McConaughey as Denton Van Zan in Reign of Fire (2002)
  2. Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
  3. Matthew McConaughey as Rustin “Rust” Cohle in True Detective (2014)
  4. Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin in Notorious (1946)
  5. Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in Blade Runner (1982)


Travis Kyker

  1. Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
  2. John Travolta in Blow Out (1981)
  3. Paul Newman in Hud (1963)
  4. Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven (1992)
  5. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Joel Bourgeois

  1. Willem Dafoe as Bobby in The Florida Project (2017)
  2. Tom Hanks as Dermot Hoggins in Cloud Atlas (2012)
  3. Adam Sandler as Barry Egan in Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
  4. Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation. (2002)
  5. Bill Murray as Bob Harris in Lost in Translation (2003)


Remy Wilkins

  1. Nicole Kidman as Margot in Margot at the Wedding (2007)
  2. Anne Hathaway as Kym in Rachel Getting Married (2008)
  3. Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars (1977)
  4. Paul Rudd as Alvin in Prince Avalanche (2013)
  5. Harrison Ford as Norman Spencer in What Lies Beneath (2000)

Robert Brown

  1. Dick Van Dyke as Cecil in Night at the Museum (2006)
  2. Matt Damon as La Boeuf in True Grit (2010)
  3. Liam Neeson as Good Cop in The LEGO Movie (2014)
  4. Daniel Craig as Joe Bang in Logan Lucky (2017)
  5. Keira Knightley as Sugar Plum in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018)

13 (1269)

Tom Upjohn

  1. Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
  2. James Stewart as Scottie Ferguson in Vertigo (1958)
  3. Robin Williams as Walter Finch in Insomnia (2002)
  4. Patrick Stewart as Darcy in Green Room (2015)
  5. Michael Fassbender as Frank in Frank (2014)

Joshua Gibbs

  1. Charlie Chaplin in Limelight (1952)
  2. Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  3. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (1997)
  4. Tom Cruise in Magnolia (1999)
  5. Brad Pitt in Burn After Reading (2008)

And then there are a handful of actors who only do weird turns… like Tilda Swinton.

Timothy Lawrence

A graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at BIOLA University, Timothy Lawrence teaches great books through Emmaus Classical Academy in Southern California. He writes essays and fiction and counts the Coen Brothers and George Lucas among his personal heroes.

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